I have to admit that I was leery about writing this review of Carolyn Shearlock’s and Jan Irons’ fresh-off-the-press cookbook, since John and I do a lot of cooking, both on and off the boat, and are a long way down the gustatory road from making casseroles with condensed mushroom soup and dried onion soup mix, the type of ingredients many boat-oriented cookbooks have traditionally relied upon.
And, I have to admit, a lot of the recipes in this cookbook don’t really do it for us. For one thing, a good number of them call for sugar and prepared sauces or condiments, all of which we steer clear of. Also, we tend to serve meat and cooked vegetables or salad, instead of the one-pot meals that this book is focused on.
Now, it’s only fair to acknowledge that we have a large fridge and freezer and tons of locker space. Those in small boats without much storage space and with only a fridge face a much more difficult task than we do. And it is really for the latter that Jan and Carolyn have written this cookbook.
Their recipes call for ingredients that are easy to find in out of the way places and ingredients that can be easily stored on a smaller boat without refrigeration. Their recipes are simple and easy to follow and they give alternates within a recipe for when you don’t have the ingredient called for.
Their Food Substitutions chapter is a gem—a whole section devoted to how to make your own sour cream, how much dried herb replaces so much fresh herb, even several ways to make your own coconut milk, etc. They also have a very handy section on measurement conversions, something that is hard to figure out when Google isn’t within reach (e.g. how many pounds in a kilogram). As far as I’m concerned, those two sections alone justify adding this book to our cookbook shelf on the boat.
I can particularly see the benefit of this book for those who are new to living on a boat and (to add insult to injury), are also new to cooking. If you are in this situation, I advise you to put this cookbook in the locker with your lifesaving equipment!
However, if you are used to throwing a bit of this in with a bit of that, used to making your own mayonnaise and béchamel, and have enough storage space, along with a capacious fridge and freezer, to carry the ingredients you are used to using with you, the recipes in this cookbook may not work as well for you.
Jan and Carolyn kindly sent us a copy of their cookbook free of charge.
What cookbooks do you find most useful when you are out cruising? Please leave a comment.