in A Girl's Gotta Swear, Family Time, RECIPES: Or, we're basically a food truck

It’s Thanksgiving, and all I’ve got is this 8 cubic-foot refrigerator. Or, how the zip-n-seal baggie saved Turkey Day.

There be culinary challenges here, especially for holiday meals. A cooking girl’s gotta think outside the box that is her living quarters — and the even smaller box within that contains her kitchen — to make it all go down.

This year, my folks are cooking the bird and a few side dishes at their house, which is where we’ll gather this afternoon with our younger son, my brother, his wife and my niece and nephew. More cooking, serving and seating space for the win!

My assignments: two vegetables, rolls, and a pie.

To appreciate how small my refrigerator is, go stand in front of yours. I’ll wait. You there? Good. Now open the door. Note shelves that appear between your knees and your chin. That’s all the vertical space I’ve got.

Glorified dorm fridge We're talking 8 cubic feet. By comparison, a typical household refrigerator provides 18-26 cubic feet of storage space.

Glorified dorm fridge
We’re talking 8 cubic feet. By comparison, a typical household refrigerator provides 18-26 cubic feet of storage space.

But wait. It gets better. Now reach your arm in there and touch the back wall. Gotta lean in a little to make your fingers touch, yes? When I do that? My elbow rests just outside the front edge. That’s all the depth I’ve got.

But here’s how I made this half-meal happen, using only a 3-burner cooktop, a microwave/convection oven, and a fridge that isn’t even deep enough to hold a serving bowl.

Pecan Pie It's what you make when you can't make a dessert that requires fridge space

Pecan Pie
It’s what you bake when you can’t make a dessert that requires fridge space

In a traditional oven, this pie takes almost an hour to bake. Here in my handy dandy half-time convection oven: 25 minutes. And the crust didn't burn!

In a traditional oven, this pie takes almost an hour to bake. Here in my handy dandy half-time convection oven: 25 minutes. And the crust didn’t burn!

Perfection. And no Karo syrup! I used this recipe, with a few tweaks: omit white sugar; increase flour to 2 TBSP; increase pecans to 1.5 cups and lightly toast them first; flour both sides of crust to prevent sogginess.

Perfection. And no Karo syrup!
I used this recipe, with a few tweaks: omit white sugar; increase flour to 2 TBSP; increase pecans to 1.5 cups and lightly toast them first; flour both sides of crust to prevent sogginess.

Brussels sprouts All rinsed and ready to go Moroccan.

Brussels sprouts, all rinsed and ready to go Moroccan.

Once again, I've gone the plastic storage bag route for making these things fit in the fridge. And yes, the recipe is for Moroccan Carrot Salad. But Mom decided to make Copper Penny Carrots, so I just did a little produce switcheroo.

Yes, the recipe is for Moroccan Carrot Salad. But Mom decided to make Copper Penny Carrots, so I just did a little produce switcheroo. The cooked sprouts went into a storage bag and got a nice little shake-up with the marinade. And there they will stay, comfortably nestled in their teensy little space on the fridge shelf, until I get to Mom’s house and pour them into a nice serving dish.

Texas Slaw I managed to toss all the veggie shreds -- cabbage, carrots, cilantro, green onions, and radishes -- by hand in the largest mixing bowl I've got in here. There is *not* enough room to stir in the dressing without making a huge mess.

Next up: Texas Slaw
I managed to toss all the veggie shreds — cabbage, carrots, cilantro, green onions, and radishes — in the largest mixing bowl I’ve got in here. But there is not enough room to stir in the dressing without making a huge mess, so…

Plastic storage bag to the rescue! Again. I poured in half the veggies, followed by half the dressing...

Plastic storage bag to the rescue! Again. I poured in half the veggies, followed by half the dressing…

repeated with the other half of each...

repeated with the other half of each…

... and then zipped up the bag, did a little shaky-smooshy thing, and stored it right there in that narrow space between the Moroccan Brussels Sprouts and the Greek yogurt. That's cooperation on an international level right there.

… and then zipped up the bag, did a little shaky-smooshy thing, and stored it right there in that narrow space between the Moroccan Brussels Sprouts and the Greek yogurt.
That’s cooperation on an international level right there. Two empty serving bowls — one for slaw, one for sprouts — are packed and ready to take to Mom’s house!

Homemade Yeast Rolls This is my challah dough recipe, and I used to make the traditional long braided loaf for our holiday gatherings, but neither my gas oven nor my convection oven are big enough to hold a cookie sheet, so now we get rolls. And yes, these too will go in a zippit bag for transport to Grandma's house. Bonus: perfect size and heft for throwing across the table at your cousins.

Homemade Yeast Rolls
This is my challah dough recipe, and I used to make the traditional long braided loaf for our holiday gatherings, but neither my gas oven nor my convection oven are big enough to hold a standard cookie sheet, so now we get rolls. And yes, these too will go in a zippit bag for transport.
Bonus: perfect size and heft for throwing across the table at cousins.

My favorite RV kitchen storage solutions: keeping spices in a drawer. They slide around and topple over in a cabinet. And we need that space for cereal boxes and canned goods anyway.

My favorite RV kitchen storage solution: keeping spices in a drawer. They slide around and topple over in a cabinet. And we need that space for cereal boxes and canned goods anyway.

Just… don’t ask me how I’m gonna store our leftovers. That’s tomorrow’s challenge.

Happy Thanksgiving to all, whether your space is large or small!

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  • Fridge Foibles: Dealing with the Tiny Space within our Tiny Space – Own Less. Do More.

    […] We’ve got one of the old “glorified dorm fridge” units, and its 8 cubic feet of storage is adequate for just the two of us in most cases, including the time we contributed half the dishes to the family Thanksgiving feast. […]