Thankful for Freezing Weather???

Never thought I’d say that! But I guess you learn from everything, so thankful I should be!

Here’s a timeline:

  • Wednesday night we hit Reno’s Sports Bar for some food and holiday shenanigans.
  • Got home and forgot to drip the faucet (even though our water hose is heated and insulated, it will freeze if it’s not dripping)
  • 4am Thanksgiving morning – woke up to a frozen water hose… Caught it in time, brought it inside, thawed it out. (It was only frozen at the connection point between two hoses, about a half inch was exposed with no insulation.)
  • Went back to sleep, with the faucet dripping!
  • Made a delicious Thanksgiving feast!
  • Black Friday: woke up to water in the kitchen sink and tub, and a frozen sewer hose!

    Frozen poop tube pieces… 

What I’ve learned:

  • No matter how much fun, or booze, we have: REMEMBER TO DRIP THE FAUCET!
  • When the temperature drops to 2 degrees, or thereabouts, we shouldn’t be camping!
  • Or we should insulate the doggone poop tube as well…
  • One grey tank is for the kitchen sink, and one grey tank is for the bathroom and washing machine.
  • The grey holding tanks have no back-flow preventer, and will back up into both tanks simultaneously if they have nowhere to drain…
  • And finally, roaster ovens are the way to go when Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner in an RV!

Maybe I won’t have to use this cold weather knowledge for quite a while because we might be heading south sometime this week… This whole “getting dark at 4:45pm” is for the birds! Come on summertime!

 

No Shave November… 

My mom got us these shirts! 

Football and food… 

I decorated for Christmas a tiny bit early! 

Our “kitchen table” since our “dining room” is currently housing a Suzuki Katana!

Thanksgiving tradition that I’m keeping alive! Cheers! 

And we will end with little Charlie…

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She was trying to drink my mimosa… 

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Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner in an RV

This will be my first year making Thanksgiving dinner in a camper!  Last year we got a few days to go home to see family. We were in Oklahoma City at Abe’s RV Park, so it wasn’t too far to Cincinnati… The year before Allen was in India working and I was staying at my mom’s house.

I’ve made Easter dinner (I attempted to cook a very large ham in my slow cooker…All I’ll say about that is: At least we had fun!… And I burnt my finger really bad! And, yes, I made those bunny ears and forced Allen to put them on. That’s it. That’s all I’m saying.)Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 5.53.12 PM.png

I’ve also made St. Patrick’s Day dinner, Shepard’s pie to be precise…

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We made fast friends with the neighbors and didn’t eat until REALLY late! This was at Poche Plantation in Convent, Louisiana… 

And I cook dinner almost every day in our RV. So I’m no rookie in the kitchen. But Thanksgiving is always more challenging no matter how much space you have! To top things off, I’m not THE best at time management. For example, I make a lot of Rachael Ray’s recipes, her 30-minute meals, and they typically take me around 90 minutes!!! No lie, ask Allen, usually he’s starving by the time dinner is ready.  I can’t help it, I’m just slow… But perfection takes time. Right??

Anyhow, in a camper, space is limited, as is counter space, and cooking space.

Luckily for me, I have the advantage of a new fifth wheel with far more space than the travel trailer we had prior to this. My stove has 3 burners whereas the average stove in a “normal” home has 4. My oven is small. And this one is slightly larger than the oven in our travel trailer was. My saving grace (I think) will be the convection microwave. I absolutely love the thing! I mostly use the conventional oven for storage now because the convection microwave just cooks so much better. Our fridge is huge compared to the one we had in the travel trailer also, so that helps a ton!

I was willing to cook for all the guys on the crew, provided they had some opinions or ideas on what they wanted and where we could all eat. Three of them are staying in the motel a block away and one is next door in the campground. But they are men, and nobody would speak up and say what they wanted to do. So it’s just me and Allen (and Charlie), which makes everything a little easier for me!

We went shopping today and got everything we needed. (I also got a new coat because my old one stopped zipping and we can’t have a non-zipping coat in “Little Canada”!

I measured my convection microwave from top to bottom and decided I could fit 7″ of turkey in there without shoving and squishing! So I was armed with my tape measure… But then we spotted a roasting oven for $25. Boom. Sold! Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 6.01.42 PM.png

Now (hopefully) I will have a super delicious, juicy, flavorful turkey and have room for other stuff in the convection oven and maybe, just maybe, fingers crossed, I can get by without using the “real oven”, because that thing just stresses me out! Always has.

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Thanksgiving is for food and football… And family… And friends… But definitely not for stress! 

