Acupuncture and RV Cooking

How do these two relate to each other you might ask? Well, I just started getting Acupuncture for a chronic problem I’ve had for YEARS. The good news is it’s helping! With January’s theme of Organizing in mind, and because of what needs acupuncture, my style of cooking has been to prepare dishes ahead of time. This way when issues flare, there’s always real food ready to go. When we get the opportunity to travel, there is something I can always raid from my freezer because previous meals were “banked”. Recent “deposits” have been things like 10-layer lasagna, Homemade Cream of Tomato Soup, Braised Beef Enchiladas, Chicken Enchilada Soup, Cornmeal and Oatmeal Buttermilk Pancakes. What could be better than homemade fast food? Not only is it comfort food, there’s comfort in knowing what is in it.

Regardless of how you feel about meat, fat, dairy, gluten, salt or carbs, I embrace the principle of “everything in moderation”. Pre-portioned meals for later works for me and is perfect for RV travel. In fact, when it comes to cooking in the RS2ndH, I subscribe to the KISS principle. (Although there are variations of this, I’m going with, Keep It Super Simple.) There’s a fine line for me about how much cooking I want to do when I’m on the road, especially when there are opportunities to experience regional foods. I like to do both, and like the Boy Scouts, find it’s good to be prepared!

Recently, I tried a new recipe in my slow cooker. Now, I’ve never made friends with my slow cooker, since most the recipes I’ve tried end up exactly like this one did when I first tasted it. I almost tossed the whole mess, before wondering how I could add some layers of flavor. The adaptation salvaged a very bland dish, by adding some body and…TWANG. (Not Tang, but Twang; a very important distinction.) In fact, after a day or two passed, I wasn’t entirely certain it was as good as I remembered until I tried it the second time. IT IS. (Maybe we can be friends after all.) Lucky Me, there’s a quart in my freezer, just waiting for the next trip.

My secret ingredients involved browning an onion, making a roux, adding some spices, a little fat and…Bacon. (Don’t Freak Out. Remember…Everything in moderation.) I am fortunate to have Penzey’s in the area, so that’s where I get my spices. The first paragraph is the recipe as I found it originally. The rest is all mine. I’m pretty sure you’ll want some of this, so here you are.

LET’S BE FRIENDS SAUSAGE CORN CHOWDER

1 lb. ready to eat smoked sausage, cut in half lengthwise and into 1/2 inch slices (Kielbasa)
3 cups cubed potatoes, diced medium small
2 onions, large and medium dice
1 red bell pepper, large dice
1-15 oz. can cream style corn
1 can Cream of Chicken soup
2 cups and 1/4 cup chicken broth, divided

Parmesan cheese rinds, 6 pieces

3 slices bacon, sliced into 1/4 inch horizontal strips and cooked crisp

2 T. bacon fat
4 T. butter
4 T. flour
2 cups milk
1 t. Fine Herbes
1 t. Mural of Flavor
1 t. salt
2 T. Peppercorn Ranch dressing base
2 large cloves garlic, minced

Place sausage, potatoes, onion, carrots, bell pepper, bay leaf and Parmesan cheese rinds in a slow cooker. Combine soup, corn and 2 cups broth, mixing together. Add to the cooker. Cover and cook on low heat for 3-1/2 hours.

One half hour before serving, brown one medium diced onion in 2 T. bacon fat. on medium heat. Add the salt halfway through, and finish browning. Stir in the garlic and cook for one minute. Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup chicken broth. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a skillet. Whisk in the flour and cook for one minute. Add the milk slowly, stirring with a whisk, until mixture has thickened. Stir in the Peppercorn Ranch Dressing base, Mural of Flavor and Fine Herbes.

Add the thickened milk mixture, caramelized onions and garlic to the slow cooker. Cover and heat all together for 15 minutes, adding the crisp bacon at the end of the cooking time. Ladle into bowls and serve.

Serves 8-10

TIPS: Freeze the bacon before slicing into 1/4 inch strips, 30-40 minutes.

I always save the rinds of Parmesan cheese in the freezer. This soup is the perfect place to use them for a flavor boost.

