No kitchen? No problem!

Discussion in 'Boondocking' started by dbhost, Mar 11, 2021.

  1. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    In light of several of our conversations here, I wanted to start another consolidated thread on the matter of cooking outside of your camper.

    What's your kitchen setup? Do you use part of your camper like an awning, fold out table, slide out built in kitchen, or do you use stand alone regular camping gear?

    For me I will continue to utilize stand alone gear. This means...

    EZ Up Pagoda 13x13 with 2 Ozark Trail shade walls with pockets. These provide good storage, good shade, and some rain protection. it does not however provide any protection from bugs. I do use a Camco 9x12 RV mat under this to provide a comfortable floor space, and allow dirt, sand and whatnot to sift down and stay off of feet and keep from getting kicked up in the kitchen.

    Cabelas Deluxe Shower Shelter. This provides pantry type storage, LOTS of prep space, hanging utensil storage, and room for 2 stoves... The center prep space top can pop off and exposes a PVC sink that I use for dishwashing. The hanging pantries are fabric and really don't provide any sort of pest protection. And while not bear proof by any means, in not bear country, we use a pair of 5 gallon buckets fitted with Gamma Seal lids that do a nice job of keeping the critters out. One is for soft pantry items like bread, buns, and muffins. The other is for had breaking things like canned foods, boxed dinners like anything with the word Roni in it. A home made wooden disk separator that I have yet to, but will cushion and upholster here shortly that will be used to keep hard canned stuff away from glass jars like pasta sauces.

    A Walmart folding wooden TV tray that we messed up at home with a painting project, so it is now a stand for my Reliance Aquatainer 7 gallon water carriers.

    I have 4 of these containers, as well as a potable water hose, filter, stress relief, pressure regulator, and that 90 degree elbow that keeps pressure off of the city water connection on the camper. I also have a First Need Deluxe pumping water filter that allows me to obtain clean water from not quite perfect sources. I won't clog it up in a gallon or less trying to filter silty mud water, but it will get rid of the dangerous stuff from otherwise clear water making it safe to drink. So even with the camper I like to have plenty of extra water. My wife likes long showers and I like to be able to wash dishes...

    2 Coleman Liquid Fuel stoves. 1 424 dual fuel, and 1 425 white gas. This gives me a total of 4 well spaced burners instead of the 2 to 3 tightly spaced stove in the campers. (mine is some kind of 2 burner).

    The table I use is one of those 27x55" roll up aluminum tables. It packs down to about the size and weight of a 3 person backpackers tent. Chairs are where I cheap out here. I am reusing folding metal chair, the kind you see in churches or cheap conference halls, that I have for extra seating at Thanksgiving at home. I should get SOME use out of those things...

    I have an OLD PVC tablecloth, and by old I mean early 1990s, that is still hanging on well that I use to pretty it up, and keep silverware from falling between the table slats.

    I CAN and sometimes do reduce my load and go with my Coleman Classic 2 burner propane stove, and my Coleman PackAway camp kitchen that is MUCH smaller to carry, and my propane distribution rig that allows me to run off of a 20lb tank, or tie into the onboard tank of the camper. Thank you Camco!

    Right now I am using a combination of Coleman dual fuel or propane lanterns, AND those LED "Tac Light" lanterns that produce an obnoxiously glaring harsh light. I am told a battery powered LED light strip with bluetooth control is on its way as a gift. One of those rope light things that runs 50'. Not quite all the way around the outer edge, but along the inside frame and up one leg I should be able to get some efficient LED lighting in the canopy soon! I will likely post a review once I test it out. Might not be bright enough...
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2021
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  2. eoleson1

    eoleson1 Well-Known Member

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    My first pop up had no stove or awning, so I would set a canopy over the picnic table. Has a chuck box for all of the cooking gear that stayed on the table with a Coleman stove at the end. Second pop up had an indoor/outdoor stove that mounted to the side of the camper and an awning for shelter. Bought a folding table and set it up next to the stove under the awning. Kept the chuck box and bought a stand for it. Bought the travel trailer. It has an awning, but no outdoor stove. Quit using the chuck box (anyone need one?) and bought an electric skillet and electric griddle. We set the skillet and griddle on a table under the awning and use those plus a Weber Smokey Joe for meal prep. Chances are we will never camp without electricity, but if we do, we could always break down and use the inside stove (or dust off the Coleman).
     