So my TENTATIVE plan is to have a turkey in the roasting oven (unstuffed because I don’t want to risk that… ); a small ham, green bean casserole, and stuffing in the convection oven; then gravy, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce (for me only-Allen’s not a fan) on the stove, with deviled eggs (strictly for me also) and cheesecake in the fridge and freezer, respectively. And let’s not forget the mimosas in the morning…Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 6.23.32 PM.png

Followed by Wild Turkey later in the day!

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Image: Donald M. Jones  

Not that kind of wild turkey…

This kind!Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 6.28.09 PM.png

Yum! It’s kind of a tradition of mine that I started when I was in college in San Francisco with no mom to cook for me and no cooking abilities of my own!

I currently have the 15lb turkey Allen insisted we get in a bucket of cold water in the garage where it stays pretty cold (like, we’ve been keeping our beer back there cold, it has one vent and we are using it as a mudroom cold, Charlie shivers upon entering cold… So I think it’ll be okay until Thursday).

I want to make the green bean casserole tomorrow and toss it in the fridge so it’ll just need warming. I don’t want to do the stuffing ahead of time because I love the smell of the trio of onions, celery and garlic all simmering on Thanksgiving morning, so I’ll wait to do that. Then I’ll just have mashed potatoes and gravy and cranberry sauce  to make (super easy-just cranberries, some water, sugar, lemon juice and salt and pepper makes it delicious!)

I’m pretty excited!  I think my planning (albeit tentative) is going to help things go smoothly… Wish me luck!  On the plus side, Allen’s pretty used to waiting for hours to eat, so it should be fine! Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 6.03.02 PM.png

Camping in 7 degree weather…

Who camps in 7 degree weather?! 

Well, we do. The real question is: Who’s brilliant idea was it to work on a 2000′ tower in late November in North Dakota?? … Hmmm… 

 Allen is working all weekend since they were off almost all week due to crazy winds. We’ve been leaving the bathroom faucet trickling 24/7 so our water doesn’t freeze. He forgot to leave it running when he left this morning for work. I got up 2 hours later and caught it just in time! Crazy! 

We even put a pillow over the spigot to kind of insulate it…  Our ghettoness is showing. 

 I’m just glad we have this camper (2015 Grand Design Momentum), our old one (2009 Forest River Wildwood) would be so much harder to keep thawed out! I thought Oklahoma City was bad last year… That was nothing compared to this!

More snow is on the way for Thanksgiving. Yippee! 

I forgot to take my tape measure to the grocery with me today. I need a maximum 7″ high turkey to fit in our convection oven…. 

I wish we were in the Florida Keys…. !!! 🌴

In need of Hot Toddies!

North Dakota! Oh how I love you and hate your weather! We have a light blanket of white this Thursday morning. Allen’s home, scheduled to replace a guy wire starting tomorrow (good luck honey). No matter how or what we try, our water is frozen!!! Hello giant, huge, all season camper: you didn’t think to help our HEATED, INSULATED water hose out there in the elements! We currently have our faucets open. The water pump works like a charm (and our fresh water is full-thank you Allen!) so we’ve determined it must be outdoors grrrr….. 

 On the plus side, this is a great town and I love the people who live here. (Even if the weather is making us drink more than usual…..) Shout out to Steve-o-reno and Audra for making our time a little more enjoyable! 

PS… I made a Monopoly game yesterday… Call me a dork, but what else is there to do when there’s 60mph winds and snow outside?! 

 

Sunday Funday doesn’t exist in North Dakota

Allen had to work today. And last Sunday. That kinda puts a damper on the so-called weekend! He works on broadcast towers, you can read more about that jazz here… But they are trying to hurry and finish this job so we can get the heck outta here… I don’t really want to be around when they close the highways! They already closed parts of I-80 that we took to get here. Seems like we left San Francisco just in time to get through the mountains with no snow…

So it’s just me and Charles hanging out today watching football. Luckily the Bengals play tomorrow night so Allen will get to see the game regardless!

I forgot to show off our new home decor I picked up while we were in South Dakota

   They are those wall decals that just peel and stick. You can remove them and move them with no damage. I think they are perfect for our camper. I try not to put holes in the wall if I don’t have to, part of the reason I love Command hooks also! “Home Sweet Home” is above the front door and the other is in the bathroom behind the toilet (I didn’t know where else to put it!)

