People who know me are probably wondering how I could be so dense and waste so much time looking for another way to accomplish this goal -- after all, what do I do for a living now? I sew. And sew and sew and sew and sew. But that's precisely why I wanted someone else to do the sewing for me for a change. Besides, I sew stretchy, blingy, shiny things (check it out here); not sturdy, square, pocket-y things. Why would I think I could design a better camp kitchen than all the others out there who do this for a living? Perhaps that's why I put it off for so long and why I was less than enthusiastic at first about making it myself.
But in the end, what I came up with is absolutely perfect, like nothing I've ever found anywhere before. In fact, it's so perfect, and because I already own a fabric and sewing business, I figured others might find them perfect, too...
So in 2015 I'll be launching a full line of textile camping supplies, aptly called "Wilderness Table!" Stay tuned, but here's a sneak peak at the #1 Best Portable Camp Kitchen Ever:
When it's all rolled up, this is how it looks. It actually fits into a canvas grocery bag, and the handles of the bag make it extremely easy to carry around, from the car to the campsite to wherever else we need to cook. Of course, being the dress designer, I had to add the bling...a little out of place in the woods, maybe, but I was making this for myself so it needed the rhinestones. Emphasis on needed.
Here's a shot of it without the blingy cover. The cover is held on with magnetic snaps, which are extremely durable and so much easier than buttons or hooks or even a zipper. You can see that each side rolls up toward the center, much like a professional chef's knife holder.
One side houses the cooking utensils - knives, a ladle, can opener, tongs, slotted and regular cooking spoons, a spatula, a turkey baster for removing excess cooking liquid and basting small birds like game hens (recipe to come), an instant read thermometer, and a cool salt grater that I also use for zesting citrus or grating cheese. All have their own pockets, and are kept in place with elastic straps.
The other side houses a plastic, zippered bag that holds a perfectly sized bottle of olive oil and one of balsamic vinegar. It also has pockets for a roll of foil, a roll of plastic wrap, ziploc bags, cleaning supplies (a small bottle of dish soap and a sponge/brush), and a salt grinder and pepper grinder.
The middle is the best part -- inside the main pocket is a set of great bamboo cutting boards (which gives the entire contraption a lot of stability, something lacking in every other roll-up design I found), and two flaps fold open to reveal more pockets for my spice boxes, two large salt/pepper cellars (which are filled with fresh herbs and a Berbere mix at the moment), a special slot for the wine opener (priorities, you know), and a velcro-attached hot pad that also contains two small dish towels.
I can't begin to describe how much easier and enjoyable camp cooking and, indeed, camping itself, has become with this one simple addition to our outdoor supply stash. I don't even have to think about what I need or don't need on any given trip -- I just grab the kitchen and go. When we get home from a trip, we usually wash all the utensils (because we're generally not that careful about cleaning things other than our knives and cutting boards -- more on food safety later -- at a campsite when water is such a precious commodity) and I restock my herb/spice cases. Then we repack the kitchen, roll it up, and it's ready to go whenever we decide to head out again.
I'll talk more about this awesome spice carrier soon. Stay tuned for the Wilderness Table line launch in January!