  3. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    Just FWIW, I never throught I would be at home without Electricity, then the Texas ice storm came! 4 days straight using my Coleman 424 while "camping at home"... FWIW, it makes fantastic french toast!

    There are a lot of the smaller campers that are basically a rolling tent in a box with a built in bed. And that's great. No judgement here, just stating the obvious... Your rig sounds like a good setup for that situation.

    I kind of wanted to get folks to think. I kid you not, i Have seen even folks dragging fifth wheels, or rolling Class As that just refuse to use the indoor kitchen, even here in Texas, and forget to set up their outdoor kitchen under any sort of rain cover. In the spring. In Texas.

    For those not familiar, that's the time of year we get frog strangling rain...

    When we went to Garner State Park last time, I just about died laughing at an obviously inexperienced young couple that didn't understand that propane stoves need to be connected to propane. They just knew their RV had propane onboard, and they were trying to set up a propane camp stove. And struggling to figure out where the fuel tank was, and how to "pour" the propane into the stove...

    SMH.

    Yes I was kind.

    Yes I walked them to the camp store and had them buy a couple of 1lb bottles.

    Yes I showed them how to connect and use the propane stove.

    And yes I instructed them to go to the RV dealer closest to them with a parts and accessoried dept for the parts to hook up to their onboard tank.

    Sigh. We're doomed.
     
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  4. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member Platinum Supporting Member

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    For years, we had a canopy (2 or 3, as they wore out) that went over the site picnic table. With the second pup, the awning worked pretty well, so we set up our outdoor kitchen there. Aluminum roll-up tables, including one that adjusted to counter height were great . The adjustable one broke last year, so I have a slightly different version for this year.
    We used two REI canopies for a few years, until they wore out. Handy because they gave us flexibility in a campsite. The awning on the TT is not useful for the outdoor kitchen, and our screen room is susceptible to winds, so can only be used in some places. We have a new canopy, but we’re still learning how best to use it.
    We chose how much of a kitchen we set up depending on the trip, stay length, etc. l still like our white gas Coleman. I bought a single burner LP stove to use mostly with my stove top oven.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2021
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  5. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    Yep. I use the 2 stoves so that I have room for the stove top oven and percolator while using the griddle on the other one... Bake your biscuits, make your coffee, fry your bacon AND eggs at the same time.
     
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  6. Sneezer

    Sneezer Well-Known Member

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    I have a couple chuck boxes, depends on the trip and # of mouths to feed. My normal setup now is a 3 burner Coleman 5428 propane stove - basically a 426 with actual propane burners and proper valves for simmering. That sits on a Coleman deluxe high stand as I have attachable side shelves I repurposed from some store displays. If I need a 2nd stove I have a Coleman 3 burner eventemp sitting under the dinette. These are both high pressure stoves, and I have a small 4.25 lb bulk tank that I use for cooking. Prior to getting the 5428 this year, I used a Camp Chef Weekender stove, which is now going to be relegated to back yard cooking duty. It was, and still is a great stove. Plenty of room to use dual 12" skillets, great adjustability on the burners, and powerful with twin 20k btu available, plus it could hook up directly to the quick connect on the camper. Its biggest drawback is wind performance - while it does have wind walls and puts out a ton of power, it is still a low pressure stove, and a stiff breeze would really cause some frustration. If you were trying to simmer it would get blown out a lot. This was not as big of a problem when set up in the screen room, but it was an issue when tent camping with less protection.

    GCI Master Cook station deluxe - I just picked this up on discount from the scout store of all places, but so far I am really happy with it. Good working height, gobs of aluminum counterspace, plenty of shelving and a lantern pole. One side flips over for access to a PVC sink - I am looking at removing that and figuring out how to mount a collapsible wash basin instead with a proper drain. I have a clamp on sprayer faucet that connects to the pup outside shower for water.

    Weber Q1200 BBQ and a folding aluminum camp table.

    Blackstone 17" griddle. I need to get a fitting so I can run it off the camper port. It sits on the cook station, which is along the wall of the pup.

    I set up the awning and screen room, which becomes my kitchen. An outdoor rug goes down in this area as well. I have a couple magnetic fans that I use, as it can get hot in the summer while cooking.

