Saturday, April 9, 2016

Blogging from A to Z: G is for Galley Gadgets

During the month of April last year, I participated in the A to Z Blogging Challenge - one alphabet-themed post per day (except Sundays).  I had such a good time with it that I'm doing it again this year.  I'm loosely organized on the theme of downsizing, minimalism, and small-home living that I've learned in 14 years of living on a small boat.  I'm starting with A is for Anchoring Out, Anger-ing Out, and ending with Z is for Zout and Zwarte Peper (Dutch for salt and black pepper). Click on the A to Z logo on the lower left sidebar for links to many other bloggers participating in the challenge.

Overview of the galley.  It's about 4 feet wide by 5 feet long.
Our galley, though extremely efficient in layout, is really tiny by land standards. For storage of items other than food we have two shallow drawers plus two cabinets, the larger of which is about the size of the half-cabinet above a sink or stove in a kitchen on land.   One cabinet holds all the cups and plates and wineglasses; the other plus the two drawers hold all our cookware and gadgets. 

That's not much space, so everything has to be chosen based on its ability to earn its keep.  We have several criteria:

  • It has to serve multiple purposes -- we don't have space for fancy items that only do one thing.
  • Within reason, it has to be the smallest thing that will do the job.  Stackable or collapsible is a bonus.
  • It needs to be able to operate without electricity when we are underway or at anchor. The only exception is our immersion ("stick") blender, which operates on 12-volt ship's power.
  • Breakable glass or inexpensive metal prone to rust are to be avoided whenever possible.

Oh yeah, and we love to cook and explore new foods, so within those constraints we have to have all the tools that will let us be able to play in the galley.  No waffle irons or popcorn air-poppers or even bread machines or Kitchenaid stand mixers; they take lots of space, each do only one thing, and need to be plugged into electricity.  Instead, here's a whirlwind photo tour of what we do have.  By some standards, it's "camping." And each individual has to pick what they personally don't want to do without and figure out how to accommodate that, or it will feel like camping.  Your list will not look like mine.

The big surprise is that far from feeling limited by not having all those modern conveniences ("mod-cons") and specialized cool tools that every cooking store and catalog touts, with our limited hand tools we're being forced to pay attention to the details, handling each vegetable, living slow, and we've developed a much more intimate relationship with our food than we ever expected. We're having more fun, without all those gadgets, than we ever did with them. (Except the homebrewed beer stuff.  Gotta admit, I still miss that.)

This is the cabinet on the right side of the galley, with everything stowed and nested compactly.
The same stuff as in the photo above, spread out! Four nesting saucepans in varying sizes, and the larger fry pan, all share the same detachable handles.  Plastic lids for the pots (minus handles) allow for easy storage of leftovers or bringing food to a potluck.  There's also a pressure cooker that these pans all fit inside, and another smaller frypan.  Nesting plastic mixing bowls with lids, collapsible silicone colander, vegetable steamer, sieve, potholders, and trivets. 

A closer look at the nesting pots.

Probably the most important tool in the galley -- coffee! Heat water in a teakettle on the stove, and pour it through grounds in the gray filter-holder on top.  

The filter holder is silicone; it scrunches down and stores in the pitcher when not in use.

No kitchen is complete without a good set of knives! These live in a leather holder custom-made and tacked to the side of the dish cabinet.

The knives live in this leather holder tacked to the side of the dish cabinet

Essentially the only powered tool in the galley -- battery operated immersion blender for soups and our morning smoothies.
One of two gadget drawers.

Things from the drawer above: I've got a bit of a silicone spatula fetish!
More things from the drawer above: flat cheese grater works just as well as box grater while storing more efficiently. Flatware and measuring spoons store in (plastic) measuring cup; wire whisks for sauces, and the all-important wine opener!
A few gadgets from the second drawer: old-fashioned egg beater, potato masher, pie-crust maker, lemon zester, jar opener, thermometer, and military-style P-38 can opener (we don't use this anymore; it was tucked into a corner of the drawer slightly rusty, and that's a story for a future post)

This is one of those single-purpose items I mentioned; why do you need a special tool (that can do nothing else) to slice hard-boiled eggs when a plain old knife works just fine? And that is why, this tool is still on the rack at the store instead of in our drawer!
Just a couple of things didn't make it into the photos: a teakettle, cutting board that doubles as a sink cover to extend counter space.  We do have an oven, but it's only a little bigger than a toaster oven.  For that, we have an 8x8 square glass baking dish the handles most of our baking, and pie pan for the rest, and 4 mini-loaf pans.  We use the latter to make individual lasagnas, a cute serving idea when full-size lasagna pan just won't fit.


  1. Our boat came with those Magma stackable pots and pans. They're wonderful as they take up so little space.

    Even if I lived on land, I still wouldn't get the need to have an egg slicer.

    Cheers - Ellen

  2. The poor egg slicer has become symbolic for me of everything that's over-the-top (overboard?) about American consumerism. It's a created need, not a real one, a solution to a problem you never knew you had.

  3. I think we have the exact same collapsible colander! It's funny how obsessed one becomes with stacking - I was in a restaurant recently and I asked the waitress if their glasses stacked. She thought I was nuts. - Lucy

  4. I think we have the exact same collapsible colander! It's funny how obsessed one becomes with stacking - I was in a restaurant recently and I asked the waitress if their glasses stacked. She thought I was nuts. - Lucy

    1. Oh too funny! "Obsessed" indeed! And don't even get me started about playing Tetris with storage containers!

  5. I somehow missed your post on galley gadgets yesterday but would love to know the brand name of your coffee filter holders. We use the Melitta ones, which work really well but take up a lot of space.

    1. Oops, sorry for the crazy long links in the reply below!

  6. Hi Diane, you didn't miss the post yesterday; I was having internet issues and didn't get to publish it until late afternoon Eastern time. Anyway, our coffee set is made by GSI Outdoors and a link is here: and you can also buy the collapsible filter holder only if you already have a pitcher:,pcrid:103876410320,qs:3122480_google,product:0JJG240000,,cvo_crid:103876410320

  7. I'm glad you kept the immersion blender and the wine glasses...priorities! I used to backpack quite a bit and space and size were imperative. You look like experts.