Tuesday, June 4, 2013

My Traveling Kitchen

As we have traveled, one of the most frequently asked questions (usually from women) is How do you cook?  Cooking on the road has had its challenges.  I have always found adventure in campsite cooking... but when you live it for 7 months straight.... well, it is still adventure, but of a different kind.  I think I will be giddy as a school girl when we find ourselves in a house again AND with our kitchen essentials out of storage!!!  But we have managed.

Learning to cook in someone else's kitchen for the year-and-a-half prior to our outreach had its challenges.  They didn't always have the "tools" I was use to.  But at least they had running water and everything right there.  A contrast to what we have had for parts of September and consistently since December:

- camp fires

 - camp stove

- NO cooking source
 - small hotel microwaves (when we were broke down in Nashville for 10 days and when we were waiting out Isaac in Jackson, MO)

- church kitchens (somewhat luxurious but I have to cart my things in and out each time)

 - slow cooker

OK, that last one isn't too foreign.  I LOVED my slow cooker when I had MY kitchen once upon a long time ago.  Can I just say that a slow cooker has been a life-saver in an old RV with no working stove?  Especially while driving... we can throw dinner in the pot, drive to our destination, sit back with a nice warm meal in the evening.

So how do we do it?

First, we plan.  Everywhere we have stayed has had some sort of ebb-and-flow.  We learn what it is and work around it.  If you can't be pliable... you won't make it!  (That first 4 months living under someone else's roof really paid off!)  Whether it is budgeting left-overs to throw into the crock pot or boiling hot dogs once a week (not my fave).  We not only had to accommodate plans of others if we had access to church facilities but we also had to watch the weather for those days when camp stove cooking might be our only option. 

Second, we think outside the box.  Ever baked a cake in a slow cooker?  Ever fried burgers for 5 in a pan that only holds 2?  Ever make pork fried rice with left overs and a borrowed skillet over an open fire? Ever washed dishes with no running water?  It can all be done with patience, research and even some good-ole ingenuity.  We have had to be willing to try new things, not get upset if they fail, and laugh at the process.  We have let go of what seems 'normal' and realized: we are so spoiled in even the simple things in this country.  We can truly make due with far less than we realize... even when cooking!

Able to do a small batch of cut-out cookies in Pecos, TX at a church during Christmastime. Carried them down the road with us to Phoenix and frosted them at our small table with tin cups for holding-food color added-store-bought frosting.

Third, we recall regularly that we are not alone.  Not only is God with us, but I am reminded how my feelings of being overwhelmed or weary or tiered of another night of make-shift cooking are shared by my family too.  I am so grateful for the small things, we celebrate simplicity, laugh a lot and seek each day to love each other with total abandonment.  What does that have to do with cooking?  EVERYTHING when meals are simple and favorites are missing from the table.  No home-made pizza, no Sunday evening pie, no home-made bread, no four and five course dinners, rarely hot lunches or breakfasts (unless it is oatmeal packets or hot water in canned soup).  We all grow weary but we are reminded: food is simply nourishment in any form.  Our mission is greater than our favorite dishes lined out each night.

In the end, we seemed to have formed better team-work in and around the production and clean up of meals during this trip and tight quarters than we ever had before in a big house with all the amenities.  We are closer not just to God (though that is the greatest part!) but to each other as the result of our traveling kitchen!

My only regret?  That I didn't have accessibility regularly enough to share all the great recipes as I cooked them!!  But I can still post them :-)

May all your cooking adventures be just that:  adventures and may they nourish more than your body.


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  1. I am planning a two night camping trip next month and wondering how to cook, you do it everyday! I am impressed!

    1. My best advice for a camping trip is to pre-cook! Have a great time!

  2. I would love to get my hands on a camp stove for hurricane season!