living in an airstream: cooking

After 96 applications, 35 hand-delivered resumes, an absurd number of hours looking for openings, and 4 interviews, I am finally employed as a Registered Nurse.  Praise the Lord.  And I don’t say that lightly…praise ’em!!  I begin my 3-month orientation this Monday at St. Thomas Hospital’s ICU (PODS, in their terminology).  There were periods of discouragement, and the five months since we’ve been back from Nepal have seemed like a solid year at times; however, there was never a moment that I legitimately thought I had a chance at an ICU position without experience or any connections…so bam!  I haven’t done any clinical work since April, which makes me, oh, 7 months out of practice.  Seven months ago I would have been annoyed with a mandatory 3 month orientation, but now I welcome the training with desperate arms.  Perhaps not desperate, but my level of intimidation is just slightly under that of my excitement.  And so it is that Monday, November 5, 2012, I become officially employed, start working hours that accumulate to a paycheck, and put the degree and certification into action (I’ve had to pinch myself these last few months to remind myself that I, in fact, graduated from nursing school and passed my boards).

All that being said, my Airstream homemaker wife roles are about to scale down quite a bit.  I’m the type of person who needs to have something to do, to be motivated by, to create.  It seriously doesn’t have to be anything extraordinary, but I can only dedicate my life to solitude, stillness, poetry, and Harry Potter for so many weeks.  During this time of unemployment, I have cooked more than I did in the past 3 years of schooling combined.  I also committed myself to more sewing projects, Project Runway (yeah, Dmitry!), and re-reading all 7 HPs (just balled my eyes out, yet again, while finishing The Deathly Hollows a few days ago).  The past two weeks since I was told about my upcoming starting date, I furiously began my own Airstream sweatshop.  As of today, I have completed 6 scarves and 7 purses in 9 days (thread has become as copious as my own shedding hair in this aluminum trailer).  Those projects–and their many mistakes–will be documented and shared in the weeks to come.

Today, however, it’s about the cooking.  The top two questions folks inquire about when they first hear about our living arrangements, are 1) Do you have a shower? 2) Can you cook in there?    Yes, to both.  You will get a tour of the bathroom and the inner workings of our professionally-crafted Airstream shower in a future post, but if I had to choose between the option of showering or cooking, I would choose cooking.  Don’t judge.

Above you can see our kitchen–more or less.  No, an Airstream trailer doesn’t come with much counter space, but the fundamentals more than suffice.  We have an oven, small freezer, microwave (that always serves as our one mirror), the original refrigerator decorated with children, Gandhi, and the Beatles, and several drawers/cabinets.  Below is what two or our ‘storage spaces’ look like.  Yes, that’s our oven.  Apparently, Wally Byam, one of the pioneer manufacturers of the Airstream, used to store his shoes in his trailer oven.  Seriously, not a bad idea.  But considering how much space pots and pans take up, the oven serves its purpose 24 hours a day.

Andrew and I love food.  Sure, we love the taste, but we also dig the texture, color, smell…and how it grows/lives/dies.  Andrew is a little less picky than myself (see Pop Tarts in pantry above), but I ain’t above that stuff every once in a while.  I love my apple cinnamon sticks from Trader Joe’s as much as the next girl, but I prefer to cook good, healthy stuff when I eat.  We are without a garden in our Nashville location, but have the huge benefit of being around the corner from the 12 South Farmer’s Market that our sister-in-law, Mary Crimmins, manages. Since our Airstream move-in date mid-August, I have been every Tuesday afternoon to stock up on our weekly vegetables.  We are only a party of two so I try not to go crazy with my haul; instead, I made a choice to commit to one farm early on, Bountiful Blessings Farm from Williamsport, TN. Below are photos of the veggies almost exclusively from BBF, and what I’ve done with them.

Now that it’s all cooler and autumn-like, cooking in the Airstream has become much more enjoyable namely because the oven turns into an extra heater.  In reality, it did that in the summer as well, but sweating profusely while cooking a pizza just isn’t as inviting as roasting a chicken while wearing long sleeves, listening to Mumford & Sons, and burning a holiday-scented candle.  So I’ve been doing just that. In fact, the roasted chicken was a first for me, and I’m a firm believer in making loads of mistakes on my first tries of anything, really.  For instance, below you will see the beautiful onion, lemon and garlic that I stuffed into the chicken’s cavity (no better smell on your hands than a little bit of those three ingredients), and then you’ll notice the good-looking uncooked chicken resting above cut potatoes, carrots, and celery.  Well, that chicken is upside down.  Now, I may know the human body’s anatomy, but apparently I failed quite miserably with that poor chicken. After an hour of cooking, my anatomical mistake was kindly pointed out,  I flipped that bird over, and drowned its right-sided skin with more garlic butter. It all turned out just fine…delicious, in fact.  Those vegetables were out of this world tasty with all the garlic, butter and chicken juice infused.

Fall time means mistakes that turn into yummy chickens, pumpkins, and crock pots.  Soups and stews done well are just about the greatest things when it’s chilly.  So I will leave you with a picture of those pumpkins, fall veggies from BBF, very non-local bananas, and my favorite new soup.  You can see it cooking in the upside-down chicken photo above, and below you see it in pre-heat stage.  It’s a potato soup slow-cooker recipe found here, but I added two sweet potatoes this time around and it took this thing to a whole other level.  

Now that PR season 10 has finished, and I shed all the tears that I could for the 7 books of Harry Potter, it’s time for my unemployment to come to an end.  But wherever you are, whatever kind of space you’ve got, keep cooking!

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6 thoughts on “living in an airstream: cooking

  1. Congratulations on the new job–I’m totally intimidated by your creativity and energy in your little kitchen. Looks yummy! Love you guys!

  2. Wow. You actually cooked/baked in your Airstream. I’ve cooked but only use the oven as yes, storage for pots and pans. But, I use the Airstream in the summer so using the oven is a big no. I’m inspired to do so, maybe take her out in the spring. Love getting your posts. Congrats on the job finding, too. Hope you find time to write.

  3. So happy you got a job, Rebecca! Of course, buying our job meant we automatically were employed, but the paycheck is another story all together…Anyhow, I still have yet to ever cook a whole chicken, but Mark says we’re going to have to start making more Czech food soon, so who knows what I’ll end up learning after all 🙂

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