Let's Be Friends Sausage Corn Chowder

Let’s Be Friends Sausage Corn Chowder

ACUPUNCTURE
If you’re in the south Kansas City area and wondering if acupuncture could help you, the answer is most likely YES. I won’t tell you how many doctors I’ve seen, trying to get some relief. You would need all the fingers on both hands to count them. THIS is who you want to see. You’ll be so glad you did. Highly Recommended by me:

Sandra Wilkes, D.O.M., L.Ac.
Blue Valley Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine, P.A.
6885 W. 151st St., Suite 102
Overland Park, KS 66223
913-897-1100
http://www.BlueVallelyPT.com

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Weather Permitting

It’s RAINING! With thunder, lightning and soaking rain. It’s been so long, I’ve forgotten what it was like. With temperatures in the 70’s yesterday and today, there’s a Winter Weather Advisory that includes a Tornado Watch. In January.

A tentative trip is being planned to Texas, Weather Permitting. With a work conference on the calendar, we thought it might be a good time to take the RS2ndH, and combine business with pleasure. Of course, that was early in the month when all was quiet, and weather had not yet arrived. With spring happening in January though, I’m not so sure. Always mindful of the weather, we’re much closer to it when traveling in our Airstream. When the wind blows, it’s raining, snowing or all three, I’m always looking for the nearest storm shelter. Even though there’s freedom in traveling with your own little home, it can also be nerve rattling at times. Whether this is one of those times, remains to be seen! I’ll sleep on it, with dreams of Migas, Puffy Tacos, and Tex-Mex, swimming around my head. Until that time, I may have to make my own. This recipe for enchiladas is one of the best I’ve ever tasted. I completely understand why it was a $10,000 winner, and highly recommend it.

GRANDMA’S ENCHILADAS
Cook’s Country

3 lbs. boneless beef chuck-eye roast, trimmed and cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes
Salt and pepper
2 T. vegetable or light olive oil
2 onions, minced
3 T. chili powder
2 t. ground cumin
2 t. ground coriander
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1/4 cup red wine
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Pat beef dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 T. oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook half the beef, turning occasionally, until well browned all over; about 8 minutes. Transfer to large bowl. Repeat with remaining oil and beef.

Pour off all but 1 T. fat from the pot. Add onions and 1/2 t. salt, and cook over medium heat until softened; about 8 minutes. Stir in chili powder, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and 1/4 t. pepper; cook until spices darken, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato sauce, wine and bring to a boil.

Add browned beef, along with any accumulated juices, to the pot. Transfer pot to oven and cook, covered, until meat is fork-tender; 2 to 2-1/2 hours. Transfer beef to large bowl. Strain sauce through fine-mesh strainer, discarding solids, and set aside. (There should be about 2 cups sauce.)

Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees. Spread 3/4 cup sauce over the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish; set aside. When beef is cool enough to handle, shred into bite-sized pieces. Add 1 cup cheese and additional 1/4 cup sauce; toss to combine.

Spray or brush tortillas on both sides with cooking spray or oil, and arrange on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until they are warm and pliable, about 1 minute. Arrange warm tortillas on work surface. Place 1/3 cup beef mixture in center of each tortilla. Roll tightly and arrange, seam-side down, in prepared baking dish.

Pour remaining sauce evenly over enchiladas and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover with foil and bake until cheese is melted and enchiladas are heated through, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve.

Storage Fitness

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

This is the time of year people find themselves resolving to lose weight, get fit or (my personal favorite), Get Organized.  After I spent the last year trying to “keep my weight down” by not carrying all my worldly possessions with me, and since the best way to a fit body is to marry one, my focus is on getting organized.  Before we put the RollingSilver2ndHome underground for the winter, our last trip revealed a few places that had turned into hot spots needing attention.  I’ve found the best time to restructure what doesn’t work is when it is fresh, so I spent about an hour getting ready for our next adventure, whenever that may be.

The trick I’ve learned about getting organized is to make it easy to put things away or retrieve them. In some instances I have done this very well, while struggling with others.  For example, I have a distinct group of spices I wouldn’t consider leaving home without.  Those spices have had three different homes in our small Airstream kitchen.  The first location seemed like an obvious choice; a “spice cabinet” that looked the right size, but every time I pulled the door open all my small jars had shifted in transit, and fell out.  My second attempt to corral them was to use a Snapware deviled egg tray (with handle) that I liked initially, because it was dual purpose.  Because of its size however, the best place for it was nowhere near I needed the spices to live, and a hassle to retrieve.  I decided to use prime pantry space for my spices, a slide-out shelf.  Sometimes bending your mind around another option feels like exercise, but once you do and can make it work, it’s a relief.  Like stretching, so you can move more easily!  Do you think I could consider that a version of getting fit?

