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Marlene

Camping, Princess Style

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Looks great exc the cardboard boxes... how do they keep them sanitary esp w raw poultry in them? 

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33 minutes ago, gfweb said:

Looks great exc the cardboard boxes... how do they keep them sanitary esp w raw poultry in them? 

 

Everything inside those cardboard boxes is wrapped in butcher paper (there may be some plastic instead) and frozen in individual packages.  The multi-content boxes are a bit like the old-style grab bags, though: when they're under other boxes, it's difficult or impossible to pull them out. I had to keep fishing to get what I wanted to look at. Imagine wanting some crayfish tail meat and coming out with a python sirloin instead. 

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This could go as easily into the Freezer Cleanout Challenge topic or a "fear of frying" topic, if we had one, but since I've mentioned Kilt Lifter Ale I'll note that it made its way into a beer batter for some ancient fish.  Those frozen filets of northern pike ("pickerel" to our Canadian friends) have been taking up space in a freezer for far too long.  They came with us.  I mixed up a beer batter with the aforementioned Kilt Lifter, girded my loins and fired up the camp stove.  Frying isn't so messy outside.

 

Dinner: a nicely browned set of filets.

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The money shot:

 

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Flaky, juicy and delicious.  Hey, maybe this isn't so bad after all!

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I think you just made my lunch decision for me. Now to find somewhere up here that serves fish and chips.

 

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Campfire cookery has begun - and bread baking, not over the campfire.  I've cleared another package out of the freezer.

 

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My darling's daughter recommended this particular cut and treatment from her favorite butcher, so we bought a package when we visited last.  She grills it.  I grilled it, more or less: I gave it open campfire flame on the grate until it was seared, then wrapped in foil for ease of maneuvering to a cooler section of the fire.

 

These bacon ends and pieces (double hickory-smoked, very thick cut) also came from home, from *our* favorite meat market.

 

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They found their way into both the green beans and the potatoes with onions.

 

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The potatoes, onions and bacon, seasoned with Lawry's Seasoned Salt and wetted with a bit of oil to improve initial heat conduction, went into two foil pouches. The green beans went into Papa's Pan. The lot went onto the grate over the fire, and we sat or stood by - juggling packages and adjusting the flame to maintain the correct sizzling sounds, and drinking beer.

 

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Eventually it was finished cooking, and into the trailer came the works.

 

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The beans were a bit more cooked than I'd have liked.  We were concerned that the meat also might have been overdone, despite careful poking with a thermometer.

 

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Nope, we were pretty happy with the results. :)

 

The next evening, nothing would do but my darling had to cut up the leftover meat, mix it with the already-cooked potatoes, and crisp them up in a pan over the fire to make hash.

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Earlier in the day, nothing would do but I had to bake bread, for the first time in months.  I need to review my notes on regulating temperature in this oven, however:

 

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That truncated shape you see isn't due to having sliced the bread in half; it's because the bottom was charred into a black Frisbee due to the cast iron that began the baking.  I cut it before taking the pictures. The flavor's good, though. 

 

Dinner didn't make the photo cut.  Hash isn't especially photogenic.  Breakfast this morning, however, is better: toasted herb sourdough bread, with some of those lebnah balls and avocado, and pears on the side.

 

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Life's good!

 

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I'll bet it smelled great cooking and the browning on the green beans looks tasty. I am now on a mission to find my identicl twin colander - it HAS to be in the garage - most likely in a Tetris skilled only accessible storage box....

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On 11/30/2017 at 11:37 AM, Smithy said:

Thanks to FauxPas, we've discovered another expensive and tempting food store: Dickman's Meat and Deli. 

 

There are also several fine carnicerias around town. I plan on checking out a couple that have been recommended recently, will let you know what I discover.  :)

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@Smithy, over on the Cuisinart Steam Convection oven thread, there is a bit of a discussion about baking stones or pizza stones for toaster ovens and when I read the reviews for some of them online, people mentioned using them in their RV ovens. Do you use anything like that on your travels? If not, would it be useful for bread baking (and pizzas, of course)?  :D


Edited by FauxPas (log)

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@heidih, I love the turn of phrase "Tetris-skilled only" to describe accessibility in a storage box!

 

@FauxPas, we do have a cast iron griddle - the kind that's flat on one side and ridged on the other - that I bought after breaking 2 or 3 baking stones in our various trailer ovens.  That's one of the things we managed to forget at home. 9_9  Last year my various attempts at baking bread on it tended to overcook the base when I set the bread directly on it.  That didn't stop me from trying again, this time with a cast iron pan.  I think I get better results when the pan and the bread don't connect and the bread goes on a center rack, farther from the fire. By "better" mean I can get good oven spring without overcooking the bottom of the loaf.  I'm not sure why; maybe someone else has some ideas.

