Friday, October 23, 2009

RV Cooking

We spent last evening with a group of hiking friends whom we hadn’t seen in almost a year.  Of course, that was fun and our discussions seemed to include every imaginable topic.  Naturally, there were questions about our most recent loop around the country and, invariably when we are with non-RVers, someone has a questions which pertains to the lifestyle.  The question most interesting to me last night was “do you eat out all the time or do you cook like you would at home?”

This is another one of those questions like “do you do laundry and clean house?”.  It arrises from the perspective of the traveler on vacation.  My answer was “we eat out very little.”  Of course, that is the same as what we did before we ever thought about an RV.  Some of our RV friends like to eat lunch out and do that nearly every day.  Some of our RV friends enjoy trying the many locally owned restaurants around the country and make that a big part of their RV lifestyle.  For us, though, we eat at home most of the time.  That is because I love to cook.  As Gene likes to say, “she loves to cook and I love to eat.  That makes us a perfect couple.”

The friend’s question has been on my mind, however, and as I’ve thought about what and how I cook now, I’ve come to the conclusion that I cook differently than when we didn’t live in an RV.

I have always enjoyed reading cookbooks and trying new recipes.  I still do that and have something new at least once a month.  But now I look for recipes that require a limited number of ingredients and I especially like things that can go in the crock pot.

Since “I like to cook and Gene likes to eat” that was a major consideration when shopping for an RV.  Some dealer told us early on in our shopping process to have what you like to do best in the rear (for a 5th wheel).  In other words, the rear living models give more living space; the rear kitchens give more kitchen space.  Our Montana had a rear kitchen and I had a lot of storage as well as work surface.  Now, there are many models of 5th wheels with large kitchens located in the center of the units.  That is what we have with the Everest.  I don’t have quite as much storage as I had in the Montana, but I have a double refrigerator.  I still have the cooktop and gas oven and I also have a large combination microwave/convection oven.

I had one complaint about the kitchen in the Montana--the microwave/convection was over my head.  I was always afraid I would spill hot food on myself.  I had to use a step stool to remove hot dishes from that oven.  My microwave/convection oven is lower in the Everest, but I still have one complaint about the kitchen--the gas oven is situated in such a way that it is very difficult for me to light the pilot light.  I’ve remedied that problem, however;  I just don’t use it.  Many of the new RVs, especially motorhomes, come with cooktops, microwave/convection ovens, but no regular oven.  I decided I could learn to cook exclusively with the convection oven.  So far, it has worked out great and after some practice, I turned my regular oven into the storage cabinet for cat supplies.

Even though we have a large kitchen by RV standards, I still don’t have the storage space that I had in the condo we moved out of.  Because of limited storage, I don’t have near the number or variety of cooking pots, pans, or casserole dishes I used to have.  Neither do I have the large pantry I once had so I don’t keep on hand a lot of spices, a variety of flours, 5 lb bags of potatoes or onions, and especially not what I would consider staple canned foods like tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Because I don’t have a lot of ingredients on hand, meals require a little more planning  to be sure I get what I need at the grocery.

I think we eat well.  We don’t spend too much on eating out so I have the extra money in the grocery budget to buy fresh vegetables and better cuts of meat.  I like to take advantage of locally grown produce wherever we are in the country.  Of course, we eat more shrimp when we are along the Gulf coast, more salmon when in the northwest, more lobster in Maine.  That is another of the great blessings of the RV lifestyle--enjoying local specialties whether you prepare them yourself of go to the local restaurant.

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