Friday, March 5, 2010

Sailboat Cookery 101

Cooking on a sailboat falls somewhere between camping and home cooking, depending of course on what size/kind of boat you're on. The "Meanwhile" had a nice, well-equipped galley, big enough for 2 people who aren't afraid of bumping butts. Our meals spanned the gamut from grab-n-go snacks to full-blown feasts. What we ate was influenced by 2 main factors: (a) Were we underway? and (b) What needed to be used up?

While underway, quick and easy was the ticket. The difference between a galley and a kitchen is that a galley moves, and while the boat is bobbing (or bucking) along, it can be tough to be below decks for too long, especially when it's hot out. If it wasn't too rough I tried to help with the cooking as much as I could. Once I got used to the gimbaled gas stove, it was pretty easy. With the pull of a pin, the whole unit could swing on an axis point, to compensate for the rocking waves. And little adjustable safety rods held the pots and pans in place. A pot of boiling water? No problem.

Pam was a wiz at whipping up dinners in less than 20 minutes; stuff like pasta, or stir-fry were good options, and we made use of convenience products like boil-in-bag rice, bottled sauces, and pre-cut frozen vegetables. The rest of the day we snacked on things like crackers and spreads, fruit, yogurt, trail mix, tortilla chips, etc.

Win and Pam had been sailing in the Mediterranean for the last few years so their pantry was stocked with some nice foreign delicacies that came in handy for quick eats. One of my favorite meals was a couple tins of lemon and herb sardines, served on top of saltines with french mustard and tabasco. We ate salmon pate from France that came in a toothpaste-type tube, with a label that read, "Voulez-vous pate avec moi?" Surprisingly good. And Pammy used some little jars of pickled vegetable treasures for antipasti or a quick throw-together pasta dish.

If we were getting ready to set sail, we might make things that would keep well, and serve the leftovers while underway. Pammy baked wonderful banana bread in her convection/microwave oven. I made a big batch of bolognese sauce that stretched through a couple of dinners. A zucchini and goat cheese fritatta got us through breakfast one day and lunch the next.

If we were moored, on anchor, or in a marina, we could pretty much cook like we were at home. We sauteed freshly caught fish in olive oil, garlic, and lime juice, and made fish tacos. I cooked Noah veal cutlets in a mushroom-caper sauce for his birthday. One night Win cooked his famous drunken mushrooms (pictured above) for us. Sherry, mushroom caps, butter, garlic coins, and more sherry. The smell of these will make you crazy with appetite.

They even had a little gas grill, which came in handy for our 6-course Christmas feast, complete with a succulent brined turkey breast; along with oyster stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with pecans and brown sugar, gingered cranberry chutney, and pumpkin pie. Pam pulled a little Christmas tree out of nowhere, and between that, our little snowflake lights, and some Andrea Bocelli Christmas tunes, we had an unforgettable Christmas in the Road Town Marina. I loved hearing the islanders call out to each other, "Seasons greetins!"

Every sailor has their own approach to the galley. Thanks to our strategy of a well-stocked pantry we neither sacrificed nor starved on the boat. And like camping, we found that everything tastes better when you're dining al fresco.


Kimberely Simonetti said...

I am sooo jealous and hungry right now.

Debbie Moore said...

Very challenging it seems...but sounds like so much fun!


carola said...

Oh, to have some of Win's drunken mushrooms. Nothing else compares.

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