    My main 2 chuck boxes are a Beavertree chuck box and a Camp Mate. The Beavertree normally holds my Coleman 425 which has an igniter built into it. I swapped the tank for a dual fuel one, and added some extra rings tot he burners to see if I could get better performance. Not sure yet if there is a big difference. It also holds a set of nesting GSI non stick pots, and REI plastic tableware set, various cooking utensils, cleaning supplies, Pam, PT, some spices, cutting board and knives, and various other odds and ends for cooking.

    The Camp Mate is my favorite, but it is bigger and heavier, especially when loaded. It is fully stocked with 12" and 10" skillets, nesting pot set, multiple spices, sugar/creamer for tea, cleaning gear, cooking oil and Pam, PT, cutting board and knives, manual egg beater, etc. When I have the room I will take the Camp Mate, but I often find myself with the Beavertree as it is smaller, still has what I need for a quick weekend trip, and is easier to pack.

    I have a 2nd Camp Mate that I have been stocking with griddle only gear, as I find myself using the Blackstone more. However, I don't see myself taking all of that on a campout - it is mainly an experiment to see how it might work, and may get employed in the back yard once I get the canopy set up out there.

    Although I have a couple of EZ-Ups, I find I don't use them that much. Since I set up the kitchen under the awning, and most of the time when we do camp it is way too hot to sit outside and eat, we often retreat inside to eat. If it is spring weather like today I would bring a 10x10 canopy with screen and windwalls to put up over the picnic table.

    My other camp kitchen, which got extensive use over the years, is a Lewis & Clark folding camp kitchen. Personally I think this is one of the best ones I have seen with two exceptions - it is steel instead of aluminum, and the side tables are pressboard. I am planning on replacing them this year with aluminum sheet panels instead. This one has a stainless shallow sink with a proper drain, faucet, lantern pole and shelf. I normally run a hose fromt he shower to it and turn the hot water on - makes dish cleanup a breeze, and I use a 7 gal aquatainer to capture the grey water.

    Inside the pup is a microwave (handy for reheating leftovers and cooking bagged rice or refries to free up a burner), electric kettle, griddle/press contraption and a convection toaster oven. I have a small camp kitchen table, I think from Mountain Summit Gear, or Alpine Mountain Gear, that holds the oven below, a Camp Chef propane oven above, and provides some extra prep space. I picked up a smaller instant pot this year, and plan to experiment a little with it as some love it, and others don't. I think I also put a small rice cooker in there last year before covid hit, don't think I have even used it yet.

    I did get a toaster oven/air fryer combo at a garage sale recently, and will experiment with it. We love the air fryer at home. I have tried the convection setting on the toaster oven I have, but was less impressed with its results, so hoping this might be better.

    Not all of this gear goes, just depends on what I plan for my meals on the trip. I like to cook and eat well while camping. For me a fully equipped camp kitchen area is a significant joy while camping.
     
  7. Anthony Hitchings

    Anthony Hitchings Well-Known Member

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    We cook inside, with a two burner stove and a Fantastic Fan above it. No sink. Engel electric cooler. Nice set of ad-hoc and homemade drawers. Works great for us. No problems anywhere - from boondocking in Bears Ears (UT) to Canyon Campground in Yellowstone, and campgrounds at Grand Tetons and Glacier NP, and also Sequoia NP. We almost never cook outside (on our portable one-burner canned-gas stove). We only cook simple meals when on the road.
     
  8. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    Anthony,

    I see you are in an Aframe hard sided pop up. Would you still be willing to do all of your cooking / dining in bear country in a regular canvas sided pop up or hybrid camper?
     
  9. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    WOW, now that is a huge list.

    Yes the propane Coleman stoves are more adjustable on the non primary burner than the liquid fuel models. Honestly Coleman REALLY ought to redesign the manifold / generator design on the liquid fuel models, but honestly it's not going to happen. Too small of a market.

    Honestly the liquid fuel stoves primary burner is actually very nicely adjustable, but the secondary is uh... quirky and dependent on the primary, so yeah, there's that...

    You are the first to mention ovens. And I kind of forgot to mention that. I too use an oven, but it is the stove top folding job with a pizza stone in the bottom to diffuse the heat evenly. Likewise I keep a camp dutch oven with a trivet that works great on the campfire.

