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Camping, Princess Style


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I'm going to back up just a bit to write about our first night's stopover. We spent it in Iowa at the Lakeside Casino, fka Terrible's, and although I'd love to have seen about visiting @IowaDee this was obviously not the time to do so. Last spring everything was closed down, and the parking lot was empty. This fall the Casino and hotel were back up, I don't know to what capacity. We weren't interested in going in; we just needed a place to stay where we could easily fuel up the next morning.

 

I've written that we had plenty of road food, but we do very much like Subway sandwiches. While my darling refueled the pickup, I went into the Subway for our preferred BLT sandwiches. The door noted that masks were required. I had mine on. The customers had theirs on. Neither of the counter clerks did. I wondered whether to speak up or leave, and opted (wimpishly) not to do either. When I paid, I asked the clerk why they weren't wearing masks. She gave me a song and dance about not being able to wear one due to a nervous condition. I bit my tongue and didn't say something like "I hope you don't plan to be a doctor" or give her a sermon. I just paid, got out, and filed a complaint with Subway on their "how did we do?" survey on the receipt. 

 

I haven't heard anything back from Subway. At our next fueling stop, this time in Kansas, I had to go inside to pay with a credit card. In that building, none of the Subway staff was wearing a mask. Is this standard for the chain? I've decided that next time(s) I go in, if they aren't wearing masks I'll either leave quietly or, more likely, say something and then leave. We have plenty of sandwich fixings anyway.

Edited by Smithy
Added missing 'the' (log)
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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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On 11/12/2020 at 5:24 PM, Smithy said:

You said, "I often wonder whether this topic is too much "same 'ol, same 'ol"?" Perish the thought. Along with others, I really enjoy reading about your travels and food.

 

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My Sweetie and I agreed to not keep these in the house. We couldn't stop munching on them.

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Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

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2 hours ago, Smithy said:

While I'm eating, I'll talk about trailer improvements we made last summer.

Those look like really good improvements.

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Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

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2 hours ago, Smithy said:

... none of the Subway staff was wearing a mask. Is this standard for the chain?

In our area of southern Calif the Subway staff are wearing masks, AND we (happily) witnessed an employee decline to serve a non-mask-wearing would-be customer. Most businesses with larger stores have an employee at the door to enforce the mask requirement, with disposable masks to give to those who don't have masks with them.

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Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

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Our first pair of dinner napkins was filthy (IMO) and ready for the laundry basket. I have come loaded with 2 or 3 sets of paper napkins given to us over the years. If ever there were a time to shift from washables to disposables, this would seem to be it, in order to avoid the laundromat. (Sorry if I've mangled the grammar.)

 

Data:

(a) I did some hand-washing today.

(b) I opened a package of paper napkins today.

 

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Which do you think we prefer for everyday usage?

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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21 hours ago, Smithy said:

Last year we more or less remodeled the Princessmobile rather than purchase a new trailer.

Somehow I managed to skip completely over this post. Wow I do approve of your renovations. Not that you were looking for my approval!

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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1 hour ago, Anna N said:

Somehow I managed to skip completely over this post. Wow I do approve of your renovations. Not that you were looking for my approval!

 

I appreciate it anyway! And Porthos' praise too!

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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We left Llano on Friday and I still have a story or two to tell, but since I wrote about the dining room a couple of posts ago I'll show what it looks like after dark, when we draw the curtain. In some places we do that for privacy; now we're doing it to keep the place warmer.  This way I can also talk about last night's dinner, rather than yet more takeout. I was testing a recipe, and the soup became dinner.

 

The soup base is cilantro, coconut milk, seasonings and chicken broth. The first step is to puree much of those ingredients. My wand blender set has both a food processor attachment and the usual assortment of blending and chopping blades. I tried the food processor attachment first. Note to self: check quantities before doing something like that! I didn't take time to photograph the overflow, but 2-1/2c ingredients in a 2-1/2c vessel was not smart. Dumping it all into a taller pitcher, then blending away, was the better way to go.

 

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The other ingredients are chicken and broccoli. Here's the finished result. Pretty, isn't it?

