Campervan Cuisine

Vincent is somewhat challenged on the kitchen front. He has a small ‘fridge and a two-ring gas burner. There is also a small and low-powered microwave.

Storage space is limited, with a tiny pull-out larder slider for cans and jars. Three overhead lockers of varying dimensions currently house all of my crockery, seasonings herbs and spices, coffee and sugar and so on.

There are two cutlery drawers, one with a cut-out to accommodate the sink drainage. Below, two drawers of reasonable size are hiding kitchen scales, induction hob, various saucepans and mixing bowls.

Dried food staples live in a plastic storage box under the bed. Another under-bed plastic storage box houses the wok and slow cooker and a few other kitchen items. My cooking oils are in a deep storage area hidden under one of the passenger seat arms.

The whole setup is in need of rethinking and rationalising – it remains as we set it up in haste on the day that we collected Vincent and traded Hank in (apart from items that we have since moved outside to live in the tent.)

Hank’s extra burner, gas oven and combined micro/convection oven gave me far more scope for creativity in my cooking and the huge larder cupboard allowed me to keep plenty of stores on hand. The small freezer was an absolute boon. That said, I always had a slightly uneasy feeling that this was not really camping in any sense of the word. It was all too easy, too comfortable, too domestic. None of these accusations could be leveled at Vincent.

On the other hand. Vincent’s smaller capacity does nudge us in the direction of the kind of shopping, cooking and eating regime that I had always imagined we might enjoy when we reach Europe. That image had us rising early each day, going to market and purchasing fresh food for the day, eating whatever is available. Good quality, seasonal food, often eaten as a cold plate rather than a big production of a cooked meal. You know… baguette – hot and crusty, fragrant tomatoes straight from the vine, a little fromage or jambon… a naughty slurp of vin de table.  *sigh*

On our recent jaunts we have certainly needed to shop more frequently and often chose a Farm Shop. Farm shops tend to yield an array of cheeses, pork pie etcetera and thus we have enjoyed a  few cold collations, though nothing of the style that I have anticipated we shall enjoy in France. It has all however felt much more like proper camping out – all making-do and one-pot cooking.

This very evening I found myself complaining about all the one-pot cooking as it leads inevitably to bowls and forks. I am definitely hankering for what I call proper food – served upon a plate and eaten with knife and fork. I miss proper cooking, I tire of the wok, and I long for more substantial heaps of vegetables.

Recently I have been trying to get to grips with the slow cooker that we brought on our travels. Today I made a Chili non Carne (Quorn) and last week I cooked meatballs in sauce for pasta very successfully. In between the two a risotto was not at all culinary triumph.  Research has not yielded much useful advice about making up for the lack of the oven, though I am certain that slow cookers can turn out jacket potatoes and so on if only one knows how to do that.

Overall it is the lack of any kind of oven facility that grieves me. The microwave that we have now mainly does duty as an extra cupboard and I keep the fruit bowl and fresh tomatoes in it when I am not heating plates to eat from. I have used it for making porridge and some scrambled eggs but otherwise it has only come in handy for heating ready-cooked rice. My problem is that I have never engaged with Microwave cookery and really do not have any repertoire (or specialised cookware, even if we had the space to carry it with us.)

I have asked around about electrical gadgets that can be used on hook-up. There are no end of multi-function electrically operated pans around and all have their fans. I talked to a woman on a site one morning as she cooked her breakfast outside in an electric frying pan and she enthused about all the things that she could do with it. I was interested enough to look for one that would do but size seemed to be one issue and I eventually concluded that it had limited utility compared to other gadgets.

A friend, Lisa, tipped me the wink on a marvellous invention called an Instant Pot which is an electric pressure cooker than can do several other turns. Its footprint seemed about right and I was good to go… but it turned out to be too tall for any of our cupboards.

Many motorhome owners favour a gas barbecue solution and both Cadac and Cobb models have their fans. We however lack an external gas connection and have space for neither barbecue or table to cook on outside.

Other suggestions have included halogen ovens (again, too tall) and air fryers (too limiting).

Which brings us to the Remoska. The Remoska is a crude but seemingly effective device made in Czechoslovakia and sold in the UK by Lakeland. It looks like an electric frying pan but functions as an oven – the element is in fact in its lid. Caravanners and motorhomers have enthused about the Remoska for many years. We investigated the Remoska even before getting our first motorhome.  The price was off-putting for a device that we believed would have limited use.

Today Mr Snail noticed that some refurbished models were available on eBay with 12 months guarantee for £100 less than the new Lakeland price. We secured the last of the ones available today.

I am now looking forward to having some baked, grilled and roasted foods. The Remoska can provide us with bread, roast chicken, casseroles, Yorkshire Puddings  – all manner of goodies. It can even cook a bought frozen pizza or heat up ready meals in foil containers that will not go in the microwave. It takes so little power that we can even run it from the inverter when not on a hook-up.

We may now sling the slow cooker. Not having room for both machines means that the least useful will go. The Remoska will not replace the slow cooking facility – in fact it is known for cooking things faster than a normal oven – but it will cook everything that the slow cooker can. 

We shall see. The cookbook is also winging its way to us and I shall report back when I try the thing out. 

I have one concern, that the Grand model, which we have bought, will be too large for just two persons. We might have done better with the original, smaller,  model but none of those were available refurbished today,

If the Remoska fails to live up to its reviews and reputation then we should be able to resell it without losing much money. There is always the Instant Pot option and I quite like the notion of the Canadian device being in use in our Canadian van.

I am looking forward to some variety in our meals but am now a little down about the Gousto order, due on Wednesday, that I carefully selected to avoid dishes that needed an oven or grill. It will be a week or so before I can plan and shop for some oven-based meals.

Tesco are delivering tomorrow, again with carefully selected options that need no oven. Tomorrow night’s meal is a stir fry. Ah, well. 

Anyway, should you be a confirmed Remoska fan already and are reading this, why not leave a comment with some recipe ideas for me? or regale us with some of your Remoska adventures maybe.

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