    Oh, and yes, I also use the Weber Smokey Joe. Great little grill, and perfectly portable.
     
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  10. Susan Premo

    Susan Premo Well-Known Member

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    We haven't used our aliner yet, but it does have the moveable stove of which you speak, and I know where to set the stove outside, looks like a neat idea, but I think we may want to conserve the propane, and use our Coleman stove more often, we have a clam traveler shelter, we used that last year for our kitchen when it rained. I like the idea of a outdoor rug inside.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2021
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  11. SteveP

    SteveP Well-Known Member Platinum Supporting Member

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    May not be relevant to this thread, but when you wake up at first light to the silence of a remote site, on a cold morning when you blow little puffs of thin mist with each exhale. In less than a minute you have a burner heating water for coffee and climb back under the covers while both the water and the camper warms. That my friend, is the height of camping luxury.

    Can you tell it's been too long.
     
  12. Sneezer

    Sneezer Well-Known Member

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    I forgot, do have one of the folding Coleman camp ovens. I need to get a stone for it though, it sorta got tossed on a shelf but I would like to dial it in now that you mention it.

    I still like the white gas models, I have about 15 different ones in the garage. I need to start rotating some of them back into use.
     
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  13. eoleson1

    eoleson1 Well-Known Member

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    Just for the record, We are capable of living without electricity, we're just too old and crotchety to do it on purpose. Your story reminds me of the great power outage in the northeast in 2003. After living without power for several days, I was chatting with my neighbor about how we made out. I said "Well, at least I have a gas stove so we could have hot meals." He said "I have a gas stove too, but I couldn't use it. It's got electronic ignition and it won't spark without power." I replied, "Mine does too but we just used matches." The look on his face was priceless when he realized that he ate cold for for three days unnecessasarily!!
     
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  14. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    Temp control on those ovens is uh... quirky. Heat distribution is uneven.

    Common updates / accessories to make them work well are...

    #1. Add a pizza stone / fire tile to the bottom on top of the flap. This acts as a diffuser that evens up the heat distribution similarly to how cast iron pans work.

    The one I got is https://amzn.to/3rILXAG and doesn't fully cover the bottom, but it does the job mostly... Some folks get cutom fire tiles cut to fit the bottom and get better results. Leave 1/4" to 1/2" on each side.

    The other issue is of course the box is totally uninsulated. Causing the top side to be, well cooler than the bottom. I wrap the top, back, and both sides with a layer of heavy duty aluminum foil somewhat loosely to allow an air buffer to act as an insulator. Some folks make an insulating blanket out of a welding blanket.

    With these 2 mods done, and some practice you know where the temp is compared to what the thermostat says on the door.

    I have been known to bake cookies, cinnamon rolls, biscuits and even fresh baked french bread in camp with this thing.

    I believe I mentioned this before, but my Father in law passed away a couple of years ago, and we have no kids, so Holiday plans these days are holidays at the house alone with just the wife and I.

    Given this, and our equipment. We are seriously considering doing Thanksgiving in camp, among the trees where we actually want to be. I can downsize most of the recipes and consider the following...

    Typical Thanksgiving menu @ home, and reducing it for camp.

    #1. Roasted Turkey breast. Not a whole bird due to space concerns, but a trimmed, brined, and injected Turkey breast fits handily and will roast nicely in the large (8qt I believe) Dutch Oven.
    #2. Turkey gravy. Made from mix with turkey neck bone broth with shredded neck meat. The bone broth / neck meat made ahead and jarred up. Make the turkey gravy in camp.
    #3. Candied Yams. Can make a batch in a small bakeware in the Coleman Oven.
    #4. My wifes cornbread stuffing. I need her to figure out how to reduce the recipe. Honestly I'd be happy doing Stove Top Stuffing but she won't have any of it. Anyway, Small batch in the stove top oven.
    #5. Garlic mashed potatoes on the stove top. OR campfire herb roasted / foiled potatoes. I lean toward the latter as they are easier. Halve the potatoes, coat with olive oil, and garlic / herb seasoning, wrap in foil and roast on the coals rotating periodically for 30 minutes or so...
    #6. Green Bean Casserole. This is my wifes thing. However I have figured out though how to do this over the camp fire on the CI skillet. Low temp, so no flame, just coals under the cooking grate, adjust so that you are not boiling, cover with loose foil, heat thoroughly, mixing occasionally, put the onion topping on last 10 minutes no problems.
    #7 Pumpkin / Pecan pie. Again FIL not with us any longer, no kids, no need for whole pies. Our local HEB sells mixed halves, so we can get a half pumpkin, half pecan and have too much leftover...
    #8. Stove Top Wassal. Yep, spiced apple cider on the stove top. Keep the flame LOW. This is one of the reasons for the 2 stoves. but yeah, getting / keeping Wassal hot.
    #9. Lastly, hot fresh bread, or dinner rolls in the 5qt dutch oven.