 

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And delicious. I was a bit nervous about this one because my darling isn't crazy about cilantro, but he liked it a lot too. I think it's a testament to how well balanced the flavors are. 

 

Here's dinner, just before we sat down.

 

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The curtain rod was another of my darling's brainstorms when we first bought this trailer. He put up the rod, I sewed curtain rings and strung the cheap quilted turquoise bedspread, and when my mother passed away I added her quilt as a centerpiece.

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Years ago when we first came to Llano, we discovered Texas 'cue. Now, I know Llano is designated the Deer Capital of Texas whereas Lockhart holds claim to being the Barbecue Capital, but in our couple of visits to Lockhart we have been less than impressed. Besides, the campground isn't as good. So Llano it is for us.

 

Until a couple of years ago it was a close call between Laird's and Cooper's, but now that the Lairds have finally managed to sell and retire Cooper's Old-Time Pit Bar-B-Que is our go-to place. Did I mention that the city park where we camp is only 3 blocks from Cooper's? It's all too easy to get there, and all too easy to spend money and eat too much. No, scratch that...it's delightfully easy!

 

Last spring when the pandemic was new, Cooper's shifted to curbside pickup only. They still offer curbside pickup although the dining room is now open. I opted for curbside pickup. The way it works is that you text the stand you've pulled up to, stay in your vehicle, and someone comes out to take your order. Later they come back with the order and a credit card reader. It worked well last spring, and again this trip.

 

Our first night in Llano was a Sunday, and we expected to be leaving Wednesday. I remembered that they cooked ribeye steaks to perfection and offered them only on certain days. These steaks are to die for: huge, tender, perfectly seasoned, perfectly cooked, juicy, with just the right marbling. (I hope they aren't literally to die for, of course, but one must splurge on the diet once in a while, eh?) I couldn't remember which days they offered the ribeyes, so I called and said we were in town for a few days, did they offer steaks that night? The nice gentleman at the other end conferred with the inventory folks. They had steaks. They normally cook them Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, but since I was from out of town and had called, they'd cook me one! How nice was that? They reminded me to allow 15 minutes; all the other meat and sides would have been cooking for hours, but the steaks are done on the spot.

 

I arrived in our Razr (an enclosed 4-wheeler) and while I was fumbling around with my phone, a young man came out. "I gotcha," he said. It was Clay! The same sweetheart who'd waited on me so many times last spring! (This is last spring's picture, but he looked the same.)

 

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He recognized me too. "Someone told me when you pulled up that there was someone to see me. I thought they were joking!" We exchanged pleasantries and I placed my order: a ribeye, medium-rare, for me; a couple of beef ribs for my darling; some potato salad, beans and barbecue sauce. "No other sides?" he checked. He remembered that we usually hadn't wanted jalapenos, onions, pickles or bread. No flatware. He reminded me of the 15 minutes for the steak, went in to place my order, and came out with the beer I'd requested. I nursed it along and admired the comings and goings of customers. It was slowing down for the day, but business had been good. 

 

Let me tell you something else about that steak: the cooks are very precise. As the time was getting near I heard someone call, "35 seconds on that steak!" 

 

It was perfect. This picture makes the steak look a bit paler pink than it really was. You can see the relative sizes of the two meals; the ribs were about 1/2 pound each counting the bone.

 

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Neither of us finished dinner. The leftovers were glorious.

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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During our stay in Llano we ate takeout from Cooper's...well, not every night but close to it. We also ate green and yellow vegetables, and my darling ate fruit and cereal for breakfast while I enjoyed beans. Still, it was a gluttonous week. We decided this was a time for kicking over the traces and consoling ourselves while the Princessmobile got repaired. We had beef brisket and beef ribs, and leftover ribeye, and maybe even pork ribs that I've forgotten. And potato salad. And pinto beans.  Here's a sampling:

 

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On the last night, I forgot to tell them not to include any of the traditional sides. When I opened the package I found pickled jalapenos, onions, dill pickles and white bread. Lots of white bread. The classic accompaniment.

 

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The other stuff I can use, and my darling made a sandwich with some of that white bread today. However, I know - I just know - that I've been looking at recipes in which plain ol' white bread, with the crust cut off, is used as a thickener for a sauce, or a base for a casserole, or...something. What? What am I trying to remember, that plain white non-sourdough bread goes into?

