Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Useful RV Galley Gadgets

These are just some of my favorite RV things with links where you can find them. I live in my wheel estate fulltime, so my choices reflect ease of day to day living in a 28 foot mini-motorhome. 


All links are either a different color or underlined, depending on how or where you are reading this.  As you may have guessed, I often choose mailorder over store shopping for many things. This saves time and gas. Also, you can be a lot more pickier when mailordering, finding just the right tool or the perfect color or exact size. Many mailorder companies, such as Amazon, are now offering free shipping on numerous items, to entice shoppers. 


Progressive International 3-Quart Collapsible Mixing Bowl
This bowl gets heavy duty use for mixing, tossing and microwaving. It's made of silicone, collapsing to about 2 inches width, super easy to store away.  Doesn't chip or rattle in the cabinet when driving.  Can be used as a buffer against other noisy objects (like pots and pans).  It doesn't absorb stains or odors, it cleans up like new each time. 

I cook for my healthy diet as well as the thrill of entertaining friends. This bowl has mixed countless dishes as well as served double duty as a serving bowl. They also make a 1.5 quart size, which I hope to add to my galley at some point. 

Like most RV-ers, I don't have an automatic dishwasher,  washing all my dishes by hand. Once I've washed the bowl, I can collapse it to sit and dry in the dish drainer like a large plate.  

I also like Progressive's colander, it too collapses and stores quietly. I travel many backroads and byways, not always in the best of shape (me or them!)

When I first moved into my RV, driving down an old lumpy highway sounded like a room full of 4 year olds turned loose on a dozen drum sets and symbols. 

As time went on, I figured out it was all that junk I was hauling around, stored in cabinets, making  that raucous cacophony. Now I think about that when I am storing things away.  My ride has become far quieter. 

This Progressive Microwave food cover, works perfectly in the microwave for heating foods on plates or in bowls. It has a steam vent, but also keeps splatters from dirtying up the sides of the microwave. Food cooks a bit quicker with this lid in place. Because of the steamer vent, I am able to invert it, to use as a lid on the 3 quart collapsible bowl.  This enables me to steam a batch of assorted veggies in the microwave, with less than a tablespoon of water. 

Also, I've discovered I can put 1/4 cup popcorn in the 3 quart bowl, cover with the inverted food cover, to make popcorn in the mcirowave from scratch without all those chemicals and fats that are present in the prepackaged microwave popcorn mixes.  Rather than load mine up with butter, I toss my popcorn with Braggs Liquid Aminos, which is like an all natural form of Soy sauce, but without the excessive sodium. It's very tasty on popcorn at a fraction of the calories of butter.

When making popcorn in the microwave, there is always leftover unpopped kernels, but I toss mine out in the yard for the birds to enjoy. I don't believe in wasting foods, it's a precious commodity that many go begging for each day.  While no one wants to eat unpopped corn kernels, the birds and other critters will readily gobble them down.

I've been spotted at 2am, opening up my bedroom window, sliding the screen out of the way, then flinging my popcorn kernels and bowl out the window.  

A sobered up neighbor in the campground told me he was walking home at 2am from a local bar the night before.  He was just passing my motorhome, when he heard my shade go up, the window open, and my bowl fly out bouncing across the grassy lot, spilling popcorn kernels, coming within inches of where he was walking to his own motorhome. Afterwards, my window closed, the shade went back down. 

My neighbor thought in his inebriated state, he was making too much noise, the flying bowl was intended to hit him, so he carefully tiptoed the rest of the way to his RV. He claims he even tiptoed inside his RV, all the way  to his bed. 

The next day, while severely hung over, he came to apologize for making so much noise at 2am. 

Actually, the night before,  I was up late, unable to sleep, so I was watching a movie in bed on the laptop computer, while eating popcorn.  When I finished, I wanted to throw just the unpopped kernels out the window for the birds. But in my semi-sleepy state, I flung the whole bowl outside. I didn't want to get dressed, to go outside to retrieve it at 2am.  I figured it would still be there by morning. I felt like an idiot, flinging dishes out the window at 2am. I had no idea anyone was walking past at the time. I guess from his point of view, it was startling.

We had a great laugh over it. As I retrieved my errant bowl, I noticed all the corn kernels were completely gone. 

I guess the early bird gets the corn...

These are often advertised as magnetic knife holders. I bought this one that is 13.375 inches long. It came with 3 stainless steel rubber tipped hooks on the bottom. They also come in 2 larger sizes (18 and 24 inches) with 5 hooks attached. I had measured and planned for the installation, as shown, adjacent to my stove.  I didn't put a thing on it at first, but rather waited to see what turned up there as I cooked my next few meals. That way my favorite frequently used gadgets ended up on the holder. Actually, since this picture was taken, it holds even more stuff. 

