Although it is a hefty paperback, The Boat Galley Cookbook by cruisers Carolyn Shearlock and Jan Irons is likely to help raise your waterline, because it consolidates in one volume many culinary resources cruising chefs have previously felt obliged to carry.
Indeed, no cruising cookbook I have ever seen has so deliberately set out to be a comprehensive examination of how to meet the challenges of cooking afloat. “We each faced a huge learning curve when we first began cruising,” say the authors, “so, we’ve tried to pass on all the things we wish we’d known!”
The Boat Galley Cookbook is divided into two main sections. In the first – “A Galley Frame of Mind” – the authors present tips on how to adjust your thinking from land to sea. They advise on how to outfit your galley from scratch, make good provisioning choices for your voyage (including figuring out options available in foreign markets), and effectively store and protect various foodstuffs for passages.
Possibly the most important section in the whole cookbook is the one on how to make intelligent substitutions when some important recipe ingredient – like buttermilk or sour cream — is not available. (I can’t tell you how many times in a remote location this chapter would have been a godsend!) Another chapter summarizes all the measurement equivalents and conversions you’re likely to encounter moving from country to country. There is even a chapter introducing some less familiar cooking techniques that we cruisers pick up – like cooking in a thermos or baking in a pressure cooker. Before The Boat Galley Cookbook cruising cooks had to collect this information willy nilly.
Two other helpful chapters in the section zero in on the very pertinent issues of planning meals for underway consumption and on the special concerns when stormy weather is on the horizon.
The Recipes section of The Boat Galley Cookbook shows equal consideration for cruisers’ needs. The section starts “Meal Ideas for the Boating Life” with nine lists of recipe “inspirations” for different situations, for example, ideas for breaking the monopoly of sandwiches for lunch, good one-pot meals, hot weather meals, and five-minute appetizers. They have even specifically cross-referenced recipes for creatively using such cruiser standbys as pasta and cabbage!
Finally, running my eye through the recipes themselves, it seems like they have covered almost everything anyone could ever want to do. Nineteen sub-sections of recipes run from beverages and breakfasts right through desserts, plus there’s a section on using canned meats and one on meatless main dishes. I was pleased to find many cruiser favorites typically shared around the fleet like Chinese Cole Slaw and Fish Sausage, and I particularly double-checked the recipe for the “Tropical Painkiller” – what could be called the national cocktail of the Virgin Islands (and so often over-looked) to be sure it was accurate. It was!
About the only remotely critical observation I could make on this wonderful compendium is that the recipes seem based primarily on ingredients already well-known to North American cooks without exploring the unusual vegetables, fruits, products or dishes we encounter in the lands we have sailed to visit. Although the authors encourage readers to be bold in asking about unfamiliar vegetables in open markets, include some tips about shopping in Central American “mercados”, and provide a useful key to deciphering cuts of meat in Spanish (you will need a magnifying glass to read this section), they do not go much into specifics. In a book this comprehensive about everything else, this would have been a welcome inclusion.
On the other hand, cruisers spend a lot of time trying to reproduce the flavors of home in situations far from home, and The Boat Galley Cookbook will prove itself a valuable aid in so doing.
The Boat Galley Cookbook: 800 Everyday Recipes and Essential Tips for Cooking Aboard is available on Amazon.com.
- Buy The Boat Galley Cookbook on Amazon.com.
- Learn more about the Boat Galley Cookbook: Boat Galley website
- Watch this video to meet the two authors (Carolyn Shearlock and Jan Irons) and learn how the book came to be:
- The Boat Galley Facebook page
- All book reviews
- Galley Advice from 18 Cruising Women: 18 cruising women offer tips and advice for setting up your galley and cooking aboard, discuss the gear that they couldn’t live without, and invite you into their galleys.
- Carolyn Shearlock: Everything I needed to know to go cruising …
- Jan Irons: Plan ahead to make lemonade from lemons
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