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Just now, ElsieD said:

A panade?

 

Oh, thank you for scratching that itch! There may be other ideas too, so I'm hoping to hear more - but a panade is definitely one of the things I was trying to remember.

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I just found the topic Best Use of Stale Bread. I knew there was one around here somewhere! It has some good ideas. I keep coming back to the panade idea. Or a strata. I'm not sure how different those two are. I have milk, once-fresh fennel bulb, seasoned meats, onions...and, of course, a great deal more stuff lurking around.

 

Meanwhile, my darling has suggested that we simply have chili tonight, from the freezer, since we're headed out tomorrow and want to be fairly well packed before we go to bed. I have some electrical troubleshooting (yes, really) to do so I've pulled two containers out to thaw. It never hurts to hedge one's bets.

 

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These may look small, despite the hands for scale, but each container holds around 2-1/2 cups. If we weren't afraid of starving ourselves 9_9 we'd pull out one and share it. Ha.

 

I haven't even talked about where we are now. It's quite a shift from Llano. The Amistad Reservoir sits on a branch of the Rio Grande near Del Rio, Texas. There are many campgrounds in the area; we prefer this primitive campground for its inexpensive fees and relative quiet. It gets quieter by the year. When we first started coming 11 years ago, the reservoir level was so high that two boat ramps in the campground were quite busy. During bass fishing contests it was anything but quiet! Still, with only 6 campsites it couldn't get too crowded. The second year we came, the water was so high that it washed out part of the campground. Since then the water level has declined drastically. Although the dam was built as a cooperative venture between Mexico and the USA (the word 'Amistad' is Spanish for 'friendship') there's a complicated dance to manage the water, upstream and down, among competing users. This photo collage doesn't show it well, but just behind the trailer is one of the erstwhile boat ramps. The valley beyond is now filled with thriving greenery. You can see by the top half of the collage just how high it's grown.

 

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To get to the lake, you now have to go an extra mile down the road, which was once US 90 before the dam was built. There's usually a fisherman or two around. The road is a pretty good boat launch.

 

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It's quiet here, and the stargazing is wonderful. Unfortunately we're getting low on water -- my handwashed laundry experiments took their toll -- and there's none at this campground. So we'll move along. I'll tell you later whether the chili or the panade / strata won out for tonight. What I do know is there's enough room in the freezer now to lay an ice cube tray flat and make more ice!

 

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Beautiful scenery. Your amount of food continues to amuse me. I am so so used to empty larder. "Finding" something in the freezer or pantry or fridge - not in my playbook. Hey any adventure in these times ;)  I am SO right brain that I stand in awe of your mechanical abilities!

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10 minutes ago, heidih said:

Your amount of food continues to amuse me. I am so so used to empty larder. "Finding" something in the freezer or pantry or fridge - not in my playbook.

 

I think I started the overbuying after I got a steady income, as a sort of security blanket, because I'd had to deal with that empty larder as a starving flight instructor. It's definitely out of control now! Glad it makes you laugh. :) Thanks for the other comments, too.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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@Smithy, you asked what I planned to do with the persimmons -- they eventually went in a salad with one of the pomegranates. Simple dressing of honey and lime juice. Good over yogurt, good spooned on top of romaine.

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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We're a fur piece, as my grandmother would have said, from the Amistad Reservoir now. About 800 miles.

 

We climbed out of the Rio Grande Valley in a leisurely meandering way, crossing the Pecos River and on into drier and flatter Chihuahan Desert: lots of yuccas, not many trees. Fascinating geology. I love looking at the vegetation, my darling prefers it when there's no greenery to spoil the view.

 

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You know you're in the West when you start seeing box cars or container cars, heavily decorated. Mobile canvasses, we call them. Some of the art work is quite good - at least, it's well beyond my skills!

