Welcome To Our Outdoor Kitchen
Our kitchen tour is going to be a little different than most. We’ve been living in our campervan full-time for the last four months as we’ve travelled across the American North East and Canadian Maritime provinces with our three dogs and cat ( The Not So lonely Road, Hrudy’s Crew). Pretty well everything that you’ll see on this blog has been made using the setup you see here, with the exception of a few times we’ve visited friends or family and hijacked their kitchens! As you can imagine, our little outdoor kitchen presents some challenges, but we’ve been thoroughly enjoying our time on the road. We’re about three weeks away from heading off on a year-long drive around North America and plan to keep the blog full of great food as we go.
Here are the highlights.
Our table – We were at a loss to find a portable table that was stable enough for me to work on, yet compact enough to store in the truck, until we came across this table from Cabela’s. This has been a near perfect solution for us. It is remarkably stable and very strong, and stows away easily. I would love it if it were a couple of inches taller, though.
Our stove – We did a lot of research before buying a stove because we knew it was going to be the backbone of our kitchen. Reviews for most other camp stoves seem to point out a common weak point, the inability to produce a stable low temperature. It’s easy to find a stove that will kick out a strong flame, but it’s another thing to find one that can keep a sauce at a bare simmer. The Camp Chef Everest has the most responsive heat controls I’ve ever tried in a camp stove.
How we make coffee – We love a good cup of coffee! So, it’s important to us to have a lot of control over the brewing process. We bought an AeroPress a little while back and have fallen in love with it. We’ve recently added a couple pour-over Hario V60s (not pictured). Because electricity can sometimes be a luxury, we have a hand-cranked coffee grinder. That can be a bit of a bear, as a fine grind for two cups of coffee can take 600 cranks of the handle!
Pots and Pans – The campervan has a very limited amount of storage space, so we’ve had to be selective in what we’ve brought with us. We cook most often with our 8-inch and 10-inch cast iron skillets, as well as our 12-in carbon steel wok. On top of that we have an 8-inch carbon steel sauté pan, a 9-inch stainless steel sauté pan, a 1.5 qt sauce pot and a 6 qt pressure cooker. A good pressure cooker is such a great piece of equipment; I thoroughly recommend everyone have one.
Knives – We don’t have the space (or the need) to have my full knife kit with us, so we’ve opted for a few key tools. I have 2, 6-inch small French knives, one has a heavy blade (Whustof Trident) for heavy work and the other is much thinner for finer work, like mincing herbs (Victorianox), a 12-inch chef’s knife (Victorianox), a 14-in slicer (Whustof Trident), a bread knife and a couple of paring knives. Along with that are the other essentials, a whetstone to sharpen them and a steel to hone them.
Other handy items – I love my digital scale. While measuring things in cups is often easier, there is a remarkable amount of variation potential in the way one person measures a cup, versus someone else. 150 grams is 150 grams. I like that. We love to make fermented foods and recently came across the Pickle Pipe. It’s a simple airlock for mason jars, allowing carbon dioxide from fermentation to safely escape the jar, while keeping excess oxygen out. Great for sauerkraut and kimchi, as well as fermented pickles of all types. We have an immersion blender that also functions as a mini food processor. We love the convenience of that.
Unsung kitchen hero – a portable fire extinguisher. I’m going to go a little PSA here. Every kitchen needs to be equipped with a fire extinguisher. Accidents happen, mistakes can be made, don’t burn your house down for want of a $20 fire extinguisher. We keep two with us, and one comes out next to my prep table while I’m working. In my 25 years in professional kitchens, I’ve only had to use one once, and I was very grateful that it was available when I needed it.
We love to know what your favourite go-to pieces of kitchen equipment are. Let us know in the comments below.