Saturday, January 31, 2015

Storage: dog food, bread, potatoes

Living in an RV, storage is always the issue.  Aside from the sorting out what you don't need part, you have to keep what you do need organized, air tight and out of the way.  Here are a few of the things we have done.  

We have dogs, they need food.  We have to keep it stored outside and don't want to attract other animals to it.  We also want to keep it fresh.  We always used a tote in the house but that wasnt mobile enough for us now.  I grabbed an empty pail we had and realized a very awesome thing...  One 18# bag fills one 5 gal pail PERFECT!!  So now we can set the bucket outside and nothing gets in to it.  We have a gamma screw lid so it is very air tight.  Never had rain leak in.
Since we have a big dog and a small dog, we go thru one big bag every few weeks. It doesnt have time to get stale.  They are usually more that happy to eat what ever doesnt fit in the bucket too lol. If I do have extra in the bag I store it in my truck for a day or two, it usually fits by than.

Keeping bread safe is always a problem lol.  It gets smached, dogs get into ot, it gets stale.....  So I started looking for something to hold it safe.  I was SO excited to find a 'bread buddy'. The only place I have seen them is at Dollar General, they cost $3.50 and are worth it!!  After realizing they worked so well, I bought a second one.  

I was storing potatoes and apples in a bag on the table bench.  After it getting kicked around, rolling out, trying a few other bags, etc I finally came up with a solution.  One of my Thirty One bags, lined with a cut box to make one side stiff and the bread buddy's on the other side. PERFECT!!  It keeps everything contained, slides easily under the table and it looks nice too!

2 loaves of bread and 10#'s of potatoes safe and sound under the table

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

White Chili

Why didn't I try this sooner?? Oh yea.... because the chili part threw me off, I thought that meant it had tomatoes.   I can't have tomatoes so I never looked into the recipes... 

YUM!!!!!  I wish I had

I started with dry beans.  I boiled some kidneys on the stove ( and drained) for about 90 minute than added them to the crock pot with pintos for the day.  Set on High, they were done by the time we got ready to make dinner.  I just added water in with them

I added the cooked beans to my stock pan with:

1 lb cooked turkey burger
1 chopped onion
Chopped celery and garlic
Chicken broth
Cut up carrots

I simmered it all together until the veggies were done, added some cream cheese and cheddar.. I put some aside and added spicy sausage for my spicy folks here.  

Delicious!!!   We served it with some corn chips. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Home Sweet Home

I thought I would share some photos of our abode!!  We bought an old travel trailer for our adventure with plans to upgrade into something bigger in the next few months.  We were able tkget it a few months before actually moving so we had time to fix it up and make it feel like home.

The girls stay in the bunks inside and the boys have the tent.

The first campground we stopped at, small lots, no trees, great people, a beautiful lake view and we seen our first alligator there!

Our second and current location, beautiful woods, walking paths, nature and empty.  We are usually the only ones in the campground besides the owners.
The boys room with a view

I have a pretty handy hubby, who made changes to help add storage, fix and strengthen what was necessary and still make it feel like home.  The curtains were a treasure my sister found at goodwill, a shower curtain and valance set that I made to fit our windows.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Canning in an RV

One of the things I miss the most is my kitchen in our old house...  I miss my garden and canning.  While I couldn't convince my hubby that canning in an RV was a perfectly good idea, I did manage to bring along some of my supplies...  And haven't used them yet!

Than he brought home some Kumquats and instead of letting them go bad, he suggested I make marmalade..  

It's not as easy but its not impossible!!

I found a recipe online.  It is a basic marmalade recipe with kumquats, oranges and lemons.

I used jars we emptied and saved since moving.  All we had to buy were some lids and rings... And sugar.  And I still didn't dig out my canning supplies.  It was dark out and they are in a tote in the back of the storage trailer.  We managed.
I can't say its a favorite since we are not huge fans of marmalade but it won't go to waste..  It turned out thinner than I expected as well, but that could have to do with our small stove burner. I actually used my thermometer on this one since it was having a hard time boiling.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Stuffed Mushrooms

Everything is better homemade right??  Well that depends lol, but we always have to try!!

We love stuffed mushrooms so I attempted to make some home made, so they could be GF as well.  After looking up some suggestions (aka recipes) and asking a friend who makes them, here is what we did!!  I made to much filling and ended up stuffing more mushrooms.. I halved what we did in this post so it would come out to the correct amount for one package of mushrooms.

One 8-14 oz pkg of large mushrooms (I used whole Bellas but they make some called 'stuffing mushrooms')

Green pepper
2 oz cream cheese
Shredded cheddar
1/2c cooked rice
4 oz of seafood meat (I combined imitation lobster and crab)

Wash and remove the stems from the mushrooms.  Chop 1/4 of an onion, 1/4 gr pepper, 1/2 stalk of celery, some cloves of garlic and the mushroom stems.  Combine them together and chop/mix to small pieces (I use my PC food processor)

Cook the mixture in your grease of choice (I use bacon grease).
Add the cooked rice and mix well.  (If the rice is leftover than add it to the pan and warm it together.)

