Editor’s Introduction: This is the first in a series of articles by Kylie, a food scientist and professional chef, about cooking while on adventure motorcycle rides. Kylie is currently doing a round-the-world trip with her trusty Honda CB500X. You can follow her mouth watering cooking adventures at @moto_bites.
Love it or hate it, cooking your own food is an excellent way of saving precious travel funds and staying in control of your nutrition when you travel. They don’t need to be fine dining meals taking an hour to prepare, but you can also do a lot more than opening a packet of freeze-dried curry and adding water.
When I first started moto camping I wasn’t sure where to start, and I am a qualified chef! So I completely understand the apprehension and reservation some of you may have about cooking on the road.
After careful consideration in my planning and packing stages before my round the world trip, I decided the most important factors when it came to camp cooking was a set up that was compact and lightweight but versatile enough to make sure I would be able to cook a wide range of foods. Having used my system on the road for months now, I am happy with the direction I took, and it has provided me with some delicious and healthy meals on my travels.
I wanted to share with you a few things that I think will make your culinary adventures a lot more fun and hopefully tasty, whilst keeping fuss to a minimum. Firstly, the biggest factor will come down to your available space, be in it your panniers or additional bags you are carrying on your bike.
Obviously, the more space you have, the more you can carry. That isn’t really a luxury many of us, myself included, have. With that in mind, look to create your cooking kit with tools that carry out multiple functions.
For example, my only cooking utensils are also my cutlery. I have one small serrated steak or vegetable knife that I use for all my food prep; chopping, slicing, peeling etc. In addition, it also serves as my eating knife. It was cheap, stays sharp for a long time and is the same size as a regular knife so still comfortable to use as a piece of cutlery.
A fork can be used to turn foods in a fry-pan; eliminating the need for a pair of tongs. It is also a great whisk for beating eggs, making mash smooth or fluffing couscous.
Your one and only spoon is obviously useful for all manner of things that require stirring, scooping and serving. Think of your cutlery as your kitchen utensils and your kit is now compact and multi-functional.
I use a 360° compact all in one gas camp stove. It has two pots, one small and one medium, large enough to cook pasta, stews and soups and the gas canister fits inside the two. It comes with a screw thread connection that I struggled to find gas for in eastern Europe, so I also have a puncture type gas outlet as well. The unit is compact, incredible light and allows for adjustable heat control which is important.
My only other pieces of equipment are a small one-person fry-pan I picked up cheap in a supermarket in France and a sea to summit plate which features raised edges, allowing you to use it for wet dishes without them spilling over the sides. It is lightweight and incredibly durable. It also serves as my chopping board for food preparation with the raised edges a bonus here too as it stops foods from flying off the side as you cut them.
Whilst I am travelling solo, this size set up will easily cater for 2-3 people with the addition of extra plates and cutlery. Initially I also had a travel mug for my morning brew, however it soon turned out to be an unnecessary piece of kit for me, as I could easily drink out of the small pot that has cool touch handles once it had cooled sufficiently for me not to burn my mouth! A sacrifice I was willing to make to reduce my load and once again use my set up as efficiently as possible.
There is a myriad of choices available in this category, with some fantastic options for travellers looking for lightweight and durable pieces to create their ultimate cooking kit. If you do require a slightly larger set up, I would recommend purchasing silicon collapsible pots and pans to save on space and weight.
I know the temptation to purchase one of everything once inside a mega camping store can almost be too much, but resist. Remember that everything you buy you must; pack, store, carry and wash up. Think through your needs very carefully and go with a less is more approach. Use a multi-tool as a can opener, use your plate over the top of your pot as a strainer or to cover something as it steams. You get the idea.
As well as your functional equipment there are some essentials that you should have in your ‘pantry’ that with a little imagination, can turn even the most basic ingredients into a meal.
- Salt and pepper – small plastic shakers bought from the supermarket
- Olive oil – I decant mine into those 100ml travel liquid bottles so there is not fear of glass breaking or leaks in my bag
- Red wine vinegar – also decanted as above. This is personal preference however keep in mind that there are limitations as to what a Balsamic vinegar, for example, can be added to. This is a source of acid and serves many purposes such as dressings, sauces and seasoning in almost everything I make
- 1 small and 1 medium pot
- 1 small to medium fry-pan
- Durable, high-sided eating plate
- 1 fork, 1 sharp serrated knife, 1 spoon
- Small and compact gas stove
In the coming weeks I will be sharing with you some more of my camp cooking tips as well as building a library of tasty and healthy meals that are easy to cook in less than 10-15 minutes.
What are your favourite types of foods when you travel? Is it something that reminds you of home? Anything that is available at the local market or do you find yourself eating out more than you would like? I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic.