Saturday, March 08, 2014

Camper Cooking

I am going to start answering my email questions here:

Dear Miss Mermaid,

What do you cook in a small camper?


Hungry and Wondering

I live in my little old wheel estate full time with a tiny galley, but I make just about everything from scratch. Typically I make double, so I begin to collect up leftovers in my fridge. This becomes my personal smorgasbord buffet. I can fill my plate with a little of this and that, microwave it then dine in style with a variety of foods. I try not to ever waste a thing.

When I was growing up, my mother constantly reminded me that I was lucky to be fed at all. Children were starving all over the world except for us and we were reminded of this fact often. She ran an efficient kitchen, cooking for her family 7 days a week for decades, never wasting one crumb. She also insisted we eat what was placed before us without complaint.

I could write volumes about food and cooking, but I will just touch on a few things today.

I find the two crockpots I own to be my best friends at times. I have a 1.5 quart and a 3 quart.  It's amazing what you can bake in there too. For instance I bake potatoes in my crockpot and the moist baked taste is better than any other method I've ever tried. Dried beans are super simple in a crockpot too. Throw them in before bedtime to slow cook all night, then flavor them up in the morning and/or add additional ingredients and reduce to "keep warm" until devoured then cool down the leftovers for the fridge. I often make a pot of flavorful rice then save leftovers for future reference. Leftover rice plus leftover veggies with seasoning and soy sauce makes awesome stir fried rice.

A Friend and a Ham Recipe
When my friend turned up with a ham, I decorated it with pineapple slices and whole cloves then slathered mango jam on it. The day long cooking in the crockpot made it tender, moist and flavorful.

I have a big wok, which is fun for stir frying the latest bounty from the produce section. It also doubles as a "big pot" for boiling or steaming. Everything in my galley must do double or triple or daily duty.

This was a pot full of shrimp I steamed in the wok with copious amount of Old Bay Seasoning, lemon juice and a bit of water and wine. I could be an almost vegetarian the rest of my life (but only if I can have fresh off the boat shrimp too.) Interestingly enough, when I lived in the Caribbean, many West Indians boast of being vegetarians (but they eat fresh fish.) This confuses foreign vegetarians who are startled to be offered fresh fish when they tell a restaurant chef they would like a vegetarian meal. Spring and fall, I have been detouring to make a far flung visit to a tiny sea island where I devour  fresh off the boat shrimp. I make a spicy cocktail sauce that will break a sweat if you're not used to hearty horseradish.

I also have a tiny 5 inch iron frypan I am having a love affair with, but thinking of getting a bigger one for company as I like to cook and entertain friends or take food to potlucks. I do have a big cheap fry pan that came old and used with the motorhome, but it's warped so it does need replacement at some point soon.

This 5 inch iron fry pan did a beautiful job of roasting small red bell peppers as an attractive garnish on a meal for friends. 

While alone, I rarely buy or cook meats, this is mainly a budget and health consideration, but I have friends that eat meat, so I or they buy some. I am happy enough to find a way to cook it.

The crockpots do magic with all sorts of pork and beef roasts, it does a mean chicken too. Sometimes I buy the 3 pound boneless turkey breast and crockpot that with mushrooms. After the turkey roast is done, I make mushroom gravy. The leftover turkey slices up beautifully for sandwiches.

When I am traveling, I often do buy crockpot ingredients so I can put that on in the morning then drive. In my case, I put the crockpot in the sink with a thick rubber shelf liner, I tie the lid down with a big rubber band or a bungee cord then I plug the 200 watt crockpot into a tiny inverter which is then plugged into my 12 volt socket. In this way, the crockpot is cooking off my house battery. The engine is recharging the house battery as I roll down the highway. It's nice to set up camp then discover dinner is already made.

Even though I fulltime, I rarely ever dine out. The cheap fast foods are not nutritious. What you save in money you spend in needless health problems. The chain style restaurants often have loads of sugars, chemicals and preservatives in their foods which are very often prepared far away, then "finished" at the local restaurant. I prefer to save my "eating out" money for the gas tank and campground fees.

I've built in small racks and wall baskets to hold my collection of spices, herbs and condiments. Judicious use of seasonings can turn bland into fabulous.
My rolling galley.
Shown is everything except the refrigerator.
The jumbo white board is hiding the 2nd sink.

Seafood does surprisingly well in the  microwave when I am hungry in a hurry I've been known to cook a filet of salmon in the microwave for a sandwich in just 2-3 minutes. It tastes awesome especially with my homemade tarter sauce as a sandwich spread.

I've enjoyed in the past four years shopping for the perfect space-saving equipment for my tiny galley. Many of my finds were at nearly new shops but some I bought with Amazon credit card rewards. We all like something for nothing. I can pay my campground fees with the credit card, then use the rewards monthly for shopping.

One of my favorites is I own 2 different sized Squish mixing bowls, they pop down to store easily and pop up when you need to mix up a recipe or toss a salad or cart something over to a potluck. I collapse mine, then have them hanging on the wall, because I use them so often.

See and purchase Squish Mixing Bowls at this link. Below is my 1.5 quart Squish mixing bowl. It's oval with a pour spout plus a nifty hole for hanging when it is collapsed. The fun color makes an attractive bowl for a tossed salad that serves 2-4.

Super Simple Corn Casserole Recipe
Line your crockpot crockery with foil, then coat with melted butter or olive oil. Beat 2 eggs, add 1 Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix and 1 can cream style corn. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Pour into foil lined crockpot. Cook on High for about 2 hours or until center is set. Lift out of crockpot with foil (this will wrap up leftovers too.) The finished recipe is a moist corn casserole you can slice like a pie. It helps to let the casserole rest about 5-10 minutes before slicing. This recipe tastes great hot, warm or cold.

Recipes I published on the internet can be found at this link. 

In the early 90's I wrote and published a cookbook "Fine Fare With Flair". Lots of things went wrong (with the book marketing, not the recipes) but somehow it still sold out completely and sadly is no longer in print. Perhaps that will change one day.

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