 

The baking stones I've seen are all too big for this oven, but that discussion on the CSO topic has me thinking there might be hope for a small enough stone after all. Would a baking stone, with its porous surface, be less vicious than cast iron?  I suspect it might.

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I had a pleasant surprise for last night's dinner.  Back before we left home, I had cooked too much rice for some dinner dish.  I put the leftover rice (jasmine) into a Food Saver bag and vacuum-packed it.  As I watched the rice being crushed together in that vacuum I wondered whether it would be any good later, but went ahead and froze it. If nothing else, I could use it as a starchy thickener.

 

Yesterday was the moment of truth.  Out from the freezer came these four packages.

 

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(Ignore the lemon juice, that's for today.) I chopped up a red bell pepper and some mushrooms, sweated them until soft, added the sausage, cooked until it was mostly done.  When I opened that package and started pouring the cooked rice in, it fluffed out as though I had just cooked it! 

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The broth tied everything together.  We had had some discussion about whether to chop the sausage or leave it whole, so I did some of both.  We liked each version, but I think the cut bits browned better.  Dinner, before going into the bowls (because those pictures are rubbish):

 

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I'm very pleased to learn this trick for the rice. Too bad I didn't pack the Food Saver.

 

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1 hour ago, Smithy said:

I had a pleasant surprise for last night's dinner.  Back before we left home, I had cooked too much rice for some dinner dish.  I put the leftover rice (jasmine) into a Food Saver bag and vacuum-packed it.  As I watched the rice being crushed together in that vacuum I wondered whether it would be any good later, but went ahead and froze it. If nothing else, I could use it as a starchy thickener.

 

It sounds like it turned out wonderfully! If you had found problems with the rice's texture after vacuum sealing, I see @Lisa Shock has a suggestion: 

 

On 7/24/2017 at 9:31 PM, Lisa Shock said:

Rice freezes really well, don't worry about clumping. I freeze mine in small rectangular containers overnight, then, I pop the brick out and vacuum seal it then freeze for real. The initial freeze helps prevent the vacuum sealer from smashing the rice.

 

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6 hours ago, Smithy said:

I had a pleasant surprise for last night's dinner.  Back before we left home, I had cooked too much rice for some dinner dish.  I put the leftover rice (jasmine) into a Food Saver bag and vacuum-packed it.  As I watched the rice being crushed together in that vacuum I wondered whether it would be any good later, but went ahead and froze it. If nothing else, I could use it as a starchy thickener.

 

Yesterday was the moment of truth.  Out from the freezer came these four packages.

 

20171202_081807.jpg

 

(Ignore the lemon juice, that's for today.) I chopped up a red bell pepper and some mushrooms, sweated them until soft, added the sausage, cooked until it was mostly done.  When I opened that package and started pouring the cooked rice in, it fluffed out as though I had just cooked it! 

20171201_204618.jpg

 

The broth tied everything together.  We had had some discussion about whether to chop the sausage or leave it whole, so I did some of both.  We liked each version, but I think the cut bits browned better.  Dinner, before going into the bowls (because those pictures are rubbish):

 

20171202_115123.jpg

 

I'm very pleased to learn this trick for the rice. Too bad I didn't pack the Food Saver.

 

The first time I tried it, it was with the same “This is probably a really bad idea” thoughts. It’s now my go to way for rice. I cook a bunch and food saver it in 2 cup portions, takes up almost no space in the freezer, and after a few minutes in the microwave hot, fluffy rice! 

I cook, cool to room temp then bag it.


Edited by DesertTinker Added my process. (log)
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Last night we sat out on the deck and watched the Super Moon rise,

 

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then lit the fire.  There was a light breeze: just enough to fan the flames and keep the smoke going in the same direction, not enough to cancel my campfire cooking plans. 

 

I'd picked up this seasoning packet on a whim, last Christmas? - but hadn't opened it. The time had come.

 

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It has a nice spicy heat.  They are vague about the "spices" in it, but it reminds me slightly of curry powder.  There's probably a touch of turmeric, possibly cumin, definitely a hot pepper of some sort.  Our last two chicken thighs had come out of the freezer; I dusted them generously with the berbere seasoning.

 

I've been determined to work out a way of doing that Hasselback Potato gratin to my satisfaction.  I've also wanted to work out a way to do a gratin in Papa's Pan.  I had a lot of the cream/cheese/spice mixture left over from the last attempt.  It went to coat a fresh batch of sliced potatoes (medium slices, this time).  It all got packed into the pan.

 

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I had brussels sprouts and bacon ready to roast in the oven, then decided not to run the oven AND the campfire.  Would it cook properly in a foil packet?  I decided to find out.  Out everything went, to the fire grate...

