It’s taken almost 12 months, but I have finally perfected the art of making cookies in the van. Van life goals are simple.Admittedly there was about a 10-month hiatus, but after 4 failed batches, I have recently made two successful batches of Skratch Labs cookies. It may seem like a simple task as the ingredients and preparation for the cookies are equally as simple and delicious, but the cooking process posed a problem for us. Our biggest barrier to success was that we had no oven. We do have a rice cooker and I was determined to make it work. The rice cooker we have is a single serving unit and its power draw is less then 900 watts. We have a 1500 watt inverter so overall power draw when using the ricer cooker is nominal. (Also if you are parked near shore power, just use that). Back in month 2 I wrote a blog about items I can’t live without, in which I mentioned this rice cooker and the goal of making Skratch cookies 😉
The first few batches we tried last spring were cooked in a pancake like fashion on a frying pan over our single burner from the camp stove. They were ok, but a bit charred on the outside in order to get the middle cooked. Similarly, when I used the rice cooker, the bottom would be totally burnt and top barely cooked.
We met up with friends in Nevada who live in an RV (they have shore power and we don’t). They were gifted an Oster Countertop Oven (it’s an oven/crockpot/roaster combo) which can DO IT ALL! As a little experiment we cooked a batch of cookies in our van with their Oster Oven, which pulls 1200 watts. We wanted to use their oven in our van to determine how much of an overall draw on the battery system it would be. We were pleasantly surprised to see that the overall power consumption was about 5% of our battery. The oven seemed to draw a lot of power when we first started it, like any oven does, but once the oven normalized the power consumption stabilized perfectly. With the power use being minimal for our off-the-grid van set up, we are intrigued about having one of these ovens for ourselves in the future. Jon’s also keen to explore upgrading the kitchen counter area to have it include a propane oven from CampChef. We’ll see about that. The cheaper of the two is the Oster so it might be the end solution. For now we don’t own either, so my goal of making cookies with the appliances we have was still a priority.
With one bag of Skratch Cookie Mix left in our cupboard my desire to master the rice cooker cookies was reignited after the countertop oven experiment.
Hypothesis: If I rotate the dough as it cooks, then we will avoid burning the cookies and they will be cooked through. Steps to success:
1). Combine one bag of Skratch Labs cookie mix, one egg, one stick of butter (we prefer unsalted) and about a cup of chocolate chips. Van or house, I mix with my hands, always. Once the dough was made I split it in to two servings.
3). After the first 5 min I divided the dough in to quarters with my Gir Spatula and flipped each section, pushing the dividing lines together after each flip to make one massive cookie. I did this 4 more times for roughly 20 min (more like 23 min) of cooking. And guess what…. COOKIES*! Hypothesis proven!
* However, they looked burnt because with all the flipping and mushing, the chocolate chips totally melted and the chocolate chip cookie was more of a chocolate only cookie. The flavor was a bit much for our taste.
Before I put the second serving of dough in to the rice cooker pot, I took out about 2/3rds of the remaining chocolate chips. This time as I did the same procedure there was some melting chocolate but it was not overwhelming.
Jon was the judge and he deemed them to be proper cookies. Prior to Skratch’s release of the simple & wholesome cookie mix, Jon and I did a LOT of product testing (you’re welcome) in order to help get the formula correct (Thanks to Lentine for her work on the formula and for trying to fatten us up). We love making our own ride food but admittedly have not done a ton of it in the van. Rice cakes would be easy, we can do those in our sleep, but cookies were a big goal and we did it! Next up will be trying them with fruit (ideally raspberries) and see how that goes.