Anyhow, the other night for dinner I made this Spicy Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork and we made tacos with it. Yum! And super simple!Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 12.32.18 PM

Here’s the recipe:

Layer the following in the slow cooker, in this order…

  • 1 large onion, quartered, and separated
  • a pork butt or shoulder roast (mine was about 3lbs), make sure you salt and pepper this guy very generously
  • a can of chipotle peppers in adobo
  • a can of Dr. Pepper at room temp (use two cans if you have a giant roast-one was enough for me)

Stick the lid on. Turn it on low.

About 4 hours in, flip the roast over. Flip it again in an hour or two. If it is falling apart, take it out and shred the meat. If not, give it another hour and check again. Once you get the meat out, try and skim some or most of the fat off the top without getting rid of too much juice. Shred it and put it back in the pot for another hour, making sure all the meat is soaking up all that juicy goodness.

I served this on warm flour tortillas (I just heated them in a dry pan over medium heat for about a minute on each side). I topped it with some homemade pico (my version follows), a few sprigs of cilantro, and some pepper jack cheese. Delicious! And we have plenty left over for dinner tomorrow…. I think you should try this tonight! (P.S. I’ve been loving The Pioneer Woman‘s recipes, that’s where I found this one! She made hers in the oven, but since I have a camper oven, I prefer my handy dandy slow cooker.)

Pico de Gallo

  • 4 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • a good squirt of lime juice
  • a palmful of chopped cilantro

I hope you are all having a better Sunday than my super hard-working, loving boyfriend!

Oh, and by the way, Allen said the Potato Bread I made this week beats out all the others for best yet! And I’ve kind of decided that If I keep it in a ziplock baggie vs. the bread baggies I bought, it stays softer and fresher longer…

Warm Potato Bread on a Cold & Windy Day

Today is a weather day for my love.

 It is NOT a day for working outside, let alone working 2,000 feet in the air! So for the first time since we got here to Hillsboro, North Dakota, he got to sleep in!

Last night we ran to Grand Forks to go to Walmart and stock up on some groceries. We had dinner at Texas Roadhouse (yum). I saved part of my steak for steak & eggs and Allen saved his ribeye bone for our little sweet bored puppy (she’s not a fan of winter, she’s a Floridian at heart like us!)

So I got up this morning and made bacon and steak & eggs. Then got ready to make some bread.

 I found a recipe for Potato Bread that uses real onion and a real potato so I thought I’d try it. I’ve been having an issue lately with my bread not rising enough. My first thought was the altitude but we aren’t very high. Now I’m thinking it’s the temperature. The bread maker’s room temperature and mine must be different! Considering we are trying to maintain a steady 64 degrees I’m not too surprised.

We keep alternating between using the fireplace & space heater, and using the furnace.  We are trying to balance saving propane, while also trying to keep the floor warm, as well as the huge cubby and the water compartment outside. Plus we are paying for electric here, so we don’t want to crazy run the meter up. But, we’ve already went through over $100 in propane in 2 weeks heating this huge camper we are fortunate enough to live in! We have our heated water hose plugged in and the tank heaters on, and the truck is plugged in.

Anyway, I’m warming my ingredients by the hearth! Trying to bring them up to my picky bread maker’s version of room temp, not my budget-conscious version!

 Charlie is happily busy with her new bone (which I will be sneaking away when she finally wants to go outside!) and Allen is napping in bed…

Here is the recipe for the Baked Potato Bread (From redstaryeast.com) and that Pumpernickel Rye Bread (from westbound.com) I made the other day…

Baked Potato Bread

  • 1/2 milk (@ 80 degrees)
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 egg (@ room temp)
  • 2 3/4 cup bread flour
  • 1/3 cup baked potato, mashed (I microwaved mine)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely diced (added at the nut beep)

This makes a 1 1/2 lb loaf. Basic/White cycle. Medium crust color.

Pumpernickel Rye Bread

  • 5 oz water (@ 80 degrees)
  • 1 1/2 tbs molasses (I used syrup because that’s all I had on hand)
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/3 cup rye flour
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp yeast

This makes a 1 lb loaf. White/Basic cycle. Medium crust color.

As always, if you want to browse some other bread machine recipes, you can do that here.  I’m making this to go with this Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup I’m going to try tonight.  I’ll post the recipe once I find out if it’s any good! Stay warm out there! 

**Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup recipe

Are we becoming “NoDaks”???

