When packing for our trip, we put a lot of thought into what we wanted to take with us in order to cook. As both Annika and I have cooking backgrounds, food was a very important part of this trip.
Weâ€™ve already gone through some of the food we have eaten on this trip, (which you can read here) so Iâ€™d like to share with you about some of the cooking and cleaning equipment we bought and packed with us. â€‹
Cooking Equipment (large)
For the most part, we did our cooking using three heat sources.
The first is a portable gas stoves that you can find at T&T Supermarket. It's cheap, uses butane for fuel, and it's easy to clean. I would say the best part was the stability that the base has to hold many different sizes of pots and pans. It can also be placed on any surface as the bottom doesn't get too hot. We even made popcorn in the van with it.
The down sides to this portable stove is that it takes a while to heat things, especially if you have cast iron or a thick bottomed pot for cooking. The gas generally lasts for a couple hours of cooking, but is also cheap to buy. It also doesn't do very well when it's windy. We usually blocked the wind with our cooler, but especially if you want to cook something on low heat, this can become challenging.
All in all, this was our most used heat source.
(thunder range portable butane gas stove, pictured here with our le creuset dutch oven)â€‹
Our second choice for was the MSR pocket rocket. It uses an Isopro fuel blend, and ours was given to us as a gift from my brother, Masa, and his wife, Jen, along with set that included a pot, a couple bowls, and utensils.
This was very handy when we needed water boiled quickly. We used it for boiling eggs for breakfast, for tea, and for cup noodles. it works fast and is easily adjustable for different heat settings. It also works well in the wind.
For us, the only downside was that it's quite tall and the base isn't very wide, so using a big pot with it seemed a bit sketchy. This is definitely a must have for a camping trip, however, as it's so efficient and packs very light.
(msr pocket rocket pictured here with a 3L pot)
The last source of heat was wood fire. We were fortunate to have a fire on at least half of the nights on our trip. We tried to take advantage as much as we could when we had fire to grill meats and vegetables. We also preferred fire for when we were cooking stews and curries, purely to save on our fuel supply. it's also nice sitting around the fire for hours, waiting for something to cook.
For our utensils, plates, and cooking utensils, we kept things pretty simple. We wanted to challenge ourselves to cook meals using minimum equipment, but there are definitely necessities.
Here they are.
From top left, clockwise:
2. Plastic Ladel
3. Bottle Opener
5. Small Glasses (for drinking spirits . . . also beer tastes better out of a glass)
6. Vegetable Peeler
7. Bamboo Rice Paddle (some would say this is not essential, I would disagree)
8. Rubber Offset Spatula
9. Metal Tongs
10. Wal-mart Plates (best $1.50 CAD we ever spent)
12. Cutlery (the spoons were mainly used for cooking)
13. Can Opener (a family heirloom, I remember opening cans with this when I was 7)
15. Random Knife I Found a Couple Years Ago
16. Bread Knife
17. Utility Knife
18. Metal Offset Spatula
â€‹â€‹Not pictured above are a white plastic cutting board and a couple small hand knives that we used for foraging.
Pots and Pans
For the actual cooking vessels, we had a small pot that came with the MSR pocket rocket, a Le Creuset Dutch Oven (approximately 6L), and a cast iron pan. All were handy for different reasons.
When it came time to clean dishes, we had a 25 L water container with a spigot which we set up on a stump or on our IKEA table. along with rags and a collapsible bucket that we bought at the dollar store. Annika jokes that this bucket was the most important purchase we made, as it was useful not only for collecting dirty dish water that we could dispose of responsibly, but also for getting lake and sea water for washing our feet, soaking utensils, and for keeping. beers cold with glacier water.
We bought Mrs. Meyer's biodegradable dish soap, which was excellent for getting rid of grease. Our choice of scrubbing pad was either steel wool or the sponge with green scrubby attached to it.
Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Soap was what we used for our hands, and also acted as our shampoo and body wash. In hindsight, we would have just bought the castile soap for everything.
Our general rule of thumb for our trip was that if you cooked, the other person washed dishes. We helped each other out to dry and put away the dishes, and generally, this was a pretty painless task.
We had a Coleman cooler which was quite old and didn't work too well. We didn't want to spend a few hundred dollars on a good cooler, and in hindsight, I'm okay with that decision. Instead, we decided to line the inside of our cooler with reflectix, which helped keep food colder for longer. As mentioned in our previous post about what we ate, we managed to freeze water bottles at friends' houses or buy frozen products to keep things cold, and when we couldn't, we mainly bought vegetables and products that didn't spoil in warm temperatures.
Overall, cooking with this list of equipment was wonderful. There were some days when we wished we had more counter space, but most of the time picnic tables were easily accessible.
I hope this helps anyone who wants an idea of what to pack for a multi-day van trip into the wild.