January 15th, 2021

Adventure, food, Just things, Music, Outdoors, Road Trip, Scotty Hilander, Travel, Uncategorized

It was a busy afternoon today.

I got up this morning and it was time for coffee, then I got the dog out for a walk. He never seems to be in a rush to get out in the mornings so I am gonna caffeinate myself first. It seems odd that he doesn’t wake up doing the pee-pee dance, but then again he is odd. He didn’t even eat his breakfast until a few hours before dinner.

I locked the dog in his crate and got the bike out for a longer shakedown ride around the block (2-3 miles or so). I need to make a few adjustments – the front fender is rattling a bit against the front fork and the brakes need tightened up some. I really don’t know much about working on bicycles but these are minor things that I feel comfortable with tackling. I can look at some videos online and figure it out if necessary.

It is definitely a different feel riding this bike and it will take some getting used to it. Small tires and sitting up so high are not what I am used to but I will adjust. I also need to get mirrors, a bell, and more lights along with maybe some other things for more visibility. My motorcycle wreck affected my neck and I now cannot turn my head very well to see if anyone is coming so some mirrors are high on the list before I ride it again very far. It does move along pretty good without the Class III setting, but I DO like speed…

I got back and we went for another walk, then came home and started cooking. I made some beef & bean burritos and some beef stroganoff. I got everything labeled and in the freezer; I have a total of 12 meals frozen as of now. I still have to cook dinner yet, and I got another EveryPlate box yesterday so that will be for the next few days’ meals.

I went to Costco yesterday to get a few things and got the 1000-pack of tortillas (you know what I mean), so I used some for the burritos and I will be making up and freezing some breakfast burritos the next few days. I am still trying to do the cold oats with berries and cashew milk for breakfast every morning but breakfast burritos are great any time of the day. I always like doing something different for breakfast on Sunday mornings so since I cannot go out for breakfast I cook something for myself and forgo the overnight oats. It breaks up the week and when it is possible I’ll be meeting up with friends for a restaurant breakfast on Sundays.

While cooking I decided to listen to some music. Last night I watched a couple of videos from the new AC/DC album. Damn, that album rocks and sounds like the old days. I got on Apple Music and added that album and Highway to Hell. I listened to Highway to Hell while cooking and that is a great album. I am waiting until later to listen to the new one; I have a giant playlist of new music I have added but have not listened to yet so I am trying to knock that list down a little before listening to anything else. I listened to some old Porcupine Tree while cleaning up the kitchen and doing the dishes.

After taking my truck in to get fixed, the “Check Engine” light came on again; it is why I took it to the dealer to start with and they replaced the part that THEY said was bad after I replaced parts I thought were bad. It is going in early next week to get looked at again. I am really hoping to get it fixed correctly this time and get out for some long day trips to help maintain sanity. I don’t need (or want) to be around groups of people…I just need some new scenery to look at. Once I get this fixed I will feel better about going in the forest to explore or on a longer drive, plus the fuel mileage will improve.

I guess I could even take the trailer out to get away once the truck is fixed, but I must say it has been nice being out of it for a while so I have not been too excited about getting back in it yet and I am fairly certain the dog agrees. I would have to de-winterize it so I will wait a few more weeks to do that to make sure the danger of freezing is past. With the last-minute storage after finding this place I had to put water line anti-freeze in it again so I would have to go to a campground to de-winterize for the first trip. I am glad I did dump some in it since it did freeze several nights, but I still hate putting that stuff in there. It makes that first trip a pain and it takes a while to flush it out of the system.

I am still working on the airline tickets but I am finding more places, even in the US, are talking pre- and post-arrival testing and quarantines. With these things looming, and the additional concerns of new strains being discovered, it is extremely difficult for me to get very excited about even looking at flights let alone actually booking one. I won’t let it get me down and I will keep looking. There are still a couple of big U.S. cities I would like to go visit but I have big reservations about doing that since I travel to cities to explore and try the local foods. On top of that, I don’t feel safe with all of the nonsense going on and that is also a problem for me wanting to go on long road trips. I will get something booked before my vouchers expire.

That’s about all for this update. Forgot to send it before I passed out last night!

