Catching up: Moving into Arizona

We are now at Route 66 Golden Shores RV Park at Topock, AZ. It is a quiet, older park and has the nicest people! We had Thanksgiving dinner with the other residents, a potluck with lots of food. My contributions were smashed red potatoes, made in the Instant Pot, and my new favorite dessert – Upside Down Apple Bread Pudding. I found it at https://recipeforperfection.com/upside-down-apple-bread-pudding/. Take a look:

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Isn’t it gorgeous? For the potatoes I cut up 5 pounds of red potatoes into 1-2 inch pieces, added 1 c. water, then pressure cooked for 8 minutes. I drained the potatoes, smashed them some, added sour cream, butter, some milk, garlic flakes, and salt. It was so easy!

Other than Thanksgiving, we visited Oatman on Route 66 to see the donkeys.

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The donkeys are definitely part of the experience. They stay in the middle of the road and beg. A number of the businesses sell donkey food so they are spoiled rotten. I particularly like the picture of the baby nursing.

My birthday was on Monday, but I gave Kevin my nasty cold so we just stayed home. On Tuesday we decided we felt well enough to get dinner so we went to Lake Havasu to do some sightseeing, eat, and get groceries. The lake has a bunch of miniature light houses, so I took a picture next to the miniature Split Rock lighthouse. The original is  along Lake Michigan.

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I apologize for my wind blown hair!

We also went to the marina to look at the boats. While there we found a huge flock of quail, probably 75 or more. They were obviously after some bugs that were hanging around the parking lot. A few pigeons were in the mix too.

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The first picture is pretty bad because we didn’t want to disturb the birds. The second is much better at showing the quail plus a friendly rabbit.

We went to dinner at Cha’Bones, and it was wonderful. I had prime rib, a baked potato, and mixed roasted vegetables. Kevin had a T-bone with the same sides. It was some of the best food we have had in quite a while. The service was good, and the bottle of Malbec we shared made it even better.

Today we went to the Mohave National Preserve which was ok though not as nice as Death Valley. Here are some scenes.

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Kelso Dunes. I can’t walk far on sand (bad Achilles’ tendon), but they are big quite tall – 600 feet.

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This is the old depot/Harvey House at the railroad town of Kelso. It was renovated by the Park Service, and is now the Visitor Center and Park Headquarters. Seriously cool.B0A1056D-B512-47AF-8B4F-9D80D3FF75DC

It turns out there are a lot of Joshua Trees in the Mohave Preserve. These are shorter but have more arms than others, and they are actually a separate subspecies from the ones in Joshua Tree National Park.

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The last two are of the Hole in the Wall area. We got to it from the north on a bone rattling dirt road, but the road from the south is paved. Lesson learned.

i am officially caught up.

Instant Pot cooking at home and new pots for the trailer

It has been a while since I posted much about cooking. We just didn’t do any interesting cooking on the last trip, either due to rain or heat or fire warnings. I decided I needed to pull out the Instant Pot and make some food for the next trip. Tonight I made pork chops with mushroom gravy, and they were yummy. I sautéed 8 ounces of mushrooms and a tsp or so of chopped garlic in some olive oil. I then browned 6 boneless pork chops, the only ones Kevin found at the store. I added some paprika, rosemary, parsley, salt, and 1 tsp of Better aThan Boullion to 1 cup of water and added everything to the IP. I let it cook at high pressure for 15 minutes, then let it naturally release the pressure. I removed the chops and added a slurry of cornstarch and water to thicken the mushroom sauce while on sauté. I made the mashed potatoes using just the instant Ore-Ida brand that are pretty good. We at two of the pork chops, and I put the remainders (plus the gravy) in two containers and froze them. Later I will let Kevin package them with the vacuum packer. All I have to do later is heat them up and put over pasta or rice. We also bought a couple of Costco rotisserie chicken to package into 1/2 pound quantities.

I also got my new cookware for the trailer today. I had tried to use an inexpensive set, but they bent getting bumped around in the trailer! We researched a number of alternatives, and we ended up buying a set from Magma. They nest together, have a non-stick interior, and they are HEAVY! They are actually much heavier than the ones I use at home. I am looking forward to trying them in the trailer.

Home for the bad weather

It has been so hot at home! When I first looked at moving to the SLC area, I checked the historic temperature ranges. On average it used to get over 100 degrees four times a year. Last month we had over 10 days! It was the hottest July on record. Even worse it doesn’t get down below 70 degrees at night, and that is by 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning. We have some medical and service appointments these three weeks so we can’t just head out again or I would! Even worse than the temps is the pollution. We sit in a big bowl of mountains with two million people driving lots of cars. Add to that mining and numerous petroleum refineries and we are getting a double whammy of particulate pollution and ozone. We really, really need a storm to come through and blow all this nasty air away, but it won’t be here for a few more days.