Another hot spot was the area I call our Supply Closet.  We have two rather large closets in the RS2ndH.  One is used for clothing, and the other for cooking items, paper products, extra towels, cleaning supplies, etc.  Some things were working for me and others weren’t.  By now, I thought I should have a pretty good system worked out and decided to do a simple edit and reorganize, by shifting things around.  Once I began, it only required an hour of my time, with every “category” in its own small bin and instantly visible.  Isn’t it amazing how things can change dramatically simply by moving them around?

Quick view.

Quick view.

Two command hooks helped anchor a skinny wall of clear pockets on the back of the closet door.  Now I can see my small items and find them immediately.

We spent some time updating our mileage log for the RS2ndH before the year’s end, and were surprised to see we had traveled 7500 miles.  (Well, DUH.  Why am I so surprised?  See, Awning Repair and “Sploding” Tires.)  Considering the number, I hope I’m close to figuring things out soon.  Maybe next year with our “Year of Adjustment” behind us, it will turn into something else entirely.  Instead of making resolutions for 2013, I think I’d rather declare my Destination Intentions and go from there.  Being resolute seems like too much work!

Final Ending and Fresh Beginning!

At the beginning of December, we got the call our Airstream dents and dings had been removed and it was time to bring it home. We traveled to Reliable RV in Springfield, excited to see our rolling home again. It was 76 degrees when we went, with weather records broken throughout that weekend; windy and feeling like spring. Even though it didn’t seem like December, the weather felt appropriate somehow…like a new beginning and a great way to end the year. What a relief to see the RollingSilver2ndHome whole again, and looking good! Thanks to John and Phillip, we were all happy to meet and rejoice in a big job well done. Whew!

Great Job! Thank You!

Great Job! Thank You!

After this, it feels like we now have a relationship with a dealership we can trust and happily embrace for the future of our Airstream issues. We were told that while our work was being done, another guy with the same issues (wheels, tires, body damage), came in with his Airstream. After seeing the work being done on ours, he was confident they could do the job, and chose to have his repaired. (Have I mentioned that I am often good for business?) How nice to cross that off our list, feeling like we made good improvements along with new relationships. Wally Byam often said, “Let’s not make changes; let’s make only improvements!” Exactly.

With satisfaction, we are ending the year with our huge learning curve behind us, Refreshed and Revitalized! I’m certain there will be new lessons to be learned, enjoyed and endured. For now, I’m ready to relish the holiday season with this chapter behind us.

Decorations!

Decorations!

If you need body work done, or have other issues, speak to John and
Philip. I highly recommend them!

Reliable RV
438 S. Ingram Mill Rd.
Springfield, MO 65802
866-589-8582

Airstream Anniversary-First Year!

Today is our first year anniversary of Airstream ownership.  I was reading that the first year of marriage is often considered the year of adjustment.  This year was certainly that!  Since we are now in the last Mercury Retrograde of 2012, a time of going over old ground (a/k/a One Step Forward, Two Steps Back), it seems appropriate to think back to what the year brought.

Our trips included:  Freezing windy 4 degree cold (with a “feels like” wind chill of -25 degrees), searing 109 degrees with a “compromised” air conditioner, 45 mph cross-winds, a “collectible” wheel lost, six bolts sheared off, two blown tires, awning flappage, a missing air conditioner shroud, dents to the wheel well, a handle missing to the black water tank, and a dead battery converter.  It sounds awfuleventful, doesn’t it?

It also included:  A new floor, a Goldilocks chair, repairs, replacements and upgrades, new wheels and tires, and an opportunity to meet new and familiar faces in distant places.  Every upgrade replaced an ISSUE I’d been having with rolling, cleaning or being able to see, and life kept getting a little easier each time.  We visited areas we hadn’t been before, a few which we knew well, reconnected with family, made new memories and enjoyed our 2nd home.  The negatives can’t begin to outweigh the positive events with our Airstream, during the journey of this first year.

