There seems to be no set rule on how I cook in this little space. Originally, I thought I wouldn’t use the inside kitchen much — lingering odors, confined spaces, etc.–but experience has changed all that.
Our latest trip, for example, was a 2+ week survey of Colorado’s mountains and parks. We picked up sticks and moved camp most every night. We, mostly, stayed in basic campsites in national forests–so no water or power–but oh, what a view!
I found that fatigue and just ease of flicking on the gas had me sautéing things like stuffed mushrooms, tuna steaks, seared veggies to serve on nan, grilled veggie/ brie/granny smiths on peasant bread sandwiches and easier things like veggie dogs with bean chili (from a can)–right on that convenient three burner stovetop. The stove vent/fan did a marvelous job evacuating the odors–even the carmelizing onions and sautéed garlic!
Local trips, where we stay put a few days and have electricity, I will pull out my little aluminum foldout table and my electric skillet and plug into the outside camper plug near the tire.
The skillet is made by Presto and the base folds into the pan for more compact storage. I figured out that I could use it as a baking oven by using a baker’s rack and silicone pans–that was a happy discovery! I, then, made a little draw string bag to nest them all together (so that they fit easily in the little cubby under the furnace).
Note: Baking in the skillet will yield good results but it will not brown your bakery items or meats. The baking times are very similar to oven cooking but you need to keep an eye on things like brownies to make sure they fully bake.
In the Fall and Winter, I like to bring my crockpot and set things to cooking in the morning before we head out on the trails. The days are shorter then so it’s nice to come back tired and have a savory meal ready while the sun goes down.
If we are lucky enough to be out for a Winter holiday, that’s when I pull out the Dutch oven and cook like a pilgrim. That sure is fun but that’s a whole post unto its own.
In short, I let the type of trip we are taking dictate which cooking apparatus I bring. The camper always has a square short handled iron pan for cooking over the fire, a couple of folding backpacker saucepans and skillet and the electric skillet/oven in it. When I know we will be boondocking and I want to grill, I bring our BioLite stove because it uses easy to find sticks for fuel (at least easy here in the Midwest).
I do love the ease of boiling up a kettle on the inside stovetop for tea and hot cocoa as well as a hot pot of water to wash dishes when we don’t have water in the onboard hot water tank.
It’s just fun to cook up a warm set of flapjacks for my sleepy husband right there– watching his smiling face taking in the scent of hot breakfast without ever having to get out of bed. Camp cooking just tastes fuller and seems more welcomed than cooking at home–no matter which method I use to do it. As in all things, enjoy the process, it’s not about how you get it done.
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