My House Has Wheels is about RV living but it’s also about small space living. One of the big changes that will be universal to any small space transition will be outdoor cooking. This is a great time of year for articles like this one because it’s outdoor cooking season everywhere!
You’ll positively be doing more cooking outside because that keeps odor and mess outside. If you’ve read the book, you’ll also be set up with an outdoor screen room for eating, which will be more comfortable and social. The only time you’ll likely to cook or eat inside is if the weather isn’t cooperating or you haven’t had a shower and don’t want the neighbors to see you.
Unfortunately giant ceramic cookers, deep fryers and other luxury cooking appliances are out. For that matter any single use cooking product is a no go. You don’t have the counter space, storage room or slack in your weight budget for a lot of heavy gadgets. It’s okay, you can get by without a bread maker on the road. But it does mean you’ll have to put a bit of thought into your cooking gear. We’ve covered grills and cooking appliances previously. This time it’s more about accessories.
A Big Metal Spatula
One absolutely indispensable outdoor cooking tool is a big metal spatula. You can use them to flip, toss, turn and even chop. Want to see something scary? Go to one of those hibachi restaurants and watch what a professional chef and do with a metal spatula. Those guys could hit a moving target at 50 paces with a shrimp launched from a metal spatula like a catapult. These are perfect for outdoor cooking but you can’t use them inside, especially on non-stick pans.
The only reason you can’t cook eggs on your grill is it would make a mess. You can get a metal griddle, which will work fine but they’re usually heavy. When you get done cooking, you still have to clean something heavy and metal in an RV sink. What you’ll discover almost immediately is that RV sinks are not well suited to cleaning big, heavy things or fish. You can ask my wife about cleaning fish in an RV sink, I was listening to that rant for days.
There are some cool new things out now that get around all that called grill mats. Grill mats are non-stick liners that you can lay right on the grill and cook on them. Cleanup is a breeze, even in an RV sink. Another bonus is they keep your grill cleaner. They’re also light and easy to store.
A burger press is cheap, light and hugely useful for making uniform burger patties and stuffed burgers. Stuffed burgers are, apparently, all the rage right now and you wouldn’t want to be left out of major trend in outdoor cooking, now would you? Of course not. Come to think of it, though, a cheese, mushroom and spinach stuffed burger does sound pretty good.
You can carry around a lot of clunky utensils or you can get one good metal spatula and a pair of grill gloves. Grill gloves can handle hot food, they’re easy to clean and easy to store. I use mine all the time, especially with the smoker grill. They’re perfect for handling a big slab of smoked brisket or pork shoulder, anything that’s too big for a spatula or meat fork. In the old days we used to call them chemical gloves but that would be awful branding for something you use to handle food and these are made from actual food safe materials. Don’t use actual chemical gloves!
Remember the fish I tried to clean in the camper? Don’t do that. Another tip, you don’t want to cook fish directly on your grill, either. You will never get the fish oil smell off the grill. Cooking fish or vegetables or anything you still want a little bit of fire char on, you’ll need a grill basket, also called grill pans. Mats are great for eggs, pancakes and things like pizza on the grill, cookies or flatbreads. Mats are great for turning your covered grill into a makeshift oven.
You get the idea of what we’re doing here. We’re using some really inexpensive accessories to turn your outdoor grill into an all purpose cooking appliance. Sure, most RVs and campers have burners, a microwave and a small oven. That doesn’t mean you want to use them to cook inside. The faintest whiff of smoke will have your smoke alarm blaring and the smell will stick around, sometimes for days afterwards…especially fish. I may never live that one down.
The great thing about these gadgets is you can use them even if you’re not on the road. If you’re still planning your RV adventure, you can still start practicing cooking outdoors right now.