So recently, we’ve acquired a Mercedes Sprinter Van. The initial plan was to use it for touring with my Fairy Godmother of Music gigs this summer to libraries around our state. Then, the Pandemic hit and all my performances moved virtual zoom, YouTube and Facebook Live events. I’m very fortunate to have such great partners in the librarians.
So, we still had this great van. It happens to have all the amenities of a posh tiny house on wheels… I joke it’s nicer than the house we live in now. It has a small bathroom with a toilet, sink and shower, a three burner stove, fridge with a separate freezer, microwave/convection oven, sink, queen bed, three captians chairs that rotate, tons of storage, a closet, a tv, a dvd player, navigation, rear cameras, eternal power, external hot/cold water, 25 gallons fresh water tanks, generator, air conditioning, heat, hot water heater… I’m sure I’m forgetting some whiz bang up contraption part cause it’s that amazing! Oh yeah, and solar power. Basically this is a great way to see the state of Michigan and be safe during the pandemic, the rest of the country and even beyond when the borders open up again.
As a part of getting this tiny home, we needed to set it up for living out of… You know, bedding, pillows, sheets, dishes, cookwear, drink ware, and a few other things that I didn’t think about the first two times we took her out. Like one trip we didn’t have chairs to sit in, another I needed a small cocktail table to set our snacks and drinks on by the fire, then we needed a poker stick to tend the fire, a camp table, some cd’s and dvd’s to listen to… Once I thought about cooking (even if it’s over a fire pit) we needed other tools, spices, fats like butter, and ingredients, dry goods, canned goods, sauces like ketchup and mustard. And moving on to beverages, drinks both alchoholic and virgin, water still and sparkling. I know, I this may sound fancy. But I’m not backpacking in somewhere for an overnight with this van. I need to be able to pull up, get dress, play a gig and eat a meal after the show. It has to be functioning as a business center because I need to mentor my students, record my music, edit my web sites, manage my social media and do everything else an entrepreneur on the road does.
So, how the bachelor part comes into this story is through my bass player, Rocco (featured in several of my YouTube videos). He’s a young man with an interest in taking good care of himself and enjoys a good cuisine. So since the Pandemic has limited our in person performance work, I’ve been helping him channel his creativity into cooking by teaching him inexpensive recipies and some homesteading techniques that help make food last longer and go farther.
With the onset of all the other life changes we’ve experinced over the past several years, I feel like this Pandemic has really set me on point with my people, my purpose and what I’m spending my time doing. We are very blessed to have the support network and talents that have taken us around the world and then some. I’m glad I get to share my passions with you in this medium and keep the tradition of my Permanent Workation lifestyle alive. I really do work to live and I’m focused on living life like it is a vacation every day.
So, as I pursue the love of food, music and travel and share with you the concoctions I create, the adventures we take and the sounds all around us… I hope you’ll join me.
First thing though is to figure out what we’ll need in our pantry for the most basic and frugel cook.
Must have pantry spices:
- Salts (a sea salt and/or finer granulated non-iodized salt)
- Pepper (to grind fresh)
- Granulated garlic (not powdered)
- Fresh garlic is also a great option
- Cumin (ground & whole seeds)
- Hungarian paprika (not smoked or spanish, but those are nice too)
- Cayenne (hot, a little goes a long way)
- Dried whole chili’s they store indefinitely…
- Ancho (great for chili and beans)
- Guajjillo (great for salsas)
- Poblano (great for tacos & stuffing if you buy them fresh)
- Chipotle (smoky & great for chicken and pork)
- Blended Chili Powder (I prefer a Mexican Chili Powder if buying a preground blend)
- Dried onions
- Herbs de Provence (Great on chicken, fish, veggies, popcorn)
- Oregano (Mexican and Italian, they aren’t really the same, but interchangeable enough in a starter pantry)
- Coriander (ground)
- Cardamom pods
- Mustard seeds (brown, white or blend)
- Red chili flakes
- Whole Dried Bay leaves
- Basil, chives, cilantro, parsley really this should only be fresh as dried it has no flavor
- Vinegar (two kinds apple cider & rice wine, a balsamic if you want a good salad dressing option)
- Cooking fats: Butter, (can be frozen to store longer), Olive Oil (for salad dressing), Canola or Safflower Oil (higher flash point oil for frying crisp or sautéing.)
- Flour – All purpose
- Sugar – pick your favorite style, some are way more intense on the sweet scale than others.
- Bakings Soda & Baking Powder (they are two key ingredients to pancakes, breads and cakes)
- vanilla (I buy Mexican)
I know that I’ve missed many things and there’s great debate about what really you need in your pantry. This is just a nice place to start and reflects alot of what I put in the van. (Besides many of our items are gluten free… including the flour and steel cut oatmeal we like to eat.)