Gallivanting 3 ways in 2021
Like 2020, 2021 has been a confusing and challenging year for sure! One with so many ups and down, filled with moments of worry and relief, sadness and joy, I am glad to see the end of it. Let’s say that this is a year when I have felt on a constant state of “dodging a bullet”. But unlike last year, we’ve managed to keep the anxiety at bay ( somewhat ) by staying positive and make the most of the “situation”.
While I know many people have been affected by COVID-19, financially thru loss of jobs, mentally due to lack of social interaction, I am glad no one in our circle of family and friends has actually been infected. We’ve all stayed healthy, which is probably what matters the most.
Social distancing has been a blessing for our resident introvert, Mr T, who’s never been a fan of crowded spaces anyway. I can’t say the same about our grown up kids, who unfortunately are missing out on milestones like high school graduation, formals, schoolies, uni interaction and other festive activities young ones do, but I am impressed how they seem to navigate these troubled waters with aplomb and grace.
To the risk of stating the obvious, this blog has been the object of neglect this year. Not for lack of content, but rather absence of motivation ( commitment, some would say ). Procrastination has been my nemesis, often replaced by laziness, when short on time, I have resorted to the easier and faster weekly Instagram and Facebook post. To those of you who follow me on these social media platforms, I express my thanks for your interest in my food world. To these readers of the blog, I am grateful for your perseverance which prompts me to write this one last post for the year. No, it’s not about our 2021 Christmas ( the usual food marathon with the full Steen contingent ).
Instead, I’d like to talk about how 2021 has seen me cooking out of 3 different kitchens, mostly for our family of four, but also just for 2.
You see, we have the main kitchen in the house. This is where you will find me, most of the time when I am home. Where thousands of meals are concocted, cooking experiments are performed and daily happy hours are enjoyed!! While it is not a massively large kitchen, it has a decent size pantry, and plenty of storage space for cookware and all kinds of appliances: food processors, sandwich press, blenders, ice cream makers, coffee machines, raclette machine, … My 90cm oven is a veritable work horse, as is my drawer dishwasher. Both are used daily.
The kitchen is the social hub of the house, every one sits and chat at the main bench, often spreading books or keys, and forcing me into corners for food preparation. More bench space would be welcomed, even better would be a butler pantry to hide all the clutter. But that calls for kitchen renovations I am not ready for.
Then, we have the galley on our small boat. Unlike our previous Lagoon catamaran, where the galley, small as it was, managed to accomodate ovens, stovetop, breadmaker, food processor, coffee machine and an island bench, this one is very basic. It is a boat for two after all, and the best way to describe the galley is as a hotel kitchenette, with a hotplate, a mini convention oven, a single sink and a mini bar fridge. When we bought the boat, the previous owner couldn’t tell me how the appliances worked, as he never cooked onboard and “only used the boat for cocktails in the bay”. To be honest, I have not cooked on the hotplate, being paranoid that a freak wave even at anchor might cause the pan to spill.
The mini oven has been used in winter to warm up a pie, to grill some cheese toasties then as a microwave. Thankfully, there is an outdoor bbq which has been Mr T’s charge whenever we feel like a hot meal.
The rest of the cooking consists of cold salads, deli items brought from home or good old sandwiches. Add drinks and a Sydney sunset, and indeed, this is the perfect boat for happy hour.
Last but not least, is our camp kitchen onboard our new motorhome. This is the smallest space I’ve ever handled, a 1.45m workbench comprising of a sink and diesel ceramic cooktop, both with covers to double as bench space when not in use. With 6 drawers underneath and 3 lockers above, there is surprisingly enough storage space as long as you cater for 2 people, only stock one of everything and are proficient in the art of stacking. While our 190L fridge freezer is a fraction size of our home fridge, it is still enough to house enough fresh food for a couple of weeks.
Because ours is a 4WD motorhome designed for expedition travel in remote areas where being self-contained is crucial, we don’t have an oven ( microwave or convection ). We chose to use the space for dry good storage instead. Besides, there is an outdoor kitchen of some sorts, with a pull out bbq and sink, where ( you guessed it ) Mr T has been officiating.
In inclement weather, however, all the cooking comes back inside, where it sometimes feels like playing a game of tetris, chopping, slicing, stirring and washing food and cookware in an area smaller than 2sqm. We’ve been away 6 times in the past 10 months now, and enjoyed countless meals cooked on the stove. We have a system that works well: I prep everything on the bench first, moving onto a sink grid when using the stove. Any overflow makes its way to the pull out dining table. It’s a compact setting, making for cozy dinners and just as well we get along! In a year of confinement and border closures, this has been our getaway vehicle, taking us to the far reaches of NSW.
There you have it, galleyvanting around in 2021 took many forms, each as enjoyable as the other. I’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone one of you, dear readers, for following my travelling and cooking ramblings. With so many blogs and reading materials out there, it’s humbling and comforting to know my occasional posts are reaching out somehow. And on that note, I am wrapping up 2021 hoping to find you all on the other side for a brighter 2022.
Wishing you all a Happy New Year, may 2022 bring you health, joy and delicious food!