We love to cook. Moving from a spacious, well-equipped kitchen on land to a compact galley on a sailboat did nothing to impact our enthusiasm for creating and enjoying delicious meals. Until you live this truth, it may feel elusive; it’s easy to presume that cooking aboard approximates camping cuisine. I want to kick that misconception to the curb. Or reef. Or whatever!
This post is part one in a series of galleywise topics, starting with a look at kitchen appliances. What makes the transition to the boat, what doesn’t, and how we compensate for equipment that doesn’t cross over. Are there some compromises? Probably, but do I feel for a moment deprived? Absolutely not!
Our kitchen on land included a professional range and more electrics than I can count on my hands. Some were everyday appliances, like our espresso machine; others had specialty use, like the Kitchen Aid standup mixer. We liked to entertain and these tools made it easier to cook for a crowd.
Aboard Totem, our galley may be a micro-sized and lightly equipped by comparison, but hasn’t compromised what we’re able to do. We still love to cook, to share meals aboard with friends, to explore the world through tastes and dishes. It cracked me up to see that CNN’s choice of a thumbnail for the video about our family happened to reference our love of food. THAT’S US!
In truth: most of our kitchen appliances did not get to the boat. It’s also true that I don’t miss them. OK, that’s a lie. Whipping cream by hand is a pain in the arm, but that’s why I have helpers! But only rarely do the gadgets offer function that can’t be replicated with a simpler tool, or time, or both. Here’s a comparison of commonly used appliances and how they fit in our land-to-boat transition.
|On shore:||On Totem:|
|Blender||Immersion blender. This gadget (aka stick blender, hand blender) makes everything from smoothies to pureed soups to hummus. AC powered and a big amperage draw, but that’s OK since it’s only on for about 30 seconds! We are on our 2nd Braun in 12 years.|
When you shop: don’t undersize the power! At least 400 watts. At a more extreme end, I have a friend on a relatively low-tech boat that sized their inverter JUST so she could have her VitaMix on board.
|Food processor||Mandoline. What can I say, I like making perfectly thin and uniform slices of vegetables sometimes! This makes easy, pretty work of things like potatoes and tomatoes. Get 3-4 years from the blades; we currently have an Oxo mandoline. |
Last year, our friend Judy visited and brought a new immersion blender with an attachment bowl that turns it into a food processor. Not gonna lie: I love it ! But there are also manual devices that stand in for smaller jobs.
|Mixer||For more general mixing, a bowl and spoon are enough. For whipping cream, beating egg whites, or emulsifying aioli (OK so that’s about once a year), a flat whisk stores compactly and gets the job done with a little elbow grease. Helpers are nice.|
|Coffee/espresso machine||Nothing! There are many ways to make coffee aboard, but our shmancy machine isn’t necessary. OK, so I do miss the frother/steamer for milk…|
|Bread machine||Making bread by hand is actually pretty easy; it just takes time, which we have. Sometimes the bread onshore is good enough that I don’t feel compelled (why compete with baguettes on a French island?). Bread machines need space and power, so aren’t a great fit for most boats, but cruisers with power to run one benefit from a cooler galley when baking bread. (Land- and sea-version recipe for our favorite bread, pictured above, in this post.)|
|Microwave||There’s a stove? Microwaves offer convenience we don’t need. The best use other than reheating might be making a hot drink for night watch – but if you’re moving around much on a passage, kettles are safer than the microwave as vessel for boiling hot water.|
|Toaster||Stovetop. Some boats have a toaster; we just make toast in a griddle pan on the stovetop; monitoring necessary, but an electric appliance is not required. My friend Carolyn swears by the GSI Camping Toaster, and tells why on The Boat Galley.|
|Crock pot||Power-hungry crock pots aren’t a good fit for most boats. Our Solavore solar oven acts a lot like a crock pot, cooking at low temperatures for hours; we don’t have one, but friends who do swear by a Thermal Cooker or Wonderbag for the same purpose: slow, unattended cooking.|
|Instant pot||Pressure cooker. A pressure cooker on steroids is all that Instant Pot is! They use WAY too much power for off-grid cruising (40-80 amp draws for common functions). Modern pressure cookers are kind of awesome, anyway.|
Some boats do have items we chose to forego; it’s a function of having space and power to make them work. But my point here: so much of what we’re convinced are “needs” … aren’t, really. Like a lot of life afloat, things are simpler. Pared back, what served as a helpful convenience before becomes unnecessary clutter.