Monday, March 26, 2012

What's on Board (is all you've got!)

This week's Boat Galley article is the second in a series on the biggest differences between cooking on a boat and cooking ashore - and ways to cope with the challenges that may arise...

Guest blog by Carolyn Shearlock
Carolyn Shearlock, author of The Boat Galley, appears weekly on the Daily Boater with tips for getting the most out of your boat's kitchen.

Meal lists and ingredient lists ensure we have everything we need for a fun week – we’ll be
having fun on the water, not trying to find a store! Photo: Carolyn Shearlock

Once you leave the dock, you may not be able to run to the store if you suddenly realize you're missing something - or to the internet if you need to find out something. Whether it's provisions, pans, tools or recipes, you have to make do with what you have until the next time you are at a store.

To some, this is scary: what if I forgot something? I prefer to see it as a chance for innovation: what can I do with what I have? I've developed some of my best "recipes" simply because I was making do. Now they've become family favorites!

I have three basic coping strategies for dealing with the challenge of being away from stores...

Planning and list-making
This makes it less likely that I'll forget something I really need. For short trips – say a week or less – I plan the meals day by day (including snacks) and list all the ingredients, then combine them into a grocery and packing list. I post a copy of the meal plan in the galley so I know what I planned.  For longer trips and full-time life aboard, I use my Downloadable Provisioning Spreadsheet to stock the boat with “average” amounts of what we eat in the amount of time I estimate it’ll be before we can stock up again.

Innovation and creativity
Substitutions don't have to perfectly re-create the original recipe, they just have to produce a good meal. A few good cookbooks and a stock of basic ingredients mean that I have lots of choices if it turns out I’m missing something (or a special recipe). Even when I’ve planned all the meals for a short trip, I always make sure there are some basic ingredients aboard (preferably all things that don’t require refrigeration) so that I have some options if things don’t go as planned.

Prioritizing
On longer trips, we know we'll have to reprovision sometime. But as we start to run out of things, we consider whether we would rather spend more time in a great anchorage, or go reprovision. Usually we opt for more time in the anchorage and getting by without some treats and doing some substituting, but at some point - usually when the beer supply is getting low - the balance tips in favor of reprovisioning.

And if you’re a little nervous, relax and have fun! Don’t make too many promises about what you’re going to fix for dinner - my standard answer when asked is “something good” - and no one will know if you altered the meal plan!

*** For more on making the most out of the space on your boat, see last week's article: The Boat Galley: Limited Space

Carolyn Shearlock is author of The Boat Galley, with over 280 FREE articles to get the most out of your boat kitchen with galley tips, insights & equipment recommendations. A few recipes, too – plus an active Facebook community to ask questions and share tips with other readers!

###