FAQ: What do you eat on the boat?

People always ask me this, but I’m not sure why. Um, we eat…food, just like you. That may be a bit sarcastic, but, seriously, we cook on the boat just like we do at home. If you have been aboard, or seen interior pictures, you know that I have a gargantuan galley. For a boat “kitchen” it is unbelievably large and well-stocked. I mean, it has a dishwasher. I’ve never used it, and it’s going bye-bye to make space for a clothes washer someday, but still, who ever heard of a dishwasher on a boat?

Cooking over the last year or so has been its own adventure. The ancient electric BOSCH stovetop and oven are power hogs, and require running the generator. The stovetop does not work properly—it only works on the “high” setting and only one burner at a time. For “low” or “medium” heat, you just manually switch it on and off a few dozen times, and pray you don’t get distracted.  I’ve almost mastered it. The oven is fine, but it heats the whole boat up and seems to be very inefficient, taking forever to warm up and forever to cool down. To compensate, I use a toaster oven for warming things up, and an electric skillet or crock-pot for cooking off of battery power. (I’m the anti-microwave oven type.) We also have a great little gas grill which is perfect for cooking al fresco.

We are in the process of replacing old and broken fridge and freezer units, which forced us, for awhile, to use a cooler for a refrigerator. That works okay for weekends, but not long-term.  Food storage is a subject of its own, but that is definitely a challenge for a family of six. My friends have jokingly called me the Little Red Hen, since I started grinding grain and baking bread a few years ago, but it’s a skill that will serve me well on the boat. Whole grains, if kept dry and well-sealed will store for several years. We can carry a few hundred pounds of grain and I can make bread, tortillas, pancakes, breakfast cereals, pasta—you name it. Beans and brown rice are also easily stored and easily prepared, but meats have to be frozen or dried, fish have to be caught, and things like dairy, eggs and fresh produce have short life-spans. Canned goods are the old stand-by, but I try to use them as a last resort. Basically, we are very old-fashioned, and make everything from scratch. That doesn’t mean we don’t eat pizzas or hamburgers, it just means that we made the crust and the buns!
We’ll carry as much food as we can, to be self-sufficient for several months, if necessary, but everywhere we go in the world, people have to eat, so although we may not have as many (or the same) choices, we will still be able to find food. We are trying to raise kids that are not picky eaters, knowing that one day they may have to eat octopus and be thankful for it!

Tools of the trade:

Vita-Mix Super Blender, dry blade for grinding, wet blade for juicing
Family Grain Mill, manual grain grinder and oat roller
KT Oil-Core 12” Stainless Electric Skillet (makes great popcorn, too)
Rival Crockpot
Bodum Stainless Steel Coffee Press
Toaster Oven with convection
Marcato Atlas 150 Pasta Machine, manual crank
Electric tea kettle

Favorite Cook Books:

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer
Gourmet Under Way by Robbie Johnson
The Care and Feeding of a Sailing Crew by Lin and Larry Pardy

Some Favorite Ingredients:

Rapadura sugar (a truly raw and unrefined sugar from Rapunzel)
Bronze Chief and Prairie Gold Wheat Berries, whole oat groats (Wheat Montana)
Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (Tropical Traditions)
“Really Raw Honey” (expensive, so used sparingly)
Bulk Herbs, Teas, Essential Oils (bulkherbstore.com)