Cooking in a tiny kitchen

grain bowl

eggs and chia pudding

grain bowl

grain bowl

cooking veggies

A few people have asked us about our diet while traveling. We are eating at restaurants a good bit, since that’s an important way to experience a town, but the best way to eat healthily while on the road is to cook for yourself. I’ve actually really enjoyed the challenges of cooking in a tiny kitchen, with few ingredients and limited supplies. We have the basic kitchen equipment: a good sized refrigerator and freezer that switches to propane power when we’re off the grid, a wee gas oven, a three-burner gas stovetop, and a microwave that we can only use while on shore power (unless/until we get a generator). Outside the kitchen we have a grill and sometimes a campfire. On our wishlist is a cast iron skillet for campfire cooking; the one we used for eggs and Spam belongs to our buddies.

Kitchen Supplies

  • Chef’s knife
  • Kitchen shears
  • Paring knife
  • Veggie peeler
  • Julienne peeler
  • Cheese grater
  • Can opener
  • Spatula
  • Wooden spoon
  • Mixing bowl
  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Blender
  • Collapsible colander
  • Foil, parchment paper, plastic wrap
  • Cutting board
  • Skillet
  • Small pot (I brought 3 sizes and have used all 3, but one would work too)
  • Tiny roasting pan
  • Small Pyrex baking dish
  • Folding trivets
  • Grill tools
  • Ziplock bags and plastic containers for leftovers
  • Chip clips

Pantry Staples

  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Oatmeal
  • Chia seeds
  • Garlic
  • Oils: olive, ghee, coconut oil
  • Vinegars: balsamic, sherry
  • Herbs and spices: S&P, cinnamon, cumin, chili powder, curry powder, smoked paprika, chipotle powder, garlic powder, Mrs Dash, Montreal Steak Seasoning, Mexican bean spice mix, basil, oregano
  • Red and green curry paste
  • Honey
  • Vanilla extract
  • Spreads: PB, almond butter, Nutella, marshmallow fluff
  • Toppings: shredded coconut, chopped walnuts, cacao nibs
  • Cans: black beans, chickpeas, tuna, light coconut milk

Recipes and Vague Meal Suggestions

Breakfast

  • Egg bake: Very loosely based on this recipe, minus the bacon and peppers, plus a ton of spinach, and caramelized instead of raw onions. Basically just add whatever veggies you have on hand to eight eggs and bake it all for a while at 350 degrees.
  • Overnight oats: There are million recipes out there, like these; mine is just equal parts Greek yogurt, almond or light coconut milk (sometimes I make the milk portion half milk and half water), and oatmeal. The best type of oatmeal to use is old fashioned rolled oats, but in a pinch I’ve used all types and they all work. Steel cut will be a little chewier, instant a little mushier. I usually add cinnamon into the oat mix, refrigerate overnight, and top bowls with fruit, nuts, shredded coconut, cacao nibs, nut butter, honey, whatever you’re in the mood for.
  • Egg scrambles: I don’t have a recipe for this. For two people, I’ll use 5 eggs plus random produce and leftovers, always including lots of spinach. This is what we have most often for breakfast both on the road and at home.
  • Hardboiled eggs and apple slices: Nothing special about this! It’s our preferred breakfast when we’re breaking camp early and eating in the car. Everyone hardboils their eggs differently; I throw several in a pot with cold water, bring to a boil, remove from heat and cover, let sit for 6 minutes, and transfer to an ice bath. In the Airstream we don’t have ice, so I use a cold water bath, changing the water a few times, and then straight to the fridge. Not terribly scientific, but works great.
  • Breakfast burritos: Again, if you have eggs and tortillas, you can make these adding anything you have on hand. We like to scramble (or fry, if you’re J) a couple eggs, and combine in a heated tortilla with beans, cheese, bacon, spinach, chopped veggies, whatever you’d like. Wrap them in foil and throw them in your pack.
  • Sweet potato bowls: I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for a few months, and tomorrow’s finally the day. The other morning we cooked breakfast (egg scrambles + Spam for the boys) over a campfire, and I covered two sweet potatoes in foil and put them in the embers for about an hour, turning them every so often. This recipe is another base + whatever toppings you want.

