If the kitchen is the heart of the home, our Airstream has the heart of a giant. I love that about her.
Compared to her 31′ length, the kitchen counter spans 12 and a half feet, but the cooking space doesn’t stop there. We were intentional about our creative / cooking space stretching to the great outdoors and she allows for that beautifully. Because if it is true that food tastes better eaten outside, it most certainly tastes better cooked outside too. A raspberry rhubarb pie, prepared in the Airstream then cooked and eaten in the fresh air with nothing but nature in sight is a hell of a way to start the day. This is nourishment on so many levels.
After many years of research and the all-important Airstream layout decision of “front bed” or “rear bed”, when we first saw Lucy I knew she could have a great kitchen, and that is what mattered most. Sure, I like to be able to store the stuff that makes her feel like home and sleep on a real queen-sized bed with windows all around. But can you really live with out eating? …And if you have to eat, you should really eat well.
We started this blog to capture our love of food from our second date and eventual merging of kitchens, so when we decided to chase this crazy Airstream dream, food was certainly to be a part of living well on the road. So while we sacrificed the second couch / bed, the counter and kitchen has been so worth it.
In the short 10 days we’ve been on our maiden voyage we’ve cooked two pies, made countless real espressos, speghetti squash and meat sauce, broiled white fish, ginger lime chicken, french toast with raspberry toppings, fettuccini with fresh basil and so many other lovely things. We had three cooks in the kitchen and no one got hurt 🙂 when both our moms came to visit for lunch today! And now our kitchen overlooks the waves gently rolling on the beach…I wouldn’t trade this for anything.
After we had the space figured out and the wall and bed long gone, the hard decisions came: what should we equip her with. We knew we wanted a good oven and the original one wasn’t working. It seemed like while there were a few options for replacements there weren’t many options to upgrade. Especially given the drop-in design and 21 inch width.
With all the renovation projects we have done in the last few years – from our cottage down-to-the-studs kitchen remodel to the Airstream, we’d consider ourselves professional Googlers and yet we did so much research on ovens I think I went cross-eyed! We couldn’t put in a standard oven without loosing the furnance below. And all the standard RV ovens got such terrible reviews from people who seemed to really care how ovens performed (not just that they got hot!). We needed something, but I don’t think a Wolf 6 burner would really fit!
The marine ovens were definitely something that had my attention but for $1700 to have a gimbaled oven when we obviously would never use that functionality seemed a bit crazy. Unless I really tried to be like Lucille Ball and cook in The Long Long Trailer while it was moving —but we all know how well that turned out! I was also worried how much the oven would heat up the space since we planned to use it in the summer months and nearly every night. And to top it all off we want to keep this Airstream boondocking friendly so electricity can’t be a necessity!
In a bit of desperation with our first trip approaching quickly, I did what I generally do in a pinch: Amazon prime! Ha! I thought it may be too good to be true but the Camp Chef Oven at less than $200 (and about $400 less than the ovens that got terrible reviews) seemed worth a shot. I figured if it didn’t work in the long run it would be fine for the first trip and other things later, but gosh do we love this little thing now! It has to be used outside, which has actually turned out great because of the heat, cooking smells, and improved counter space! Not to mention cooking with your toes in the sand is like heaven! It has two burners on the top (with much better BTUs than the wimpy camp stoves or most RV ovens) and a oven that can do a 9x 13 pan on one rack with garlic toast on the top rack. It also had an optional pizza stone for a few more bucks that I just love! I’ve done rustic pies / galettes a couple times using just half my normal crust recipe. [For those that want the recipe: the filing was fresh chopped rhubarb, tossed in orange juice – because I didn’t have lemon on hand – and heavily tossed in sugar (1/2 cup?) with a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg. Once in the crust, I added dollops of these amazing raspberry preserves from Rocky Top Farms I got last week at the farmers market, and more sugar sprinkled on the crust for good measure.] With how much this thing holds I probably could actually do a whole recipe and just fold it into two separate pies – but let’s be honest we do not each need our own pie for breakfast! I plan to do bread in it this week and will let you know how it goes!
It doesn’t have a thermostat, but instead has a control for the flame /flow of gas and built in thermometer. So while it does take a bit of monitoring, the heat stays very consistent and so far seems very true to temperature. I for one would rather have an oven that lets you have control rather than one that lies to you!
Because we built in the back counter we have a shelf for the little oven below when not in use and so far packing her away hasnt bothered us. It really doesn’t weight much. We’ve also left her out on the picnic table and with the lid down it doesn’t seem to hurt it at all although I doubt we’ll get into the practice of it. So we don’t have to cook outside all the time (or cook in the rain – although we have happily already) we have supplemented the camp chef with a single stainless butane burner – the kind used for cooking demos and the like.
This little thing is awesome! For about $30 bucks it is super hot and comes in a little storage case we put under the sink when I get the urge to roll out dough on the counter and want the space back! I just love it, and since we kept the original hood vent I think we can use it safely vented underneath, but of course have a carbon monoxide alarm near by! It’s great for morning espresso without getting our shoes on, or soup on a rainy day. We can also use it outside for a third burner and because of the great heat I cannot wait to try our paella pan out by the lake!
Our kitchen setup is augmented by a couple lovely, portable mini-gardens. One with rosemary, basil, oregano, curly parsley, and cilantro. The other a hanging basket of three of the prettiest lettuces you have ever seen from Pond Hill Farm. We have minimal tools at this point, a few of our favorite Shun Knives and new tin plates and cups so we feel at least a little like we are camping!
We are happy and we are full.
Love and real food,
Kate + Adam