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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Motorhome Modifications- COOKING WHILE CAMPING part 1 --- and Frozen Nostrils Weather

BRRRRRRRR   We are soooo cold here!  The air temps were below zero this morning, plus it's windy, so the Wind Chills are about 20 to 30 below.  Yes, BELOW.... Frosty, Frigid and Frozen!

Poor Duke, our Shetland Sheepdog, was outside trying to do his business.  He tries to hold all four of his paws in the air at the same time, rather than setting them down on the frosty cold snow.  When it's this cold, his paws (an your moist skin) can actually stick to the frozen packed snow, and sting when you pull it off!  Poor Duke can never figure out how to keep all four paws off the ground.  He keeps looking at one paw to raise it, and doesn't realize that somewhere he is putting another paw down on the ground.  Then he tries to raise another, and looks around-- dangnabbit!  Then another paw has gone down... he gets so perplexed!   You can just see it on his face!

We let our dogs out right from the open side door on our house, clicking on a rope to their collars.  Easy Peasy to shut the door again, and we stay warm INSIDE and watch them through the window till they are done.  They are pampered inside house pets, so do not have toughened up pads for the winter weather.

Even as I write this at noon, we are still 3 below, and our wind chills are still at 21 below!

But my neighbor's dogs still need to be let out twice a day too while he is at work.  They are very short haired Vizsla hunting dogs.  I bundled up from head to toe and headed over to let them out.  They played frisbee for about 4 or 5 tosses in the snow, and right back into the house they went.  I was not going to dawdle, so I was back home in five minutes too.  Whew this is weather where your nostrils freeze shut, I kid you not!

With facing a long boring winter of no camping, I have been posting various Motorhome Modifications from my photo files that we have done over the years.  Going from A to Z....  and I am still on C.  It's "Cooking" !!! Although it is not really Motorhome Modifications, but it does use things we keep IN the motorhome all of the time for cooking.

From my past blogs where we are actually camping, you know from my posts that we do all of our cooking at the campsite.  It's very rare that we go out to eat at restaurants, (not even when we are not camping)  so preparing food is a highlight of our camping getaways.   We do most of it in groups when camping with family and friends---  everyone contributes and we always have more than enough to eat!

Some of the tools we found to making our cooking easier, are:

Coleman Instastart Oven-  Our motorhome only came with a micro/convection combo oven.  There is no lower LP oven under our stove.  I really really miss having a propane oven.  Because we mostly camp rustic without hookups, I can not use the convection oven unless we fire up the generator.  Who wants to do that for hours on end for a roast, or in the early morning for a tray of muffins or sweet rolls?

We found this to be the perfect answer to our problem!

It can run from a small 1 pound cylinder of propane,  or attach the hose from a 20 pounder (BBQ grill size)  that we sometimes bring along  or now we can even hook a hose up from our big onboard built-in propane tank with the use of the Extend A Stay device which also has a port to use other LP appliances with a long hose.

I can cook roasts, bake cakes, warm up food or do half a pizza at a time.  It sure is versatile, and even making breakfast toast is nice instead of starting up a generator just to run a toaster.  Plus all the toast is done at one time, for everyone instead of the normal 2 slice - wait - 2 slice - wait - 2 slice - wait when you have more than one person for breakfast.

It takes a little smaller pan than the 13x11 size, more like the 11x9, so I had to buy a few more pans.  It bakes evenly and has 5 rack heights.  I do find the control knob to be touchy, and we usually fire it up and then turn the knob back down to almost OFF to get an even 375 or so on the dial on top.  When not in use, we remove the propane source, because I feel the knob can be bumped ON too easily.  That would allow gas to pour into the unlit oven and cause a dangerous situation.  Especially around curious grandtots!

On hot days, using this oven keeps the cooking heat outside of the rig when set on the picnic table.  On really cold or wet rainy days, I will even bring it inside the rig and set it on the counter or on the table.  The legs are tall enough and it has a double layer insulated outside surface.  It's not too hot to touch and does not heat up the underside surface where it comes near the table.

Popcorn Popper-  Remember these?  Steve loves popcorn and again, why fire up the generator to run a microwave popped package or a hot air popcorn popper?   This works very well on the stove top burner and makes great tasting popcorn.  Since I knew Steve, he has always owned one,  wearing them out after a few years.  I think this is the fourth or fifth one we have owned.     When the popcorn is done, you can pull up the little lever and the top lifts off, and the bottom becomes a serving bowl!  

 (We have tried some of those long handled popcorn poppers for over the fire, 
but usually end up with burnt puffs or scorched kernels) 

Collapsible Tupperware Bowls-   Steve found me these at a rummage sale, and wow are they ever nice!  They are a bit harder to wash because of the ridges, but if we rinse them out right away after use, it makes it easier.  They collapse down flat for more storage room in the cabinets.

Cast Iron Frypan-  I know they are heavy for RVing, but nothing can beat a corn bread mix baked in an 8" cast iron frypan!   I have a cast iron griddle too, and find nothing can replace wonderful way they bake or fry items. I do have a full set of Tfal kettles, and always do eggs in the Tfal, because I don't care for cleaning the cast iron after doing eggs.

Crock Pot-    Ahh every RVer knows at the parks and social events, there is usually a potluck.  I found this nice smaller oval crock pot from Proctor Silex.  I think technically it's called a Slow Cooker,  link: Proctor Silex 3 Qt Slow Cooker    I think I got it on sale for $15.   What I like about this one is that the inner crock is removable, for not only washing, but also for storing in the RV fridge with leftovers.  Larger ones with removable round crocks won't fit in our RV fridge. so this is the perfect size.   Plus there are clips to keep the lid on, for transport to the potluck!

