25/03/2012
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Can you cook it?

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The recent revival in the British passion for food means that it is now commonly referred to as the new rock ‘n’ roll. Food has the added bonus of being a necessity in life, so there’s no need to feel guilty about indulging this passion at every opportunity.

Motorhomers are in a wonderful position to do this because of their onboard cooking facilities, fridges and freezers and because of their enviable habit of travelling often and enjoying a stop-off en route as much as their final destinations.

KEEP IT SIMPLE

One of the simplest ideas for cooking in a limited space is to choose recipes that can be cooked in one pot, such as paella, hotpot or goulash.

Although this idea might conjure up the image of a having to stand over a hot stove for several hours, there are many other meals that can be cooked quickly and easily using just one pot, from a simple macaroni cheese, to an impressive Spaghetti con Cozze.

If you’ve never made a pasta recipe in one pot before, try the two methods in the recipes below and then adapt your own favourite pasta or noodle recipes in the same way.

If you’ve invested in a slow cooker the simple culinary possibilities are endless – just sauté the vegetables in a frying pan, brown the meat and tip it all in the slow cooker with some wine or stock for a good few hours while you go out for a long walk and work up an appetite.

Another way to keep things simple is to keep a good stock cupboard of things that keep for a long time and give maximum versatility. This will give you the freedom to buy whatever ingredient looks appealing, safe in the knowledge that you will have enough basics in the cupboard to make something of it.

Take advice from the seller and don’t be afraid to ask for only as much as you will need, since it’s that bit harder to store things fresh things for a long time in
a motorhome.

Choose dishes that use a mixture of stock-cupboard basics and only need a few fresh ingredients, if any at all.

Planning to make dishes that provide leftovers for soups and picnics the next day is an excellent way to keep meals simple but interesting.

Try the simplified version of Dahl, made using stock cupboard basics. It can be enhanced by adding chicken or boiled eggs but is excellent on its own. Leftovers can be mixed with a tin of chopped tomatoes for a delicious Spicy Tomato and Lentil Soup.


SAVING ENERGY AND WATER

Whether you are camping wild and conscious that energy and water are in short supply or are staying on a campsite with full facilities, there can be no excuse for wasting either of these precious resources.

Most people will devise their own ways of doing so, but here are a few more ideas you might not have considered to help you make a little go a long way:

  1. Store leftover liquid from cooking vegetables in a container in the fridge to use as stock for soups and stews
  2. If you have boiled too much water, store it in a flask so that it takes less energy to boil it next time
  3. When cooking vegetables, part boil/part steam them by placing them in a pan and putting in only enough water to half cover them. Bring the water to the boil, turn the heat off and let them steam with the lid on for another few minutes. Remember that smaller pieces cook more quickly
  4. Cooking pasta consumes a lot of water and energy: choose smaller shapes, such as bows, that cook quicker; consider making a little extra to use in pasta salads over the next few days and use the hot cooking liquid to soak your dirty dishes in, so that it is not wasted
  5. When cooking a stew, don’t boil potatoes separately, chop them into pieces and let them cook in the same pan and soak up the flavour at the same time
  6. Cook large amounts of vegetables at the same time and use them in different ways over the next few days
  7. Choose couscous cooked in a plastic tub as an energy-saving alternative to rice or pasta


MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR MOTORHOME

Having a motorhome means that trips to markets and independent shops can become a focus for days out for any food-lover. Find out from the campsite owner what the local speciality is and where best to discover it – it’s amazing how what starts off as a simple enquiry can turn into an adventure.

On a recent trip to Normandy I enquired about the local Calvados and, before I knew it, a trip had been arranged for me to meet M.Perigault, the local artisan producer and to sample his excellent Calvados and Pommeau. It’s just a pity that I was driving so had to decline his generous offer to let me sample the whole range!

He also gave me recipes for them both and directions to a market where I could collect the ingredients – a wonderful day out and a new dish to try out in the motorhome when I got back.

Exploring local markets and small food outlets can be a delightful way to spend part of your holiday and to enjoy the fact that you might have more time than usual to think about what you buy and where it comes from. If you fancy using it as an opportunity to try something new, don’t be afraid to ask the seller how to prepare it and to fillet or chop it in such a way that it can be stored and prepared in a small space – most people will be only too pleased to spend some time sharing their enthusiasm and passing on tips and ideas.