Add the 2 oz of cream cheese, cut into chunks.  The heat from the mixture will melt the cheese as you stir it together.

Chop up the meat into small chunks.  Add to mixture.  I did 3 parts rice mix to 1 part meat but you can add more or less for your taste.

Arrange the mushroom tops in a pan.  I used my small cast iron pan and it was a good fit for one pkg of mushrooms.  

The mixture will clump into a ball, fill each mushroom with a nice clump.

Top with some shredded cheese.  Keep the mushrooms together in the middle and it helps keep cheese from falling to the bottom of the pan.

Pour about 1/4 c of melted butter/marg or even broth on the tops and into the bottom of the pan.
Bake at 350 for aprox 30 min.  All the meat and rice is cooked already so you really only need to melt the cheeses.  You don't want to cook it to long and make the mushrooms mushy.

These are best hot from the oven but that doesn't mean they aren't good leftover (if they last that long). They are not good for very long, after a few days in the fridge we did throw them out.

I am going to try another idea someone suggested.... Bacon :-)

The recipes I found all had bread in them.  I want to try some with GF cereal or crumbs to see if they are better!!  These are good and the rice definitely makes them very filling.

~ enjoy~

Monday, January 5, 2015

Turkey Meatballs and Mushroom gravy

Turkey Meatballs and Mushroom gravy

In our quest to be healthier without raising our food bill we have cut out most of the red meats in our diet.  I rarely buy beef and when I do its for burgers or to mix with Turkey burger.  Here is one way we use Turkey instead of beef and it still taste delicious!!

I made a quick and easy meatball mix, which is also Gluten free!

2#'s of ground meat (turkey, sausage, beef, venison... Mix up what you have, use spicy sausage if you like it hot.  We like part turkey, part sausage)

1 onion chopped
garlic (fresh, dried or powder works)
Salt and pepper
Chopped celery

Mix together.  Note: season it to your taste preference.  We like a lot of garlic but not much pepper... Sausage adds alot of flavor so if you like spicy, use some spicy ground sausage in it.  

Get the pan hot with some grease in it.  I prefer to use bacon grease but oil, butter or even lard works.  Once its melted put the meatballs in by scoopfulls.  I use an ice cream scoop so they are uniform and less mess.  
Let them brown a bit and roll around so all the sides get browned.  I added some bacon to the pan since it was getting dry. 
Once the pan is full and all the sides were browned, put a cover on and put the pan in a 350 oven to bake.  Bake until they are cooked through, about an hour?  They were ready by the time I was done with the rest.

Get some potatoes boiling and your gravy of choice.  I made a mushroom gravy to go on top (chicken stock, fresh mushrooms, onion, garlic, celery and Italian seasoning.. Thickened with GF flour).  We served it all in a bowl, I may have licked the bowl clean.

2#'s of ground meat filled my family of 6 and even left a few for me to eat the next day. 

If your gravy is thin, make your potaoes thicker and vice versa!

Of course you can also serve this with your vegetable of choice.

~~ other things we tried ~~

I made this last night with 1 roll of Italian seasoned turkey burger and 1 roll of plain turkey.  I only added some garlic powder to the mix and it was also very good!  You can use what ever meats you have on hand and keep it interesting.  

We served it in a bowl on top of noodles and a thin broth gravy.  I had a rice and quinoa mix instead of noodles.  Yum!!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Whats in my kitchen...

Small RV kitchen means few pans and little space for leftovers...  so I have been working through my recipes to make them work for our family of 6, with my selection of pans and small oven.  I thought a post of what I now consider my essentials would be fun!  

My cast iron pans are my favorites!!  I haven't used others for a very long time ( like years).  We use 3 on a regular basis.

My 10" fits enough meat to feed us all, fits in the oven for baking corn bread and crisp as well.  I even use it for making scalloped potatoes.  It is by far my most used pan. We havent cooked much on the fire with it this time around, but thats a great use as well.  (I actually have 3 with me, the others are stored in a tote and pulled out when needed, like at Thanksgiving).  
~The 7" is our scrambled egg pan. It is the least used of the 3 but used often enough to leave out.
~My flat cast iron has been my egg pan for a while.  It is great for grilled sandwiches too.  It is used almost as often as my large one.  These sit on my stove top with my sauce pans when not in use.

I own 3 sauce pans, well I think technically only 2 are 'sauce' pans and 1 is a stock pot.  The stock pot has made many, many batches of jam, holds enough stew to feed us and is wearing out lol.  It is starting to peel inside, I am considering stainless next.  The sauce pans are the last pieces of a set we bought a long time ago (the dings on the sides prove it lol)... I gave the fry pans from it away and wore the original stock pot from it out a few years ago.  I like to hang on to what works. I don't need fancy, just efficient, healthy and good quality!