 

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...where we shifted wood, listened to the night sounds, talked, and waited for things to cook.  Timing was an issue.  I found myself trying to keep the chicken warm while the spud sauce cooked down, but the trio of dishes eventually was ready to serve, and the chicken was not overcooked.

 

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Potato success!  This was the best browning and sauce absorption I've had yet!

 

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(It made a terrible mess of the pan. Papa would have been proud. xD)

 

All told, this was a very satisfying dinner. The sprouts might have benefited from an extra touch of sauce - when I do them stovetop I often add a flourish of vinegar - but they were just soft enough and had picked up some char.  No complaints on the texture.  We very much liked the berbere seasoning on the chicken. I'll be looking into that to see what goes into it.  

 

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It's good that we did this last night, because the wind has been rising all night and is rocking the trailer now.  We'll be cooking inside for the next day or two.

 

 

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@DesertTinker I use brown rice. After cooling I just bag it in 2-cup portions using1 qt Ziploc bags. I schmuch each one flat and freeze. They get used up soon enough to not suffer freezer burn.

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Those spuds look amazing.  I love spuds.

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26 minutes ago, Smithy said:

(It made a terrible mess of the pan. Papa would have been proud. xD)

 

Mess is okay.

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3 hours ago, Porthos said:

 

Mess is okay.

 

Yeah.  Especially when the actual food actually looks like that. 

 

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6 hours ago, Smithy said:

Potato success!  This was the best browning and sauce absorption I've had yet!

 

Wow, those look delicious! You just laid them flat but overlapping, right? Can you summarize the best approach for these? I agree with you that the original recipe was not terrific. 

 

The chicken seasoning sounds very tasty, too! 

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3 hours ago, FauxPas said:

 

Wow, those look delicious! You just laid them flat but overlapping, right? Can you summarize the best approach for these? I agree with you that the original recipe was not terrific. 

 

The chicken seasoning sounds very tasty, too! 

 

I used heavy cream as the original recipe specified.  (I only had half-and-half for the first attempt.)  The cheese involved a mixture of parmesan, cheddar and fontina, and probably used more total cheese than the original recipe specified.  I was more generous with the salt and pepper than on the first attempt, and used plenty of garlic.

 

For the potatoes I used Yukon Gold instead of russets, and they were sliced perhaps more thickly than specified.  My mandoline has 3 settings.  So far I've used the thinnest (for the first attempt) and the thickest (for the second).  This time I hit the Goldilocks standard. Once sliced, I submerged them in the cream/cheese/seasoning mixture and dredged them around until they were ready to be placed in the pan.

 

As for the layout: yes, I overlapped them the way one would for Potatoes Anna or a Gratin Dauphinois. I didn't bother layering them artistically, but grabbed several slices from the pot o' cream/cheese/etc. and made sure there was plenty of that mixture between slices, then laid them down flat but overlapping, like a card spread.  After getting the bottom of the pan covered I scraped the remainder of the cream/cheese/etc. mixture over it.  Then when I was cooking it, I just kept going until everything had been absorbed.  (I think I turned it over once - which contributed to the mess of the pan.) There was probably more dairy mixture than necessary, but I was determined to finish that particular container of leftover ingredients in the refrigerator.  :-)

 

Once I have the proportions set to my satisfaction in this recipe, I think it will be interesting to try russets vs. something firmer like the Yukon Golds.  I normally insist on russets for my gratins, but I'm starting to think that the Yukon Golds and their middle-road siblings might hold together better and absorb the huge amounts of dairy liquid without having the starches explode and give a dry texture.  Does that make sense?

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Sometimes, the simplest things are complicated by living in such a small space. 

 

Well, maybe they're complicated because I am not wired for simplicity.  I want my toys, and I want variety, and I want ready access to it all.  Meanwhile, my darling - who is wired for simplicity although he puts up with me - wants his own ways of doing things.  They are rarely the same as mine, so his simple needs add to the variety of things we buy, store, and use when we can find them.

 

Case in point: pork steaks.  Pork may be my darling's favorite meat.  Pork shoulder steaks are, dollar for pound, his favorite steaks.  To him, they're a far better ratio of flavor (including fat) to money than any beef steak ever invented.  And they're simple.

 

Pork steaks are simple because, in his opinion, there is only One True Way to cook them: bread them in a Shake 'n' BakeTM-style mix of our own devising, put them in a baking pan, bake at 425F for 25 minutes.  No variation.  Simplicity itself.

 

While I agree that the treatment is simple and tastes good, I've occasionally tried other treatments. I get bored doing the same thing to a particular cut of meat every single time, with the possible exception of Prime Rib. He has liked the results well enough, but invariably noted that he prefers his method. The upshot is that (a) I've given up trying to do anything else with pork shoulder steaks and (b) if we're going to eat them, he gets to cook them.  The balance of who cooks has shifted gradually over the years, from roughly 50/50 to my doing the lion's share of cooking and cleanup.  He does the simple (rote) stuff that he most favors, and this is one of those dishes.

