Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long. Jack had the boat well-priced and we made a reasonable offer. After a few small moves on both sides, we quickly reached middle ground and struck a deal, contingent, of course, on the survey/sea trial, which was scheduled for April 3rd. That meant another trip down South to Punta Gorda to make sure the ole’ gal was truly sea-worthy. I figured in the meantime, I better do some things to make sure this ole’ gal was sea-worthy – like, learn how to cook … in the galley!
Cooking on a boat is not much different than cooking at home. You’ve got a stove, an oven, some pots and pans. Aside from having to strap yourself into a space the size of your pantry and keep boiling pots from sliding around and toppling over while the boat is heaving to and fro, it’s exactly the same. For a visual – imagine this sea state while you’re gingerly sprinkling a little oregano on your soup: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nf7FddPO5QM). To replicate the feeling at home, you can get yourself nice and sloshed one Friday night, spin around 10 or 12 times in your kitchen and then try to cook yourself a nice, hot meal. You’ll find on occasion, you’ve punched garlic right onto the counter and dumped an empty ramekin into the pot, or that you’ve seasoned up an empty burner to perfection while your sauce turned out a little lackluster. Cooking in a boat galley requires a lot more agility and hand-eye coordination than actual culinary skills.
The primary differences you want to keep in mind are fewer pots and less provisions. The more meals you can make in one pot, the better. With fresh water in short supply, the less dishes you have to wash, the better. So you can either up your one-pot meal repertoire or improve your spit-shine capabilities. I recommend the former. One good book we found useful for inspiration was The One Pan Galley Gourmet.
This little gem is chock full of quick and easy one-pot dishes that are perfect for the boat. I also got a little creative one night and perfected a sweet potato chili that has now become a staple at Châteaux de Phillipé. It’s a nice, filling substitute for the traditional beef and bean chili.
Pairs well with a sweet red zin or syrah (as it has a little kick).
We also tried a beef and broccoli stir-fry one night that made the cut. The trick is to roll the beef around in the corn starch mixture first to get that nice, brown crust on it before stir-frying with the broccoli.
Pairs well with a bold cab or even a malbec.
And, another go-to, of course, is a classic vegetable soup. Now, I’m not talking about that watered-down Minestrone crap they serve at Olive Garden. This recipe allows you to throw pretty much any leftover veggies in the pot (perfect for cruisers trying to use up veggies that are about to turn, or, as my grandmother would say, “ruirnt” (that’s a technical, Alabama term for spoiled. I’m serious, although Urban Dictionary had an entirely different, yet equally entertaining, take on it: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=ruirnt. Note the usage: “Dude, he is … “).
You really don’t need a recipe for the veggie soup. Just know you’ve got to start by cooking the heartier vegetables (carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, etc. – those that take longer to soften) first – in a little oil and salt. After they soften add your spices, broth and lighter vegetables (tomatoes, mushrooms, any leafy vegetable, etc.). Bring to a boil and let it simmer for about a half hour – seasoning and tasting as you go. (I also recommend sipping wine all the while and throwing some in the pot).
Depending on your seasoning, this pairs well with a good blend, granache or hearty merlot.
If you’re not hungry after all of that, your taste buds don’t have a pulse. Or, better yet, if they do, they’re the scrawny kind that get their lunch money stolen at school.
If these seem like easy recipes, it’s because they are. Remember the whole strapped-in-a pantry, heaving-to-and-fro bit. You need easy recipes on the boat. Forgiving, lasting recipes that you can make under any conditions and that will keep you and crew going for days. You’ll learn. Until then, pour a few extra glasses at home, do the spins and shout hearty sea expletives while you cook up a storm and mimic life on the open seas. Enjoy!