January 7th, 2021

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, Travel, Uncategorized

Yesterday I went to town to pick up a new porcelain-coated Dutch oven. The one I have is just a bit small for meal prep so I wanted to get a bigger one. Costco had a good deal on a set of two Tramontia pots so I just got the set. I will take the one I have in the house and put it back in the trailer. I have found that in the last few months I have used my Dutch oven for more cooking; I have used my cast iron skillet once in that time. I like the versatility of cast iron, as well as the taste it imparts in foods, but the Dutch oven is even more useful and versatile plus the clean-up is easy. I would love to have a couple off Le Creuset porcelain-lined saucepans but they are expensive ($400 for a Le Creuset Dutch oven!). I will keep an eye out online at some auction sites. I almost had two yesterday but got outbid.

Before I picked those up, I made a stop at Goodwill to see if just maybe they had one but no luck. I DID, however, find something I always wondered about…a Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker. It was priced reasonably and was 50% off so I brought home a $40 appliance for $3.50. No loss if it didn’t live up to the hype.

So, I cleaned it up and this morning I gave it a try. I have to say, I was totally surprised at how well it works. It is awesome in its ease of use and simplicity. I think I won’t be making sandwiches ahead of time anymore. They taste better fresh than frozen (at least the egg part doesn’t reheat well) and fresh is always better if possible. This makes it easy.

I also got something else I have been wanting to get but never have yet – a mandolin slicer. No, it is not to slice mandolins (aren’t they small enough anyhoo?). It is to slice fruits and veggies easily and more uniformly to cook evenly. It looks to be new and I got it for just a few dollars. It is a pretty basic one but it is all I need.

Last night I ended up eating my leftover cottage pie instead of cooking the next meal kit of “Silky Sicilian Penne”. I wanted to get the Dutch oven cleaned out and set aside to take back to the trailer. I still had one meal of flautas left to eat so I had that for supper; it had fresh salsa and it won’t freeze. Today at lunch I made that last kit with the penne and it was delicious; penne, zucchini, mushrooms, and grape tomatoes in a butter and crême fraiche sauce with lemon and chives. Silky indeed! So delicious. Glad I have leftovers of that one. I even got to try out the new slicer!

I got that cooked up just in time as another box from EveryPlate showed up this afternoon. Garlic rosemary chicken with roasted root veggies, chicken sausage gnocchi bake in a cream sauce, and something called “Super smashed” burgers on a potato bun with caramelized onion, chipotle aioli & potato wedges on the side. I will probably cook two of these meals tomorrow to get a jump on it.

The one thing about these kits I have found is the produce is fresh so you gotta use it quick before things wilt. I do try to cook one each night as soon as I get them because of this. In the EveryPlate boxes all the ingredients are in one open box, whereas the HelloFresh has all the meals separated out in labeled paper bags. That is a better way to get them but the EveryPlate method uses less bags/packaging and a smaller shipping box so there are a few tradeoffs. EveryPlate is a little cheaper by cutting a few corners that can be cut. I like the bagged meals a little better just from first appearance but I will know more tomorrow after I make the first one. The bags just make it easier and help if you have OCD; otherwise EveryPlate is just like groceries from the store loose in a box. Both are well-packaged though.

I have not been traveling much at all lately (as you know), just going the few miles to town and back along with walks and hikes. My pharmacy is not close and I need refills so I will be making a drive soon (by choice; it’s a local mom and pop – old school). It is a nice drive though and I can enjoy the scenery and spend several hours of the day doing it. It would be nice to get out for a road trip of some distance. It is looking like showers tomorrow morning and then some sun on Saturday so maybe I can get the bike out.

My truck goes in next week for another repair but it won’t be too bad of a bill. I looked underneath to see about the emission part needing replaced and I decided to let them do it for the price. Not worth the little bit of savings for me to crawl under there so they can. They did quote me a sky-high price for plugs and wires getting replaced so I will be doing that myself. It is starting to get in my pocket and this needs to stop. At some point I will need to make a decision if it is still worth fixing. Until then I have to do a few things to it or it will not last long. At least it will be ready to go after doing these things.

That’s about it for now. Gonna go finish my cup of decaf and find a movie.

December 30th, 2020

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, Travel, Uncategorized

I had to go do a curbside pickup for a few things this morning and while in town I decided to go ahead and get my bike helmet purchased. The supply and color selection was limited but I was not waiting another day and I am glad to have that taken care of so I can ride. Even though it is supposed to rain, it was sunny for a time this morning after I got back but then the clouds blew in and it looked like rain so I could not get out today. I got the dog out for a quick hike of the leg (his) and there was some light precipitation falling. I woulda gotten wet, and that’s no big deal, but it isn’t really good for an e-bike to get wet. Perhaps the weather will have a break over the next few days (despite the forecast) and I can go for a spin on it.