Lyle, the engineer on the tallest broadcast tower in America told Allen and the guys yesterday that they were going to turn into true NoDaks before we get out of here. Yikes! I think he means that they are going to somehow adapt to the crazy cold and windy weather that all the locals keep describing as “nice”.  That’s not the term I would use!! 480px-KVLY-TV_Mast_Tower_Wide

Yesterday I met the maintenance man for Hillsboro Campground and Motel. He moved his camper down to the insulated water spicket section. Everyone is kind of huddling together now the temps are dropping below freezing. I didn’t catch this gentleman’s name so I’ll just refer to him as Lyle #2 for now. Lyle #2 works on the beet farm then does maintenance type things for the motel and campground. He’s done this for 5 years. He’s 71. He got his first motorcycle in 2010 (a Harley that he quickly swapped for a Honda that wants to be a crotch rocket that he now loves, even has the jacket to prove it.) He had a travel trailer for thirty years until recently he traded that for a 27′ fifth wheel. He misses the travel trailer.

Lyle #2 said that he put all the “new” spots in back in September and did them all in less than 2 weeks because they had 71 campers here for the beet farm!  I can’t imagine that many campers in this park! But I could see it being nice in the summer. 
But the rush to get the spots built explains the super soft gravel and mud.  (And also the catty-wompus way the electric and water hookups are in the middle of the yards)  Lyle #2 said these 71 units were mostly class A’s with retired folks, this group is called a “Camp Force”, and they left here October 15 to head to Amazon to work for Christmas. Then they go out to California to work another farm, come back this way for potatoes then the beets again. But Lyle #2 isn’t sure if they will all be back next year because the beet farm didn’t pay the premium price and some of them didn’t even make their expenses.

I found my conversation with Lyle #2 to be very interesting. I’d never heard of a “Camp Force” before. I’ve heard of full time RVers going to work for Amazon but not necessarily traveling as a group and going from farm to farm for the different harvests. Anyhow, Lyle #2 was on his way to shut the water off in the “old” section of the park so I headed back inside with Charlie to thaw out our hands and paws! We have not become No-Daks quite yet!

 I AM really starting to like this town. I had a feeling I would before we got here. Wednesday, Allen got off early because of nasty weather, so we went over to Granny’s (the local watering hole) to see if we could find somewhere to watch the Thursday Night Football game. We wanted to avoid driving all the way to Grand Forks (35miles) in snowy weather if at all possible. Jackie is the bartender at Granny’s most of the time and she was very friendly. They have free popcorn too! But their TV’s are kind of small so we wanted to check out Reno’s also (the local sports bar). Jackie described it as a little more modern.

Reno’s was a lot newer yet not as cozy. But still, Reno was very friendly and said he would definitely have the game on for us. They also have a full menu (mostly fried appetizers and burgers) and we need to eat when we drink!

 So we headed back to Reno’s Thursday night and watched the Bengals go 8-0 for the first time in history!

 A local guy bought us some shots. Jackie showed up to chat a bit. I made a plan to take Charlie to Granny’s for the 8am Happy Hour Saturday morning (didn’t happen!) (and yes, 8-9am is Happy Hour for all the guys that work at the beet plant) and I also got the OKAY to have mail sent to Reno’s. (The campground is kind of weird for mail and they just have a box on the street that nobody checks regularly). So it turned out to be a great night. Allen was sufficiently late to work Friday while re-evaluating his life choices and Charlie woke up with her Bengals shirt half on/half off… Just goes to show our first major outing in town was a fun one!

We also stopped by Olsen Hardware, NAPA, and the lumber store looking for one of those boot brush cleaner thingies that you put outside… No luck… Our garage is seriously a mud room now! I got to run into Uniquely Yours Craft Boutique while Allen picked up an adapter for our air pump. We couldn’t reach the dually tire valves without it. I found some wooded salt and pepper shakers that I think are super cute! I was looking for metal ones, but no luck there.

 Allen is working today (Sunday) as well as yesterday since they had that weather day. But the next day off we are going to go into Grand Forks to Walmart and stock up on some food. Dale’s Food Pride (local grocery) is almost as expensive as San Francisco and I’m over that! But I guess they can charge whatever they want since they are the only place around.

Yesterday I made my first loaf of Pumpernickel Rye Bread and I think it came out really good. I do want to get some caraway though to add and I think that would boost the flavor a bit more.  I’ll wait to get Allen’s opinion before I post the recipe. But if I do it will be here, along with the Hillbilly Chili and Chili Bread I’m making today! Perfect for a chilly football Sunday… Cheers!