Lunch

  • Grain bowls: We love the bowls at Roots Natural Kitchen in Charlottesville, and they’re not hard to replicate (except their basil balsamic & pesto vinaigrette–it’s so good and we haven’t quite figured it out). Our basic bowl is a mix of any or all of the following, all chopped up and dressed with your favorite dressing:
    • Rice or quinoa
    • Roasted (frozen) broccoli
    • Roasted sweet potatoes
    • Grilled zucchini
    • Sauteed mushrooms
    • Sauteed or raw onions
    • Black beans or chickpeas
    • Tomatoes
    • Cucumber
    • Meat–chicken or fish or hardboiled egg or whatever you have
  • Tuna salad: This is J’s specialty. He uses Duke’s mayo, lots of relish, chopped celery, chopped onion, lots of horseradish, a little mustard. We roll it into flatbread for easy transport, or eat it open-face with melted cheddar.
  • Tuna avocado: You can get as fancy as you like with this concept, but basically: mix together a can of tuna with a half or whole avocado (depending on your mood), any seasonings you like (at home I drown it in Trader Joe’s Everday Seasoning, but to mix things up I didn’t bring any on this trip), and, if you want more pizazz, add chopped onion, celery, even walnuts.

Dinner

  • Burgers: Beef or veggie, we’ve grilled both kinds, but last week J claims he made the best burgers ever. Mix the following into ground beef, form patties, and grill:
    • Chopped onion
    • Shredded cheddar
    • S&P
    • Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • Fish curry: This is also more of a concept than a recipe. If I have frozen fish that I need to use up, this is my go-to method. In a skillet, saute your chopped veggies in a little oil and salt: onions, mushrooms, zucchini, minced garlic, whatever you want. After the veggies are a bit browned, make a well in the middle of the pan, pour in a half can of light coconut milk and a few spoonfuls (to your taste) of curry paste. Mix the paste into the milk and combine with the veggies. Add as much spinach as you feel comfortable with (I use so much). If you need more liquid, add more coconut milk and/or water. Lay the thawed fish on top of the spinach and cover the pan to cook the fish and wilt the spinach. When the fish is flaky, stir everything up, breaking the fish into chunks, and serve over rice if you want.
  • Chickpea spinach: I make this recipe all the time at home (I omit the bread) and it’s great for tiny kitchen cooking too. I even made it in individual serving foil packets over the campfire, subbing garlic powder for minced garlic. So simple, so flavorful.
  • Tomato avocado salad: For a really fresh, filling side dish, chop up a few avocados and a few tomatoes, and mix in a bowl with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt.

Dessert

  • Chia pudding: Again, there are a million recipes. Here’s a good base. I do 1 part chia seeds to 4 parts almond or coconut milk, add a dollop of vanilla and a healthy shake of cinnamon, and refrigerate a couple hours or overnight. Top with fruit, nuts, coconut, similar stuff that you’d put on overnight oats. I make this for breakfast too!
  • Banana campfire dessert: This works in an oven, too! There are many recipes for campfire banana s’mores, but here’s what we do: Cut a peeled banana lengthwise and top with peanut butter, chocolate, shredded coconut, nuts, cacao nibs, honey, Nutella, marshmallow fluff… anything you want. Wrap in foil (no need to spray the foil) and put in campfire embers or the oven for 10 minutes or so until everything is melty, open foil, and eat with a spoon.
  • Smoothies: We’ve been having smoothies almost every night, convincing ourselves that they’re healthy! Well, they are until you add the Nutella and marshmallow fluff. For two people, blend the following.
    • 1 frozen banana
    • 1 regular banana
    • 1 glug of almond or light coconut milk (I add water after the initial milk glug if needed for thinning)
    • 1 heaping spoonful of peanut butter
    • optional: for PBJ smoothies, add a spoonful of strawberry preserves
    • optional: for Fluffernutter smoothies, add 1 spoonful of marshmallow fluff
    • optional: because it’s delicious, add 1 spoonful of Nutella

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