I love to cook. I especially love to bake; it's either genetically or environmentally passed down from my mother and grandmother. Both are great cooks and when my mom threw me a wedding shower and asked everyone to bring a recipe my grandma did one better and brought an entire recipe box with handwritten cards of all her best recipes. Talk about an heirloom. It is now filled with only family recipes from both sides of the family. I also have a box of recipes collected from friends from all of our duty stations. I have one cupboard in the RV dedicated to cookbooks. The rest are in two boxes in storage. With such an abundance of recipes (not to mention the Food Network online!) I rarely make the same thing twice in a six month period.
I plan my menu for a week at a time because that is the most food my 9 cubic foot refrigerator will hold. Yes, we go to the store for milk and bananas every other day! My planning is often influenced by what I'm reading. Last night I finished Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes, a fantastic story about an American who falls in love with a Frenchman. Every thing she learned about being French she gathered around a meal and each of her chapters ends with recipes. So guess what our family is eating this week? Mmmm Hmmm. French food.
Tonight we had tortillas, carne asada (thanks Jen Nauman!), corn on the cob, fresh cantaloupe, strawberries and blueberry pie with whipped cream. I grew up with everything homemade and I believe it really is the best I can give my family. In a house with a reasonable kitchen I can make all of this with ease. In an RV, on a three burner stove with limited counter space, the job can make me sweat. I threw the metal bowl and beaters in the freezer (better for whipping the cream) and made the blueberry pie last night. The carne asada began marinating in the fridge this morning in a Ziploc because it takes up less space. I had to clear my island, insert the sink covers to create a solid counter top and sliced all the fruit first. Then I had to cook the corn, cut in half to fit my largest pot, and when it was done the only place to keep it warm was in the microwave. We had to wait for the corn to finish cooking before starting the tortillas because the griddle and the pot wouldn't fit on the stove at the same time. I have a rectangular pancake griddle that just fits over my two back burners. I rolled out 18 tortillas, one at a time, and #2 cooked them for me. He's becoming a great cook but it's a good thing he's small because otherwise there would be no room for the two of us! Once the tortillas were done and keeping warm under a towel I could clear the stove and have room for a skillet to cook the meat. Let me tell you, trying to keep everything warm until all is ready is tricky. The whole meal took nearly two hours. Another challenge is the fact that we have just enough dishes for the four of us so if I use something in meal preparation I have to wash it before the table can be set. Which means uncovering my sinks when that counter space is necessary to hold prepared food. The nice thing is that 99% of the time my three men are incredibly appreciative of my cooking efforts. Donald just rolled himself off the couch still muttering about how good the meal was and #1 kisses me and thanks me after every supper.
#2 thinks that Food Network should do a show starring our family and how to inspire other RV'ers and folks with tiny kitchens to make great food in a small space. I'm not so sure I would like that. First, it would involve being in front of a lot of people and second, it probably makes the meal look a lot less appetizing when the cook is red-faced, sweaty and kicking a dog out of the way. Third, my blueberry pie actually became a tart because when I pre-baked the crust it shrunk down in the pan. I can spin it anyway I want to at home but I'm pretty certain the Food Network is a harder sell! However, it's nice to know that my kid thinks I could do it! What I love the most about cooking, no matter the size of the kitchen, is the knowledge that not only am I selfishly satisfying an experimental and creative need but I am passing down a homemade heritage and instilling a love of good food to a group of appreciative Test Tasters and Meal Wolfers Extraordinaire.