A few new things were learned, which helped us live more comfortably in our RollingSilver2ndHome, and during all kinds of weather.  We now have fold-up fans, small ceramic heaters, water filters, and a few new tools like a step (s)tool, better towing mirrors, and a tire pressure monitoring system.  We’ve developed some new routines, and are finally figuring out how to make this work for us, as easily as we can.  One year later, it helps to be in a place where all we need to remember and pack now, is clothing and food.  It’s great to have a place where everything lives, know the best time to make ice cubes (Very Important),  what needs to come out when we arrive home, and what needs to go back in.  It’s a different perspective on traveling than I’ve experienced before, but I like it.  I like sleeping in the same bed every night, having my own bathroom wherever I go, and a little kitchen, which makes taking care of ourselves convenient.  The “Lounge” is a favorite place where we can stretch out, or have a little space to get away from each other when suffering “travel fatigue”.  With our “Goldilocks” chair, the table serves as office, dining room or kitchen island.

A few other things we’ve learned are: Fill the gas tank before it’s needed; Put away the awning when you’re not there (because When It’s Windy It Really Blows); Always check interior doors and drawers when you stop; Keep the Airstream “Tour Ready” (because someone will want to see it); and Always, Expect the Unexpected.  We’re rolling with it.

Our dents are being taken care of.  What better time for this than Mercury Retrograde?  It’s old ground after all.  I’m choosing to expect our former problems are behind us.  Because if I’ve learned anything, it’s that whatever comes next will be something new.  For some crazy reason, I’m looking forward to it.

Anniversary Cake.  A combination of an old and new recipe. It’s good, but like this last year, I believe there is room for improvement!

Our dent. (By now, one of several.)

New Wheels and Tires

With plenty of miles for the seed to germinate, we considered all conversations we’d had with people about wheels and tires.  We seemed to have the luxury of time, since it didn’t appear they were needed immediately.  Little did we realize there would be two blowouts before we arrived home, with the last, three miles from our destination.  There was no longer any need to mull the decision over.  By that time, it had been decided to make a change from 15 to 16 inch wheels, as well as better quality truck tires.  See:  Beginning and Ending-Awning Repair and “Sploding” Tires.    We ordered aluminum wheels from Treadit, found Michelin tires to fit, along with installing a tire pressure monitor system.  We don’t want any more surprises!  There was no need to “put a pencil to it”, knowing the cost of this upgrade would save us the costs of (now needed) repairs, which piled on every time there’s been a problem with a wheel or tire.  Also purchased were Centramatic wheel balancers, which seemed ingenious once the video was viewed.

There was a question about who to have install these for us, since they were an on-line purchase, and not a common solution to wheel balancing.  The young mechanics at Sears seemed excited to see these and install them for us, and they were anxiously waiting for us when the Airstream rolled in.  Once the installation was complete, they said, “If you have anything unusual like this again, please come back; we’d love to work on it!”  How nice these days to see customer service providers genuinely happy to add something new to their job description.  Thank You Shelly for helping us schedule this, and Tyler and Dan, for being excited about learning something new.  Your attitude ensured you have our future business.

While in Jackson Center, the other thing we picked up at the Airstream Factory was a new key chain, to replace the old one which had…lost a tire.  It wasn’t clear to either of us exactly when that happened, only that it was around the same time we had to replace the wheel that had sheared off all six of the bolts.  See:  Remodeling the RollingSilver2ndHome.  We both thought once the improvements were installed, the key chain should also reflect the change.  It’s funny isn’t it, that the wheel was lost on the same side of the key chain, which went missing on our Airstream.   The day the tires were installed, Better Half came in and made the change Immediately; switching the keys from the Airstream with one wheel, to the Airstream with two.

The tire on the key chain was missing around the same time as the tire on the Airstream. Coincidence? You decide. I already have an opinion.

Yes. Not only is the key chain well used, it feels like our Airstream has been too.

Because I always appreciate those who like to excel at their job, I highly recommend Shelly, Tyler and Dan at Sears.  If you need tires, they’ll help you out.

Sears

9701 Metcalf Ave.

Overland Park, KS

913-967-8799