I am dealing with the heat by not using my stove or oven. If it can’t be microwaved or cooked in the Instant Pot, it doesn’t get made. We have had a few pork loin roasts and a beef pot roast, and that helps the heat. It is sad that I don’t get to leave my blinds open during the day though since I love looking at the mountains through the windows. Then again, I can’t see the mountains well due to the pollution! We decided to take a drive yesterday out to Antelope Island. Normally we get a great view to both the Lakeside Mountains to the west of the Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Mountains to the east. Yesterday we couldn’t see the Lakeside at all, and only the vaguest hint of the Wasatch. In other words, if anyone local wants to do a rain dance, please do.

Is that enough of a whine for today?

On the road again (again)

It has been a while since I posted. After the last post I finished my grandson’s baptism gown, but I am not posting pictures until the baptism takes place. I will say there are lots and lots of pintucks!

On a food-related note, I made a small lasagna with the pre-cooked noodles in a 6″ pan. It came out quite ok, and I am going to try it again. A big pan of lasagna is just too much for two people. I also tried to make brownie so in my Instant Pot, just to see if I could. It was an epic fail – brownies too thick, too much liquid after cooking, and took too long. It was a silly thing to do, and I will go back to using an oven for baked goods.

As for travel, we left on Tuesday, 4 July, to a campsite at Steamboat Lake State Park. How lovely! No electricity, and it was hot. We took it for the first couple of days, but yesterday we gave in, turned both generators on, and had air conditioning. Ahhh, cool! Mornings were really lovely, but it was just too hot to make it comfortable between 2:00 and 7:30 – 8:00. We did use the new clam screen room, and it was great. There weren’t any mosquitos I could discover, but there were a number of bothersome little gnats. The screen room kept us comfortable. Pretty nice view, isn’t it? Lots of wild flowers.

View from our campsite at Steamboat Lake State Park
Trailer and screen room
Steamboat Lake
Everything was a little smoky due to wildfires nearby

We left this morning to head to Iowa. Tonight we are in the Holiday RV Park in North Platte, NE. We have stayed here a number of times before. Lots of mature shade trees, a little bit of grass between sites, plus full hookups. I will take a luxurious shower tomorrow! The park, generally just an overnight place, is almost completely full. I am guessing it has a lot of travelers going home after the holiday week.

Oh, and Lexi came with us this trip! She is my son’s dog now, but she originally was the family dog. She is doing great, tough it is amazing how much floor space she takes up.

No camping but good food

We got back from the Black Hills trip on Sunday. This week we have just been putting around on miscellaneous things. On Wednesday we headed to Bozeman to move my son’s household goods to our storage unit. We got back on Thursday after a leisurely trip, and Friday we unloaded everything. In addition to the furnishings, we also received temporary guardianship of his dog Lexi. She was ours until he took her with him to grad school years ago so we still get along. Even the cats are getting along with her.

I have also been playing more with my Instant Pot. I have finally figured out how to make perfect “hard boiled” eggs! It is more complicated than it should be because we are at 4400′, and all the recipes are for <2000′ and need adjustments. I also bought an IP accessory that holds eggs separately so they don’t bump each other and break. For me, pressure cooking on High for 7 minutes followed by a quick release and putting the eggs in an ice bath for 5 minutes makes gorgeous eggs. The advantage of pressure cooking the eggs is they are always easy to peel, even if I use fresh eggs.

Another recipe I tried was basmati rice. One cup of rice plus 1 1/4 c of water, high pressure for 7 minutes, natural release for 10 minutes makes a lovely rice. We had it with some Trader Joe’s Orange Chicken. Yum.

Want more? Tonight I made ribs. I put 12 spare ribs (just over half a rack of pork spare ribs) on top of a rack in the pot with 1 cup of water. I used high pressure for 24 minutes followed by a natural release. I then made a sauce from 1/2 c. hoisin sauce and 3 T. chipotle paste, basted the ribs, then broiled them on both sides for a few minutes. They were wonderful! I do think I will use 26 minutes next time to have them be more “fall off the bone.” Kevin made grilled corn on the cob, and we had a feast. The basic recipe came from Instant Pot Obsession, one of my favorite recipe sources, but I updated it for elevation. I still have part of the rack of ribs to make on Monday. I haven’t decided whether I want to make the same recipe of try a different variation.