 

The complication came when we realized that we didn't have any of our mix in the cabinets.  That was used up before we left home.

 

"OK," he said, "you hand me the spices and I'll mix it up.  Where's a quart jar?"

 

"We don't have one," I replied. "We left the empty quart jars behind because you hate carrying glass around, and we haven't emptied any pickle jars yet."

 

"A quart plastic container?"

 

"All filled with sauerkraut or sourdough starter."

 

We rooted around.  Eventually we found an empty plastic container that hadn't been thrown away yet and only carried peanut dust.  That dust could only help, right?

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He started calling off ingredients.  I kept finding them.  Most of them were in here (*groan*)

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although the bread crumbs were someplace else entirely.  Eventually it was all assembled in the big container - which turns out to be an excellent size for shaking and mixing dry ingredients, by the way.  We shook the steaks with some of the coating in a plastic bag, à la the original Shake 'n' BakeTM, then put them in a shallow enameled pan for baking. The remainder of the mix went into a pint jar - we have some of those, from salsa we brought along - and has a home now.

 

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The final result was delicious.  I'll tell about the beans in another post.

 

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But it wasn't simple.

 

 

 

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Now I want to know what all goes into that mix! 

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51 minutes ago, FauxPas said:

Now I want to know what all goes into that mix! 

 

Unseasoned bread crumbs, corn meal, ground cumin, hot paprika, sweet paprika, Lawry's Seasoned Salt, onion salt if we have it (we didn't), garlic salt instead if I can talk him into it, parsley, oregano.  All herbs are dried. 

 

Those are listed roughly in order of proportion, but don't ask for more specifics.  Our attempts to measure and write down what we do for this have consistently failed due to misplaced notebooks and lost computer files.  I suspect an internal resistance to simplification. O.o

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Thank you for sharing!  It looks and sounds tasty! 

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10 hours ago, Smithy said:

"OK," he said, "you hand me the spices and I'll mix it up.  Where's a quart jar?"

 

"We don't have one," I replied. "We left the empty quart jars behind because you hate carrying glass around, and we haven't emptied any pickle jars yet."

 

10 hours ago, Smithy said:

 

Your DH and I have something in common. I loathe having glass things around with few exceptions.

 

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12 hours ago, Porthos said:

Your DH and I have something in common. I loathe having glass things around with few exceptions.

 

I understand that, and most of our trailer stuff is plastic or metal to minimize potential for breakage.  There are, however, some things for which I prefer glass because of its nonreactive properties or, to be honest, its heft and feel.  Wine glasses, for instance - and he has his beer mug and scotch glass.  He uses a plastic coffee cup but I insist on my china mugs that don't change the flavor of the coffee. We certainly didn't need glass for mixing or storing that spice blend, but household habit took over that evening, and in the end a glass pint jar was all we had for storage.

 

The winds that have fanned the flames of Southern California have been fanning us as well.  It isn't much fun for being outside, so we chose one day to go to town and run errands. With these winds we're upwind of the dusty areas, but the farther south we drove the dustier it got.  

 

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That blur isn't just due to a lousy focus.

 

Fry's Grocery has a monthly deal for people, er, over a certain age, and we took advantage of it along with half the winter population.  All my good work at emptying out the freezer is undone. :$

 

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One of the bulky packages we've been carrying around, that had come out of the freezer for a cook-inside day, was a whole chicken.  I love roast chicken, and I love to roast it myself.  As an experiment I lined the bottom of the roasting pan with a layer of thinly sliced onion, along with a bit of sliced celery and a Meyer lemon wedge, and set the chicken atop it.  (My usual procedure is to use a few sticks of celery as the 'roasting rack' and add a few wedges of onion.) The chicken I coated with more of that berbere spice mix - which turns out to be an Ethiopian blend, by the way - and added another Meyer lemon wedge to its cavity. It all roasted , with occasional turning of the chicken, until the chicken was done. Meanwhile, I did green beans with peppers, mushrooms, and other must-use-it vegetables on the stove top.

 

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The onion layer, which had been an experiment, was a revelation: the onions had melted down and caramelized with no effort on my part, and made a delicious accompaniment to the chicken.  The lemon wedges and berbere spice produced excellent flavoring.

 

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We had some breast meat (not dried out!) and the hind quarters for dinner.  The next day more of the breast meat was sliced up for sandwiches, with the remainder of the caramelized onion adding an extra layer of flavor. 

 

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The carcass has since been stripped and put in what was the few free cubic inches of freezer space, and the rest of the meat has become a chicken salad.  Chicken salad sandwiches are in our future! 

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