Cooking, Food, Recipe

Travel Food

Growing up, we did a lot of traveling. As a military brat of parents with itchy feet, I had about 19 addresses by the time I left home for college at 18 years of age. We also did a lot of travel on the cheap for vacations. I’d been in 42 states until I finally made it to TX and added it a few years back. The constants I can remember Mom packing for travel in the car were grapes, rolls, and cream cheese. We rarely, if ever, stopped for fast food or eating out. We did a lot of camping, and I know how to cook more stuff over coals and fire than some people can handle in a fully equipped kitchen. Yeah, it was kinda an idyllic childhood.

As I was sitting down to plan out this trip up to NH, with three kids and I in a car, I’d initially planned on camping overnight. Me, I’d just crash in the car a few hours and keep driving. Traveling with kids makes that rather impractical and uncomfortable. Due to the rains, we opted out of tents, and into a rustic cabin (it’s a step up from tent – no water, and no electric) for a night. So now I had to plan for not only two days of driving, but a dinner and a breakfast. Can do!

Ideally, travel food can be eaten with little to no refrigeration, no utensils, and with fingers. My preference is also for stuff that doesn’t leave crumbs all over the car, but since some of this is for eating in the cabin, I could back off on that a little.

For nomming in the car, I made a big batch of chocolate chip cookies. For dinner in the cabin (we plan to grab fast food for lunch) I’ve made pepperoni strombolis. And for breakfast with no milk (horrors! LOL) I have a batch of lovely moist banana bread. We probably will pick up fresh fruit as we go – like Mom, I like grapes for this purpose, no pits or cores or peels to find days later under seats. My kids love strawberries and blueberries, too. We have options.

Table full of noms!
Table full of noms!

The First Reader wanted to know what the difference was between a stromboli and a calzone. I think – and mind you, I haven’t had time to research this – that a calzone is a folded-over pocket of dough around fillings, while a stromboli is rolled up sort of like a savory cinnamon roll. You wind up with a higher dough-to-filling ratio, which is great for stability in eating it away from home and plates (a roll of paper towels is essential to any trip, in my opinion).

For the chocolate chip cookies, I just did the recipe from Alton Brown’s I’m Just Here for More Food. The banana bread was a generic online recipe, although I did add chopped pecans to both it and the cookies, since I had a big bag of them in the pantry.

One piece of dough rolled out thinly
One piece of dough rolled out thinly

The stromboli I kind of winged. I made a basic bread dough, using olive oil rather than my usual canola, and put about a tbsp of powdered herbs and garlic mix into the dough for flavor.

Once the dough was ready in the stand mixer, I put it in an oiled bowl to rise, working on the banana bread while it did so. Once the stromboli dough was doubled, I put it on a floured surface and gently punched it down, then cut it into four roughly equal parts. I rolled it out thinly (about 1/4″ thick) one piece at a time, making a piece of dough that was slightly larger than a sheet of paper (so perhaps 9×12″). I then brushed it lightly with olive oil, and sprinkled parmesan cheese, a bit of mozzarella, and olives on it. My kids aren’t fond of red sauce, so I skipped the sauce. You could use pretty much anything you’d put on pizza for the stromboli filling. I did pepperoni, and a little bit of bacon. Once you have your filling spread evenly on the dough, roll it up, starting with the long edge, and rolling loosely. The dough is going to rise, you need to leave some room so the rolls don’t split during baking.

Ready to roll up

You’ll see I tucked the ends as I rolled, and placed them on the pan seam-side down. I baked them in a pre-heated 375 deg F oven for about 20 minutes, until they are golden brown on top (and if you put too much cheese in, that will be bubbly and oozy).  Once they are cool I’ll pop them in ziploc baggies and they will travel in a cooler with frozen water bottles to keep them yummy until dinner time. Actually, if I did little ones, they would be great for school lunches, and once I get rolling this kind of baking is easy to do, and all these things freeze well when made in large batches.

I marked each one with a name, hopefully this will keep bickering to a minimum!
Really hard to resist tasting these. Just to make sure they’re good, you know?