Making Do

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2013 • all rights reserved

On a boat, you don't always have the gear called for in the recipe.  Don't worry -- you can make do with what you have!

I’ve never seen a brownie recipe that called for baking it in a pie pan.  But why not?  The recipe called for an 8″ x 8″ pan, but I don’t have one.  The closest thing I have is either this pie pan or part of my nesting Magma set — but I was planning to use the Magma one for another dish, so didn’t want to use it.  So I used the pie pan.

And they turned out just fine —


One thing I learned long ago on the boat is that less is better.  And so, before rushing out to buy another pan or piece of galley equipment, the first question I ask is whether I can get by with what I already have.  Galley space is very, very precious and I want to use it wisely.

A few “gear substitutions” that I’ve learned over the years:

  • Wok. Anything that calls for a wok can be made in a skillet.
  • Bread Pan. Bake bread in anything that can go in the oven—a casserole, a Pyrex bowl, a cake pan, a cookie sheet, or even on aluminum foil.
  • Cookie Sheet or Pizza Pan. Turn a cake pan upside down, or use a piece of aluminum foil.
  • Bread Machine. It’s not hard to make bread by hand — see Yeast Bread Making 101 for detailed directions and photos of every step.
  • Cooling Rack. If the stove is not on, set things on a burner so air will flow underneath. Otherwise, place a couple of table knives on hot pads on the counter and set the hot pan on top (see photos here). If you have a fan in the galley, move it so it blows on the food.  You can also get a trivet or The Gecko Grip that allows air to circulate under the pan and it will serve two or more purposes (plus, the silicone makes it non-slip, keeping your pan on the counter and not on the floor).
  • Corkscrew. Screw a large screw into the cork, then use a pair of Visegrip pliers and pull straight out on the screw. If the cork crumbles into the wine bottle, put a clean cloth or coffee filter over the mouth of the bottle and hold it firmly around the neck as you pour the wine—it will act as a strainer. Pour slowly!
  • Electric Mixer. A good mixing spoon will mix anything, although it may take a bit more time and effort (I prefer just to find recipes that are designed to be made by hand).
  • Garlic Press. Use a knife and finely mince the garlic, or use the side of the knife and crush it.

And you can change pan sizes for most baked goods — see how to change the baking time and temp here.

The funny thing is, with most of these I don’t miss having the “real” tool — it’s just as easy to use the alternate and the end result is just as good.

What “gear substitutions” do you do?  Please share!

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  1. I now make all my “muffins” in a shallow, smaller brownie pan! I always hated cleaning out the individual muffin cups (and I hate the waste of muffin wrappers). So now I just make bread. 🙂

  2. Dan Thomas says:

    I use my silicone muffin pan for brownies. They are the perfect size. And easy to store in a zip lock bag.

  3. I’ve started making brownies in silicone muffin cups! Cornbread is great in those too.

  4. I not only use my pie pans to bake in, we use them as oue dinner dishes… Our two Pyrex pie pans go in the oven,in the microwave,and on the BBQ… and our two Pyrex measuring cups serve us for soups, cereals, hot beverages, and measuring…. we like to keep it simple!

  5. Us boatie women are very resourceful and can find something to solve our problems. Only put on board things that have at least 2 uses…

  6. What are your thoughts on toasters? 12 v Electric vs. Stove top contraptions?

  7. What are your thoughts on toasters? 12 v Electric vs. Stove top contraptions?

  8. I’ve been know to make apple pie in a brownie pan from time to time. ;))

  9. Thanks! You’re the best! This is going to be a great birthday present for my boyfriend who has been wistfully talking about toast every other morning 🙂

  10. Fried toast in a skillet or on the BBQ, Desiree Golen…our favorite! No need for a toaster!

  11. I have often fashioned cake pans out of aluminum foil — just be careful putting it in the oven, but it works great! I just crimp or fold corners so they don’t leak. I made a square three layer cake on Sea Fever doing just that! I generally do not make muffins or cupcakes… even at our home on land, I generally make something I can cut to share… I’m not a fan of cleaning up muffin pans. I have silicone muffin cups and pinch bowls, but I use them for sorting or herbs or small servings of candy or nuts or dips or sauces or to hold screws/small boat parts! They store great and work in the microwave or to make poached eggs in a pot (easy eggs underway). I am not a fan of silicone baking pans… but I do LOVE silicone baking mats. They are very useful to lay anywhere and make anything not slide. Use them in the cockpit all the time. stack two together, and it is a decent hot pad for a pan too. Layer between glass pans or wine bottles to keep them from chipping… definitely great to have on board. XO makes a heat resistant silicone dish drying mat in grey that is fantastic for all of these uses AND it holds water in grooves.

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