Chris Cox is cooking dinner. But he’s not in his kitchen. He’s cooking meals from a much more unlikely place — his semi.
For the veteran truck driver, who has found his niche as a company driver for Ozark Motor Lines, the road to this culinary triumph was long and full of misunderstanding.
“For a long time I was operating under these misconceptions about not being able to cook in the truck,” says Cox. “For some reason, I just thought it couldn’t be done.”
But that was bound to change.
And about five years ago, it did change, when Cox fell on hard times. Cox’s former employer was bought out, he took a huge pay cut, and he was going broke. He had to reduce his expenses in a hurry.
For Cox, who for years dined out twice a day, reducing his expenses had to start with his eating habits. He began cooking in the truck.
“For me, that was hard,” he says. “It was a big change of my lifestyle.”
For two years, Cox struggled with cooking in his truck. He did the dishes with bins of soap and water. It was a splashy mess. Then Cox discovered the Big Truck Cooking Group on Facebook, and his culinary world changed.
“It was my involvement with Big Truck Cooking that radicalized everything for me,” he says. “All those years of failure, and then all of a sudden I just stumbled across this group — those people are doing this on a truck? Aw, no way!”
For Cox, the group was a godsend. Through it, he learned he could clean up with baby wipes, that they wouldn’t leave a residue on his dishes. He ditched the soap and water, and his imagination soared.
The man who grew up watching his grandmother cook (and who once worked as a professional chef) had found his creative outlet again. It freed him to cook in the spontaneous style he loves, right on his truck.
Cox’s grandmother, now 96, was his biggest culinary influence. She grew up during the Great Depression. “That’s a whole other style of cooking,” Cox says. “You couldn’t go to the store to buy the ingredients you didn’t have. You just had to go without them. And that’s how my grandmother cooked. She made due with what she had. As a young boy, I picked up on that.”
To this day, Cox likes improvising. Big Truck Cooking introduced Cox to the Aroma cooker, which diversifies his menu with its versatility. It’s a steamer, skillet, crock pot and rice cooker all in one. He often uses it to cook Eckrich kielbasa because any unused sausage is easy to seal and store.
“The Aroma was a game changer for me,” he says. “The Aroma and baby wipes were necessary for me to fall into a groove. Now I’m definitely in it. It’s a good place to be.”
Find the best CDL trucking job for you with Drive My Way. Register today. It’s free!
Featured image from Pixabay.com; other images courtesy Chris Cox
- Half cup of rice
- Half cup of water
- Tablespoon of butter
- 1 bunch of green beans
- 1 ear of corn, shucked
- 1 medium onion
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 1 small or medium can tomato sauce
- 1 yellow pepper
- 1 container sliced mushrooms
- Put half cup of rice, half cup of water and a spoonful of butter in an Aroma cooker. Put Aroma on White Rice setting and wait for timer to beep when done.
- While rice is cooking, cut the ends off a bunch of green beans and cut the green beans and corn cobs in half. Slice onions and mince garlic.
- Open a can of tomato sauce
- Slice sweet, yellow peppers into “matchsticks”
- When rice is done cooking, put in a bowl and set it aside for the last step. Put corn cobs in bottom of pot. Put green beans in steam basket with 3 cups of water.
- Put Aroma on Steam setting and set the timer for 20 minutes. Close lid, press Start.
- The Aroma has a count down timer. At 10-minute mark, add crushed, minced garlic to the beans in the steam basket.
- At 7-minute mark, add yellow peppers in steam basket.
- At 3-minute mark, add sliced mushrooms and onion to pot where the corn is.
- When timer goes off, butter the corn and plate it.
- Drain the water from the pot and add the rice set aside earlier, along with all remaining veggies, to the Aroma pot (except corn).
- Put Aroma on the STS setting (Sear Then Simmer), add can of tomato sauce and stir while pot bubbles with flavor. Serve when the smell starts driving you crazy.