Some motorhome owners will keep a crock pot going in the kitchen sink and run it from the inverter while traveling down the road.  I have done this a few times and it sure makes a nice journey, smelling something cooking as you head on down the road. Like roasts or chicken n dumplings, or casseroles.... Especially on a rainy icky day when we get to a campground, and don't have to start a fire to cook supper! 

Turkey Fryer-   Yes, sometimes when getting together with family, we will bring along our propane stand and big turkey fryer!   What a wonderful treat!!!!   Exercise caution when using this appliance, because you have to be sure of the right level of oil when dunking in the bird to make up for displacement.  Preheating the oil to the right temp is necessary but ALWAYS turn the burner OFF during the dunking process so there are no flames to ignite the oil if it does spill over.   Re-light the burner once you are sure all is good to go.  

We also use the turkey fryer base and a large deepfrying basket for crab legs!  Not using oil, of course, but salted water and dipping them in for 14 minutes .. voila, perfectly steamed Alaskan Snow Crab Legs!  We use this for making up 5-10 pounds at a time for family gatherings at the holidays too.  Setting it up out on the deck keeps the strong odors of cooking seafood outdoors.  Even in mid-winter! Here is a pic from when we took it along for a birthday dinner for me while camping in October:

 And... one more use for this device, (my sister has one too)   we sometimes can pickles or tomatoes while camping!  Keep in mind, my sister lives about 120 miles away from me, so we don't get together other than on the weekends if we go camping.  If we want to enjoy canning together like we do, we bring along all the supplies, jars, and bushels of vegetables right to the campground!  We have done tomatoes, salsa, pickles, peppers, jam and other wonderful home-canned goodies.  My sister and brother also do saurkraut, pickled fish and potted meats!  My mother loves canning too, and while we were in Florida we set up my LP burner and kettle after mom found a deal on SIX bushels of tomatoes!  Wowzer!

The caption on this first pic is kinda a misnomer.  It's not a 9 quart canning kettle meaning 9 quarts of water,  It means it will hold 9 quart jars!  It's HUGE...   and this stand works so well that even at home I use it for canning outside and keeping the kitchen cooler in the house.

My oldest daughter Erin is going to inherit my big canning kettle and our LP turkey fryer stand and kettle.. plus the crab leg bucket once we hit the road.  We can still use it when we are back in the area, camping with family.  And to steam crab legs when we come home at Christmas each winter for a few weeks!

Well, that is enough of camping cooking ideas for this blog post, stay tuned for the next few posts where I will cover some various grills, pudgy pie irons, pressure cooker, tri-pods over the fire and a really cool waffle maker!

I am going to pop a roast in the oven this afternoon and it will smell sooooo good in the house.  Add some taters and carrots and onions and shrooms.   By the time Steve gets home from work, it will be done, and helps to warm up the house too!  

Brrrr stay warm out there, folks!



  1. That was fun. And I have to say, I don't miss that kind of cold. Nope.

  2. Have you tried making kettle corn with your popper? Add 3 tablespoons of oil, 1/2 c kernels, 1/4 c sugar and pop. When it comes out light sprinkle with salt. (I use sea salt) Oh this stuff is good!
    I too take my cast iron camping. I mean how can someone fry bacon with out cast iron?!? I need to find a small griddle to leave in the camper.
    I was in my casita just a few hours ago, just longing for warmer weather. We have 33 with colder temps for tonight!

  3. Looking out the window and seeing the bright sunshine sure is deceiving! Only 4 degrees here in Madison, with a lower wind chill. Your cooking sure sounds delicious! ;)

  4. Cold here in Dardenne Prairie too, right at 32 for the last couple days, teens and twentys at night. Remember the 60's and 70's when we were up in July and it was unseasonable cool, bet you wish you get get that back.Have fun hope to see you sometime this year. maybe we can meet in Northern Illinois for a weekend.Be safe out there, Sam & Donna..

  5. We're up to a Balmy sunny 18 degrees here in southern Ontario, but the wind chill 3 degrees cuts through you like a knife.

    Have you ever thought of making booties for the furkids. They might try shaking them of at first but once they find their paws are more comfortable they'll be easier to put on them. They even sell them in some pet supply stores.

    It's about time.

  6. Sorry you are freezing there. I grew up in Minnesota so I know that cold and that is why I live in San Antonio where it is a lovely 76 degrees, my kind of winter weather. I don't think I want to do any canning in the RV (or anywhere else, lol) but it is amazing how many RVers don't use their stove tops let alone their ovens. Say they are afraid of the gas. I sure wouldn't want to spend all my RVing time eating sandwiches and who can afford to or want to eat out all the time. Love the crock pot.


  7. When you first mentioned your Coleman oven in your blog, you called it your Easy-Bake Oven. I nearly went crazy trying to google Easy-Bake Oven and not getting anything like what you described!

  8. @Gypsy... LOL.. Yes, my family nicknamed my little oven as Karen's Easy Bake Oven (take off on the kids' toy famous in the 60's and 70's) Sorry about that! This time I was sure to call it by it's correct name: "Coleman Instastart Oven"

  9. Karen, I tried locating the Coleman Instastart Oven at Camping World, and other places, and right now they are not available in the US. Someone at a Coleman store told me they are available at Canadian Tire in Canada. I hope to find one some day myself.

  10. Darn! I got mine at Camping World. But we also saw them some time back at Fleet Farm (mid west chain of farm supply/sporting goods store) and at Gander Mountain. I have not looked for them recently though.

  11. I think I posted my comment half way through not sure what happened?? Well all I was going to say is I keep all my cooking very simple but you have great ideas

  12. Great Blog!! That was amazing. Your thought processing is wonderful. The way you tell the thing is awesome. You are really a master.

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