Regarding outdoor kitchens, my feeling is if it doesn’t have a sink, it’s not a kitchen. Pull-out grills off the exterior of a towable or motorhome are great, but I like to be able to clean my food and my hands without walking inside.
Furthermore, my ideal outdoor kitchen includes a refrigerator, some counter space for food prep, an exterior outlet and, obviously, a grill and/or range. A spot for a small flat-screen TV is awfully nice, but that’s not a deal-breaker for me. The TV merely takes it to a higher level where, if I have satellite or cable hooked up, I can cook a meal outside and be yelled at by a host of TV chefs if I choose.
But, I digress. This article will focus on creating a quick and good family picnic utilizing your RV’s outdoor kitchen.
Picnics have evolved since I was a kid when a butter and sugar white bread sandwich was your meal. Or, if it was a special day, bologna (or baloney—your choice) was slapped between two slices of spongy white bread with a swipe of mayonnaise… our parents were obviously thrill-seekers.
The Breakfast Picnic
Never would my parents had ever considered having a breakfast picnic, but let’s take the thought of a picnic as exclusively a lunch meal and throw that cliché away.
Now, if my parents would have thought outside the picnic basket from lunch to breakfast, I am confident they would have appreciated having a breakfast picnic without needing plates and flatware. The only kitchen implement that would be a must for them (and me too) is a vessel for coffee.
Get that coffee going first. Percolate it outside using the exterior outlet as you’re prepping the rest of your breakfast. Make sure you have a couple good, insulated coffee tumblers so you can keep your coffee warm during your picnic.
As the coffee is brewing, prep your meal.
Should it be oatmeal? Great for energy; easy to make; adaptable to add lots of different fruits, nuts etcetera to liven it up so to speak. However? It’s oatmeal. You’re on a camping trip with kids and… it’s oatmeal. Kids will eat it, but it’s oatmeal.
Sorry Mr. Quaker, but we want to live a little. Thus, we recommend the versatility of a breakfast burrito.
Ingredients? Anything you like with eggs and cheese that doesn’t take a ton of planning: sausage chunks, bacon, onions, green peppers, red peppers, jalapeno peppers, mushrooms, avocado slices—even berries go well with eggs.
No potatoes unless you have leftover open fire-baked from the previous night or a bag of frozen hash browns—don’t start the taters from scratch or it will take a long time and a lot of propane. Raw carrots are propane pigs too.
Whatever needs to be cooked for your mix, get it started before the eggs. Scrambled eggs can be added into the same pan and mixed all together. A word about bacon though. Depending upon the bacon, you may end up with a lot of grease.
Therefore, you will need to decide on whether to use a separate pan for the eggs or dispose of the bacon grease into a can or jar (or carefully sop it up with hearty paper towels). Don’t pour the grease onto the ground. Critters love bacon grease and they won’t stop grub-searching after finding the grease.
You can make scrambled eggs fluffier by adding one tablespoon of water or milk for every two eggs. Scramble vigorously until little bubbles show before dropping the mixture into the pan. For seasoning, salt and pepper will do, but you can add a touch of cayenne pepper or a few drops of tabasco (for you, maybe not the kids or your mother-in-law).
For cheese, I’d bring pre-shredded for speed, but you can shred a block while the eggs are cooking. I prefer a sharper cheese like a white cheddar, but you can slip in slices of American if you want. No cheese-judging.
To keep the breakfast burritos warm for your short trek to your perfect picnic spot (remember everyone is hungry so don’t plan a big trail hike before filling up), use foil. You don’t need to go all out and get a super thermal carrying pack that’ll keep food hot or cold for days. They’re nice for a lot of situations, but let’s focus on speed here.
Drop the tortilla onto the piece of foil, fill with the egg mixture, put that cheese on while the eggs are hot, add your ‘cold’ items such as avocado slices, perhaps some salsa, roll up the tortilla then enclose with the foil.
How to Wrap Up a Burrito
If you want to fold in the top and bottom and make it restaurant-style, the tortilla must be very pliable, aka ‘steamed’ so it’s soft. To me, that’s too much effort for camping. Roll it up with open ends. It’s not going to hurt anyone and the foil will ‘seal’ the base so stuff isn’t spilling out.
There’s Always Pancakes
What a mess! The butter, syrup… for a picnic? No? Well… on the contrary, make them a bit thinner so they are pliable, therefore easy to roll up. Spread a pancake with peanut butter, drop in some banana slices or other sweet fruits, roll them up and let the kids have at ‘em. They’ll love it and there’s not much of a mess.
Let’s Do Lunch
This is a family picnic and we’re doing it quickly for there are other camping activities ready for the taking. We want to get your picnic started ASAP, so let’s leave the gourmet muddled pesto and garlic arugula chicken salad sandwich on hand-grilled focaccia sandwich on the back burner.
And let’s not pretend any effort you make to create colorful salads in jars are going to entice your kids to eat the salad. You’re camping so it’s highly unlikely it will work. That being said, let’s focus on finger food.
Fried Chicken Fingers
Fried chicken is a picnic staple as in ‘grab a bucket of chicken and head to the lake’, but this is different as you’re making it on your own. The only planning ahead you need is to make sure you have thawed boneless skinless chicken breast fillets with ‘fillets’ being the key (if you have a whole chicken breast, just cut into slices first and use the kitchen shears, not a knife).
You’re going to double-dip—scrambled egg mixture (4 eggs and a ¼ cup of milk) to seasoned flour (generally flour with salt and something spicy like paprika or cayenne pepper – 1 teaspoon of spice, pinch of salt and a cup of flour), back from flour to egg mixture then back into the flour and right into the pan with a ¼ inch of cooking oil.
Depending upon the heat of your outdoor grill and the thickness of your fingers (the chicken fingers, not your fingers), it shouldn’t take more than two to three minutes each side for them to finish. Meanwhile, you can work on the possibilities below.
Don’t get too concerned about the nutrition lacking in fried foods. Supplement the chicken fingers with carrot fingers, celery fingers (fill with a shot of cheese from a can or a slip of peanut butter), and devil fingers (cut strips of red bell pepper). After the quick creation of veggie fingers and while the chicken fingers are still too hot to eat, make the dessert.
I like to call them Sasquatch fingers. Sound complicated? Not one bit. All you need are graham crackers and a jar of any spreadable chocolate. It’s like a s’more but without hard chocolate and marshmallow, so you could call them a s’less, but I call them Sasquatch fingers.
Divide graham crackers into their natural quarters, spread the chocolate, make little sandwiches and tell the kids the ‘real’ Sasquatch has naturally rectangle-shaped fingers. If they try to argue, go tell them to find some real Sasquatch fingers to prove you wrong.
Now you’re done. Pack everything up in whatever cooler or bag you have available, grab some drinks out of the outdoor refrigerator and find your spot. And don’t forget the picnic blanket. A picnic table is fine, but it’s just a table. A true picnic is on a blanket.
What are your quickie picnic ideas? If you have one or many, drop us a comment!