Several months ago, I wrote a blog about cooking in rest areas. I must say I have thoroughly enjoyed this endeavor and glad I revisited my cast iron skillet cooking. In order to make this revisit of cooking a successful venture I took my old camp stove from storage and purchased a new 10” Lodge cast iron skillet. Once my new cast iron skillet was well seasoned **** it has become a very nice surface to cook on. One of the keys to keeping your seasoning good is to not allow acidic items such as tomatoes to stay in the skillet after cooking. Acidic foods will leach away at your seasoning right away and could cause you to have to start the seasoning process all over again.
The two items I like the most about cooking on cast iron is the ease of cleanup and the even temperature. Cast iron cookware is the perfect cookware for searing a juicy steak all the way to cooking salmon filets. Cleanup is easy with a stiff brush, warm water in the pan and never ever using soap. After cleanup, all that is necessary is to wipe down the surface with cooking oil. By wiping down the cast iron with cooking oil it preserves the seasoning and keeps the cast iron from becoming rusty.
I have now added a new Coleman Even Flo camp stove which has made it much easier to regulate my cooking temperature. I have purchased additional cast iron cookware, two 7” skillets, and a large griddle which covers the entire cooktop.
I really enjoy using the 7” skillet to cook diced potatoes while I am making bacon and eggs in my large skillet. After the potatoes are cooked I put the bacon over the cooked potatoes, followed by spreading some shredded cheese over the bacon, and then place my cooked eggs on the top. My skillet is then placed on my wooden cutting board to protect the table from the hot pan. This makes a great way to start the day with a sizzling skillet of good food I have prepared while watching the sunrise.
I purchased the second 7” skillet due to the fact that the smell of my cooking often entices other truck drivers to come over and see what I am doing. With a second skillet, I am able to offer them a meal. This has led to many interesting breakfasts and dinners. On one occasion while cooking dinner I had a driver come up to me and say “I stopped here because I was tired… Now I am tired and hungry”, I asked him if he would like to have dinner with me and he said yes. His comment led me to give him the steak I was cooking and I then cooked another for myself.
The next addition was my large cast iron griddle, the primary use of this addition is to cook pancakes. The griddle, however, is handy for many items besides pancakes. With the large surface of the griddle, I can regulate the temperatures from one end to the other and cook several foods at one time.
Since then I have added a 7” ceramic coated aluminum skillet that I use for making omelets. I am trying to get brave enough to flip my omelet without using the spatula… this has not happened yet. Of course, I wanted hot water so I purchased a tea kettle and a pour over coffee maker, I simply heat the water, put the coffee filter with coffee in the top of the pour over coffee maker and I have a nice fresh coffee to start the day.
I have two plastic storage bins I keep most of my cookware in with the rest being stored in my sleeper side box. The other fun part that has happened with cooking in the rest areas is some other drivers I know have started doing the same thing. Just the other morning a driver limped into the rest area with a tire that had just gone flat which meant he was not exactly having a good morning. I asked him if he would like breakfast while he waited for the repair truck to come. He excepted my offer and as I cooked up the breakfast he said to me “This is really nice and I would like to start cooking as well.” I still had my original camp stove along and I asked him “would you really like to do this?” and he said “Yes” I gave my new friend, Thomas Powers, my original camp stove.
In the end, I am glad I revisited the idea of cooking my own meals in our nations underutilized picnic areas located within the rest areas. as I have met many new people while cooking my meals.