***Pumpernickel Rye Bread recipe

Mount Rushmore and Adam’s Birthday

We got lucky enough to have time to stop at Mount Rushmore on the way from San Francisco to North Dakota.   
 It seems like so far, every time we see a national landmark it’s in inclement weather! When we saw the Grand Canyon it was snowing all blizzard-like, and it was chilly drizzly for Mount Rushmore. But it was still very neat. I’m pretty sure we were the first visitors that morning, we woke up early so we could have time to see it and then get on the road. I sprinkled some of my brother’s ashes there.   

It smelled SO good here to me after all those months in the city!

 

Today would’ve been his 32nd birthday. 

I also spread some ashes at the Salt Flats in Utah.  
 And in wide open Wyoming.  
I think he would like that. Happy Birthday Adam. I miss you so much. 

On more recent things, Charlie and I have been taking walks through Hillsboro. I’m so proud of her for being well-behaved in public! Usually we just take walks in the campground and she occasionally goes to the pet store to get her nails done, but we rarely walk through actual neighborhoods with sidewalks and what not. I felt like a mom taking her baby to a restaurant for the first time. I was so scared she was going to act like a wild banshee! But she acted like a lady and had some manners so I’m very proud! 

Little Charlie all tuckered out

 
Last night’s dinner was DIY shake n bake chicken with roasted carrots and potatoes. Yum!

Here’s the shake n bake concoction I used:

  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs, 
  • 1/2 cup panko, 
  • 1/2 tbs salt, 
  • 1/2 tbs onion powder, 
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika, 
  • 1 tsp sugar, 
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, 
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne, 
  • 1/4 tsp basil, 
  • 1/4 tsp oregano, 
  • 1/4 tsp parsley, 
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil. 

Just shake. Then bake! This makes enough to coat more than 4 chicken breasts cut into  smaller pieces. (I did 375 in my convection oven for about 35 minutes for two breasts and they came out juicy and delicious!)

North Dakota… 

Oh my goodness, it’s COLD here!  

 If it were summer time I think this place would be a lot more enjoyable. As it is, there’s not much to do in town. We are staying at the Hillsboro Campground in Hillsboro, North Dakota. Hillsboro is 1 square mile, right off I-29 and almost exactly halfway between Fargo and Grand Forks. There’s a grocery store, a hardware store, and a sports bar.  

 There’s also a city park where they have a pen full of mule deer. We went to see them yesterday and feed them carrots. I dressed Charlie in her reindeer outfit thinking she would blend in. But she did not care for the deer and the deer did not like her. The park is pretty. The Goose River goes through it. There’s a swimming pool also.  

   
Joyce runs the campground. She also runs the motel. And the senior assisted living center. And the Chicken Shack (at the campground, which is closed now, I’m guessing for the winter). And she runs the Hillsboro Laundry, which is also at the campground. She is one busy lady. There is wifi but it only shows up on the computer, not on our phones.  

 Joyce will be shutting the water off to most of the park for the winter, leaving only about 8 spaces with water, ours being one of those. We had to go buy the noodle insulation and the heat cord (for water pipes) to make a longer heated water hose so it doesn’t freeze. We had a 20′ one but it wasn’t long enough. The water spicket and electric is pretty far away. They are either right behind the sites or off the side. The spaces are long enough but soft-ish gravel. I wouldn’t want to park a heavy class A here for sure.  

 Charlie is just shivering non stop, poor pup. We have compromised to keeping the heat at 64 degrees. We have to pay electric for everything over 525kwh so we turn our electric space heater and the fireplace off at night and when we leave. We are also going through some propane. Luckily there’s somewhere in town to refill our tanks. (All 5 of them). Most of the time we are keeping the garage door closed. We left the bike in there and Allen’s toolbox. So it’s definitely being used as a mudroom now!  

 I even went and bought some “utility” boots for this hard winter we are about to face! Although Walmart didn’t have hardly any winter stuff out and I’ve seen a lady in flip flops and a girl in a summer dress with just a little cardigan over it. Meanwhile, we are wearing thermals and hats and gloves!  

 We are heading into Grand Forks today to watch the Bengals play. It’s the closest place I think we will find NFL Sunday Ticket. (I definitely want to have a tailgater by next football season-it would save us a ton of money just not having to go to the bar and watch!) And since we are about 40 minutes from anything we are being very responsible and designating a sober driver. I got the unlucky straw this week so Allen will get to act like a drunk toddler by himself! 

We were also responsible enough to get our flu shots the other day when we went into town to go to Walmart. #adulting ! I never thought I could miss Walmart so much! But they still didn’t have our Scott RV toilet paper so I’m stuck with Campa-Chem. At least it’s 2-ply! *sigh*

Cheers to football Sunday! Who Dey!