Wednesday, February 18, 2009

BUILDING THE VARDO: Tiny Home Cookin'


Tiny Homers (that's like, not the Homer Simpson variety for sure) don't have much space for appliances and in our case, we have chosen to leave the cookin' outside.
All venture long Pete and I have cooked outside. Thankful we are to have the wide porch above to protect us from the elements. In all kinds of weather--snowstorm, sprinkling rain, slushy thick rain we have been able to boil kettle after kettle of hot water, bake and broil meals, cook rice and make crock pot meals.

Here are the BASIC APPLIANCES for Tiny Home Cookin'

ABOVE: 1. ELECTRIC TOASTER OVEN

I found this one for $5 at a thrift store last summer. We use it day and night, bake simple quick breads, pieces of salmon, whole potatoes, squash, and oven fried potatoes in this honey. If you find one I'd say look over the heating unit inside (both up on the top of the oven and down below the cooking rack) to see if the element is in tact, not burned out or charred over. It should have a decent if not easily baking soda cleaned baking dish. We use aluminum foil in the pan anyway for most cooking to save on smoke accidents mostly.

Here's my favorite recipe for easy breezie
DAILY BARLEY BREAD
(it's not gluten free for our friends who are gluten intolerant sorry.)
Barley is a grain, but not a wheat, closer to rice and one of the 'low brow' foods of the back country folks with more texture and a heartier taste. Maybe that's why I like it so much.

PREHEAT THE TOASTER OVEN TO 400 degrees.

2 cups of organic barley flour
1/2 tsp. non-aluminum baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
a handful of dried fruit (organic raisins or dried dates are my favs)
a sprinkling of cinnamon (more of less according to your liking)

Put all of these into a bowl and stir them up with a fork. Loosen the dried fruit so they're coated with the flour and not all clumped up. I don't have a sifter, don't need on.

3/4-7/8 c of filtered water
enough organic olive oil to fill nearly to the top of a 1 c measuring cup

Make a well in the middle of the barley flour mixture, and pour the water-oil mixture into the well.
Wet the dry ingredients, don't over-mix that just toughens your bread.
If you need to, sprinkle the dough with a little barley flour to work the dough out of the bowl.

Oil your baking sheet lightly. Pat the dough into the middle and work it into the thickness you prefer. This bread is very forgiving and can be as thick as a proper scone (2 inches) or as thin as shortbread (1/2 inch).

I like to prick the top of the bread in patterns both because it's pretty and it helps to bake the bread (shortbread always called for a prick ... like in "Patty Cake, patty cake baker's man ....")

Pop it in the oven for above 15 minutes. Serve it hot with butter, ghea, oil oil, jam, honey or just plain.


2. RICE COOKER.
Although most rice cookers have aluminum rice pots (and those aren't the best metals for health, I know) we use the rice cooker to cook rice, and steam veggies on top of the nearly cooked rice. This appliance is least essential I think. With our Broil King Cast Iron Cook Top, we could cook a great pot of home-steamed rice without the hazards of over the top Hot Plate cooking. More about that later.

3. CROCK POT.
These are an old fashion answer to an any season lifestyle. As long as I have a good chunk of energy in a day, I can prep and fill this crock pot with vegetables, herbs and a pair of turkey wings or a small lamb shank, add water to cover with a scant sprinkle of Hawaiian salt and 6 hours later we have a delicious hot meal.
Like the toaster oven we found this crockpot at a thrift stove. It cost us $7.50. It has a glass lid and a removable crockery liner, important for cleanup and storing left-overs for the next day.

4. A HEAVY DUTY STAINLESS STEEL AND CAST IRON COOK TOP.

This is the appliance that has kicked up our Tiny Home Cookin' in magnificent fashion. Any one whose cooked on an electric hot plate knows the frustration of its unpredictable nature. It's hard to regulate and maintain temperature with a hot plate. THAT PROBLEMS DISAPPEARS with this Broil King cast iron double burner beauty. This is a GOOD STOVE in miniature. I've attached the link to Compact Appliances. Com if you're interested in checking into these cook tops. After buying at least four hot plates in less than four years, there is a better solution. It costs more but the price is worth the quality of the cooking, and it is easy on the electricity as well. The cast iron elements maintain their temperature, and once hot they will either draw very little electricity or not draw at all.
Go here for a look at these Professional Cast Iron Cook Tops: Compact Appliances

What makes these two old dears such happy campers?
GOOD TINY HOME COOKIN', that's what.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Once you're living in Vardo For Two full time, will you have enough room for cooking? Will you have to create an outside room?

Mokihana and Pete said...

Hi! All the cooking will be done outside. There are two outside outlets designed for that ... one on the porch so we can easily boil a kettle for tea, and a second outlet on one side wall. At first we'll set up an outside area for cooking, not a room ... more like a shelter to keep us dry when it rains. We'll be living with friends who share their land, their home and their electricity.

That's the whole next step ... building a community for VARDOFORTWO. Thanks for the question. Mokihana