Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What I Told Charlie

This post was written by The Cook.
Sometimes a man I hardly know will ask me an easy question, such as, 'What do I need to do so that my wife will go sailing with me?' (My answer: "You have to become a really good sailor yourself, man").

Other times I am asked a routine question by my loving family such as, "What's for dinner?" and I panic because suppertime is in less than 30 minutes and once again I've no idea what I'm going to make...so I just say 'food' or 'hot food!'.

Since we arrived in South Africa, I have been asked two galley questions that inspired me to post on the blog. The first good question, which I will answer in another post, was "What foods should I have aboard for my first passage with young children - in case they feel seasick?".

The second question was, "What galley gear is essential?" When my lovely South African friend Charlie asked me this, I was quick to reply with a list of the top items that make my life easy in the galley. But today I had a moment of reflection, and I realized there are many items that I take for granted…such as a gimbaled stove, and an oven. I simply can’t imagine cooking without my Force 10 - although people do! Our first time in Tahiti, in 2008, I met a Canadian woman who had just crossed the Pacific on a monohull from Vancouver without a gimbaled stove - and she had 3 kids! She told me that she just cooked with really big pots. I was flabbergasted at the time. People do things in so many different ways. A lot of sailors would think it was nuts that we don’t have a freezer…or that we often sail for 4 months without a supermarket in sight.  But we have a good system that works for us - I bake bread every other day, make yogurt, and can meat/fish/chicken in jars - we certainly don’t starve or suffer.

That said, what did I tell Charlie?  What are my galley essentials?
1) My pressure cooker - small enough to be stored under the sink, but large enough to hold 4 pint size canning jars. In this photo from last year, I am canning up some Chilean beef while in Patagonia.

2) My trusty Galleyware set of stackable pots and pan, which I bought in 2004 and have stood the test of time and use!  I often use the sauté pan for baking pies since I don’t have a proper pie dish aboard - notice the pecan pie in the following photo. And aboard Pelagic when I had zero space for mixing bowls, I used one of the pots to mix bread dough.

3) My bread mat - nonskid and it is wonderful for kneading dough for bread or pizza or pasty. Plus it covers those cracks in the counter made by my refrigerator lid and keeps the flour from getting into the fridge!  (Actually, I didn’t tell Charlie about this because I plan to buy her one for her gorgeous new galley).  Here is Elias (age 7 at the time) helping me shape sesame bread rolls on our passage from Fiji to New Zealand in 2013.

4) My seat hammock that is lashed to the stove and allows me to have both hands free while cooking underway. Great for flipping eggs in a sloppy sea!

I am tempted to stop there, but five is such a good number for these types of lists…so here is my fifth.
5) Two cutting boards with nonskid on the bottom - one lives in the galley and the other lives in the cockpit and is used solely for cleaning fish. The fish one has a hole in the top so we can drag it over the side with floating line when it is slimy with fish gurry.

There will be more musings from the galley in the near future.  In the meantime, I have 20 minutes to figure out what to make for dinner tonight. food! hot food!


  1. Thank you Alisa so much for this blog !! Looking forward to more musing from the galley. For someone like me I husband who would love to do more sailing a son who is nervous and me somewhere in between, sharing how you do things especially in the very important job of food! Is much appreciated. Take care and continue enjoying what you do :)

  2. Thank you for the positive feedback and encouragement with my galley post! Enjoy sailing with your family and perhaps your son would enjoy the book Little Rat Sets Sail?

  3. Well YIPPEE! I've been waiting for a bit of Alisa's wisdom to come into play here on this amazing blog. I have wondered how you do life on the sea... I just dont have a clue how it could be possible for a day outing really. Yet you manage to feed the family with cakes and pies as embellishments to solid nourishment that goes far beyond our "land lover's" fare. It is delightful to read your voice, as it reminds me that you continue to make magic happen every day, morning noon and night in the rally and all around the ship. You are remarkable. It is all just too wonderful. I love reading Mike's posts and now I will look forward to your shares too! Thanks for the gift Alisa, as always I am sending much love, light and total respect to the cook!

  4. Thanks for your comment, Aunt Noe! I don't always feel remarkable, but I always feel lucky.

  5. Oh how you don't know how amazing you are! Canning. Pies. Bread-making with kids. Back in the city, the hipsters are very excited by pickling. Last heard, you don't need a seat hammock at any stage. So clever we think we are though. I savour domestic details of your crazy extraordinary life, Alisa...so much more than The Cook. xx

  6. Thanks Enki, you make me blush. Interesting that you mention pickling. I have just acquired two authentic South African pickling recipes, and I can't wait to try them once we start trolling again. Of course, my concoctions might require a seat hammock (luckily I have one!) xoxo

  7. You are a legend Alisa, home made Pecan pies no wonder your family always looks so happy. Mike is a lucky man. Excellent post, lets retire Mike for a while and you take over!

    1. We never miss a chance to celebrate Thanksgiving, and to us that means good friends, mashed potatoes, and lots of pie! Those pies were made for a very special thanksgiving potluck a few years ago in New Zealand (I don't normally make three for just our crew!). Anyway, thanks for the encouragement!