Cooking on the Go
By Janet Groene, F47166
When you’re boondocking by choice or stuck somewhere and unable to get to a supermarket, your pantry shelves can provide good meals galore if you have provisioned well. Keep these recipes in a separate file of menus that use shelf-stable supplies.
Savory Pumpkin Bread
This recipe from the book Making Quick Breads (see below) is not the sweet bread usually associated with pumpkin bread. Serve it buttered or plain with soup, scrambled eggs, or baked beans. If you don’t have fresh or powdered buttermilk, add a little vinegar to plain milk to sour it. Note that the spices are cooked in the butter, which really develops their flavor and makes this bread unique.
The book’s instructions don’t specify a pan size, but I make this in cake or pie tins and cut it into wedges to serve warm. If you make it in a loaf pan, it will slice easier if it’s wrapped and “aged” for several hours or overnight.
3/4-cup unbleached flour
1/2-teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2-cup onion, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/4-teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup canned, cooked pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
6 tablespoons buttermilk
In a bowl (I use a resealable plastic bag) combine the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, and sugar. In a small skillet, melt the butter and cook the onion, curry, cumin, cayenne, and salt until the onion is soft. In a roomy bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, and buttermilk. Stir in the onion mixture and then the flour mixture just until everything is evenly moistened. Spoon the batter into a greased pan(s) to no more than two-thirds full and bake at 350 degrees until a tester comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the pan(s) for 10 minutes, then remove to a rack and cool completely.
Note: Since a can of pumpkin contains approximately 2 cups, use the leftover pumpkin to add a golden glow to any batter or dough. It also can be stirred into chili, soup, or stew.
This single dish combines a starch course with colorful vegetables, so all you need is a salad plus chicken or chops from the grill. Use fresh vegetables (zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, red and green pepper) or frozen mixed vegetables. The more color and variety of vegetables you use, the better.
2 cups mixed vegetables
1 medium onion, diced
2 cups water
2 cups instant rice
1 small can diced chiles, drained (optional)
1 can condensed cream of celery soup
Bring the vegetables to a boil with the water; cover; reduce heat; and simmer just until the vegetables are done. Increase the heat and add the rice, chiles, and soup; turn off the burner; cover; and let stand for five minutes or until the rice is tender. Stir, adjust the seasonings, and serve.
Remember old-fashioned cheese spreads that were sold in glass jars pretty enough to use afterward as juice glasses? They’re still available in supermarkets and are handy to have on hand for tidbits like these.
1 can Boston brown bread, sliced
5-ounce jar blue-cheese-style cheese spread (such as Kraft Roka Blue Cheese Spread)
1/2-cup chopped pecans
Slice the canned bread, butter it, then top with the cheese spread. Cut each piece in half and sprinkle with chopped pecans. Serve with soup for a light supper or pass around as an appetizer.
Ham And Rice Casserole
This one-dish dinner cooks in your microwave. If you want to add a vegetable, open a can of baby carrots, drain well, and arrange them around the ham.
1 cup regular white rice
1 8-ounce can mushroom slices, drained
1 10-3/4-ounce can condensed cream of mushroom soup
2 cups water
1-pound canned ham, drained and cut into four portions
1 small can French-fried onions (optional)
Snipped parsley (optional)
Spread the rice in the bottom of a microwavable casserole dish that’s been coated with cooking spray. Distribute the mushrooms over the rice. Whisk together the soup and water in a quart-size microwavable container. Heat the soup on high for two minutes and pour it over top of the rice. Arrange the ham on top. Cover and cook on high for three minutes. Turn and cook for another three minutes. Repeat until the rice is tender, cooking for a total of 12 to 15 minutes. If you choose to use the fried onions, sprinkle them on top and cook on high, uncovered, for one minute. Sprinkle with parsley if you have some. This recipe makes four servings.
Black Bean Soup
This recipe is from the book Cooking With Dried Beans (see below). Dried beans stretch food dollars and save weight. With a cup of dried beans weighing only a few ounces, you can make soup for six. Depending on what you have in the refrigerator, you might double up on the onion or add a carrot if you don’t have celery and a leek. A small can of chunk ham can be substituted for the ham hocks. To make a vegetarian version of this soup, add another hard-cooked egg or two instead of the ham.
If you carry a pressure cooker (I do because it saves time and propane), follow the directions for cooking dried beans. Depending on the type of bean you use, one cup of dried beans produces two to three cups of cooked beans.
