My, what a tiny stove you have!

Big Food, Little Kitchen

I love to cook, and I’m determined to cook the same way in the Airstream as I did when there was a large, full-sized kitchen at my disposal. Obviously I knew there would be adjustments with the size of the stove and without certain things like a toaster oven, but with a little planning, I’m determined to make it work!

The grocery store isn’t TOO far away, but to minimize the back and forth, I decided that I would try and plan at least 3 days of meals ahead of time. I’m a list person — I can’t just go to the store and buy things with some innate knowledge of what to cook out of it– so having the recipes with me helps so I get everything I need. And this was my first challenge…..

How do you pack 3 or 4 days of meals into a tiny refrigerator and a two shelf pantry? Plus all the food Deke will need for his lunches? In this challenge, I pretty much failed the first time out. I quickly realized that I can’t buy a large bag of El Milagro nacho chips, or a 5 lb bag of russets because they just don’t fit. And kale? or beets? Forget those fitting in the fridge without damage. It’s like Jenga in those cupboards. It’s a weird mindset change — I like to buy bulk so its less packaging waste, but if it doesn’t fit in the kitchen, it’s just not practical. I’ll have to work on that.

Our arsenal of pots and pans

Another challenge? The number of pots and pans we have. We overpacked in that area as well, which is good and bad at this point. It’s good I have two skillets for cooking two things at a time, but totally impractical when they all need to sit on the floor because I need the oven (which is the pots and pans storage area at the moment). Thinking I was going to be baking bread in the Airstream is a stretch in itself, but also packing 3 bread pans was just silly. Other items will follow two of those bread pans to the trash in the near future, Im sure.

Putting it all together

Last night’s recipe was Shepard’s Pie, from a CHOW recipe . It’s a vegetarian version with a lot of winter veggies, so there’s a lot of cutting involved (but not a lot of countertop space) and a lot of room needed in the refrigerator for things like celery root, potatoes and carrots. It also called for several different cooking vessels, which immediately I knew wasn’t going to work for me. I mean, I HAVE a skillet, a baking dish and a baking pan, but I didn’t want to wash them all — plus there isn’t really room in the sink for all of them at the same time.

Weaselmouth's adaptation of CHOW's Shepard's Pie

After some thought and rereading of the directions a few times, I thought it could all be done in the 10″ cast iron skillet, so that’s what I used. I also thought I could do the potato part of the recipe ahead of time, which made things a lot easier in the clean up and countertop space departments. One last thing… wasting energy is not Airstream friendly. No one wants to waste their propane, so some parts of the cooking portion of this recipe have changed from the original to reflect using less energy as well.

Weaselmouth’s Adaptation of CHOW’s Shepard’s Pie

  • 2 medium russet potatoes, (peeled or unpeeled) and cut into large chunks
  • 1 medium sweet potato, (peeled or unreeled) and cut into large chunks
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed, and quartered
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, medium dice
  • 2 medium carrots, medium dice
  • 1/2 medium celery root, medium dice
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (SEE NOTE BELOW)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 cups mushroom broth (this isn’t something I have in stock, so I used Veggie broth)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas

#1 The Potato Mixture

Place all potatoes in a pot of heavily salted water and bring to a boil over high heat. Depending on your pot, you might need to do this in 2 batches. Simmer until just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, then return potatoes to the pot. Mash coarsely; add yogurt, salt, and pepper; and stir until just combined. Put in tupperware or a bowl and cover with plastic wrap or foil and put in the refrigerator. This step can be done earlier in the day.

#2 The Pie

Using a cast iron skillet heat olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms and cook until browned, about 6 minutes. Mushrooms are delicate, don’t stir too much! Add onion, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes.

Add carrots, celery root, tomato paste, and thyme and stir to coat vegetables. Add broth and soy sauce and stir. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Turn on broiler.

Meanwhile, combine water and flour in a small bowl and stir until smooth. When vegetables are ready, add flour mixture, stir to combine, bring to a boil, and cook until sauce has thickened, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in frozen peas.

Spread reserved mashed potato mixture over top of pie. Broil until the top of the potatoes start to brown, about 5-10 minutes (I like my potato topping to be pretty crunchy). Let cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

And that’s it! We  enjoyed this one and found each vegetable retained its own unique flavor.  It works as a meal or a hearty side dish, and will certainly become a standard in our winter meal rotations.

What do you think? Is this something you’d like to try, or do you have another Shepard’s Pie recipe to share? If so, let us know!