Saturday, January 22, 2011

The payoff of research.

I am sure I have mentioned before that both Heidi and I are kind of research nuts.  Lately, she has been learning and trying out recipes for things we used to purchase. Last week she improved her already excellent method of making Teriyaki glaze and last night, we enjoyed another of her successful adaptations, home made "shake & bake" for chicken. It was much nummier than store bought! 

What may not be obvious about this particular area of research is why it is such a cool thing for our mobile lifestyle. Aside from the cost savings and the great benefit of knowing what you are ingesting, there is another aspect that is equally as valuable; Storage space. One of the criteria we consider when purchasing anything to go in our Vanhome is whether the item has more than one use.  The concept is similar in this case as well. The basic goal being the ability to replace a bunch of normally store bought items with a few basic, easily stored ingredients and a bit of knowledge. Trust me, this is a worthwhile pursuit!

I have been focusing much of my research efforts on finding a better alternative to the inefficient, currently non-functional furnace in Taj. Heidi's desire to put a wood stove in a van has prompted me to consider less common alternatives as well. Not a wood stove though, rather a very small, direct vent LP fireplace.  I will do an in depth post on what I settle on and why hopefully soon.

The image above is completely unrelated to this post, but I hate blogging without a picture of something :) That shot is of Lake Crescent, which is about 10 miles from us at the moment. It really is about the most beautiful lake I have seen anywhere. For someone who grew up mostly in MN, that is saying something!  I will leave you with a few more pictures, none of which do it justice.  Read here for some interesting details about this lake.

14 comments:

  1. Mike and Heidi- Those pictures are STUNNING!
    I am also very hungry for chicken all of the sudden.

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  2. Great pictures Mike. I am looking forward to seeing what kind of alternative heating you come up with for Taj.

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  3. The pictures are terrific.... Must be the day for chicken...have some in the oven now.

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  4. I'm learning about cooking with a slow cooker. I Never felt the need to use one in our house because we have always had very good ovens and a small Nesco. The Nesco died an honorable death.

    I like using Panko for most breading. It's better than store-bought bread crumbs.

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  5. According to the installation manual, the Atwood 7916II Furnace in our TT has an Input of 16,000BTU/Hr and an output of 12,120BTU/Hr. 12,120/16,000=.7575 which is an efficiency of 76%. That is typical for modern forced air RV furnaces, just slightly less than the efficiency of most residential gas furnaces.

    http://www.atwoodmobile.com/manuals/furnaces/MPD%2032072%20SP%201.08.pdf

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  6. I also have been on a quest for DIY homemade "better than store bought" GREEN versions of expensive and potentially harmful everyday cleaning items. We've been making our own "shake & bake" for several years too, but I'm more concerned with cleaning products. It definitely makes sense to carry fewer items in an RV that can be selectively combined to clean and freshen anything. I have some of my "green" suggestions on my camping blog at http://casitaescapes.blogspot.com/p/green-camping.html. Keep posting your 'discoveries'.

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  7. Beautiful pictures, and the water is so clear!

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  8. What a gorgeous lake! Oh, my kayak wants to be there now. Is the water really that clear? You are lucky folks! I totally agree about cooking with scratch ingredients and keeping the cupboard simple. Fanciest thing I have right now is prepared mustard.

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  9. Tk and Squashies, Thanks! I wish you both and your Momma could be standing on the shoreline of that lake, it is breathtaking! Did you get to eat some chicken? Heidi is making us Chicken & Dumplings tonight :) One of my favorites!

    NCMountainCampers, Thanks! I am having fun exploring alternatives to the furnace, still not quite settled on it, but getting closer! I am looking forward to detailing the project here!

    Anne, Thank You! I submit too that it is almost always a day for chicken :) I love it! Hope you are both doing well!

    Merikay, We love slow cookers too! Just love the way food comes out in them. We really like using pressure cookers as well which do an excellent job of conserving cooking fuel too. I have had Panko crust as well and like it. Heidi makes her own breadcrumbs and does it very well though which makes use of bread that otherwise might be wasted. She also makes croutons for us which are way better than store bought!

    Lew and Jan, Thanks for that info! Seems the efficiency is very similar to some of the units I have been checking out. Certainly a lot better than the older furnace that was in there! Leaning towards a DV LP fireplace at this point which is similar as well in efficiency and should add some nice "atmosphere" to Taj.

    Glenda, Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Heidi has spent a lot of time in researching and developing similar cleaning methods to you from how it sounds. I know she has read your blog, I will go follow you now too. Sounds like you have a lot of great ideas to share!

    Ken & Cheryl, Thanks! I didn't really do a good job of showing how clear that water really is. It is such a gorgeous color as well! If you ever make it to the OP, it is worth seeing!

    -Mike

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  10. Hey Judith! Yeah, we feel pretty lucky :) That lake wants your Kayak on it! Actually, you know, this area is perfect for you and your kayak. There are so many great places to use it in the area including lakes, rivers and many protected coves along the strait as well as open water. So when are ya heading this way???

    -Mike

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  11. Mike, I think I'm starting to recover some energy, finally. I hope to get to where I'm more able to clear out the house and get moving. Post more photos like these! They are super-motivating. Although in spring, the lakes here are going to be lovely, too. And the beaches. I always feel conflicted about this sort of thing--being mobile and seeing the country, vs. exploring the great community where I am.

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  12. As fellow Minnesotans, that lake speaks to us. It is calling our canoe!!!
    Thanks for sharing. Beautiful.

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  13. Mike, I just put a DV gas fireplace in S&B. The "logs" aren't in any way held fast. They just rest in recesses and on a pair of pins. In a mobile situation I'm afraid they might take a dive. Oh, and the manual warns that once "cured" (fired) they become brittle. I would avoid any unit with these loose parts. I thought about a Cat or Brick (unvented) heater for Marco but Jan and I both have Asthma and for both of us it is triggered by invented gas heaters. So for us it is (as one RoVer put it) "the Propane sucking Jet" when Boondocking. When we have Juice we rely on a permanently installed forced air electric heater.

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