In order to start ‘2014’ off with something new for the blog, I have decided to add a few new pages.
Since I regularly blog about travel gear and cooking / food, I decided to add two new pages, one called Gear and one called Food.
No surprise that on this page, titled Food, I will cover some of the food, I grow, prepare or eat on my travels or on my farm.
Solar Oven Roasted, Garlic-Sriracha Mini-Chicken (aka, Cornish Hen).
My latest adventure in Solar Cooking took place today in the Prescott National Forest. It was a beautiful sunny day, high of about 85… perfect weather to try a new dish in the Solar Oven! I made what I’m calling “Garlic-Sriracha Sauce Mini-Chicken.” The mini-chicken is more commonly referred to as a cornish hen! Cornish hen is probably the cutest little edible bird on the planet. If I wasn’t so hungry, I might not have eaten the handsome-bird! To be completely honest, I would have preferred to cook a chicken, but since I was cooking for one, I didn’t want to make too much food and worry about leftovers. I picked-up the little frozen-bird for only $2.78 at a supermarket in Prescott Valley and placed him in my cooler with ice. I then headed off to the Prescott National Forest, a 30 minute drive away. Since the little guy was frozen solid when I bought him, he probably would have lasted 3 to 4 days in the cooler, but since I cooked him a few hours later, I’m not sure how long he would have lasted.
The ingredients for today’s dish were really quite simple, a small can of Salsa Casera, Sriracha Sauce, a 16 oz Mini-Chicken (aka Cornish Hen), garlic paste and a lime.
The Garlic-Sriracha Sauce Mini-Chicken ingredients.
I quartered the Mini-Chicken, placed him in the silicon pot, added the salsa, sriracha sauce and garlic.
I then set-up the SunFlair Solar Oven and placed the pot on the cooking rack.
After about 30 minutes the oven reached 220 degrees, I continued to cook the dish for a total of 3 hours. I cooked a little longer than normal because the bird was still frozen solid when I started. I squeezed one small lime into the pot after cooking and before eating. It came out perfect, the meat fell off the bone! The combination of the spicy sriracha sauce and the lime gave the dish an incredibly delicious flavor! This is one dish I will definitely make again! Nobody needs to limit themselves to hot dogs and dehydrated mac and cheese when camping, with a little imagination… tasty, simple meals are certainly an option!
Ova Easy Eggs, Wonderful Food for the Wanderer.
I like to find great food for the Wanderer (Traveler). I know that with refrigeration, one can “wander” with almost anything you have in your kitchen at home. I know many vehicle travelers have 12 volt refrigerators and coolers. But I think, the best “Wanderer Food” is food that does not require refrigeration and has a descent shelf-life! I recently found something that I think most travelers will enjoy, Ova Easy Egg Crystals! They are real eggs in powder form and do everything regular eggs in the shell do when you add a little water! It doesn’t get much easier than that. Place a few tablespoons of Ova Easy Egg powder in a bowl, add water as per the instructions on the package and cook as you would regular eggs. At first, I was reluctant to try them, as a kid I remember drinking powered milk once in a while, when mom ran out of regular milk. My brothers and I were not big fans of powered milk so when I saw powered eggs, I didn’t have high expectations!
I must admit, Ova Easy Eggs are very tasty! I really can’t tell the difference between Ova Easy Eggs and real eggs when I scramble them and add a little hot sauce! They taste great, are lightweight and easy to pack, have a descent shelf-life and best of all, are very easy to prepare!
Ova Easy Egg Crystals dry
A Wanderer’s Kitchen:
A blog reader recently asked me what sort of “kitchen set-up” I use while traveling in my Tacoma. Since it’s often difficult to explain something with only words, (anyone who has bought furniture from “Ikea” knows that the assembly diagrams with the text are greatly appreciated by us non-engineer types), I decided to explain what I call the “Wander-er’s Kitchen” with a series of photographs and text!
I wanted my “Wander-er’s Kitchen” to be compact and highly mobile, so I can easily move it between vehicles when necessary. I appreciate the fancy “chuck wagon style kitchen boxes” many travelers use, but I didn’t want something quite that large, since my space in the truck bed is limited and also serves as my bedroom from time to time!
My kitchen set-up consists of a small aluminum folding table by the “Travel-Chair Company” and a water-resistant “Gander Mountain” Sportsman’s Bag, as you can see in the pictures below.
