My original Nomad Mermaid Mobile was put together on a really tight budget and all of my materials came from The Dollar Tree by the apartment I was ditching in order to live in my car. The windows got blocked out with windshield solar screens I cut to fit, my sleeping pad was four inches of foam I’d sewn together, and this was what I had to cook on:
My tuna can spirit burner cost me a total of $3 and a near brush with death when the blade I was using to cut the vent notches slipped and sliced my wrist too close for comfort to a vein. I decided to set a smaller can inside a bigger one to create a wind shield and it did the job well enough to boil water in the camp pot I got from my grandfather.
Now that I’m putting together The Nomad Mermaid Mobile 2.0, I’ve decided to do it a little less slapdash. Upgrades everywhere. Like my new kitchen set-up.
Today, I’ll start by showing you my stove.
This is the Trangia Spirit Burner and it’s pretty much a grown up version of my tuna can contraption. Fueled by denatured alcohol (or even rubbing or grain alcohol if you’re in a jam and don’t mind scrubbing burnt on soot off your pots), everything packs down into the main cooking vessel — with a lid that doubles as a fry pan when used in tandem with the custom tongs.
When it’s all packed up, it’s about as tall as a lighter and as round as a CD. Remember CDs? Small — but mighty — this stove packs a punch! I’ve boiled water for rice and quinoa, fried eggs as well as regular and tofu bacon, sauteed veggies, and made sauces. Phenomenal cosmic cooking power in an itty bitty living space.
When I need to use it I find a campground, park, or a public picnic area with grill stations. And if I can’t find one of those, all I need is a parking space and my kitchen counter — more on that in the next post.
So are there any other lessons we can glean from this upgrade? Perhaps it’s that you can buy yourself your way to what you want, sure, but you don’t have to. Yes, the upgraded stove is nice but the homemade $3 baby worked just as well. And even if it didn’t, I wouldn’t have really noticed because at least I was getting to travel and go where the wind tossed me, even if it wasn’t very glamorous. Get creative with your dreams — if you don’t have the money for something, can it be made? Don’t let pieces of paper determine whether or not you get to do what you want. I sure as hell don’t!
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