Part One: Ingredients challenge

It started when Ben said, “Let’s have a real Thanksgiving in the Airstream!”

Um, okay. With three burners on the stove (only two of which can, realistically, be used at the same time) and an oven that measures only 14x14x7, I’ll take on that challenge.

“What do you mean, ‘real?’” I wanted to know. “Can I just get a turkey breast and thighs? No bones or extra stuff to dispose of.”

“No, a real turkey, please,” Ben replied. “Mashed potatoes, veg, and pie!”

So, off to the closest supermarket, which, where we’re camped, is a Walmart. In the turkey aisle, I’m confronted by a choice:


One of ’em has to be small enough to fit in our oven. Risking frostbite digging through the pile, we find a 10-pound hen. Trusty Ben, of course, whips out his tape measure and, sure enough, it’ll fit in the oven. Ben is off to scout out a disposable aluminum roasting pan and organic chicken broth, and … turkey, check!

Now, to the potatoes. Easy, right? Just potatoes, for chrissake. Wandering to the produce aisle, I turn the corner and stop short, overwhelmed by choice. Standing there for whole minutes, completely unable to make a decision. A 5-pound bag of yukon golds for $1? An amazing price, but too much bulk for our tiny home. A 3-pound bag of reds for $5? Organic and creamy, but tiny, leading to difficult peeling. Individual russets at 48¢ a pound? They look rather too well picked-over. About seven other choices, each with its pros and cons. I gotta take a break from this.

So let’s get the dairy items. Milk, butter, cream—that should be easy, right? Yeah. First, find the milk without RBST… (we’re not in Marin anymore). Ah, here’s the one brand. Now: fat free, 1%, 2%, 3-5/8% (huh?)? Oh, 3-5/8% is whole milk. Who knew? Fat free for Ben, whole for me, heavy cream for the pie. Oh, yeah, pie. One thing at a time. Dairy, check!

Normally, of course, I’d make the pie. But that would involve buying flour (again, a space issue, but also useful for making gravy), a pie pan (didn’t bring one, but then, no pan to make gravy either), and figuring out how to roll out the dough. Okay, then, frozen pumpkin pie it has to be. Just three choices…eenie, meenie, minie… pie, check!

Next: veg. Have to be frozen, the fridge is already full of salad and fruit for this week’s meals. Green beans, okay, that’s traditional and frozen are pretty good. Only two choices, neither of which is organic. Going for price, then, two bags in the cart. Green veg, check!

Ben asks, “Did you get potatoes?”

I stop. “Um, no. Kinda hard to explain. I was overwhelmed.”

“Overwhelmed. By potatoes.” Not a question.

“Erm, see for yourself.”

Ben strides over and bags up some russets, just like it’s easy or something. Potatoes, check!

Last but certainly not least, the chef needs champagne. But we’re in Walmart, with only a scary selection of Barefoot, Prosecco, or Andre. Nope. Keep that item open on the list.

Last thing: vodka. Ring for the “associate” to open the locked cabinet. He shows up surprisingly quickly, and hands us our bottles (erm, yes, plural). Each has a little red-and-white striped box attached. When we get to the truck, I open the boxes and find two diminutive airplane-sized bottles of peppermint-flavored vodka in each box. Happy holidays from Smirnoff, indeed.


Coming soon: Part Two: Cooking challenge!