All my pots, pans, camping stove, fuel canisters, cups, plates, utensils, thermos and coffee-press fit nicely in one bag.
Above, the Gander Mountain Sportsman’s Bag with all necessary kitchen items.
Below, the folding kitchen table in the carrying bag. The table is the aluminum “Grand Canyon Table” made by the “Travel-Chair Company.” It’s strong, compact, and the legs are adjustable, making it great for use on uneven ground.
The Grand Canyon Table from the “Travel Chair” Company.
As you can see in the 3 pictures below, the “Grand Canyon Table” comes in two pieces, the folding base and the folding top. When I cook on my truck’s tailgate, I use the “Grand Canyon Table” top without the base. This makes a great, flat, heat resistant cooking surface on the tailgate.
The 2 pieces of the Grand Canyon Table, base and top.
The top of the Grand Canyon Table fits nicely on the tailgate making a great cooking surface!
The table with legs fully extended.
All the kitchen items are pretty much self-explanatory. Depending on how many friends travel with me, I may take an extra small butane one burner stove in addition to the Optimus stove so I have 2 burners. I also take a collapsable “kitchen sink” made of PVC type cloth material for washing dishes. It folds flat and weighs next to nothing. For drinking water, I like the 3 gallon size water containers, as they are easier to pour than the larger NATO style containers. The 3 gallon size has a wider base and does not tip-over as easily as the NATO cans. For washing fruits and veggies, I have 2 small plastic water bottles with small spray tips. They provide more than enough water pressure for washing away dirt. I also like stainless steel cups, plates and bowls. I know they are heaver than plastic but they also last longer and are much more heat resistant than plastic! Add a small collapsable solar oven to the set-up and you have a kitchen that will do just about everything a designer-home kitchen can do!
Below are a few links for some of the items found in the “Wanderer’s Kitchen.”
Gander Mountain Sportsman’s Bag:
MSR Quick 2 System Cookware Set
MSR Alpine Kitchen Set
Optimus Crux Lite Camp Stove
Hydro-Flask Insulated Bottle
No Refrigeration Required!
Think about how dependent we have become on the good old “refrigerator” in our daily lives, or more importantly, how dependent we have become upon “refrigeration” in general. Most Americans and citizens in other developed nations rely on their “refrigerators” everyday! We rarely think about it…when we want something to eat… we usually just open the refrigerator door and grab something.
Even off-grid, I have a small refrigerator in my truck camper that runs off of AC power, DC power or propane. I also have a nice cooler that keeps my perishable foods safe to eat for 3 or 4 days with a good block of ice! So many of the foods we eat on a daily basis require refrigeration or they quickly spoil. The more I travel, the more I look for ways to eat healthy foods that don’t require refrigeration and will last for weeks or months if properly stored! This trip, I am traveling with my Tacoma and did not bring along my DC travel refrigerator. I did’t want to be “slave” to a power source or “slave” to convenience-store bags of ice every third day, as I venture off the beaten path. So for this trip, I stocked-up on healthy, tasty foods that would last weeks or even months when stored properly at room temperature. I know most of us first think of “canned-food” when we think about foods with a long shelf life that don’t require refrigeration. Go into any American home, look in the panty and I bet 99% of them have canned goods! I like canned foods as much as anyone, but for this trip I am trying to limit my use of them. With that in mind, I have assembled a list of what I consider to be pretty health alternatives to canned-foods, foods that will last weeks if not months without refrigeration.
Above, dried nuts, berries, beans and lentils are great foods for the wanderer. The nuts and berries can be eaten without cooking them and the beans and lentils simply require water, a pot and a small cooking stove.
Above, some of the super-foods I brought along on this trip. Some, like goji berries can be eaten right out of the bag like any other dried fruit. The dry powders like maca, cacao and whey protein are great when mixed with water or juice in a small blender-bottle.
Above, dehydrated vegetables are great for the wanderer. They can be used in soups or stir fried dishes, just add water!
Above, oils and vinegars are great for cooking or eating on raw salads.
Above, don’t forget honey, peanut butter and hazelnut spread, all great sources of energy-food and delicious too!
Above, coffees and teas are lightweight alternatives to bringing canned or bottled drinks when you travel. All you need is water and you have a healthy great tasting hot or cold beverage.
Above and below, spices are essential to good tasting food while you wander. I recently found a small travel sized spice kit with 20 different varieties. The small containers can be easily refilled and don’t take up a lot of room in your travel kitchen-kit!