This magnetic utensil holder with 3 hooks on the bottom is currently holding:
  • 2 strainers 
  • Nonstick fry pan 
  • 1 Oxo Good Grips Swivel Peeler (does awesome work with minimal effort) 
  • Stainless steel mini-whisk (I make homemade dressings, sauces and beaten eggs with it)
  • Silicone tipped tongs (even though these lock, they  take up a lot of room in a drawer, it's nice to have them handy now)
  • 2 small paring knives
  • Ice Pick (I keep a plastic shoe box full of ice in my freezer, replenished from 2 ice trays, but sometimes it needs chopping up, if the cubes fuse together.
  • OXO Good Grips Grater (Perfect for fresh ginger, hard cheeses, lemon or orange zests etc.)

Not shown, but now stuck there,  are my 2 little pate knives with the seashell handles. I rarely eat pate, but the little knives are great for serving or spreading butter on toast, bean dip on crackers, hummus on cucumber slices and so on. 

My motorhome has 3 drawers for the kitchen, but they are very small. 

Above the magnetic holder, I hung this Amish Handcrafted Hanging Utensil Basket.  It is very sturdy, built for the task at hand. I was in Amish country last summer, I saw this in a store, thinking it was the perfect thing for my motorhome. Indeed it is. A nice souvenir from my travels there, but you can get one mailorder at the link above. 

It holds all my big nylon cooking utensils such as spoons, spatulas, ladle, the stove lighter, my two big knifes, wooden cooking spoons and the scissors. The silicone tipped tongs were always taking up too much room in the basket, so they live on the magnetic holder now. 

Cooking is a breeze with all these handy tools at hand. My little drawers are no longer crammed so full, I can't find things when I need them. So I am one happy cooking camper. 

Oh and for dining...
Corelle Livingware is fantastic for RV's.  I spent the first year eating off cheap plastic plates.  That worked OK, but quickly showed signs of wear and tear. A dear reader, Angel Linda, sent me these beautiful 8.5 inch Luncheon plates in the Corelle Watercolors pattern.  Corelle is extremely difficult to chip or break. Their dishes are thin, like fine china, but very durable.  If you pull a super hot plate out of the microwave, simply slide another plate underneath it, to make it cool to handle. 

While their Livingware series is typically sold in sets, you can also buy individual pieces such as just the bowls or just the plates. 

Above is my stuffed baked potato.  The moist baked potato was made in my 1.5 quart Crockpot.  The day before I had made a dried bean mixture in the crockpot.  That crockpot gets heavy duty use in my motorhome from baking to slow cooking, there is almost always something in the crockpot. When a friend stopped by on his trip from Florida to New Hampshire, I made stuffed potatoes for lunch with the bean dish, topped with cheese and some fresh tomatoes plus a side salad.  

In case you are wondering...   I used to work as a gourmet chef on large charter yachts in the Caribbean that were monohulls with teeny tiny galleys to cook in. Now many charters are aboard catamarans with spacious galleys. I was used to turning out sumptuous meals in a tiny bit of space for 8-12 people.  

I discovered the right tools get the job done easier. I still enjoy cooking, though now I am focused on healthy eating for reversing diabetes and curing other maladies. I thought I always ate healthy in my 20+ years in the Caribbean, but moving back to America came with loads of temptations.  The grocery stores are just full of over-processed foods that contain health debilitating chemicals and excess sugars. 

Many of the so called deli departments, import their deli salads and foods from centralized industrial kitchens that make them up with loads of preservatives, sweeteners and chemicals thrown in. Often when they print up the price sticker for you, there is mouse print listing dozens of ingredients that are not at all healthy for you. These unwholesome chemicals can over time, wreak havoc with your kidneys, liver and overall health. 

Cooking from scratch with wholesome foods is a lot more work, but it sure beats the heck out of seeing and supporting doctors and drug stores. I often cook up larger portions than I plan to eat, so that I have plenty of extras to store in the refrigerator. In this way, I can make up my own version of HEALTHY fast food, by loading up a plate with my own deli type offerings which I can then microwave or eat chilled, depending on the type of food. 

At the time my friend showed up, I had no idea when he would arrive or whether he would be hungry or not.  When he mentioned he was hungry, I poked around my fridge, deciding to assemble this stuffed baked potato.  If you have never had a potato baked in a crockpot, you are sure missing out on life!  They come out super moist, without heating up the galley at all. Just scrub the potato well with water, then place in the crockpot with only the water clinging to the potatoes from scrubbing. You can cook them on high or low, but once they are soft to the touch, turn to the warm setting until serving, or let cool and store in the fridge for future use. Do not overcook, as then the skins will be tough. Cooking times vary, depending on number of potatoes, their size, your size of crockpot,  and whether you do them on high or low. 



Hurricanes and Hangovers and Other Tall Tales and Loose Lies from the Coconut Telegraph by Dear Miss Mermaid

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