Any inspired home cook takes pride in the one room in their house that feeds the need for their creativity as well as their loved ones, the kitchen. Getting our land based kitchen to fit inside the galley on the boat took some rethinking on my part. To give you a clear picture you’d have to imagine what it would be like to take your entire kitchen and stuff it into roughly the size of a small bathroom. Now, for the best part, you have to leave your dishwasher behind. Your refrigerator, stove and kitchen sink have all been shrunk to about 1/4 it’s size, and, depending on who’s boat your on, having a separate freezer, ice, hot running water, oven or even a microwave might be considered a luxury.
Space is a huge issue on any boat, especially for the galley area. Our galley consists of a small double stainless steel sink, two burner gas stove with gas oven, a large square-triangle space for the the icebox and the cutest little 1980’s microwave you’d ever seen. I’m not exactly sure how you’d describe the ice box area in terms of shape but let’s just say I can buy a weeks worth of groceries and not even come close to utilizing all of the compartments it contains.
The oven requires a lot more attention than I was used to at first. Most modern ovens come with many bells, and whistles, literally. Land based ovens will give you a friendly beep when your desired cooking temperature has been reached, and more importantly when your food is ready to eat. But, the galley oven is different, nothing beeps! There is no way to look at the status of your food with the door closed, so, good luck if you’re trying to bake cookies. I tried to make cookies once, but from that day forward I decided I would only be making cookie bars. There is also a delicate dance between maintaining the right temperature for the duration of the desired cooking time that the chef must be present for. Opening the door for anything allows a drop in temperature. If a drop in cooking temperature occurs I must turn up the flame. Once it’s reached I must turn down the flame. When in doubt I use my sniffer.
In addition to galley appliances you also need space for galley cookware and utensils. I never really took to the time to notice how many kitchen utensils I had before, because on land I could stash something in a drawer or in the back of dark cabinet never to be seen again. As a former Pampered Chef consultant I owned just about every Kitchen item in their catalog, but I knew I couldn’t bring it all to the boat. One of my biggest trades included leaving behind my Pampered Chef seven piece executive nonstick cookware set. I traded those for a set of Magma marine grade stainless steel nesting cookware.
I was really excited about the amount of space this set of nesting cookware would save, but when I first started using them they were definitely not as forgiving as the nonstick set I had been used to. Even with nonstick spray on the bottom, I kept ending up with a mess of burnt food. Eggs were the worst offenders! I seriously wondered what I was doing wrong, and all I could do to remedy this was to buy more eggs and keep practicing.
I was amazed when I found the stamp under my new set of cookware that showed they were made of 18/10 grade stainless. Stainless steel comes in many different grades. For example, the chainplates we have on our boat are made of 304 grade stainless steel. This translates into 18% Chromium and 8% Nickel. The Chromium helps increase the products hardness, while the Nickel helps resist corrosion. Resisting corrosion as long as possible in a salt environment is super important.
As it turns out, there are over 150 different grades of stainless steel, of which only 15 are the most commonly used in the items we find on the market. When something is labeled as stainless steel it means just that, it’s not supposed to stain. It will corrode eventually but just not as easily as other types of steel. Even though stainless steel has a higher resistance to corrosion, it is still important to use the right grade for the right environment. The easiest way to see if your stainless steel product is high enough quality for use in the marine environment is to use a magnet. 18/8 or 18/10 stainless is not magnetic which will translate into a longer life in a salty seaside environment.
After much practice with my new pots and pans, and the propane two burner stove, I was finally able to master the art of scrambled eggs without the assistance of nonstick cooking spray or butter. The perfect scrambled eggs are light, fluffy and have absolutely no browning on them. Egg’s Au Naturel as I like to put it.
Moving from a big kitchen to a small galley was a big change, but I’ve learned that having a big kitchen doesn’t automatically make you a better cook. Our galley is equipped with everything I need to cook a great meal and it all happens to be within arms reach. A smaller kitchen also means there’s not a lot of room for a large mess. Slowly, I’m starting to learn how to keep my creative mess to a minimum, and it only took reducing the size of the kitchen!