I was looking at some maps to look at how far it is to some places I want to go on the bike and how to get there. Most of those places are within 11-12 miles of where I am living. That is well-within the range on my e-bike even if I would be using only the electric motor and not pedaling (which I am gonna pedal). Almost all of that is on trails and backroads so no major traffic to deal with. For now it is only a Class II bike (top speed 18 mph) so I can ride it on sidewalks (if I wanted to), but when I get to the point I want to go faster and use it as a Class III (top seed 28 mph) it will be only to ride on the street (and anything above that is considered a motor vehicle and treated as such). I suggest if you get an e-bike check local and state laws before you get one and see what the laws are where you live or want to ride. I have learned a lot about the laws and you can get into trouble and be fined/ticketed for being in the wrong place. Remember, it is YOUR responsibility to know the laws. Don’t whine if you get busted.

I need to figure out something with the dog on biking adventures, but I think the first couple trips will be just me so I can get used to the bike; I don’t really want to mess with holding a leash while figuring it out. I gotta get him a dog pack and water bottle for adventures. I can run him up and down the driveway with ]out a leash to see how he will respond but I just don’t think he is ready for that yet.

I got a special new-customer promotion on another meal plan called EveryPlate so I signed up for the discounts then I will pause it as needed. They also have a link to give to people so (DISCLAIMER) if you click on this you get a $20 credit and so do I. It looks to be just like all of the other meal plans you see advertised and there are some very interesting recipes, especially in the pasta section (which I am trying to cut back on). I have a few days until the meals get here from the two different meal kit places so I have some time to eat more food out of the freezer and free up some containers.

I know for New Year’s I will be staying home like all my friends are doing, avoiding gatherings and staying well. I might grab a carton of Guinness to bring home to toast but not much else. I am still not drinking much Tito’s or Grey Goose these days, but I don’t really think much about it. There will be no driving anywhere after dark (if even at all) with the annual New Year’s Eve Amateur Night taking place on the roadways. We’ll see if I even stay awake until midnight!

Speaking of adult beverages, I was thinking a while back that I really have not had much wine the last several months. I like a nice wine and craft beers due to the talent it takes to make some really good ones of both. I did get to the point where it was nice to have a glass or two with a good meal, but since it is just me I have to drink it all myself in two or three nights (at most) so it doesn’t go bad. I will have to grab a bottle or two to go with my meal kit meals.

That is about all for now.

✌🏼

December 28th, 2020

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, Travel, Uncategorized

It did not turn out to be a sunny day today after all. I went to get the mail then into town and it was nice to just get out and about for a few since I stayed home yesterday. It was a leisurely day, walking the dog and getting the recycling and garbage together for a trip to the bins. I did not get my helmet today so probably tomorrow I will take a drive and have a look in another store. The store I was in the other day did not have much in the way of helmets that I was interested in. I am really trying to buy locally if possible.

One of the pieces of furniture in the house is a bookshelf desk. Looks like a bookshelf but has a fold-down desk with letter/bill sections and places for stamps and such. I think I will be making good use of that for my laptop desk and my mail & bills. I will need to get a chair for it. With my limited dining space moving the laptop in there not only gives me more room to actually eat at the counter, but it also gives me some separation between the computer and the living room/kitchen areas.

I decided to restart the Hello Fresh meal kits again. Now that I am back in a real kitchen I can do some real cooking. I paused my account for a while and saw a few new recipes on there while making my orders just now so I have to try them. The ingredients were always great quality and the recipes were easy to follow. I assume they still give you recipe cards you can save to make the recipes again – guess I will know next week. On top of that, a study said that it actually lowers your carbon footprint by not driving to pick up groceries. If you are interested in trying it out for a $40 discount, click here to sign up for an account. DISCLAIMER: I will get an account credit for each person that signs up.

I have been hopping around on different streaming services and decided to watch a few more “A Cook’s Tour” episodes to get my travel jones calmed down but it has actually made it worse. It is pretty frustrating to see the ‘rona infections (unsurprisingly) skyrocket and now, with another mutation of it spreading, my optimism on travel possibilities in the near future is diminished somewhat. I know it will open up at some point and things will be better, but along with that I have to be patient and keep my expectations within reason. I also know it will be different when we can travel again; we will all have to adapt in several ways.