1 cup dried black beans, washed and picked over
4 cups water
1 celery rib with leaves, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 leek, white part only, chopped
2 ham hocks
1 bay leaf
1/2-teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons sherry
2 hard-cooked eggs
Soak the beans overnight or use the quick-soak method (see note below). Drain the beans and put in a kettle with 4 cups water. Add all of the remaining ingredients, except for the sherry and eggs. Bring to a boil; lower the heat; cover; and simmer until the beans are tender and the meat is falling off the ham hocks. This will take approximately three hours. Set the ham hocks aside to cool. Using a potato masher, mash the beans in the soup a few times to thicken. (The book says to puree half the beans in a food processor, but I skip this messy step when camping.) Bring the soup nearly to a boil, stir in the sherry, and ladle into bowls. Garnish with sliced egg.
Note: To quick-soak beans, put them in a pot; cover with water; bring to a boil; cover; and cook for two minutes. Turn off the heat and let the beans stand, covered, not less than one hour and preferably two hours.
Sweet Potato-Pineapple Pie
The bowl you use to make the piecrust also can be used to prepare the sweet potato filling or to beat the eggs. Instead of the flour-and-oil crust, you can use a piecrust mix from the shelf or a rolled crust from the refrigerator.
1 cup flour
1/3-cup canola oil
1 16-ounce can sweet potatoes
1 8-ounce can pineapple chunks
1 cup liquid
1/2-cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
Mix the flour, oil, and salt to form a ball. Place the ball on a sheet of wax paper, top with another sheet, and roll out the dough to fit a 9-inch pie plate. Flute the edges and set aside. Drain the sweet potatoes and pineapple, saving the liquid and adding water, if necessary, to make a cupful. Mash the sweet potatoes coarsely with a fork and fold in the pineapple chunks. Whisk together the liquid, brown sugar, eggs, a second pinch of salt, and cinnamon. Combine with the sweet potato mixture, turn into the piecrust, and bake at 350 degrees until the crust is browned and the filling is set.
Can-Can Clam Chowder
All the ingredients for this dish come from your pantry. If you have fresh celery and onion, use them instead of the dried onion and celery seed. Real bacon bits are sold in cans and jars.
2 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil
1 to 2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
3 tablespoons real bacon bits
1/2-teaspoon celery seed
1 or 2 cans chopped clams, juice reserved
1 15- or 16-ounce can diced potatoes, drained
1 13-ounce can evaporated milk
Heat the butter or oil in a saucepan and stir in the onion flakes, bacon bits, and celery seed. Add water to the clam juice to make 1-1/3 cups. Add the clams, liquid, and potatoes to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, stir in the evaporated milk, and heat, but do not boil. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. This recipe makes two servings.
Scrumptious Fish Cakes
Put together a variety of canned seafood from your pantry and these fish cakes will be different each time, depending on what’s available. Good choices include tuna, salmon, mackerel, and crabmeat. Clams and lobster don’t hold together as well.
2 cups canned seafood, well drained
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cups breadcrumbs, divided
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Oil for frying
Drain the seafood and remove any skin, crab cartilage, or bones before measuring. Mix together the seafood, onion, and 1 cup of breadcrumbs. Whisk the eggs and mix into the seafood. Form the seafood mixture into four to six patties. On a paper plate, mix together the second cup of breadcrumbs and the cheese. Press the patties into this mixture to coat, then fry them in hot oil until they are brown and crusty on both sides.
Hot ‘N Crusty Chicken Currywiches
1/2-teaspoon curry powder
10-ounce can chunk white meat of chicken, drained
1/4-cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons slivered almonds
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery, if available
6 slices bread
Cheese spread (such as Cheez Whiz)
Butter for frying
Mix the curry powder, chicken, and mayonnaise, mashing together and breaking up the chicken. Mix in the raisins, almonds, and celery. Top the bread with the cheese spread and divide the chicken filling to make three sandwiches. Fry the sandwiches in butter until they are hot and crusty on both sides.
Books for cooks
Have you discovered Storey Publishing’s Country Wisdom Bulletins? Each bulletin covers a specific skill, which makes them ideal for motorhome cooks, because a lot of recipes and basic instructions are contained in one small booklet. I have Making Quick Breads and Cooking with Dried Beans, each packed with recipes that I fall back on time and again when we are traveling and I need to pull a meal out of the pantry. These booklets, which cost $3.95 apiece and are available in bookstores and from online booksellers, also can be found in garden centers and farm stores. For a complete list of bulletin titles, visit www.storey.com or call (800) 441-5700 and ask for a catalog of Storey titles.