Gourmet meals with limited tools
Eat. All. The. Things. That could be my motto. I love baking (cupcakes containing alcohol are my favorite) and cooking. We don't have a gourmet kitchen at home, but I have ALL the utensils and pots and pans and baking dishes and bowls and dishes I might need. I also have four burners and an oven and a microwave and an electric tea kettle and fancy-schmancy coffee maker and a toaster and a KitchenAid stand mixer and two hand mixers and a crockpot and a blender/food processor. Click through the slideshow below for a look at what I have in the van.
That's it, folks. That's all we have in the van for food prep. We tried to pick up items that can be used for multiple purposes (the salad spinner is one of my favorites) because space is so limited. When Brandon and I joined forces, we put the second one of everything we had from the kitchen in the Vanagon. It had everything but appliances. It was jam-packed with crap and we didn't use the vast majority of it.
We got the vintage Enamelware from Brandon's family. I love that it's been used and loved by his family and it just lends such a cool air to our meals. Nothing says outdoor living and camping like this stuff. We have an entire set, but pared it down to this. If we end up entertaining more folks, we'll get some plastic stuff and call it a day. (Drinking tea and coffee out of these cups isn't my favorite - I prefer ceramic. Hoping I'll get used to the flavor. They're light, durable, and like I said, there's just something so picturesque about them!)
I like this bigger frying pan we got awhile ago. The handle stores separately so it fits in our homemade dish organizer with no problems. It's been easy to clean and the non-stick surface seems tough.
Here's a closer look at our cookware set from REI. So far they've been tough and durable. I love that they nest together so nicely and are so versatile. The handle comes off and we store it in the utensil drawer just so it's always findable. You do have to store them with felt (included in the set) between the bottoms to protect the non-stick surface. I find that annoying, but it's not a deal-breaker. The best part of this set, they feel nice. We had a couple of old metal mess kit sets that didn't feel nice - touching them gave me that feeling you get when you run your nails down a chalkboard. These feel like quality and aren't chalky (am I the only one who feels like that about those old metal sets?)
I might be most excited about this little guy. I bought him years ago at a Williams Sonoma store in Atlanta while visiting Brandon's family. It's serving SO many roles in Humboldt - salad spinner, colander, bowl. And all that comes in this flat little package. It fits in our dish organizer, cleans easily, and will stand up to higher temps if I drain pasta or steamed veggies. It's SUPER great.
Originally I felt like a splatter screen was unnecessary. But it really isn't. When you consider that our entire living space is within just a few feet of spattering olive oil, bacon/sausage grease, etc. it really is necessary. It takes hardly any space, and I am really glad we have it. We recently replaced our two solid plastic cutting boards with these flexible ones. They also double as funnels should we need that. They're lighter, too, and weight is a consideration! The measuring cups were a cool score from True Value. They flip inside out so depending on which side you use, you can get a different measurement. We took a glass Pyrex measuring cup out and replaced it with these - not exactly the same, but for the kind of cooking/baking I do, it'll totally work!
I feel the same way about flatware as I do dishes. If we need more, we can always buy a few paper/plastic jobs and ditch them when we're done. In such a small space, it's really the best option. Using the steak knives instead of the butter knives cuts down on how many we need, and they can serve double duty if my other knives are dirty.
We probably won't use all of this stuff. The measuring spoons are likely overkill as I won't be doing much baking and can guess amounts. The basting brush, same deal. The rest of it has stood the test of time. Multiple tongs, several chef knives, whisk, etc. all have been used multiple times on camping trips. That little tiny can opener beneath the grater is genius - how small is that?! I think the chip clips (blue, red, and pink) will be invaluable as well! I use them at home ALL the time.
Cooking on the road is quite different than at home and I miss baking. We bought an oven and I'll post a review of that after we use it for the first time. Regardless, cooking up deliciousness in Humboldt is a fun challenge and I love that we don't just slice open a can of Campbell's every night (though soup really is a bloody fantastic easy meal when you're camping.)
If you're looking for similar stuff, I did some research on the couple of specialty items we have: