Monday, June 3, 2013

Cooking on the Road

For the last six or seven years in our house I have been the primary cook. For me, the advantage of this arrangement was that it fell to Vicki to clean up the disaster area after I finished in the kitchen. Needless to say, when you have an automatic dishwasher and someone else is responsible for the rinsing and loading, you don't spend a lot of time worrying about how many pots and pans you are dirtying up getting dinner on the table. And for her part, Victoria was not above allowing the dishes to "soak" in the sink for two or three days at a time until there was a full dishwasher load to deal with.

Life in the motorhome is a little different. There is no automatic dishwasher, nor is there enough sink or counter space to let anything sit around soaking. Once the meal is over, everything has to be cleaned up and stowed or the living space rapidly becomes unmanageable. So when doing our meal planning these days, we think seriously about how we can get victuals on the table without dirtying up every cooking vessel and implement we own.

Bread Box
We also are learning to cook without an oven. Oh, we have something that looks like an oven sitting underneath the stovetop, but if you open it up and look inside you'll discover that it is actually a breadbox. If you wanted to try and use it as an oven you would have to remove one and a half loaves of bread, three boxes of crackers, a bag of animal cookies, several partially consumed bags of snack chips and whatever else has been thrown in there. Then you have to find some place to put all that stuff while you fire up the supposed oven to cook in it. It's really just easier to leave it as storage space and figure out some alternative.

I have rarely actually cooked anything in a microwave oven before. For 30 years, my use of the microwave has been primarily to boil water and to reheat food that had previously been cooked by more conventional means. Now I am starting to take the microwave in the motorhome a little more seriously. One thing that we recently discovered is that it does a fantastic job of cooking corn on the cob. You don't even have to shuck it. You just snip off the corn silk sticking out of the top, put it on a plate and cook it on a high for about 5 min. for the first ear and one or two additional minutes for each additional ear. It comes out cooked perfectly and when you then go ahead and take the husk off, all of the corn silk slides right off with it rather than clinging to your corn. Then one of us eats dinner off the same plate we cooked the corn on. You need to let it cool down enough that you don't burn your hands shucking it. I simply cannot believe that I have spent my entire life waiting 20-30 min. to get a pot of water boiling to cook corn in. Never again.

It looked just like this, I swear.
We also discovered that chicken cooks quite nicely in the microwave. Four to six pieces of chicken will cook in about 12-15 minutes.  It won't brown  of course but that's not too much of an issue if you use a recipe that cooks the chicken in some kind of sauce. I googled a recipe for chicken tikka masala since I had recently acquired some garam masala seasoning. It did not taste quite like the stuff we used to get from our local Indian take-out restaurant, but it did taste pretty darn good and was ready in under 15 min.

6 qt. Nesco roaster
In preparation for going full-time in the RV, we also acquired a 6 quart roaster. Yes, I know it looks like a crockpot but it's not. First off, it doesn't have a crock. The cooking vessel is a Teflon coated steel insert. It can function as a slow cooker (although it heats up quite a bit faster than a crockpot) but it can also function as a tiny oven, perfect for making a meatloaf or roast for two people. It heats up as high as 425° so it could also, I suppose, function as a deep fryer if you wanted to dump a gallon of oil into it and make enough french fries to feed 50, but we have not tried that yet. When using it as a slow cooker, it's nice because you can put in a plastic liner and then clean up just consists of throwing the plastic away. We're not sure at what temperature the plastic melts but the manufacturer doesn't recommend finding out, so we line it with foil when we roast in it.  I've dealt with enough teflon in my life not to trust that to solve all of the clean up problems.

We also have a small propane grill and, of course, the electric smoker which is really an RV luxury (I smoked some ribs and a tri-tip roast last week). In the past when we traveled in the motorhome we were vacationing and tended to eat out most nights. Now we are trying to cook in the motorhome to stay within our budget and have been doing pretty well at it. Now if I could just figure out some way to get the dishes to clean themselves.  Hmm... We do have two puppies with us...


1 comment:

  1. Okay, I'll finally leave a comment after reading the postings you two have written! First, do know that I have thoroughly enjoyed all the "exeriences" that you have shared as you begin your new life as full-time RVers. Photographs are as terrific as usual and the writing is (usually) insightful and entertainingly witty. Your adventures turn into the kind of stories that I'm glad I can just read and NOT experience myself. Keep it up (or, maybe that isn't really what you want to happen...)! Portland WAS fun!

    P.S. I've read about that corn cooking technique in the microwave and by golly, we're gonna try it tonight!