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Friday, February 5, 2016

How is Our Galley Like Your Kitchen?

Spoiler Alert:  This is not an exciting topic--read at your own peril.
Upright edges or fiddles surround edges of counters

Twiddling my thumbs—waiting on a weather window to cross to the Bahamas in a week—maybe.  There are questions that pester some of our family and friends.  Q- “What do you do about food when you’re sailing?” (A- “We eat it, by mouth”).  Q- “How do you get groceries?”  (A- “We pay for them.”)  This topic deserves better explanations than those, so I’ve taken pictures to help explain how our galley is very much like your kitchen on land, and to allay any concerns about us eating a balanced diet aboard NORTHERN STAR
Open fridge.  Freezer is closed, on the left.

First of all, we have all the integral features of a regular kitchen:  refrigerator and freezer, stove with oven, and sinks with running water.   Our refrigerator and freezer, however, open from the top instead of the front.  They are two separate boxes, well insulated and with very heavy doors; if one of them fell on a head or hand, it would do major damage.  To prevent that from happening, we hook the door up with a chain while we dig around inside.  It’s a bit more difficult to get at all of the refrigerator’s contents than it is at your home (I’m making an assumption here) because it’s so deep.
Freezer space
On the plus side, it is quite large and can hold a lot of food.  We put foods on the bottom that we don’t use very much, or that are duplicates and store well, such as several pounds of butter and cheeses to last many weeks.  Also, a LOT of beer fits down there.  Because refrigerators operate more efficiently when they are full, we do our best to keep it that way.  The beer helps.  
Fridge set at 45 F and freezer at 5 F.  
We have something which you don’t have with your home fridge and freezer—digital gauges tell us what the internal temperature of each is at all times.  If we notice the temperature start to rise in either one, we know immediately and can take action to address the problem. 
Storage below oven.  Stove balances on gimbals on either side of stove. 

Our stove runs on propane which I prefer over electric stoves on land or water.  It has one large burner and two smaller burners.  The oven is smaller than a home oven, so some of the baking dishes I used on land won’t fit in our oven.   The oven works well; it reaches the appropriate temperature and maintains it, but with one important caveat—if the burners are in use, the oven has to compete with them for the propane. 
Small metal box above serves as our toaster, used stovetop.
Consequently, we have to choose—stove top cooking?  Or oven?  We can’t do both at the same time.  We store a few metal baking pans inside the oven.  They don’t rattle around because the stove is gimbaled so it can swing freely when we’re under sail.  I have baked brownies and bread while sailing.  
Safety bar extends across stove.
Another feature that is absent on a home oven is a hip/waist high safety bar across the front of the stove to prevent the cook from falling into it as the boat moves. In fact, our boat came with a large “hip sling” that hooks onto the safety bar to prevent one from falling backwards while cooking as well. 
Purified water on left.  

We have two stainless steel sinks.  One of the faucets is purified water which we use for drinking only.  The other water tastes good, too and we use it for everything else onboard.  Although our boat can carry 140 gallons of water in two large tanks, we still try to conserve water as much as possible so we don’t have to fill up so often.  We have hot and cold water.  
Found great sprayer in gardening section.
We make hot water when the engine runs and when we’re plugged into electricity when we’re in a marina.  There are several ways to be water conscious.  We never fill the sink when it’s time to wash dishes.  Rather, we’ll half-fill the largest pan that we used for the meal and wash dishes in that.  Rather than rinsing soap off with the sprayer at the sink, we fill a 1/2 gallon pressurized spray bottle with hot water and rinse with that.  Works really well. 
Only essential utensils come onboard

Space conservation is essential.  Before anything is brought onto the boat, it is evaluated to ensure it is truly needed, and ideally, everything we have can serve more than one purpose.  Our pots and pans are a set of nesting cookware by Magma.  The handles and covers are interchangeable.  Although the pressure cooker doesn’t nest, it can hold a set of stainless steel bowls inside which come in handy when we’re prepping food for the pressure cooker. 
Getting canned goods out from under our bed is a two person job.
Several kitchen items are made of silicone which means they are 1) heat resistant, 2) don’t rattle and 3) they can bend to fit in tight spaces.  No space goes wasted.  That means that some of our food supplies are stored in places outside of the galley.  Even under our bed is a large space just the right size for canned goods.
Oddly shaped cupboard required creativity.
   Food storage is a bit different than on land.  Square containers are far more space efficient than round so that is what we use for the most part.  Cardboard does not belong on a boat.  For one thing, the paper becomes moist which isn’t good for the contents, secondly it apparently attracts bugs (which we thankfully have not experienced), and the packaging takes up space.  When we bring anything onto the boat, we first strip away all the cardboard and extraneous packaging.  Dry goods are put into air tight containers.  Square Lock ’n Lock
Lock 'n Lock and Hefty brand boxes with 4 latching sides.
containers work great for all cereals, rice, pasta, flour, cornmeal, crackers, nuts, etc.  We use small ones for things like table butter, brown sugar for our oatmeal—you get the idea.  Long term food containers should not have metal covers.  I had to get rid of some small spice bottles because they had metal covers that started to rust.  Table salt 

Cupboards above counter on either side of stove. 
really does not like living on a boat.  To have any chance that it will shake out, we have to keep grains of rice in the shaker to absorb moisture.  A salt grinder seems to work best.  Many foods do not have to be refrigerated which I did refrigerate living on land. 
Eggs stored safety on top of canned goods on starboard side.
Eggs, for example; just use them within a week or so.  Many condiments do not need to be refrigerated—ketchup, mustard, pickles, jams, relish, soy sauce, etc. and we keep a supply of cartons of milk that do not need refrigeration until they are opened.  The milk tastes great.  About glass bottles--if I am worried about a glass bottle breaking, I slip an old sock over it.  Stops any clinking anyhow.  
French drip method.  Coffee stays hot all day!
We do not carry some of the common household appliances.  We tend not to use things that have to be plugged in for cooking.  Some boaters do, but we plan to spend most of our time at anchor which means we won’t be plugged into 30 amp power.  Our solar panels provide enough power to keep the fridge, freezer and lights running, on sunny days.  We make coffee by pouring boiling water over grounds in a filter right into a wide mouth thermos.  Makes great coffee and it’s faster than a coffee maker.  We don’t have a toaster, but can make toast using one of those 
metal boxes that are used over a campfire.  Our propane grill is mounted on the stern which is really handy when we don’t want to heat up the boat.
Dinghy dock (crowded "parking")at Vero Beach, FL

How do we get groceries?  When we’re at anchor or marina, we walk or take a bus.  We have taken a taxi and rented a car a time or two for larger purchases.  We have a two wheel pull cart which we take along sometimes for heavy things.  Our garbage goes with us to shore, and groceries back from shore. 

Garbage tucked away below sink.

Our dinghy is our “car” on the water.  We have lots of sturdy, water resistant grocery bags, and some large dry bags, too, in case we have to transport in the rain. In short, we can do almost kind of cooking and enjoy nearly any food on the boat that you would have at home.  Bon appetit from NORTHERN STAR!

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