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 15th, 2020

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

A few nights ago I was watching a movie and I saw some lights through the door glass. I wasn’t expecting anything until Monday and Tuesday but my items were in town. Could it…no, it can’t be…YEAH!!! It was my electric bike! It showed up TWO days early!

I got the box in the house and pulled the bike out. It was folded up and wrapped in all sorts of padding and packing materials to keep the scratches at bay. It took several minutes to get all of the padding off before I could unfurl it. It is pretty easy to figure it out, but it does have a very well-written manual in case you want/need to use it.

The way it is designed it definitely feels different than a regular bike. The frame is low so you feel like you are sitting pretty high up. It is different to ride than a regular bike so it will take a little bit of getting used to riding it. I took it out for a spin yesterday morning and it moves along pretty good. I haven’t even changed the setting in the controller to a Class 3 yet. Even with very little pedal assist it moves along pretty good. It will be fun to ride and get exercise plus riding it to town will save fuel. I looked at helmets yesterday and won’t ride far without one. I want to get a few more lights and reflectors on it; visibility is a good thing. It came with some actually decent saddlebags, headlight, taillight and cargo rack behind the seat so it is pretty well set up. The seat has a suspension post and the upgraded saddle is bigger and more comfortable.

I did more research on my truck’s check engine light and I have one more thing to try out before the appointment on Friday. The lid of the airbox is cracked and I am thinking that might be affecting the airflow and it is causing a computer error. I stopped at the parts store to buy one. I ran what I think the problem is by the counter guy and he thought it could be the issue. I will get the new one tomorrow and get it installed. If that still doesn’t fix it the dealer gets a turn.

A friend gave me a pizza for the holidays. Not just ANY pizza, mind you. A Lou Malnati’s pepperoni pie, imported straight from Chicago. That was a damn good pizza. Along with it was a catalog from Tastes of Chicago. Italian beef, Vienna Beef hot dogs, desserts, baked stuff…hardcore food porn.

I really need a travel fix so I started watching “A Cook’s Tour” again. It was Anthony Bourdain’s first travel series. I remember seeing a few episodes years go and thought it was interesting. He was visiting Vietnam in the first ones I remember, and it was probably the first time I had an interest in going to that part of the world and it was because of him. Growing up in the shadow of the Vietnam War it was never really someplace I had an interest in going to visit. He had the gift of making it all interesting and within reach to every person.

I’ll probably be hitting the travel shows hard again pretty soon. It was about this time in 2017 and 2019 that I was getting things together to go to Europe. I wish I were doing that for real in 2020 but we know how the year has gone for the most part. It’s nice that I now know the best way I need to pack after being there twice. It’s not to say that I won’t make some minor changes, but at least now I have the gear I need, have a good idea about how to travel, and know what to take and leave as far as clothes and toiletries. I think I will be looking at my travel items closer and may thin out a few things (I need to thin out a few things anyhoo). I have some things I really could do without and maybe some other things I really don’t need to keep.

I have definitely been getting much more exercise in even with the short days (glad to see that changing next week!). The dog and I are logging about 3-5 miles a day. Nothing wrong with that! When I first got in the area it was pretty rainy so we did not get out much. Being in the trailer at the time I did not want everything smelling like a wet dog and mud all over inside. We got out as much as we could; he cannot hold it forever! We have had some really nice days lately but we have a few days of some showers coming up. I am looking forward to some more.

That’s about all I have for now.