 

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We drove up through little towns - some doing better than others - until we got to US 90 and the town of Marathon. It used to provide movie sets (right now I can only think of James Dean's Giant) and seems still to be getting along. There were a few pizza joints and diners. The place we stopped for fuel was spotless inside and had a little grill. We'd packed sandwiches and snacks, but I enjoyed seeing the place do so well. No photos of the interior, but here's a small taste of Marathon:

 

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Somewhere along the way we stopped at one of the many picnic areas that Texas provides, to stretch our legs and eat the sandwiches I'd packed.

 

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We turned off US 90 to go through Fort Davis, at the foot of the Davis Mountains, one of my favorite little thriving towns. We skipped my favorite shop (with an awesome deli) but stopped at their quite creditable grocery store for - yes - a few supplies. We were very pleased to see that they took masking seriously.

 

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We continued climbing, into the Davis Mountains, to a picnic area where we knew we could spend the night.

 

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There's a nature preserve nearby with one of the more creative Covid-19 warnings I've seen:

 

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That night, fatigue set in and I took the easy way out for dinner. These sausages that I'd bought in Fort Davis are a known good quantity, and it was much easier to microwave them and add potato salad for dinner than to assemble and bake a panade. Or a strata. I still haven't decided between the two.

 

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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That was just the first day out. Yesterday we went 340 miles - a distance usually reserved for getting the heck away from home and the cold. The wind was at our back and my darling had the bit in his teeth. We blew through El Paso and crossed most of New Mexico (admittedly the panhandle, which is fairly narrow) yesterday.

 

I'd like to claim that this lunch

 

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and this picnic area 

 

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went together, but they didn't. We stopped all too briefly at the picnic area. I ate the snacks in the pickup, and we stopped for our sandwiches later. I note that my sandwich photos all look much the same, so here's an anatomy of my typical sandwiches:

 

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We usually stay at Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus, NM, but all the New Mexico State Parks are closed due to Covid-19. I was pleased to see that the Borderland Cafe is still open for business, at least for curbside pickup.

 

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We continued another 77 miles past Columbus, to a road turning, where we found a much-needed hardware store that had a huge dirt parking lot. Bless them, they let us stay the night. I was too pooped to pop, so the panade (or will it be a strata) remained uncooked. We ate microwaved pea stew. No photo; it isn't photogenic, but it is good. 

 

This morning we had our reward:

 

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Look to this day, for it is life: the very life of life.

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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All that driving, painful (to me) though it was, paid off. We made it to Tucson and the county park we like around noon yesterday. That turned out to be lucky. We have never seen this park so crowded in the fall.

 

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The official camping season, complete with hosts, doesn't even begin until sometime in late December, or possibly January. Is it so crowded this year because everyone's getting the heck out of the house during the pandemic? (I've read that it's happening, and that RV's have been at a premium this year.) Is it because families are doing distance learning so their kids can attend school anywhere? Has the park's new reservations system emboldened autumn visitors? We don't know. We lucked out and got one of the few campsites that (a) can't be reserved and (b) we can fit in. If we'd come later in the afternoon we might not have been so lucky.

 

We set up the "outdoor kitchen" so that my darling could cook superburgers for dinner. (No strata yet...or will it be a panade?) It was perfect outdoor cooking weather.

 

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Our superburgers are made of an equal amount of hot Italian sausage and ground beef, with finely chopped onions mixed in. We mixed, formed and froze several pairs before leaving. One reason we opted for them last night was to make sure my darling could enjoy some of the last slices of the New England Brown Bread we brought from home. 

 

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I think "New England Brown Bread" generally suggests the steamed-in-a-can brown bread. This particular bread is made in Minnesota, and to me it has the perfect texture and flavor. My darling doesn't much care about that, but he loves the size: a perfect fit for our superburgers. (What you see at the right of the collage above is the last lonely heel. I'm about to toast it and enjoy it with hummus.) Greater love hath no woman, that she'd share the last few slices. 

 

Last night's dinner:

 

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The ingredients of this bread are listed as crushed whole wheat, water, enriched unbleached flour (that includes a certain amount of malted barley flour as well as wheat flour), honey, yeast, wheat gluten, sea salt, soybean oil, vinegar, ascorbic adic, and unspecified enzymes. If someone reading this can point me toward a similar recipe for something to try myself, please let me know. 

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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