This month’s traveling chef cooks with a Filipino flair. Moving to the United States in 2007, Melinda married Mike Sowden and hit the road with him in the truck. Mike has been a driver for over 20 years, and when Melinda joined him on the road, the couple began eating out way too often. Over time, they began establishing a functional truck kitchen, complete with appliances, an oven and a fridge. Now, they cook, grill, bake and more – all while running up and down the road.
It took some time and thought to outfit and adapt to cooking healthy in the truck, but once it was all set up, it became a rewarding endeavor – first as a lifestyle, then as a hobby, and then as an opportunity to share. Joining the “Big Trucks Cooking” Facebook group, Melinda now enjoys not only cooking and eating great food in their truck, but also sharing her recipes (along with pictures) with others in the group. Posting almost daily, she shares kitchen set-up ideas, methods and other tips, along with delicious recipes, as well.
Their portable Magma Grill, which was originally designed for grilling at sea, also makes for a great truck BBQ. They use this appliance outside often, when the weather is good. But, Melinda can cook anything in the truck that she can make when they are home in Wichita Falls, TX.
It took an initial investment to outfit their truck with a safe and fully-functional kitchen, but that investment has paid for itself in both food cost savings and health benefits many times over. With health and taste in mind, they are happy to have their truck kitchen and make anything they want, simply and more affordably.
On June 9th, 2015, Melinda became a citizen of the United States, and while she does not drive, she is an important part of their “team” out on the road. Enjoying the ability to travel, she takes advantage of all the photo opportunities our great county has to offer. The couple also recently took an extended vacation to the Philippines, where they swam with 30’ whale sharks. It was an experience of a lifetime!
Eating healthy and inexpensively is a concern for truckers around the world. Melinda is happy to take pictures and share all that she has learned with many other drivers on Facebook. I think the pictures that she has shared with us look not only picture-perfect, but yummy, too! Here are a couple of their favorite recipes.
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
10 ounces fresh spinach
1 teaspoon zest of lemon
1⁄4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 teaspoon table salt, divided
1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil; sauté onion until golden, 5 minutes. Wilt spinach (steam spinach or heat damp spinach over medium heat in nonstick pan); stir in lemon zest, feta, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside. Divide spinach mixture between chicken breasts. Roll up and secure with toothpicks. Sprinkle with remaining salt/pepper. In same skillet, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Cook chicken, turning occasionally, until golden brown and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove toothpicks.
2 Cornish game hens, thawed and rinsed
10 small petite potatoes, 1-2 inch size
6 small (1/2”) cocktail onions, raw
6-8 cherry tomatoes
Baby carrots (your preferred amount)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 heaping Tbsp. dried or fresh rosemary
1 heaping Tbsp. zesty lemon seasoning
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the basting sauce, mix in a small bowl olive oil, rosemary, lemon seasoning, white pepper, garlic powder and salt. Add to the sauce 2 of the petite potatoes, 2 cocktail onions and 2 cherry tomatoes. Mix them in, poking small holes in the potatoes and onions. Spread a teaspoon of the basting sauce in the pan where you will place each hen. Put them on their back. Insert in each hen’s cavity one of the basted potatoes, then a basted onion and tomato. Add 1 tsp. of the basting sauce into the cavity. Place the rest of the potatoes, onions and tomatoes, as well as the carrots, in the pan. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. With a brush, baste the hens and the vegetables. Cover the dish with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. Uncover, baste everything with the juice in the pan and remaining sauce, and reduce to 350 degrees. Bake for another 20 minutes, then baste again, and then bake another 20 minutes or until they are golden brown and the breast is at 170 degrees.