25. Vanlife - Recipe book (EN)
Today it's Emily turns to write, so let's put aside our adventures to talk a little about my cute sin during this trip: cooking! I’ve touched on this before (Blog 13. Culinary Experience), but this time I’ve put together a list of easy, substantial and economical dishes. I’ve also added some personal tips to make it easier for you.
The list of recipes that I share with you is strongly influenced by my European origins, as well as those of Steven. However, I tried to design a variety of recipes so that everyone can find it's culinary happiness.
Legend has it that this is the most important meal of the day, but I confess that I do not always have the time or the energy to prepare it. Despite everything, breakfast is always a joyful and pleasant moment to share together. This also allows us to plan the day quietly.
What could be more simple, you say? And yet this is one of our signature dishes. It also recalls our Belgian origins, as well as the memories that go with it of course!
100 gr of flour (a small cup of all purpose)
1 tablespoon of sugar
20 cl milk (7 ounces)
½ tablespoon of oil
As with any pastry recipe, mix the dry ingredients first, before adding the liquid ingredients. First, add the egg to the container and gradually pour in the milk, while stirring with a whisk until you get the desired texture.
The result should be liquid, but not too much either. The most important thing is that there are no lumps.
I learned this recipe from my mother, so it may be different from the original. However, this method allows me to avoid a spongy result. Besides, I know there are many approaches so you don't have to choose mine.
Preferably white bread. The must would be challah.
Take two soup plates (or bowl), pour the milk in the first and the beaten eggs in the second. I do not give specific measures because it depends on the amount of toast. It is easy to add milk or eggs as needed.
First dip the bread in the beaten eggs and then in the milk, in this exact order. In a hot pan (medium heat), melt the butter and place the soaked sandwiches in it. While one side is cooking, put sugar on the other. Repeat the process once the toast is turned. When the sandwich is nicely browned, enjoy your meal!
Tip # 1: If the bread is fresh, it is likely to tear with the weight of milk and eggs. Therefore, I recommend a bread which is a day or two old.
Tips # 2: I sometimes add cinnamon, either with sugar or before serving.
Oatmeal, a dish that closely resembles porridge, is a recipe that I learned to make during our trip. Even if you can get bored of it over time, it is a very easy dish to make, in addition to being nutritious.
Sugar and honey
Grains (almonds, cashews, etc.)
For the preparation, it's usually indicated on the package. Once finished, you put its contents in a bowl before adding the ingredients. The side dishes depend on your taste, however I recommend a few pieces of bananas, peanut butter, cashews and a little chia seeds.
Tips: There are a lot of variations, for more lightness and freshness, prefer wild berries to classic fruits.
For Steven and I, the midday meal is probably the one we prefer, especially if we didn’t eat breakfast when we woke up. It allows us to take a break during the day and we like to enjoy it quietly.
It is a dish of Italian origin but it is similar to an omelet, so nothing too complicated either. In addition, if you have a rice cooker, the preparation is even easier! Remember, I already mentioned the essential household appliances in the van (Blog 13. Culinary Experience).
2-3 garlic cloves
Choice of vegetables
In a bowl (or directly in the cooker to avoid too much dishes), beat the eggs and season (salt, pepper). Dice the onions, chop the garlic and add one or more vegetables, as desired (zucchini, broccoli, peas, carrot, etc.).
Mix the beaten vegetables and eggs before starting the “steam cooking” program. Cook for 15~20 minutes. I recommend opening the cooker after 15 minutes to check on the frittata. Serve it with bread or a small salad to accompany your dish and enjoy!
The dish may seem banal but I would like to show you that it is easy to make a good “house” salad with industrial salad as a base. For salads, I often buy the brand "Taylor Farms", which are sold with the sauce and the seeds (almonds, cranberries, etc.), which allows me to vary the compositions.
Since we made the choice not to have a fridge in the van, but an ice cooler, buying a salad with the sauce is not always convenient as the dressing can spoil due to the heat.
Taylor salad (Asian is our favorite)
A source of protein (chicken, hard-boiled egg, avocado)
Prepare the salad according to the instructions on the package, before adding the accompaniments (as well as the proteins): cut tomatoes, cucumbers, avocado, pieces of apples, almonds. Be creative and follow your desires! I also prepare salads with strawberries to have a sweet taste.