I love my stones!!! LOVE my stones!!  I was soo bummed when I realized most of the ones I loved didnt fit in our oven... But I do have a few and they get their use.  I believe in investing in good quality so all my stones are Pampered Chef brand.  This rectangle has seen many scones, bisquits, cookies, burritos, pizzas and more in its time!  I store it in the oven so it doesnt get broke. The small bar pan is my back up for bisquits and also for bacon MMMmmmmm

This one was a pan that only came along because my glass one didnt fit in the oven, I'm not even sure where it came from lol.  But it is my cake pan, crisp, corn bread etc!  Its pretty popular.  Nothing special.. I refuse to ever use a non stick cake pan again, the last one I got peeled and left it in my food.  I used strictly glass, cast iron or stones in our home with a large oven.  This one is perfect for our RV.  

I have a few other pans as well but they stay put away under the table seat unless I need them... Which isnt that often.  

My other items are electrical appliances but I still concider them essentials.

First of course is my crock pot, I even have a favorite cookbook to go with it.  I love making my beans in the crock!  When its hot out, it can sit outside.. When cold, it can help warm up the RV ;-)

I LOVE waffles!! And so do my kids lol.  So I have my waffle iron handy.  We use it for waffles but also for bisquits and all sorts of other fun things to eat.

When we are not having waffles, pancakes are a favorite.  This is our electric pan for making them.  Its the only way I make pancakes.  Its made many many breakfast and we had to bring it along.

My coffee pot is a given!!!!  We did have to give up our beloved Bunn and this one is perfect!  It even fits in the cabinet if we need counter space.  Hubby uses the timer for his morning coffee too.  And yea, I think the vintage look fits right in!

Considering the size kitchen we had before, I think we have done pretty well in the downsize department.  It's a lot about perspective!!

What is your most used kitchen cooking item?

Time to compare?

Yup we are still here!  We moved to a new camp ground with alot of trees, nature, fresh air and quiet.. but with it comes tempermental signal.  We love it!!!

For the New Year we are starting our 5th month of being a full time RVer in Texas!! I think its time for a few comparisons.  (Between MI and TX)

1.  I miss coffee shops, the ones where you can splurge and get something you don't make at home.  No I don't consider McD's in that category ( but the closest one is still 30 mins away).  So far the only decent one I have found is inside the HEB over an hour away.

2.  Instead of coffee shops, they have donut shops, literally everywhere.  This would be awesome if they sold Gluten Free treats but they don't :-(. The kids however love having The Donut Palace and The Texas Donut Ranch so close.

3.  I know video stores are closing down everywhere but they don't have them anywhere down here.  Redbox is it and they are not that great!!  (They really are a waste of time)

4.  When it rains it POURS.. literally!!  What we call a light sprinkle in the north doesnt exist.  If it isn't pouring its drippy, I can't explain it, but its just not the same.  It soaks everything, it floods every where... But when its not raining it more than makes up for it.  The 'winter' feels more like Fall.  Colder at night, flirting with ice but rarely gets there, and warms up in the day.  The leaves are off most of the trees but not all of them.  Fall is my favorite season, it always has been.

5.  Living in a travel trailer is not an odd thing to do.  And when you want some land, you move your trailer to it.  Driving around you see many places with barns, chickens, gardens and the home is a travel trailer. 

6.  Yes Ma'am No Ma'am...  Thats how its said here.  Its still sounds odd to me.  It feels weird to say, not because I don't respect people but we grew up saying Mr or Mrs not Ma'am and Sir.  We aren't trying to fit in but rather to be true to ourselves... So the verdict is still out on that one.  Our children are learning a new way to reply as well.  Its been an interesting part of our journey.  When in Rome.....

7.  There are no Spartan stores in every town, instead there is a Brookshire Brothers..  Same idea though.  I do miss Meijer, McCords and Horrocks!  HEB is a pretty good combination of the 3 stores but they are not in small towns, so we are about an hour from the closest one. 

8.  There are churches everywhere, lined up on the main roads in towns.  And on Sunday mornings, the parking lots are all full!  Religion is taken very seriously and so are our freedoms.  I am not the only one walking around in skirts and no make up, I can't say I have ever lived where I didnt stand out for those reasons.  No one has asked me where we go to church (that was a very common question).  I'm not complaining, I'm just going to keep on being me!

9.  Oh and the ice stations, how can I forget.  Ice cream places stay open year round and there are ice stations every where.  We stopped at one once because we were curious.  Its all electronic, you pay and tell it what size bag or cooler full you want, it measures it out and either sends it out the shoot in a bag or loose to go into a cooler.  It even serenades you while you wait... Can you possibly guess the song???  My kids got such a kick out of it they are begging to get ice just for fun lol

Living in a small space is definitely not for everyone,  but for us, we have no complaints.  We are taking our adventures as they come.  How else will our kids get to see and really learn about Armadillos, alligators AND blizzards!!  Reading and seeing in a zoo is great but experiencing in person is even better!!