Thursday, April 04, 2013

My Small Recipe For Success

In a recent post, a reader who has a tiny house and is looking for ideas for her home, asked me about what kind of oven/stove I have in the truck and whether it was electric or propane - everything is electric, by the way, since we can't carry propane - which gave me the idea to do a post about what I use to cook in my small space.  Warning - lots of product links coming at ya!

The kitchen in the truck has the basics you'd find in a small RV - a good sized fridge, a microwave convection oven, a two-burner stovetop and a sink.  I also have a decent amount of counter space, but one can always use more of that.  

In my cabinets, I have a six-quart pasta pot, a steamer basket, two saucepans, a large and small skillet, stainless steel bowls, a hand mixer, a small blender, a mandolin and an awesome collapsible colander.  I have enough plates, bowls, glasses, mugs and silverware to serve four people.  I have enough paper plates, bowls, and plastic utensils to serve many times that - in fact, I once served ten truckers pasta with a side of garlic toast points from the back door of my truck.

The top drawer in the kitchen is stuffed with essentials.  I have several knives (chef's, paring, boning, serrated, steak), silicone utensils for my non-stick pans, wooden spoons (I love wooden spoons!), rubber spatulas, chopsticks, salad tongs, a knife sharpener, a meat thermometer, a small and large whisk, a microplane zester, and a real ice pick that one of my readers sent me (thanks, Gil!).

I even once had an espresso machine but couldn't justify the space it was taking up when I didn't use it as often as I thought I would, so I brought it home.  Now when I have the urge for frothy milk in my espresso, I use one of these

Along with all the accoutrements I have available to me, the following are the items I use most for the actual cooking I do.  Because the two burner stove isn't big enough for my largest skillet and another pot at the same time, I often use this electric skillet instead.

This thing is awesome.  In fact, I'd rather use it than the stove burners.  I can make most anything in this, and I have; chicken cutlets, fried eggplant, chili, stir-fry, grilled cheese, pancakes, eggs, marinara sauce, pork chops, you name it.  It's extremely versatile and I'd never be able to function without it.

The second item, one I use daily, is my electric 
It heats water instantly and is perfect for the obvious - tea, coffee, instant oatmeal - but it's also great to boil water for couscous, rice, and in a pinch when I don't have time to make them from scratch, instant mashed potatoes.

The biggest appliance in the kitchen is the Sharp Convection Microwave oven.  It does everything a microwave does, so that's convenient, but it's also a convection oven.  I'd never used a convection oven before - which works by circulating hot air - so I thought there'd be some getting used to it, but I found it very easy to use.  This might have something to do with the fact that I don't follow recipes and usually just wing temperature and cooking times.  Although, I do follow directions when I bake and haven't had any problems there.

I've made amazing pork loin, roast chicken, lasagna, eggplant parmigiana, baked scallops, pizza, even grilled ribeye steak - although, I won't be doing that again since the cleanup wasn't at all worth it.  The interior of the oven also serves as my bread bin - I keep a box in there with at least three different types of bread at all times.  You learn these space saving tips when you're short on,

 actually find it very easy to cook in my small space. I do wish I had a dishwasher since I hate the cleanup part, and I could use a smidge more counter space, but overall it works.

My pantry is stocked - olive oil, balsamic glaze, garlic, rice, McCann's Steel Cut Oats, kidney beans, sugar, pasta, chicken and beef stock (no, I don't make it from scratch - how much freakin' time do you think I have??), flour, breadcrumbs, panko breadcrumbs, slivered almonds, whole pecans and chopped walnuts, toasted coconut flakes, honey, vanilla, saltine crackers, salad croutons, at least twenty different spices - the list goes on. 

The only problem I find in the truck, is that I don't have space for as much as I'd like to have, but I also find it hard to keep things like fresh herbs because I never use enough of them cooking for just the two of us.  And I can't make too much because my freezer, when it's full of food, doesn't have enough room for me to freeze many leftovers.

Even with the limitations, I've managed to turn out some pretty decent meals for Ed and I (and guests!) and will keep shopping the country for the best food I can find in the stores I love most, and hit the farm stands in the summer and fall, buying up the best of whatever's in season.

If I ever get into a place with a kitchen bigger than this one, it'll feel like I'm cooking in Ina’s house - which would be the dream of all dreams - and if I can rock it from this pint-sized cookhouse, imagine what I can do there.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2012: This Song Would Get ME In For A Nap
2011: That Truck Driving Woman
2010: Spring Blooms
2009: Petal Tips Of Spring And A New Life
2008: Eddie In Hawaiian Garb Friday
2007: New Floridork?
2006: Boogie Down Bronx
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!


june in florida said...

The Food Channel doesn't know what its missing.I see a new show on the horizon.

Unknown said...

Salena - thank you! : )

This is a terrific compilation of information and experience! I am copying and pasting this into my reference file. My construction begins in late April and I should be in my tiny house ( by Christmas!

I'll be traveling with it - maybe I'll pass you on the road! I'll be hard to miss... LOL

And I AM going to reply to your email - which I super appreciate. Happy Friday, where ever you are!

The Daily Rant said...

BA: I LOVE your tiny house! Totally LOVE. And I will be looking for you on the road! Please fill me in on your travel plans - are you taking it all over and living gypsy-like?

I look forward to your email!