Sunday, June 14, 2009

Cooking on the Road

For many years I spent a great deal of time traveling. When you spend days and even weeks
in motel rooms you quickly get tired of chicken fingers and fries. If your lucky enough to get an expense reimbursement it usual just covers part of a good meal, say $7 for lunch.

One imaginative solution was to cook in your room.
This created a few problems, blown breakers and hassles with motel management. The smell of northern pike grilling almost got my friend Doug tossed out of his room in Thompson.
While this is an extremely smelly example, it does point out the pit falls faced by the road warrior gourmet.
Having the right gear is another, while grills and microwaves are the stuff of dreams they can be a nightmare to transport. Toasters are rugged, but are really smoky one trick ponies when it comes to in room dining. More than one luckless lightman's culinary creations have awoken the whole hotel to the scream of a smoke detector. Fortunately food options have evolved since the 80's and there are now an endless variety of delicious and nutritious boil in bag foods that can be easily prepared without leaving the comfort of your Super 8.

While some selections tend towards survival rations, some are quite exotic and tasty.
The portions are small and two bags will feed you and a special friend quite well.
While traveling on a weekend journey of discovery to Vermont, I decided to cook up a boil in bag feast. Coconut cashew basmati rice, with palak paneer. Always be on the lookout for sodium content as it can be quite high on some foods. I augmented this with a surprisingly good tetra pack shiraz.

My culinary tool of choice, a Rival electric kettle with removable lid, after a lot of searching.
It has several advantages and is as versatile as a Swiss Army Knife. It is also rugged and has a stainless steel heating element that allows you to cook soups in the pot without the bag. I opted to not do this as tomatoes or acid foods will sometimes stain this type of plastic. I have used butane and propane camp stoves but they are inherently unsafe and should never be used
in a hotel room. This appliance has an automatic shut off, a real life saver if you fall asleep while cooking. ( It happens right, Louie!)

This particular kettle like device has no glass or easily breakable parts and stows easily in the trunk of the car or in a saddle bag on your scooter. The price with a 20% off coupon came to $11 .
It paid for itself on the first meal which was around $5 not including the plastic spoon I grabbed
from the lobby at check in. Coffee cups are not just for coffee they make a good substitute for a bowl.

Not to be limited to one meal, I made instant coffee and oatmeal for breakfast several days.
You could boil eggs in a jiffy. Fresh eggs will keep a short time without refrigeration but
don't pack well on the bike. You could buy 6 at a time and hard boil them for lunch.
Teas are not a problem for this powerhouse as it boils water in a flash and has a variable thermostat that will keep water warm if you hosting. A former roommate of mine Bodo K.
used to boil his bass guitar strings in a similar appliance to get a bit more life out of them.

If your on the road now sit back and watch this small movie I call " Boil in Bag"

From way out there,



KentEh said...

Well that certainly beats hot-from-the-tap water and cuppa soup!

Anonymous said...

Yes or gas station nacho's

Maya said...

Beats eating at a greasy spoon!

Kate said...

Well here's a bit of useful information for you! These pots are the only heating devices allowed in many cells at prisons and on death row. The prisoners get very adept at making recipes inside these pots, with weird ingredients and ingenuity. For instance, I've seen a "recipe" for making tamales using crushed and soaked Fritos Chips as the masa, some kind of meat product mixed with salsa on the inside, placed inside the frito bag as a "husk", and then steamed like a tamale inside this pot! Others used it to heat soaked sugar cookies to make "crust" and then mix pudding and other things to make "cream pies". So, while it would suck to be on death row, this pot would really, really come in handy. Arn't you happy I provided this info?

B W said...

This beats "guns made out of soap",
just as rock crushes scissors. It warms my heart to see that even at the end of the row people are still creating innovative if not nutritious foods. I know of one domestic diva/ felon who earned two weeks of latrine duty for taking sugar back to her unit to make baked apples. :-) its a good thing...