Friday, 6 March 2009

Cooking away from home

The kitchen facilities in the motorhome are extremely small and basic. I have two gas rings and a small sink, a slow cooker, Oh, and also shoved in a cupboard above my bed is a small grill/oven thing which only has one temperature, which does make for interesting times if I am baking ! Especially as I have to take it out of the cupboard to use it and set it on the sink, or on the bed.

I cook from scratch most days and we don't eat ready meals or take aways. However the limited cooking area does make for thoughtful ways to do some things, particularly when at times we don't have any electric and everything has to be cooked on just two rings maximum. (Storage is also an issue - there isn't any room to store the numerous pots, pans and dishes that might be in the average kitchen - my equipment consists of small saucepan, medium saucepan, steamer baskets, 1 frying pan and an old pan that is used for deep frying. I have a fish slice, slotted spoon, soup ladle and a wooden spoon. A set of 4 plates, 4 bowls, 4 small plates and 4 mugs makes up my kitchen equipment. Also due to lack of space, most things are smaller than you would find in the average kitchen, small waste bin, small kettle, small saucepans, small storage reused jars. Oh and a small fridge too !

Being a small area means that I have to keep it washed and tidy - I don't have the room or the equipment to leave about and wash up when I am ready. However, as the sink is under part of my work area, this causes its own problems. Currently we don't have the luxury of running water, so all water has collected in bottles from the site standpipe and has to be heated on the stove or if we do have electric, in the electric kettle in advance of being needed i.e. if I am boiling or steaming vegetable.

One piece of kit which Himself came across one bored afternoon when we were out playing tourist in a previous area of residence is my 'worktop'. Its a metal tray with fold up legs and when not in use it lives in the wardrobe. It has been an absolute godsend as it means that 1. I have an extra work area, which is used for anything from holding the washing up while I am actually washing it, acts as a plating up area for the meals and 3. is also my pastry table if I am baking 4.It means I have somewhere to put hot pans when I take them off the rings to put something else on them.For £2.50 it has to be one of our best recycled bargains I can remember.

One of the ways that I manage to cook from scratch each day is to use the steamer quite often, although it does take some planning. I can cook (steam) chicken, new potatoes, carrots, peas and broccoli, along with a small steamed pudding in the base, all on one gas ring. If we have electric I always boil the water in that before putting it in the steamer as the bottled gas never seems to get things as hot as town gas does. This also leaves me a gas ring to make custard on if I need it. The steamer water is used for making gravy, so cooking this way is quite economical too.

This way of cooking isn't just how I cook here, in my small space and with limited resources, its the way I have always cooked at home. Other methods that I use are thermos flasks and hay boxes, but more about those another day.

So although we are limited in some ways as to how and where we eat, we eat well, we eat healthily and we do so with less resources than some people have. We also recycle as much of our waste as we can, the same as we do at home. All cans, milk bottles, paper and cardboard is taken home to be added to our recycling bins - the paper and cardboard goes to the compost bin. Any glass jars tend to be used for jam and pickle making, or if the right size are used in the motorhome to store dry stuff. The two jars by the taps in the photos are used coffee jars and now refilled with tea and coffee. We have a wormery at home, so if I can I take food waste back home too as we have to be careful that we don't attract rats when we are on a site, as usually when building starts there are always rats nest that are found. I have experimented with a small mobile wormery on site with us before, but it wasn't hugely successful, (my fault) but I shall have another go once the motorhome is in its settled place here which should be in the ext few weeks.

Well I'm off to make tea, as Himself will be coming in soon wanting his second breakfast of the day. All builders seem to have two breakfasts, one at 6.00ish and a second one about I'd rather have a cake or a bar of chocolate any day !

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