Cooking on the road can produce delicious results
Creators News Service
Roughing it in a recreational vehicle? You don't have to when it comes to mealtime.
With stovetop burners, ovens, double-door refrigerators and plenty of counter space, today's RVers can cook up anything from a six-course meal to a baked Alaska in their wheeled coach.
Ironically, though, make-ahead meals are often the order of the day for Americans who routinely hit the road in their motor home. Whether it's wandering as a twosome, a family or members of a large group such as the Dolphin Club, a chapter of the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), the freezer ranks as top kitchen appliance.
"My husband and I are out there to have fun. I try to do as much as I can at home and freeze it," said Franki Weil of Holtville, Calif., who enjoys Dolphin Club gatherings, or "rallies," at state-of-the-art RV parks.
In addition to freezing foods, Weil keeps the RV cupboard stocked with favorite canned foods and seasonings. When she does cook in the motor home, she uses recipes that rely on these non-perishable products.
She also appreciates foil pans. "Just toss them afterwards," Weil said.
Her tapenade, a zesty olive spread that relies on canned ingredients and keeps well in the refrigerator, is a Weil crowd-pleaser when the Dolphins have a happy hour.
"I love to cook at home," said Diane Sofer, a retired San Diego resident. "But on the road you miss out on things. I want my time to be my time." She and her husband, Howard, not only join the Dolphin rallies but also take off on their own for two to three months each fall.
Sofer's solution to dining on the road is to cook favorite meals in quantities and freeze portions in containers or plastic bags. "I can have four to five weeks of food in the RV freezer, and all I need do is put a meal out to thaw."
Her strategy involves preparing quantities of healthy dishes the couple enjoys and freezing meal-size portions. She will cook several pork chops in a crockpot as well as a large meatloaf and chicken breasts. She also makes a tomato-meat sauce for dishes such as pasta or eggplant parmesan.
After a day of traveling, Sofer is free to join her husband for a glass of wine before dressing the main course with a creamed soup gravy or bottled barbecue or marinara sauce. A salad or vegetable dish completes the meal.
Because the food has been completely cooked before freezing, she is careful to warm the meal at a low temperature. "You want the dinner heated, not recooked," she said.
For Judi Hessemer, a Pasadena resident and Dolphin Club member with her husband, Ed, she has "Barbara's Potato Casserole," a recipe shared by her sister-in-law more than 30 years ago. It's one of those special favorites that never goes out of style at potluck dinners.
"It's a really good and easy recipe that serves a lot of people, especially at a potluck," Hessemer said. "Our son would rather eat this than the main course."
From the sightseeing and camaraderie to riches at the dining table, motor homing with an RV club is a fast-growing leisure lifestyle. To see how RV clubs function, pay a visit to the FMCA at fmca.com.
1/4 cup green pimento-stuffed olives, drained
1/4 cup capers
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cup pitted, black olives, drained
Yields 1 1/2 cups
Put all ingredients except black olives in bowl of food processor and process until a paste. Add black olives and process until finely chopped. Serve with toast, crackers or fresh vegetables.
-- Recipe courtesy of Chef Donna Crivello
HOWARD'S KICK-OFF CHILI
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground sausage
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red or green bell pepper, cut into 3/4 inch chunks
1 pound smoked kielbasa, cut into 1/2 inch rounds and halved
1 tablespoon ground oregano
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
2 (28-ounce) cans or 4 (15.5-ounce) cans chopped tomatoes, undrained
2 (28-ounce) cans or 4 (15.5-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained, liquid reserved.
1/3 cup corn meal
Yields 12 servings
In large heavy pot or Dutch oven, brown beef and sausage with onions and garlic over medium heat. Add bell pepper and kielbasa and continue cooking 5 to 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and drain fat. Blend in spices and tomatoes and simmer 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in kidney beans.
In bowl, mix cornmeal with some reserved bean liquid to create consistency of pancake batter. Mix into chili and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
-- Recipe courtesy of Howard Stofer
BARBARA'S POTATO CASSEROLE
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of chicken soup
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cheddar cheese soup
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream
1 (2-pound) bag country-style frozen hash browns, slightly thawed
1/2 of a chopped onion, optional
Yields 8 to 10 servings
Spray 9x13 inch glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a large saucepan, combine soups and melted butter. Heat thoroughly over medium heat. Remove from heat. Mix in sour cream. Place hash browns in large bowl. Add soup mixture and chopped onion, if using. Mix thoroughly. Place mixture in baking dish. Liberally sprinkle corn flakes over top. Bake for 45 minutes.
--- Recipe courtesy of Barbara Crowdis