So I’m preparing for my annual epic roadtrip and this time I’ve upped the ante with a brand shiny new RV. No, not one of those monster motor homes with more bedrooms than your home. My little RV is what is known as a Class B or a camper van. Think along the lines of a taco truck. (In fact, when I took a solo shake-down cruise, I noticed, as I headed south on the 101 out of San Jose that I was getting a lot of thumbs up from taco truck drivers.) My step up from car camper (well KOA Kozy Kabin camper) to RV traveler brings a two-pronged challenge. First, I have to outfit a traveling kitchen — and I think half the fun of RV traveling would be to cook almost all of my meals at campsites. Secondly, I need to resist the temptation to think of my teeny tiny galley as a real kitchen with space for all the kitchen gadgets I love.
Well, here’s where I am so far — two weeks out from the start of my trip. Feel free to jump in here with suggestions or warnings.
The Breakfast Kit includes:
- Electric kettle. It boils water much faster and more efficiently than using propane. I should probably be making cowboy coffee on the campfire, but really. Early in the morning plugging in a kettle is a much better idea.
- Foldable campfire toaster. This can sit on the campfire, or more likely, on the propane burner. I’ve actually tested it out and it really does toast well. Bonus: it folds completely flat.
- Drip coffee filter. This one needs no liner. Which I found to be a problem. It’s one thing to wash out grounds into a home sink with disposal. It’s another to empty it when you don’t want grounds going down into the grey water tank. I’ll be buying paper filters for it.
- Eggtastic Microwave Egg Cooker. Okay, I love gadgets and I’m a sucker for late night TV pitches. But this thing is really cool. I’ve found that boiling eggs on a propane burner seems to take forever. The beauty of this little ceramic cup is that you crack one, two or however many eggs you want in it, microwave for a few minutes and DONE. It can poach eggs or make fluffy scrambled eggs. And you can eat your eggs right out of the pot. (Anything that simplifies wash-up is great for an RV.)
- The Instant Pot. If you don’t have one, get one. It’s great for your home, essential for an RV. This one pot does just about everything: it pressure cooks, it slow cooks, it’s a rice cooker, it’s a steamer/warmer, and you can sauté in it. They claim you can make yogurt in it, but I certainly won’t be doing that. And it draws a fraction of the power needed to operate even my RV’s tiny microwave/convection oven. I made a great seafood risotto in this while camping at the Pinnacles. I think pressure cooker Boeuf Bourguignon will be my first meal on this trip. Here’s another thing I’ve found, at least with a tiny RV: you want to do as much cooking outside as possible. Otherwise you are bathed in cooking smells for hours. With the Instant Pot, I just run an extension cord outside to the nearest picnic table and do my cooking al fresco.
- Grill basket with detachable handle. An easy over the campfire cooking tool, especially for roasting vegetables.
- Telescoping cooking forks. One word: S’Mores.
- Pan and rack. These are for my tiny convection oven. Which I can’t imagine using. But I’m prepared if I want to warm up some garlic bread. I probably don’t need this but it can live in the microwave/convection oven, so it’s not really taking up space.
- Also: a small cutting board.
- A collapsible dish drainer
- A small dish tub.
For RV kitchen clean-up, I’m realizing you have two concerns: use as little water as possible and don’t get anything down into the grey water tank. I’ve found the best results with outdoor clean up. I fill up the dish tub, wash the dishes, put them — still soapy — in the drainer, then once the dishes are done, spritz them all off together with the RV’s outdoor shower hose. Then the dishes, already in the drainer, can just air dry outdoors.
- I chose that speckled enamelware that just screams “camping”. Four bowls, four plates, and four sets of knives, forks and spoons. I’m not planning to have a dinner party. I probably should just have one of each. But they fit into a small space and four sets don’t take up significantly more room than one.
- Polycarbonate wine glasses (four). I’ve had more luck with these than any other plastic glasses as far as cracking and crazing goes. But then I’ll be washing these by hand instead of throwing them into the dishwasher as I do at home.
- Stanley stacking stainless steel cups. These are smaller than the pint glass versions and they have the nice extra feature of a band of insulation to keep your hand from getting too cold or too hot from the beverage. And Stanley — a camping classic.
Now here’s where I may have gotten silly.
Here’s where I’m questioning the wisdom of the Magma: they aren’t going to work on a campfire, so they are pretty much only for cooking on the propane stove — which I really don’t want to do. I suppose the pots will be good for marinating or storing leftovers.
- Small cast iron frying pan. For that campfire that I’m convincing myself I’ll build.
- One microwave rack/pan in case I break down and use the microwave. Which seems unlikely since I don’t think I’ve ever used a microwave except to make eggs in my Eggtastic.
- Those fun individual ice molds that make those golf ball sized ice cubes. I’d take as many of these as my tiny tiny freezer can hold. That might be two.
- The shiny pot in the frying pan is an Alpine Stowaway Pot. It folds out to a frying pan and also converts to a covered pot. This might actually be a better choice for propane stovetop cooking than the Magma set.
- Silicon suction lid. This handy thing seals the top of an open glass or stainless steel bowl better than Saran Wrap. And it’s reusable.
- Soft cooler. I’m not a huge fan of ice chests, especially in the RV where I haven’t been able to find one that fits in my storage hold or one that can be stowed securely in the vehicle. I’m also not convinced that I’m going to find a steady supply of ice in the places I’m going. So I settled on this one. It doesn’t slide around when full and at least it’s crunchable if I have stow it away unused.
- Snap lid food storage bins (pink). I’m assuming most of my food will be shelf stable — risotto, beans, rice, coffee. Everything goes into one of these.
- Salad crisper (green). I’ll be lucky if I find a store with greens every few hundred miles. This tiny lid locking crisper keeps salad fresh for nearly a week.
- BPA free water dispenser. I love this one. The wide cap makes it easy to fill or even to add ice. The spigot makes it easy to pour without spilling. And this five gallon model fits perfectly behind my driver’s seat. I bungie it in and it stays put.
- Salad dressing shaker/storer. Andy makes better salad dressing than Paul Newman. I’m going to have him mix up a batch for me before I leave.
- Stanley thermoses. Yes, these are the ones your Grandpa took fishing. I like a big one for more water and a little one for a batch of coffee I can sip on the road.
It folds flat and, because of its shape, it works like one of those canister coal starters. I’m told it’s strong enough to take cast iron pots. Since one of the things I’m not sure I’ll have the energy or the skill to build a campfire after a long day’s hiking. This little gadget might get me doing campfire cooking in much less time.
I have the feeling I’m making some mistakes and packing some redundancies. I may also be overestimating my motivation to cook every meal in the wilderness. Or, indeed, the availability of fresh supplies on my route.
I may find myself existing on Powerbars, jerkey and peanut butter. With cabinets full of shiny new RV kitchen equipment. Unused.
Top photo: From the Roadtrek site.