    We were originally planning on doing this for Thanksgiving 2019, but COVID hit and we weren't sure about doing it. Now we are sure...
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2021
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  15. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member Platinum Supporting Member

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    I haven't addressed the insulation issue with the Camp Stove, but I did buy a Dot thermometer from the Thermapen people, including the air probe. I plan to use it as I experiment with the Omnia and Coleman ovens this year. We cook inside if it's too windy or rainy anyway, and with the Omnia, I can bake inside too.
     
  16. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    The reason for the Ozark Trail Shade Walls for my EZ Up was wind. The storage pockets ARE nice, but not a must have. I actually want to get another one to modify so that I can slit it, sew the slit edges, sew and extra flap on with some magnets and steel catches to make a magnetic "door". Really don't need all the pockets, just an additional wind break. Honestly will probably be lazy and just bungee cord a small tarp with a loose corner to the frame. Cheaper, faster, easier to deal with although looks quite redneck.

    I have had my propane Coleman blown out repeatedly, but the liquid fuel, once it is lit, no worries. The burner is pretty low in the case, and the wind blocks are pretty decent.
     
  17. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member Platinum Supporting Member

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    @dbhost - the REI Alcove shelters we had did have wind walls, each one covered two adjacent walls. If we were using just one shelter, we used both sets of walls, and could open and close whichever was most useful for the current wind. The Big Agnes shelter we bought last year, after the Alcoves wore out, is designed for just two wind walls, on the sides. One of the wind walls from the Alcoves is still usable, so I may try to figure out how to use it for better wind protection. The EZ Up style is too heavy for my solo trips, and in many of the places we camp, we see that people drop them as low as possible every time they leave camp, which I don't want to be bothered doing.
    We'll have to see how the Big Agnes does this year - at least it drains rain better than the Alcoves did, although using the sidewalls is necessary to keep it from dripping inside. Given the space, if it's being used for cooking, there isn't room for sitting in it.
    The first trip of the year is just a weekend, so we won't cook outside; it's likely to be windy anyway. I have a solo trip, then a 10-day one with a friend. That's the one where I really need to have an outside cooking and eating area, because the dinette will be converted into a bed.
     
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  18. J Starsky

    J Starsky Well-Known Member

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    We have a full Mess Tent Setup outside of our TT. Darksided life doesn't always mean cooking indoors. We have never used indoor camping cook setup in the PUP, so why start now?
    Also, here is a shameless plug for my Cook Surface Leveler I built. Shows our setup pretty well:
    https://www.popupportal.com/threads/diy-cook-surface-leveler.130857/
     
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  19. Sneezer

    Sneezer Well-Known Member

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    My 10x10 EZ-up does have a screen room attachment with zippered doors on two sides, and I have 3 shade walls, including the same Ozark one with pockets. The screen will help block wind as well, but in TX summers it also allows the inside to heat up more due to lack of breeze.

    A couple years ago I picked up a Coleman EZ-up that had a flip up wall that turned into a rigid framed awning for one side. Works great for extra shade if you have it oriented right to begin with. Unfortunately all these various EZ-ups are big and heavy, and seem to get harder every year to get set up for me. Thinking a Clam shelter might be in the running, but those are super long when packed.
     
  20. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member Platinum Supporting Member

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    @Sneezer - the heat is one reason, besides it not having good wind resistance, that we only use our screen room in certain places, when bugs will be enough of an issue. I considered one of the Clam shelters to replace the Alcoves, I found one of the Quik-set line that actually has screens that can be zipped open. However, the Big Agnes is more compact and not as heavy.
     

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