I Need a What?

The past month I’ve been doing rehab for an injury.  And as part of that, I’m walking on a treadmill at the YMCA — and that means that I’ve been watching a lot of daytime TV, which I don’t normally do.

There have been a fair number of cooking shows and cooking segments, which I’ve actually found interesting . . . but probably not in the way that they were intended to be “interesting.”

You see, while I enjoy cooking and eating good food, I’m not a gourmet or “foodie.”  I believe that you can make great meals with whatever ingredients you can find and that you don’t need a bunch of fancy pans, utensils and other tools.

And so I’ve been just amazed at the equipment that these shows seem to portray as “essential.”  You say I “need” a stock pot, lobster pot, corn on the cob pot and a Dutch oven?  Oh, pul-leez — I can use the same pot for all . . . and mix bread dough in it, too.

  • For several years, I only had a 10-piece Magma nesting set of “pans” that were used on the stove top and oven and doubled as mixing and serving bowls.  You don’t need a “bread pan” to bake bread or a “cookie sheet” to bake cookies.
  • Aluminum foil can substitute for lots of things — pan lids, grilling pans, cookie sheets . . . I’m sure I’m forgetting many uses!
  • Most cruisers use a bottle of wine (or something similar) in place of a rolling pin.
  • Chop garlic with a knife and don’t bother with a garlic press.
  • You can use a pan lid held just off the lip of a pan to drain food if you don’t have a colander or strainer.
  • Need a wok?  Use a skillet.

And on and on.  The funny thing is that once you get used to using just a few implements, a kitchen with more just seems cluttered.

My advice to new cruisers — whether you’re weekend boaters or moving aboard full-time — is to only buy the essential items initially, but buy high quality items.  And high quality doesn’t necessarily mean the most expensive!  But you want items that will last and do what they are supposed to.

Then, over time, you can buy more.  But I almost never buy something the first time I think “I wish I had a _______.”  Only if I find myself wanting the same thing over and over do I consider it (and always figure out where you will store something before you buy it!).

So what gear substitutions do you make?  And what did you decide you just had to have?

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  • CaptRich Kervan on Facebook
    Posted at 16 January 2013 Reply

    I love my 6 quart S/S Presto pressure cooker on board. Yes, it is large…but that’s what I need on occasion. Large enough to steam a whole Maine lobster, and just the right pot to steam clams or mussels. I also use it to make faux baked potatoes by wrapping them in aluminum foil and cooking for 10 minutes. If I want steamed potatoes, I just peel and cut into small chunks and cook for 7 minutes.
    It saves me time and stove fuel (alcohol stove) and it’s my one “go to” pot.

  • Cindy Balfour
    Posted at 17 January 2013 Reply

    We are still finishing up the preparations to sail. Many delay stories too boring to share…

    I do read your forum and then I ask my husband the questions. ok here is one. We will be (hopefully ) sailing our 50ft catamaran to Alaska this summer. Cats I am told aren’t as likely to pitch or roll as monohulls are….We have a 2 burner electric cook top. (he says he has all the power issues worked out.).. My question is what IF we have a lurch or a sway great enough to cause the pans to slide off the burner? ( those pot hooks you showed won’t work for us) He says we have a deep sink for a reason. if the churning gets that bad we put pots etc in there. The next part of my question is…does anyone have other ideas or suggestions?

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 17 January 2013 Reply

      If you can’t use pot restraints, I think you’ll have to forego cooking hot meals in those conditions. But most marine stoves DO come equipped to use pot restraints, so you might want to double-check whether yours does.

  • Diane Sullivan
    Posted at 19 January 2013 Reply

    I have a nice 7 piece SS cookware set my husband gave me several years ago which I absolutely love. At first we’ll be using maybe 3 pieces of that (fry pan, two sauce pans and lids) but we plan on getting something less cumbersome (the handles aren’t detachable) and more efficient. Maybe we’ll look at a pressure cooker for most of the cooking, and perhaps a small set of the nesting pots/pans. I’ve heard positives and negatives on the pressure cookers out there and wonder which ones seem to work the best for folks.

  • Deb Perfitt
    Posted at 02 September 2013 Reply

    We have just moved on board full time and I agree with you. If an item can’t be used for more than one use or can’t be stowed right then it has no place on a boat. I do love the collapsible kitchen ware that is out now. Example. I bought a collapsible salad spinner but I use the basket and bowl to steam food as well as the bowl as the salad bowl. The whole this reduces to a 2 inch high disk that I can easily stow. Thanks for some of the other tips.

  • Kelley - Sailing Chance
    Posted at 02 September 2013 Reply

    I have one of those heavy duty Calphalon pots that has the strainer built right into the lid. I had it before I moved aboard but that thing is amazing. I love the two-in-one product! It’s always my go-to pot as it cuts down on the dishes I’ll have to do later.

  • Frances
    Posted at 02 September 2013 Reply

    I have a small frying pan (precursor to Calphalon) that has two small handles, like a wok, instead of one long one. I use it for almost everything.

  • Skylar Walker
    Posted at 24 July 2014 Reply

    decided I had to have a colander so found a silicon one that folds flat. I use it all the time & love it!

  • Lynn Duggan
    Posted at 24 July 2014 Reply

    Great info and I have rid myself of so many essentials I thought I needed. One thing I do love is my “Grill It” stovetop smokeless grill pan..great on rainy nights and it grills most anything fast and with no added oil, and it is just perfect. Mine was 20 bucks from a home show but Amazon has the same one…Carolyn, I will post a picture of it in use next time on the boat. I have also found that my go to spatula is really a fish turner but it is great for scrapping and flipping anything..only one on board now. As a side I have found that after extended time cruising I come home and relentless purge kitchen stuff…..why did I buy it in the first place,,,,watching too many cooking shows when I broke an foot a few years ago!

  • The Sea and Sailors
    Posted at 26 July 2014 Reply

    No microwave oven!

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