Now that we’re physically and mentally settled in at the trailer park (or ‘mobile home resort’ as this one euphemistically calls itself), shacking up in the Gypsy Roller has turned into an exercise in economizing the limited living space available to us. Sure, one of the selling features of the RV is that it ‘sleeps ten,’ but don’t let your imagination mislead you! The Gypsy Roller bears little resemblance to either the luxuriant plush-floored motorhomes favoured by retirees or the sweet party buses used by touring hairmetal acts in the 1980s. What we have on our hands is an RV that accommodates ten only once both the kitchen table and couch have been flattened and converted into double beds, two people have been jammed into each of the two bunks at the rear of the trailer, and two people take up station in the queen-sized bed up front. And I should qualify ‘queen-sized’ by pointing out that this measurement is accurate in width only; I’m 5’8″ and have just enough room to unfurl my legs lying down. I’m not sure what taller people are supposed to do… sleep on the floor? If that were the case then RV could sleep MORE than ten. Now that would be interesting.
While it’s good to know that the Gypsy Roller has the capacity to house so many people, I think I’d only exercise this option under the most dire of circumstances, like a nuclear disaster or ‘end times,’ if I believed in such a thing. For sleeping ten people is one thing, but providing for their bathing and septic (ugh!) needs is quite another altogether. I can only imagine how often I’d find myself hunching over behind the trailer to pull the levers which empty the ‘gross tanks’ with so many people utilizing the shower and toilet. And then there’s the matter of STUFF, as in personal belongings. As it stands, with two adults and a baby in the RV, I find myself having to probe the extremes of my creativity to figure out how to configure all our clothes and miscellaneous junk so that everything is easily accessible. Even with 90 percent of our possessions in the storage locker, this is not an insignificant feat. If I had any more people to manage in such a small space, my inner crazy-person would cease to be inner, and that’s a disturbing thought.
With such obvious space limitations, starting a food blog – which requires frequent use of the Gypsy Roller’s hobbit-sized kitchenette – probably seems like pretty whacky idea. But I’m making do. As I mentioned here, I’m no stranger to living in small spaces, so when it comes to negotiating a lack of counter space and small-scale everything, I’m already a bit of a pro. That being said, sometimes it’s nice to cook a meal that doesn’t require pulling out a million pots and pans and turning the kitchen into the culinary equivalent of a Pollock painting (i.e. crap splattered everywhere) – and even worse, having to clean up afterwards sans dishwasher – and I’m not just talking about pouring myself a bowl of cereal for dinner (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
I find that Indian cooking allows you to pack a lot of flavour (and nutrients) into a dish using just one pot and a few basic ingredients. When we arrived in the Okanagan our first trip to the grocery store was largely one of stocking up on pantry staples: canned tomatoes, legumes, pasta, quinoa, rice, et cetera. But with the prevalence of amazing farmers’ markets in the area, my cooking to this point has tended to incorporate mostly fresh ingredients, meaning many of the items I stocked up on have been sitting in the cupboard unused. Autumn is just about to happen (although you wouldn’t really know it based on the 27F heat this week), so I figured it was time to bust out the canned goods and see what I could create for myself. This dish only takes minutes to prepare but does benefit from staying on the stove to simmer for as long as possible. I specified 45 minutes in the directions, but if you have time (and will) to leave it for longer to allow the flavours to develop fully, all the better! This dish makes for great leftovers, too.
Recipe: Garam Masala Chickpeas and Potatoes on Brown Rice
Makes 4 servings
- 1 cup brown rice, uncooked
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 2 small white potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 540 ml can chickpeas, preferably organic, drained and rinsed
- 1 796 ml can diced tomatoes, preferably organic
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- juice of one lemon
Prepare brown rice according to package instructions. While rice is cooking, in a large saucepan over medium heat, saute onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until soft. Add garlic to saucepan and saute until garlic is fragrant and golden brown. Stir in ginger, red pepper flakes and garam masala and cook for another few minutes. Add chickpeas and potatoes to saucepan and stir until coated with onion and spice mixture. Add diced tomatoes and brown sugar and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer with lid on for 45 minutes, stirring periodically. Stir in lemon juice and allow to simmer with lid off for another few minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt to taste (the chickpeas and tomatoes I used for this recipe contained salt so I didn’t need add much more). To serve, place a few spoonfuls of brown rice in a bowl and top with garam masala chickpeas and potatoes. Add a few cranks of freshly ground black pepper, if desired. Eat!