Having taken our walk on the beach I figured we’d get back and do another little post on food. There are so many posts I could do, so many topics…from my love of fermented foods (which I alluded to in this post) to yummy fresh, raw products and recipe ideas. But what I thought would be appropriate today would be to introduce some of our favorite kitchen items.
Now there are many things you pare down or skimp in an RV, but if you’re a cook I recommend bringing as many cooking items as you can. We did and I don’t think we regretted a one of them. Apart from switching out a few pans over the years we’ve used everything from our massive Cuisinart blender (which takes up a whole cupboard) to our little microplane grater. I can live with 2 pairs of shoes, but my stomach is so much more materialistic. We also bought a coach with both a propane stove-top & propane oven (both used extensively when we boondock) as well as a combo convection/microwave (rarely used). This means there is literally nothing we can’t make.
But if we were to pick just 5 big cooking items we couldn’t live without, these would be the ones:
1/ Italian Stove-top Espresso Maker
We live for our morning espresso. We like it strong, steamy and Italian-style, but we also want it convenient & stove-top so we can easily make it while boondocking. Lucky for us, the southern Europeans have been making espresso like this for decades. I started using a stove-top espresso maker over 15 years ago and we still use the same one today. If you’ve never tried stove-top espresso it is excellent and it’s worth going the extra mile and getting a stainless steel version like the Cuisinox Roma 6-cup Stainless Steel Stovetop Espresso Maker (the exact one we have). For less than $90 you’ll have a piece of equipment that will last you for many years. A tried and true kitchen utensil we would never be without.
2/ Chinese Wok
I can’t live without my wok. I use it for stir-frying, soups, curries, steaming…you name it. We’ve had the same wok ever since we met each other and we bought it for less than $20 in San Francisco China town. It’s an old-style steel wok (not the newer “non-stick” versions, which I would never ever buy) which requires seasoning and maintenance, but it’s also got a totally slick surface and superb taste from all those years of cooking which can simply not be replicated. The Chinese call it “chi”, quite literally the “life-force” of the wok, and cooks fawn over their own decades-old woks with pride. If you’re passing through a big town just drop into the China-town area and pick one up. Amazon also has some decent-looking versions like this 16 inch Carbon Steel Hand Hammered Wok. Make sure to get a lid and a traditional Wok spatula too.
3/ Food Processor / Hand Blender
At some point in your cooking life you will need a good food processor. We looked all over for a rock-solid version and when we found the Cuisinart DLC-2009CHB Prep 9 , we knew we had landed our baby. This is not an inexpensive piece of equipment and it takes up some space, but it is a power house. We’ve used this thing for raw veggie soups, almond flour, home-made no-bake Larabars, olive oil mayonnaise, salsa…just about anything that needs chopping or blending. There’s literally nothing this machine can’t handle and the quality is top-notch.
A close second and much more compact is our hand-blender. We started using a hand-blender many years ago when making smoothies and it continues to be one of the most oft-used kitchen tools. It’s compact, easy to clean and can be used for shakes, soups, hot chocolate, frothing milk, whipping cream you-name-it. We’ve been using the same Cuisinart for over 5 years. My version has disappeared on Amazon, but this Cuisinart CSB-75BC Smart Stick seems to come the closest.
4/ Cast Iron Pan
I’m not a big fan of non-stick pans, especially since most of them use plastics (like Teflon) that rub off and become health hazards. There are PTFE & PFOA-free pans out there, but they never seem to last. A good cast iron skillet is heavy, but it’s indestructible and with the right seasoning it’s slick enough to fry eggs. There are modern cast-iron pans like this 8-inch Lodge Logic which you can buy on-line, but nothing (and I mean nothing) compares to the antique cast iron skillets that were made at the turn of the century. If you’re going to go cast iron I recommend searching around to get the original stuff. We picked up a Wagner (the absolute best brand IMHO…Griswold are also nice) 8-inch skillet from ~1900 from e-bay for under $20. This is the real deal, the original shebang, and it is just beautiful. Before you buy make sure you understand the markings, the sizes and how to clean & season a skillet. For example don’t be fooled by any “1891 Original Wagner Ware” which is really a modern reproduction. Whether you find it in an antique shop or on e-bay, buy the old stuff and it will last you forever.
5/ Pressure Cooker
There’s nothing quite as nice as a fully-cooked meal with almost no time and effort and in our opinion nothing does that better than a good old-fashioned stove-top pressure cooker. We got ours 3 years ago and have used it almost constantly ever since to make stews, chili, bone broth/stock etc…within 30-40 mins you can have it all. It takes up quite a bit of space (we have it by the shoe rack in the closet), but it is an awesome piece of equipment. Now buying these things can be an exercise in patience since there seems to be around 100 different version at 100 different prices. We wanted a basic, solid model which was stainless steel (quite important), but without any of the fluffy extras and the Presto 01370 8-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker fit the bill perfectly. For the price I think it’s the best quality deal out there. Well worth the closet space.
These are our top 5, at least as far as big items go (there’s about 1000 more little gadgets & knick-knacks I could think about). What about you folks? What are your favorite kitchen items? Share and enjoy below.
POST BLOG EDIT: For those of you who asked for the recipe for those yummy fritters here it is: http://thesproutingseed.com/june-vegucation-zucchini-fritters/. They were very, very good.
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