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Thursday, March 22, 2007

The RV Kitchen - Part I

When it comes to cooking in the RV, I’m somewhere between a LEO club member (let’s eat out) and a Rachael Ray on wheels. My husband is a Diabetic. Home-cooked meals are the best way to manage his carbohydrate intake, but we do like to try the local fare when traveling to new places.

Here’s my list of must haves in an RV kitchen:

Dishes: Service for 4 of Corelle, polycarbonate or melamine dishes. Corelle can be microwaved. Polycarbonate plastics and melamine can’t. Four plates and four soup/cereal bowls. If you can, get luncheon-size plates. They take up less space, are easier to wash in small sinks and as a bonus, you think you are eating more food. Even if you never expect to have company, there are times when you want to leave all the dishwashing for later (like when you have water and sewer hookups) so it’s good to have extras.

Flatware: Service for 4 of knives, forks, soup spoons and teaspoons plus a set of steak knives. It’s good to have extra flatware if you’re like me and keep losing them at pot lucks.

Drinkware: A few polycarbonate glasses in whatever sizes you usually need are fine. When we full-timed, I insisted on real glass wine glasses. I had my husband hang a couple of plastic stem-ware racks under a shelf. My late mom, who crocheted and had hoards of yarn, made me drawstring covers for the glasses. The snipped off cuff of an old, clean sport sock will work, too. After slipping the glasses onto the racks, I put a twist-tie on the end of the rack to hold them in. Even on a trip to Alaska and over I-10 in Louisiana, the glasses never broke.

Pots & pans: Two non-stick skillets; one small and one large, two sauce pans of varying size and a larger pot capable of handling pasta, corn on the cob and the occasional lobster or crab that wanders your way. All should have lids. A colander or a strainer.

Tools: A paring knife, an all purpose kitchen knife (I like a chef knife), a vegetable peeler, a can opener, salt & pepper shakers, a turner and a slotted spoon are the bare necessities.

Ovenware: If your only oven is a microwave/convection, consider some of those new silicone pans. These will work well in a regular oven, too. They are lightweight and easy to store. If you have a propane oven and want to bake, purchase a small, round pizza stone or an unglazed tile. Keep it in the oven when baking and the bottoms of your biscuits won’t get hard. I liked using an air-bake pan with the pizza stone. I stored my pizza stone in its original box in the oven. If you are an RVING baker, you’ll have an idea of what you’ll need.

Extras: I like carrying an electric skillet, small toaster oven and a slow cooker with me. Why use my propane when I’m already paying for electricity in the cost of my nightly campground fee? In hot weather, you can take your skillet outside to the picnic table and keep the rig cool. Some people carry an electric hot plate and use it the same way.

I also carry a large salad bowl as we eat a lot of salads. I have a set of inexpensive woven-wood individual-size salad bowls, too, but the soup/cereal bowls are fine.

I like having a small grater on board. We like freshly grated cheese on our salad and pasta dishes.

Disposable plastic containers, which can be washed and reused, are easy to find in the supermarket aisle with foils and wraps. They stack well, are lighter than Rubbermaid or Tupperware and can be tossed without guilt when discovered at the back of the fridge with green stuff growing in them.

A corkscrew. Measuring cups and spoons.

Where to Buy: This time of year, Spring, it’s easy to find pretty polycarbonate and melamine ware in the discount stores. Look for the patio ware department. Another good time to shop for inexpensive kitchen ware is the late summer when big box stores are marketing entire kitchens in a box to the college-bound.

Part II will deal with spices, condiments and other kitchen staples.

Part III will be about storing it all.


Michael said...

Nice article. I was pleased to see that we have already found and bought many of the items you listed. I agree that your list is the absolute minimum MUST list.The silicone pans are new to me, however, and I'll check them out.

Two things I find very handy are a wood lemon reamer and a Braun hand-held blender, which allows me to puree without using another pan.


popstoy said...

where is the coffe and tea pot?

Colleen said...

Thanks, great tips. I found a silicone colander and measuring cups that collapse at Bed Bath and Beyond. Quite light and take up less space. Also, Rubbermaid makes collapsable food storage containers. They can be flattened for storage and opened to different sizes when used.

Dave said...

We are anxiously waiting for part II!

Jan said...

The new Glad Simply Cooking Microwave Steaming Bags are the greatest thing to come out in a while. I have tried corn on the cob, Ham and egg Omelet, beef stroganoff and potatoes. Great for 2 people living in a RV.

Kitty said...

I'm a nervous nellie when it comes to using plastic-heat-food in any combination due to the transfer of plastic molecules into the food into me. It may or may not be a myth but it's easy enough to avoid and the avoidance is not likely to be harmful where use of plastic in food cooking might be. Consequently I avoid the steaming bags and even the silicone. If anyone has information describing the safety of either of these specific to the issue - I'd really appreciate you sharing.

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