Another way to make the most of your motorhome is to use it for preparing meals for special occasions. You don’t have to go out for a meal to celebrate your birthday, anniversary, or retirement. You might find that you prefer making something really special on board, content in the knowledge that there’s no need to get a taxi back home.

If you’re planning a meal with several courses, take a tip from the French style of preparation: choose some good paté or a selection of meats or smoked fish for your starter, or prepare something simple, such as an egg and anchovy salad. Prepare a simple dessert the day before. Take a trip to a good cheesemonger’s to select your cheeseboard and concentrate on the main course on the day, such as venison stew cooked in the slow cooker or bouillabaisse cooked on the hob.

Try the Campervan cheesecake recipe out to get you started and try it with different flavoured jams that you might pick up on your travels.


OUTDOOR COOKING

If you’ve got the weather and the permission to use a barbecue, make the most of it! Prepare food in advance so it can marinate and you can relax while the charcoal heats up, the flames settle down and the coals are almost grey.

There are many ways to cook on a barbecue, so don’t fall into the trap of only cooking things on skewers or things with bones in. Sliced vegetables, such as courgettes, peppers, onions and chunks of fish cook particularly well when sprayed with oil, sprinkled with herbs and wrapped in foil parcels.

Don’t wrap them too tightly and keep the fish on the top layer so that steam can circulate in the parcels and the layers cook evenly. A mixture of fresh and smoked fish works well, or a mixture of white fish and slices of chorizo. Or wrap chicken fillets in foil, stud them with garlic and paste them with pesto – they will cook well on the fire and leave you with a delicious sauce in the foil parcel as well.

If you have a robust enough frying pan, don’t be afraid to use it on the barbecue as well for stir-frying vegetables, caramelising fruit or making Tipsy Peaches.

While you have the barbecue going, use the heat for cooking baked potatoes or other root vegetables in foil, even if you aren’t going to use them for another day or two. These might take some time but it gives you an excuse to sit for longer around the fire and to keep it burning all evening by adding whatever driftwood you can find or bracken to keep the midges at bay.

And if you can’t use a barbecue but still want to cook outside, invest in a griddle or dig out your old single burner gas stove and reminisce about the days before motorhoming.

Cooking inside or outside your motorhome should be something to look forward to and enjoy as part of your holiday. Use your time away to improve your cooking skills or to try something new. And the more meals you cook for yourself, the more money you’ll have to carry on motorhoming... now that’s a no-brainer, as far as I’m concerned!

Planning to make dishes that provide leftovers for soups and picnics the next day
is an excellent way to keep meals simple but interesting. Try the simplified version of Dahl, made using stock cupboard basics. It can be enhanced by adding chicken or boiled eggs but is excellent on its own. Leftovers can be mixed with a tin of chopped tomatoes for a delicious Spicy Tomato and Lentil Soup.


SAVING ENERGY AND WATER


Whether you are camping wild and conscious that energy and water are in short supply or are staying on a campsite with full facilities, there can be no excuse for wasting either of these precious resources.

Most people will devise their own ways of doing so, but here are a few more ideas you might not have considered to help you make
a little go a long way:

  1. Store leftover liquid from cooking vegetables in a container in the fridge to use as stock for soups and stews
  2. If you have boiled too much water, store it in a flask so that it takes less energy to boil it next time
  3. When cooking vegetables, part boil/part steam them by placing them in a pan and putting in only enough water to half cover them. Bring the water to the boil, turn the heat off and let them steam with the lid on for another few minutes. Remember that smaller pieces cook more quickly
  4. Cooking pasta consumes a lot of water and energy: choose smaller shapes, such as bows, that cook quicker; consider making a little extra to use in pasta salads over the next few days and use the hot cooking liquid to soak your dirty dishes in, so that it is not wasted
  5. When cooking a stew, don’t boil potatoes separately, chop them into pieces and let them cook in the same pan and soak up the flavour at the same time
  6. Cook large amounts of vegetables at the same time and use them in different ways over the next few days
  7. Choose couscous cooked in a plastic tub as an energy-saving alternative to rice or pasta

Visit our Cookery Pages to find Angela’s recipes of the month and a wider selection of motorhome-friendly recipes.

Back to "Practical Advice" Category

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