Saturday, June 20, 2015

Top 10 Galley Essentials

Our Closet-Sized Galley

   During the time that Bill and I have lived on the boat, curious non-boaters have asked a lot of questions about our way of life.  One of the questions I get asked a lot is along the lines of "Can you really cook on a boat?".  I suppose when people ask this question, they are conjuring up images of canned beans and soup being heated up on the stove or, possibly, a certain blue-boxed brand of macaroni and cheese being boiled up.

   While I will admit that this is the case at times, the vast majority of the time we do actually cook; chopping onions, grating garlic, roasting meats, stirring up sauces cooking.  Bill and I really do get a lot of use out of our galley and enjoy cooking up new recipes and old favorites.  My mother-in-law's lasagna (cooked up for every family birthday for decades) and my shrimp bisque are just a couple of our favorites.  Bill even bakes up all of our bread here.  Loaves, hamburger buns, pizza dough, and more. How do we manage this in a galley that is not much bigger than the size of most people's closets? . . . I'll admit that it is a challenge . . .

   Bill and I simply enjoy cooking together.  We are also pretty adventurous in that we'll try most anything once.  We even made sure that we found room for all of our favorite cooking gadgets and tools when we moved on to the boat.  We had developed a way of preparing food that allowed us to make nearly everything from scratch.  Moving onto a home that floats didn't mean that we should change our ways when it came to cooking.

   Many of these galley items are what we'd consider "tried and true".  They have stood up to plenty of use and abuse as well as the marine environment they've been exposed to over the past year (salt air can wreak havoc with many things, especially things made with metal).  I thought that I'd share a few of our favorites here.  This will give a little insight in to cooking on a boat and maybe even give you some ideas about what will work in your kitchen (on water or land).  I included links so that, if you feel so inclined, you can check out some of these items for yourself.

Corelle Dishes: I'm probably not revealing any secrets here.  Corelle is known for creating products that hold up to just about anything. When I first started to look for boat-proof dishes, I found brands I liked but, were way over priced and ones that were affordable but, not to my taste. This particular set fit the bill on both accounts (not a "frilly" style that often accompanies Corelle products) and has definitely held up to spending time on a boat.

Manual Food Processor: This thing is awesome!  It uses zero electricity (power is at a premium on a boat).  This one is made by Pampered Chef (because I used to sell for them).  It chops wonderfully, smooths out sauces easily, and an added bonus is an arm work out.  It even has a locking arm for easy storage.

Immersion Blender: I don't actually use this item that often but, when I need it, it works wonderfully.  It is also a big help when it comes to safety.  Why risk pouring boiling hot soup into a blender when this can be placed into the soup pot directly?  It purees soups and sauces in much less time and removes the chance of burns from spills.

2-Quart Jugs: We have 2 of these and they are rarely empty. They are just the right size for our little fridge and pour easily.  We use one exclusively for tea and the other for orange juice.  They don't seem to hold odors either; a big plus in the world of Tupperware-style products.

Microplane Grater: I LOVE this grater.  It gets used nearly every time I cook.  It might surprise you to learn what I use it for most.  Garlic. Yep. Grating garlic is the easiest and quickest way to get it ready for the pan. This is a must-have tool in our galley.

Pizza Docker and Dough Roller: I put these 2 together because one is rarely used without the other (and we make a lot of pizza).  This dual-ended roller has a different size cylinder on each end. We have found that the larger end is great for a pizza and the smaller end works great for tortillas.  The docker is like a roller on steroids. It has spikes (they're not sharp) on the roller part that poke small holes into your pizza dough.  This allows the air to escape. So, no big bubbles in your pizza!

Pizza Stone: Bill and I will never bake the same way again.  It might have pizza in the name but, it actually makes baking, in general, better. It evens out hot spots in your oven, allowing food to cook more evenly. Allow the stone to heat up along with your oven and place the dish, pan, or whatever right on top.  The only drawback we have found to this is that, since it holds heat well, it makes it hard change the temperature of the oven quickly.  So, if you need to put a dish in right after another dish, you may have to pull the stone out if the temperature change is significant.

Flexible Cutting Boards: These are invaluable on a boat. They take up very little space, wash up easily, and it won't break your budget when they need to be replaced.  A triple win!  These can be found in sets of 4 (or so), have colors that are meant to eliminate cross-contamination (red for beef, yellow for veggies, etc.), and work in kitchens big and small.

Better Homes and Gardens Storage Containers:  These were not the cheapest investment because we needed SO many of them but, they were worth it.  These containers are virtually air-tight.  They have kept out critters as well as water (not that I suggest pouring water over these). I recommend wiping the lids down with a damp sponge instead of submerging them; this helps keep the seal in good shape. These also come in a wide variety of sizes. So, you can store pretty much anything in them. *note: the link I provided is for the starter set but, canisters can be purchased individually as we did*

Basic Cocktail Shaker: I can't talk about all this cooking without mentioning the drinks that often go along with it.  Bill can mix up some great drinks.  Margaritas, mojitos, tequila sunrises, and half masts are often shaken up on our boat.  This particular shaker holds up every time.  It washes up wonderfully, never drips or leaks, and hasn't shown even the smallest sign of rust (a HUGE plus).
*note: The shaker we have is made by Home Presence.  I could not find a link for it.*

   So, that's my list of top 10 galley essentials.  I'm sure that if you asked 100 boat couples/families what their essential items would be, you'd get just as many different lists; These are the items that work for us.

   By the way, this post has been in the works for a while and it's given me time to think not only about the above items but, how I get to use them daily. Since I am continually asked about cooking on the boat, I thought that sharing some of our favorite recipes would be a good fit for this blog.  So, I am planning on starting a new recipe page; one that not only provides the "how to" but, some background on the recipe and kitchen tips and trick to go along with it.  I'll keep you up to date about new additions to the page.  I hope that this will add more depth to the blog, more insight into our lifestyle, and inspire you to trying something new.  Check it out soon!

   Please let us know what you think. Feel free to ask questions and leave nice comments. (If no one has commented yet, there will be a "No Comments" link near the bottom of the post. If someone has already commented, there will be a number and the word "comments" beside it. Just click whichever of these is there, click, "add comment" when the window opens, and type away.)


  1. Corelle dishes are not on our list of favorites. They tend to shatter into a million tiny slivers that lock up a bilge pump in a flash. I hate plastic but gave up on glass. Boat rocking means I drop even more than normal. Captain said the Corelle had to go. I agreed after the third bilge pump replacement.

    1. Sorry to see that these don't work for you. I have dropped these quite a bit and they never shattered. Other things have certainly bitten the dust while on the boat, just not these dishes.


Please let us know what you think. Feel free to ask questions and leave nice comments.