Whenever living on a boat comes up in a conversation, there are inevitably many questions that come up, a lot of them starting with those four little words: “But, how do you…”
I’ve tried to provide small snapshots of what life is like onboard, but thought I’d write a few posts to give more in-depth answers to the most common questions that we get asked.
The question that comes up most often is how do we cook? Anyone who knows me knows that although I do like to cook, baking is much more my passion in the kitchen. Alex on the other hand is an ex-chef and still loves to create gourmet dishes. Given that, it’s easy to see why people are so curious as to how we handle the obvious restrictions of the boat.
Living on the sailboat was definitely a culinary challenge. The galley (kitchen) consisted of a small two burner stove, an ice box, a small cold-water sink and a $35 toaster oven.
Even with that, we still managed to eat well. Admittedly, a lot of what we ate was fresh crab but I also managed to do a fair amount of simple baking, such as cookies, muffins, and individual crumbles:
Once we moved to the Monk, we had more countertop to work with (and a real fridge!), although still just a two burner stove and my trusty toaster over:
It’s amazing how much difference a couple square feet of working space made. Even though Alex has to carefully plan how many pots he is going to need, he can still make an impressive meal. His latest kick has been homemade Caesar dressing, which can accompany anything from steak to lamb to chicken. Last night? Steak with roasted potatoes and vegetables sautéed in white wine, butter and herbs:
I have also been baking up a storm. I am limited mostly by size – no 9″ x 13″ cake pans for us! Instead, I have to modify any recipe to be suitable for an 8″ square pan. This hasn’t hindered me too much though – in the past couple of months we have had carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, brownies, banana cake with homemade mocha icing, and a classic chocolate:
Seeing as it has been ‘winter’, we’ve also been eating a lot of bread. I used to make homemade bread fairly often, but hadn’t in the past few years. I had been wanting to make bread lately, but knew that I faced two big obstacles: size (the height of the oven wasn’t enough to accommodate a loaf of bread) and living in a draughty wooden boat (not conducive to rising bread). The first problem proved to be the easiest to solve – make focaccia! It took a bit of ingenuity for Alex and I to solve the second, but finally we figured out that we could use our cupboard and a heater to make a toasty (but not too hot) spot for the bread to rise. After that? Lots of focaccia!
It’s been at the point of having bread almost every weekend: sometimes just with oil and vinegar, sometimes as part of a charcuterie, and sometimes with a fancy Caprese salad:
I won’t lie though – not everything turns out picture perfect. The other dish I have been experimenting with is chocolate lava cakes. The first batch turned out perfectly, but of course I didn’t get a picture of that one. The more recent ones though? Although they taste divine, have not come out of the ramekins properly:
Definitely a work in progress recipe, although we both willingly take care of the of all of the trials.
Well, that’s the basics of cooking on a boat. Soon our galley will change yet again when we move onto the new sailboat… New challenges and new culinary adventures to come!