NOW YOU'RE COOKING
Quick and tasty meals save your time, RV's energy
By Vicky Katz Whitaker
Copley News Service
You may have to skip the 20-pound turkey and leave the fine china home, but if you're vacationing in an RV - or living in one full-time - there are still plenty of ways to prepare and serve a great meal.
Today, most RVs come equipped with scaled-down versions of the same major appliances and kitchen features you have at home such as:
- Glass cook tops
- Built-in ovens
- Refrigerator/freezers, some side-by-side
- Acrylic double sinks
- Microwave ovens
- Laminate countertops
- Wood cabinets
In the last 10 to 15 years, the RV kitchen has gone from being a galley with relatively small, utilitarian components and cramped space, to one that has a much more residential look and feel, says RV industry veteran Sid Johnson, marketing director for Jayco Inc., the largest privately-owned RV manufacturer in North America. Today's RVs have more counter space, attractive cabinetry and stylish appliances than their predecessors. Upscale RVs starting at $200,000 or more often have convection ovens, stainless-steel sinks, luxury countertops, dishwashers, and ice and cold-water dispensers.
"The type of appliances commonly found in RVs hasn't changed in the past decade. But the quality, efficiency, features and overall appearance are much more like what would be found in today's homes," Johnson points out, a far cry from the camping-style kitchens in older models.
If you use an RV for long trips and mini-vacations, you won't be spending as much time in your "rolling" kitchen as at home, the experts say. Still, for some, the option of being able to whip up a hot meal in the comfort of one's air-conditioned motorhome beats roasting hot dogs over an open fire. Creating good meals in your RV kitchen has enough appeal to spawn more than a dozen RV cookbooks, RV kitchen stocking guides, online recipes and advice for every level of cook.
Amy Boyer, who with nutritionist Danielle Chace produced "The RV Cookbook" (Crown Publishing, $14.95), says there are do's and don'ts when it comes to fixing breakfast, lunch or dinner in your RV. Skip recipes that gobble up power and take an inordinate amount to time to prepare, says Boyer, who spent more than a year traveling across the United States and Canada. "If you want turkey or a roast, go out for dinner." Slow-cooking dishes are energy intensive, she explains, sapping the RV's generator.
Instead, she and her co-author recommend preparing simple items like turkey puffed pie made with frozen puff pastry sheets, canned turkey, veggies, powdered milk and cheese or beef stroganoff cooked in a skillet and served over noodles. Boyer and Chace provide 100 recipes from breakfast to dessert that you can prepare in an RV kitchen as well as meals you can grill over the campfire.
What's the simplest meal for an RVer to prepare? "Couscous," says Boyd. "It's a fine, granular pasta product that only needs boiling. You can serve it with virtually anything and have a good meal."
Dozens of "Roadworthy Recipes" are posted on the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association Web site, www.gorving.com., many submitted by RV owners. There's a boil-in-a-bag omelet, for example, that takes just 15 minutes to make on the range top. Just put two eggs and your favorite omelet ingredients in a quart freezer bag. Zip the bag shut removing most of the air, squish the ingredients well and put the bag in a saucepan filled with boiling water. Lift the bag out at five-minute intervals, kneading it until the eggs are firm.
With a little preparation before you go, you can munch on a piece of a cookie-like "Road Pie" as a snack or dessert, the association says. At home, cream butter, sugar and flour together in a mixer or food processor, wrap it in plastic and chill it in your RV refrigerator. Divide the dough in half, pat each part into a seven-inch circle on an ungreased cookie sheet, lightly scoring each into 16 wedges. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees and crunch away.
Having the right pots, pans and small appliances is a must for any RV cook, the experts say. Boyer and Chace recommend items such as baking pans, a cookie tray, barbecue tongs and utensils with rubber and soft plastic handles to stop them from rattling when you drive. A large frying pan with a lid also is a necessity, they say, along with such RV kitchen staples as large and small saucepans that can double as mixing bowls.
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