Actually, I ate out very seldom but cooking was definitely a challenge in the very small space.
Lessons learned in an RV come unexpectedly, very messily, and they stick--in more ways than one. No matter how carefully things are packed away it takes only one misjudged corner turn, where a wheel or two ends up on the curb, to discover there are problems in stowing food. And I guarantee you that every RV driver has taken a corner too close or too fast at some point.
Food storage took months of such lessons before I reached some semblance of order in my tiny galley.
The first hurdle was dry storage. How do I reduce the enormous amount of stuff I had collected in my kitchen over all the years to no more than the essentials. And how do I pack all the staples, cans, condiments and spices that are necessary to put together a meal and secure it ultimately from mayhem.
As I started packing stuff in the RV I learned very quickly, the fancy packages that encase food will occupy most of the shelf while leaving a lot of unusable space over and around the items. It was that initial realization that brought me to the idea of cutting down those great big plastic containers cat litter comes in (thoroughly washed out of course) to the exact size of the shelf the containers were to sit on. Then I took all those boxes of cereals, flours, beans and noodles and repackaged them in zip top baggies and threw away the boxes. By layering each packet into the plastic boxes I was able to more than double the amount of food I could store, it was easier to find because I put similar items in each container and listed everything on the outsides of the containers. Food stuffs were safer on the shelves because the containers kept things from sliding around willy nilly.
Hints: Cut out all directions needed for items such as oatmeal, polenta, rice, etc. and pack inside the baggie with the food.
Put one or two bay leaves in any packet that contains flour, cornmeal, grits, etc. to keep out the weevils. Believe me--it works.
On one crazy curve the fridge door flew open and deposited food all over the floor. That told me those cute little tupperware containers were not the best storage either. Besides I could never find the right lids, the bowls were as space consuming as the boxes had been, food was hard to see when packed in colored bowls and tightly into the fridge, and when the bowls hit the floor the lids would usually fly off.
I discovered canning jars were the answer this time. No matter what the size of the jar, there are only one of two size lids and the lids tightly seal the jars so they don't leak when sloshed around. The jars can hold very hot or very cold food, they can be purchased in any grocery store, and they can take a lot of abuse without breaking. I proceeded to toss out all my plastic containers and have not regretted it even once.
The best of all things about canning jars is that you can can--yes you can. (I want that put to music please.) In other words, if the jars are sterile, and the leftover soup is really really hot, the jar will seal and hold for several days longer in the fridge. In this way I did not have to dine on a batch of chili for seven meals straight. This procedure is not really canning unless the jars are boiled in water for at least a 1/2 hour but it will still stretch the life of leftovers far longer than usual. Following is one of my favorite recipes to put into jars….
Mother's Eggplant Goulash
1# ground turkey, or chicken, or very lean beef
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 medium to large eggplant, peeled and cut into bite size pieces.
Approximately 1 quart chicken stock (water & bouillon cubes okay for stock)
1/4 cup low salt soy sauce
Salt, Pepper and Herbs to taste--preferably fresh but dry will do. I use whatever is at hand…thyme, oregano, basil, savory.
In large pot, boil eggplant in stock until tender. Set aside while sautéing ground meat, onion and garlic until onion is limp and meat is no longer pink. Add soy sauce and seasonings and stir until well mixed.
Add eggplant to meat mixture and enough of the liquid to give a nice broth. (not too soupy)
Serve over brown rice or chinese noodles.
Eggplant Goulash, pear salad with honey-yogurt and walnuts, and white wine. YUM!
The RV has a two-burner stove, a hotel-size fridge, a microwave, and a sink with running water. That's it! Since the microwave was electric I seldom used it except as a bread box. Ron bought me the wonderful little NuWave oven (above) that I kept mostly stored away unless I was plugged in to electricity. (Best meal in the NuWave…Onto a sheet of Aluminum foil place a tilapia filet, thin slice of onion, fresh herbs, slices of button mushrooms, dribble of olive oil and several tablespoons of white wine. Seal packet and bake until done.)
I also had a crock pot but used it only once or twice. On really hot days I would turn on the generator for 1/2 an hour and run the air conditioner while I cooked.
I have the little table-top barbecue stove that I used a lot in the parks until I set the picnic table on fire. (another lesson learned--fake wood tables will melt, then ignite, if they get hot enough. The Rangers don't like that.)
I don't always want to get up and cook oatmeal in the morning so I found a recipe that I can keep in the fridge in canning jars and just pour into the skillet in the morning….
Oatmeal and Applesauce Pancakes
In a large bowl, usually the night before, mix….
1 Cup self rising flour (or 1 cup flour & 1 Tblsp baking powder)
1/4 teasp. allspice or cinnamon
1 Cup quick cooking oats
1 Teasp. vanilla
1/3 cup applesauce
(I keep on hand the small individually packed 4 oz applesauces and just eat a tablespoon out of the cup to make it the right amount. Please don't tell on me.)
1 1/2 cups milk
3 tablespns syrup (sometimes I use molasses)
2 tablespns oil
Stir gently and pour into a jar to store in fridge. Each morning I pour enough to cover the bottom of my Pam-sprayed skillet and allow to cook slowly until firm enough to flip. (Hint: Spray spatula with Pam to keep batter from sticking to it.) Also, add a little more milk if batter becomes too thick. Serve with lots of fruit and honey-yogurt. Sometimes I add walnuts to the batter.
Aunt Louise discovered this treat and I found the recipe on the Web. It stores nicely in jars and was a nice dessert to have easily at hand….
Cherry Coke Jello
Copied from Tasteofhome.com website
Now I am headed to a New Year's Eve Party and don't expect to be up to blogging for a few days. I hope you all have have A GREAT NEW YEAR!