My last food-related entry focused on the how-to of planning for an offshore passage. According to one reader, all I did was recommend an app. She found that unsatisfying and, although she would say she is not bossy, she demanded a more detailed look at meals. Since I am here to fulfill the needs of the readers (and she scares me a bit), this blog entry will focus more on the ingredients and meals themselves.
The Physical Challenges
Boat galleys present challenges at all stages of meal preparation. Some can be worked around and others are immutable laws of space and time that cannot be altered outside of Marvel movies. Other issues pertain to the crew, their sea tolerance, and their cooking ability. For passage planning, we try to work within the limitations in a manner that maximizes simplicity at sea and reduces the need to improvise, adapt, and overcome on the fly.
The initial challenges are storage – both basic and cold. Once the passage starts we cannot run to the store for a forgotten item. So, we plan to maximize storage and minimize (if not eliminate) the forgotten item issue of everyday cooking. This is where the Paprika app mentioned in the last blog post comes in super handy. After entering complete meal recipes into the app, you can assign them to the calendar and the shopping list auto-populates. Very handy.
Wild Rumpus has a large amount of refrigerator and freezer room for a boat. Standard, an X5 Plus has 157 liters/5.5 cubic feet of refrigeration, and 145 liters/5 cubic feet of freezer space. Wild Rumpus adds an additional drawer that can be a refrigerator or freezer and measures 95 liters/3.3 cubic feet.
To put that in perspective, with the extra capacity added to Wild Rumpus, we have the same cold storage as your standard post-college cookie-cutter rental apartment fridge/freezer -about 18 cubic feet. While this is actually a lot for a boat, the space doesn’t add up to much if you treat it like you did as a young adult. Filling it with beer, cheese sticks, and leftover take-out food boxes won’t get us very far offshore. (To see the refrigeration in an older version of an X5, use this video and skip to the 10-minute mark.). Also, take-out is prohibitively expensive in the middle of the South Atlantic.
Adjusting Galley Duties to Skills
On a passage with a rotating watch schedule, all crew will spend some time on galley duty. Galley duty will require the preparation of meals and cleaning up the galley. But, since our crew has varying degrees of cooking skills, we need to make sure our menu includes easy-to-make items for those who do not enjoy cooking and less than perfect weather. We’ll also pre-cook and freeze numerous meals such as soups, chili, and lasagna that can be defrosted and warmed up easily.
The conversion of some menu items to passage-friendly is as simple as replacing homemade sauces and gravies with dehydrated or canned versions. This isn’t to say we won’t make homemade sauces on Wild Rumpus, but rather that during a passage our priorities shift to efficiency and simplicity. Another easy adjustment will be to supplement the proteins, such as chicken, with canned versions that only require warming instead of cooking. And they don’t require a real deep cleaning of cutting boards and surfaces like the use of raw chicken does.
Recipe Examples and the Bonuses
Meal recipes were edited in Paprika (the app discussed in the last blog food post) for the passage. The main adjustment of ingredients was the inclusion of canned protein options. Also, when a meal is a simple one for which there would not normally be a recipe, we created a recipe that includes all components that landlubbers take for granted. For example, we created a recipe for hotdogs, which includes the hotdogs, buns, condiments, and even chips as a side dish. In normal life, we don’t need a recipe for such a simple meal, but for the passage, the recipe and the shopping list are one and the same.
The Alternative Protein Option Plan- One Example
For many of our meals, the recipes include alternative protein sources. As an example, Ritz Chicken Casserole is a simple go-to meal for a family with kids because it is delicious, filling, very simple, and dirties only one large bowl, one small bowl, one casserole dish, and a spoon. Those same qualities make this recipe perfect for less-skilled cooks in the galley or cooking in mediocre weather conditions.
The Ritz Chicken Casserole recipe, which we will double for 6 adults is:
1 10.5 oz can of condensed cream of chicken soup
2 cups of sour cream
1 cup sliced-thin green onion
1 rotisserie chicken, or two boneless chicken breasts and four boneless thighs -chopped or 1 1/2 cups canned chicken
2 sleeves of Ritz Crackers- roughly crushed
1 pound of green beans (fresh or frozen), cut in half
1/2 cup of butter
Preheat oven to 350. Butter casserole dish. Place remaining butter in the small bowl and melt. Add Ritz crackers and mix thoroughly. In the large bowl, mix soup, sour cream, and green onion. Stir in chicken. Pour mixture into casserole dish. Top with Ritz and butter mixture. Bake for 30 minutes.
For provisioning purposes, using this recipe as an example, we will buy two boneless chicken breasts and four boneless thighs AND 1.5 cups of canned chicken. The procedure at the grocery store is simple. We will buy our fresh meat for all recipes and then for half the recipes get the protein in cans. That will give us options for cooking and provide plenty of spare emergency rations should the trip take longer than expected. Adding additional pasta, rice, and canned beans is a simple matter that will also give options and emergency ration options.
Screenshot of 30 Day Plan
I’ll not bore you with the details of every recipe, but the following screenshot of a month’s plan should give you all you really want to know. We could certainly just get cans of food, dehydrated camping food, or ramen noodles, but our goal is to make this fun. So, the recipes are varied and a bit more involved than Cup-a-Soup. You’ll also notice bread and other treats on the list. They are on the list for ingredient purposes but are not locked into the schedule on particular days.