Like I said a few posts back I was considering getting a ticket with miles but I was unsure how that would work if I had to cancel a flight because of the ‘rona and I am not interested in going through any hassles. I remember before 2020 it seemed that domestic flights were the expensive ones and that was where I would plan to use them. I have paid less to go to Europe than the fares on some of the domestic flights I have taken so it made more sense to use them for more expensive flights. Now, however, in my casual glances at airfares, I am seeing some really cheap domestic flights so who knows where things will end up at some point. All I do know is that miles don’t come cheap so I want to maximize that investment. I just now remembered that I also have an airline voucher I need to use on a flight in the next month and a half so I gotta get a flight booked somewhere and hope it will be refundable if cancelled. Hopefully they are still blocking middle seats (and still refundable) in the Fall so I can book one wayyyy out.

I have not really thought too much about any road trips, either local or long-distance. I have been too busy to consider driving very far but now I may be able to since my calendar is fairly clear. That would mean either a long day or a hotel since I would not take the trailer out due to unpredictable winter weather. I’ll get to go in a few months, but for now getting out on hikes and walks close to home is good given the short daylight hours.

It is officially now tomorrow so I am off to bed.

December 27th, 2020

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, Road Trip, Travel, Uncategorized

I finally got a decent night’s sleep last night and today is a slack day. Well, it started out to be one but I ended up rearranging the kitchen a little. I took out my toaster oven since I have both a toaster and a convection microwave. That freed upon some space so I put the Nespresso over in its place. There is a big drawer to put coffee in but I can put my coffee cups in there. I still want to get a set of espresso cups and have also been looking at a pod storage drawer that goes under the Nespresso. That would free up the drawer space in the cabinet to put the coffee and coffee accessories (thanks, Hank..Ha ha ha).

After that I had to do some sweeping but I wanted to wipe the counters down before I did and pick it all up at once if there was anything that fell. It’s not that I am a slob; my countertops are fake granite and it hides stuff pretty well plus there is dog hair. The heat is radiant built into the concrete floor so there is no air circulation. The means I have to sweep every day at least once. I’ll get my dehumidifier and air filter in here at some point and that will help with dust and the dog hair (even after I brushed him).

I still have not gotten a bicycle helmet yet. I have had other things going on that I needed to do, plus crowded stores means I was not going to the store until after the holidays. I have been fine with that since I have been busy but I will get out in the next few days to see about getting one. I would really like to ride the bike! The pavement has been a bit damp, so that means slippery and I don’t care to do that with or without a helmet.

Even though I haven’t been doing any biking yet, I am still dedicated to getting in a good amount of walking every day and I should start seeing some benefits from that soon. I think I am even wearing out the dog! We went out several times earlier and he was walking a bit slow the first time for some reason so when we got to the driveway I took off running and he perked right up.

I am getting a grocery list together and I am finally gonna get the ingredients to try to make a cottage pie. It doesn’t look that hard so I hope this recipe turns out. Luckily I have most of the ingredients and don’t need to buy more than a few things. I am also getting the stuff to make a fruit pie. Actually, I am buying frozen pie crust and gonna use frozen berries to make the filling from scratch. Last time I bought a can of pie filling it was almost $4 and the can was mostly goo and not much fruit. Not doing that again. Eventually, when I get ambitious, I will try to make the whole pie from scratch.

I remember when I was a kid one of my grandmas made the best apple pie in the world. She would slice up the apples and toss in the spices and sugar, spread some out in a pie pan, and freeze them. When she was ready to make a pie, all she had to do was whip up a crust – which she could do from scratch in about 17 seconds. She would take a pan with filling out of the freezer, pop it out of the pan, toss the crust in, toss the fruit frisbee back in the pan, top crust it and toss that bad boy in the oven. She also used to make these incredible fried peach pies cooked in lard in a cast iron skillet. I want to learn how to make those peach pies and try some other fillings as well. Wish I had that recipe…oh well. I will see what I can find online when I am ready to tackle that.

Along with those fried pies, after I can learn to make a flaky crust I want to try baking a savory meat one like in the UK and Ireland. I have food in the freezer to eat while I experiment with recipes and I have plenty of time on my hands to expand horizons. The last few days I was able to free up some real estate in the freezer to store some new creations.

It’s nice to not have anything to do now, but I have to say that it is still odd having no place I have to be. The holiday rush came and went, appointments are taken care of and a few things were changed around in the house (a work in progress as needed). It is looking sunny tomorrow so I will be taking advantage of that with the chance of rain looming the few days after that.

That’s a wrap for today.