Rethinking My Nomad Life
This post begins my new journey into a life of change. I call it “My Nomad Life.” We all experience change at one time or another, so I hope to give you the courage to flourish in a time of uncertainty and change.
Today, I will share some kitchen hacks I've discovered during our journey. Since our townhouse won't be finished until the fall, my hubby and I have been volunteering at various Christian ministries that offer lodging. We've found it's a double blessing. They bless us with a place to live, and we in turn fill a need neither of us anticipated. And through it all, God is blessing us with a measure of testing and faith—watching Him provide our next location just when we need it.
Why the Necessity for Kitchen Hacks?
So what does that have to do with kitchen hacks? Imaging moving every two to three months to a new location, a different-sized lodging, and an unfamiliar kitchen that does or doesn't have the supplies you normally use to prepare your favorite meals? BTW, if you typically prepare fast food in a microwave, this isn't for you. There are microwaves in every location (including hotels and Airbnb). No worries!
Well, in this nomad journey, I've had to make do with what is available. I can hear some of you say, “What's the problem? Can't you go out and buy what you need?”
I have what I need in our PackRat, but it's hundreds of miles away. Being a minimalist, I certainly don't need an extra one when we finally move into our townhouse. Although I could purchase many of them at Goodwill, we don't have the space to carry them from one location to another. Our two cars, which are essentially our suitcases for a year, are chock full already, and our money has to be used only for necessities.
Kitchen Hacks in Disguise
Some of these are obvious, like using an everyday teaspoon/tablespoon and cup for measuring, as long as it's not a recipe that depends on exact measurements, like a souffle or angel food cake. The large pot with lid I borrowed from the camp kitchen is used for frying eggs, making soup, a casserole, stirfy or chicken cacciatore. After all, pioneers cooked with one iron skillet, and made everything from stew to griddle cakes over the fire.
Since there are no cake or bread pans, I use my Pyrex dish to make a small gluten and dairy-free cake on occasion. And along with my cake, I must have tea! So, in lieu of a teapot, which is packed away, I discovered an alternative: my Yeti travel mug! It keeps my brewed tea (English Breakfast, loose-leaf) hot. I add some honey, collagen, and heated walnut/almond milk. Yum!
This is a favorite hack I accidentally came up with. Since I make all my food from scratch, I like to keep a variety of whole herbs and spices on hand. But, since I don't have the space, I broke down and bought seasoning mixes. Harissa is a North African spice I use in meatloaf or veggies. Curry and Italian seasoning are self-explanatory. Citrus herb is great for steaks, and Herbs de Provence for anything French, including lamb, chicken, zucchini and asparagus.
I had some whole rosemary and stick cinnamon, so I pulverized them in my (believe it or not) coffee grinder, after I had cleaned it thoroughly. Back in my container, I have a coffee grinder specifically for this purpose but hadn't room for it in my travels. Parsley is used in almost every dish, so I dried some fresh organic parsley.
Must-Have Kitchen Supplies
Notice the touches of coastal blue?? It reminds me that some day, Lord willing, we will settle into our home 20 minutes from the Atlantic Ocean. Until then, I will continue to use these hacks even after we move.
No matter the state of your baking sheets (dirty, clean, stainless, aluminum), parchment paper is a worthy investment. You can safely bake on any surface with it, as I have done with meatloaf. Since there were no loaf pans, I formed it on a baking sheet. Easy!
I like to add chopped veggies to almost every meal I make, and meatloaf is no exception. I couldn't live without a processor. I sold my large one and bought this tiny one that is sufficient for our nomadic needs. It can even puree guacamole!
This next hack, although I really wouldn't call it such, is a sharp well-made paring knife (of sorts). This one was a gift from a friend I consider to be a culinary expert. Little did she know how much I depend on this knife! You cannot do without a sharp paring and utility knife.
If you are going to invest in something, make sure it's the best all-purpose knife you can afford. There are so many types to choose from, but this one does all the everyday meal prep work. The next investment would be a knife sharpener if you end up in a place with dull tools. It's a chef’s vexation!
I've managed to make our double-wide trailer (aka The Lodge) a home. All I need is a spot to read and write, and a good hot drink and fragrant candle. I've been a ‘happy camper’ at Hickory Cove Bible Camp. But, it's time to move on. We've had a productive, peaceful and satisfying time here, due to the welcoming nature of the staff. Lord willing, we will continue to bless others as they have blessed us on our nomad journey to the coast.
Which of my hacks have you used? Have you needed to ‘make do’ with something in your kitchen through the years? I'd love to hear how you creatively solved your problem! Let me know below.
Since my husband and I are without a home at this time (our townhome construction in North Carolina has been delayed until spring), we are wanderers and sojourners, traveling across country, visiting friends, house-sitting and staying with very generous church family members a few weeks at a time. Above, you see me in a "here's proof I was at one of the most popular spots in the US" pose.
I'm the Happy Sojourner. . .
. . .and he is not. Dan is a home-body who can spend his vacations in his workshop or music studio, and not leave the house. He loves ritual and hates change. I, on the other hand, love variety and crave changes. It inspires me and tickles my little grey cells (as Poirot often says).
So, I must applaud my hubby for his bravery. I am coming very quickly to the conclusion that it's the thing we dread that keep our minds sharp. Getting adjusted to a new lodging and routine every couple of weeks (not to mention moving our belongings), jiggles our thought processes and comfort zones. Last month, we spent four weeks at Conference Point Camp in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. We volunteered three weeks, and attended our annual family Bible camp the fourth week. Working in the kitchen was exhausting, and ramped up our appreciation for restaurant and camp meals.
During our last week of volunteering, I was asked to manage the snack shop for a friend who flew out west with her husband to visit their daughter and family. The first part of the week, I worked alongside my friend as she showed me the ropes. But come Thursday, I was on my own with two well-trained and capable (thankfully) teens. Occasionally, my husband, Dan, would help out, but he was even more of a novice than me.
I was amazed at how my multi-tasking abilities returned (thank you, Jesus!) as we served a hoard of 107 band kids who literally swarmed in for their ice cream, smoothies and slushies. Whew! It confirmed my hope that I was not ripe for assisted living just yet.
So, What Does Sojourning Have to Do with Writing?
Ready for a surprise? I am moving my focus from Middle-Grade Historical Fiction to Memoir and nonfiction, specifically addressing aging and its many facets. Of course, I will offer ways to grow older gracefully, and point out the issues we silver-haired folks face daily. Does that sound like something you resonate with? I would love to have you comment below, if that is the case. What is your biggest roadblock to moving forward as you age? What are your fears?
If you receive this blogpost via email, click on the title of the post, and it should bring you to the blog itself, where you can comment below. I truly want and need to hear from you! Even if you are in your 40s and 50s, I want to know what concerns you about the future.
The Serious and the Silly
Looking forward to your comments. And I guarantee some of them will show up in my next book!
My MG Biblical fiction "The Heart Changer" debuted in 2019 with Ambassador International.