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Food on board even a small boat can be as exciting, varied and nutritious as anywhere else. Tales of the inevitability of monotonous cooking at sea have been greatly exaggerated! All it takes to eat well on board is a bit of organization, use of common sense and a minimum of cooking effort. Even on an Atlantic crossing, for example, there is no reason not to enjoy fresh produce every day. It may be only an onion or a potato, but even that will raise the game compared with canned fare alone.
Quite a lot of preparation should be done at home before any major sailing trip. One skill well worth polishing up is "speed cooking". By this I mean knowing how to cook a range of dishes in less than 30 minutes – handy on land and even more so at sea (for some suggestions, see pages 87–138). You can adjust most recipes for on-board use by substituting a few ingredients, such as using oil instead of butter or powdered milk instead of fresh or UHT.
Adopting and familiarizing yourself with the pressure cooker (see pages 51–56) is another skill that can be practiced at home before you set out. And, of course, you can optimize your galley (see pages 12–17) and do your water-tank maintenance (see pages 70–77) while the boat is laid up in the off season. Don’t ignore safety issues (see pages 7–11); with just a few additions you can make on-board meals more comfortable for both cook and crew.
It doesn’t really matter which fuel type your cooker uses; each has its fans and detractors. You can turn out tasty and nutritious meals on any of them. It’s just a question of getting used to your own setup and figuring out the best – and safest – operating techniques (see pages 19–26). Some cookers will take longer than others to boil the kettle, but boil it will.
In general, keep things simple and take what you like to eat – and also be willing actively to seek out and try new foods in the regions you visit. Local foods are usually easier on the pocket and, of course, they are generally the freshest available. Some tips on stocking up your boat pantry can be found on pages 29–43.
Also included are some methods of preservation (pages 46–50) and wild-food foraging tips (pages 81–86).
Good stowage is paramount (see pages 44–45). You must not only be able to find your provisions easily and quickly; you also want them to remain secure in heavy weather and keep fresh as long as possible.
Many find cruising in their own boat one of life’s most enjoyable experiences – and it is even better with good food. Fair winds and bon appetit!
Fresh fruit and veg
Meat and eggs
Herbs, spices, oils and vinegars
Treats and snacks
Food storage and preservation
Selecting a pressure cooker
How to cook with it
Dealing with freshly caught fish
Improving water quality on board
Herbs and spices, fruit and veg
Couscous and other grains
Pan-fried breads and pancakes