Tip: In order to limit the dishes as much as possible, I divide the salad package in two bowls and make the preparation in each.
To all oriental people, it is very likely that this meal will remind you of memories! The recipe comes from Steven's Nona (grandmother) and this dish immediately instills a family atmosphere in the van.
2-3 garlic cloves
Vegetables (eggplant, carrots, zucchini, peppers, etc.)
A can of diced tomatoes (preferably seasoned)
Dice the onions and chop the garlic before cooking in a pan, until the onions become translucent. Add the vegetables according to their cooking time, the carrots take longer than the zucchini or peppers so you will have to adapt as you wish.
Then, add the can of diced tomatoes and simmer over low heat for +/- 30 minutes. Dig a few spaces in the pan and break an egg in each of them. Let it cook until the white is well done and the yolk is still a little runny. Serve with bread or rice to accompany and bon appetit!
The evening meal is the moment dedicated to relaxation for us. Generally we eat while watching a movie or chatting about the day. The most important thing is to take the time to relax, especially after a day of hiking and exploring. Sometimes we listen to the news to keep abreast of the situation in Europe. To sum up, this meal is really a moment under the sign of simplicity and calm.
1. Noodles Broth
To be honest, this dish would probably be better if it was prepared in an equipped kitchen, but, given the means at hand, I find that the result obtained is convincing and that it will awaken your taste buds.
Broth (vegetable or chicken according to your tastes)
A packet of noodle
A bunch of green onions
Salt and pepper
Chinese cabbage or broccoli
In a saucepan, bring the broth to a boil and add the green onions that you cut into small pieces, soy sauce, salt and pepper. For seasoning, it is better to taste and add as you go. Follow the instructions on the package for cooking the noodles, I personally cook them directly in the broth.
Simmer over low heat and add the cabbage or broccoli (I prefer them crunchy). In another saucepan, prepare poached eggs and add them to the broth.
Tip: Keep some onions aside to add them for presentation before serving.
Before I moved to Dallas, tacos were not part of my range of recipes. Subsequently, and by eating more constantly, we gradually got a taste for it until we developed our version.
1 yellow onion
2-3 garlic cloves
2 chicken breasts
1 large tomato
1/2 red onion
Salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika and cumin
Prepare the rice according to the instructions. Then, marinate the chicken in a mixture of chili powder, paprika, a little cumin, salt and pepper, and a little oil. Then, dice the onions and chop the garlic before sauté them in a saucepan. Add the chicken once the onions are translucent.
On the side, cut the avocado, tomato, red onion and lime. Start placing the tortillas and sour cream on a separate plate. Once the cooking is finished, you can start to prepare your tacos in the tortillas. Add sour cream, chicken, rice, two slices of avocado, two slices of tomato, a few red onions and lime juice on top.
Tip # 1: You can also add coriander.
Tips # 2: Generally, I cook everything on the plancha so that I can keep the chicken hot and heat the tortillas at the same time.
3. Chicken & Rice
A must for me! It is very easy to prepare and it remains an excellent dish for evenings when I am lacking inspiration.
1 large onion
2-3 garlic cloves
2 chicken breasts
Choice of vegetable
Prepare the rice according to the instructions. Chop the onions and garlic before frying them in the pan until the onions are translucent. Add the chosen vegetables (peppers, zucchini, carrots, eggplant, etc.) as well as the diced chicken. Season with salt and pepper.
Generally I prefer to serve this dish in bowls, the rice at the bottom and the chicken with the vegetables on top.
Tip # 1: The seasoning can vary, sometimes I add soy sauce, sometimes I also prepare the chicken with curry or paprika.
Tips # 2: I prefer to use oil but if you are greedy you can replace it with butter.
Faced with this list of plates, I imagine that some people wonder about the budget that we allocate to our grocery shopping. On average, we estimate these expenses to be around $125 per week, which puts our daily grocery expenses around $20. Keeping in mind that this is a budget for two people which allows at least two meals a day.
At the time of our apartment life, our expenses were higher but we had enough space to store them. Now, for lack of space and possibilities, we waste less and consume all our food. On the other hand, we had to put an end to the small pleasures of everyday life, such as yogurts, cheese or ice cream. Despite this choice, these foods are generally expensive which has allowed us to significantly reduce our expenses.
This blog is dedicated to Frederike Peterson and Charlyne Vanhoof.