I had one big failure though. I tried to make tapioca pudding, and it came out flavorful but runny. I think I rinsed the tapioca pearls too much. I am going to try that one again since I love tapioca pudding.

On a personal note, I got into the ophthalmologist to check my vitreous detachment. There is no problem with my retina (yeah!), but he wants me to come back in six weeks as a follow up. The floaters are driving me nuts, but he says that will get better with time.

Tomorrow we go see the last Eccles Theater presentation in our season – Dirty Dancing. Next year our tickets will be on Wednesday nights which means fewer stand-ins than our current Sunday night tickets. I guess the stars don’t like doing two Sunday shows – a matinee and an evening performance. We intend on being home until 4 July when we take off for Steamboat Lake State Park on our gradual way to Iowa for my grandson’s baptism.

 

Springtime in Utah

We got home on Monday afternoon. I tried to time it so we wouldn’t hit bad traffic, but I obviously didn’t delay long enough. Bumper to bumper doesn’t really bother me (I just zen out), but it is tedious. We ate a huge lunch of chicken fried steak at Bella’s in Wells, NV again for lunch, so we just did some snacking for dinner. Unpacking isn’t as hard now. I have decided to just leave the trailer refrigerator turned on and keep all the basics there. Butter, maple syrup, ketchup, mustard, pickles, etc are just going to stay stocked and not move to and from the house each trip. We just moved our clothes and toiletries. Of course we also had to start laundry right away. My Samsung washer and dryer at home are better than anything found in a campground laundromat.

On Wednesday I went back to my family practitioner for a re-check of my right knee. The Celebrex just wasn’t beating the pain. I got a steroid injection, and two days later I am much improved! I am hopeful of more walking and biking in the next few weeks. Kevin and I are a matched set. His left knee is the problem and my bad knee is my right. We have to get better before the family trip to Black Hills in a couple of weeks.

I took a fun sewing class last night at a local quilt shop. It was on making bowls from laundry line, the cotton or cotton/poly stuff. I have made the, before, but I really wanted to know how to make some that had smoother starts and finishes. I made one for Kevin to use in the trailer to keep next to the bed. I used blue variegated thread to spice up the stitching plus some lovely strips of a blue batik. I also made a smaller one which will be used for something eventually.

I like the strips of color. The bottom is about 7.5″ so a good sized bowl.

I have also made these as trivets I use in the trailer. The sloppy ending on these was what made me want to take a class. The new bowls aren’t perfect, but they are much better than the trivet made before class! See the fuzz at about 7:00 o’clock? These are also about 7″.

This just came out of the washing machine.

We finally turned on the sprinklers for the lawn and garden yesterday for the first time this year. I don’t believe in spoiling my plants with lots of water; I want them to work for it! The flowers are doing beautifully.

Front garden has iris, roses, and a service berry tree I try to keep pruned to a shrub (I need to take it back more soon).

The back garden is mostly xeriscape plants.

See where something has been bedding down in the middle? We have a neighborhood cat I have seen on my security cameras wandering around at night. Since we don’t have rabbits, I figure the cat is doing the damage.

This evening we are having friends over for dinner. I am making layered green chili chicken enchiladas (using my new oven), pinto beans with chipotle peppers (Instant Pot), and I made a flan (also with the oven). The flan is definitely an experiment I haven’t ever done before. We will see how it works. It looks good, but I haven’t cut into it to see. The friends are bring a salad, and I have two bottles of Sangria to go along with the meal.

Edit to add that the flan was a success! I will definitely be making it again.

I’ve got goodies

I had a fun two days. First I had a friend with a long arm quilting machine baste my Carpenter’s Square queen sized quilt. It is wonderful! See how even the backing lies? No puckers, no wrinkles even with the fluffy wool batting. 

Any little wrinkles that show on the picture are because I had it partially draped on my ironing board. She used water soluble thread, a basting stitch about 1/2″ long, and programmed 5″ squares. She said she cussed at the thread for a little while until she got it working, but she is more than willing to do this on additional quilts for me or others.

While we were chatting, she mentioned she has a company that makes assorted quilting “stuff.” In particular, she has a new model of bobbin wonder that is programmable for up to two different bobbin types. I just hate my old-style Handiquilter bobbin winder so I was intrigued. She and her husband showed me how it worked, and I was hooked; I bought one right there on the spot. I have since tried it at home on my Handiquilter and my Happy multineedle embroidery machine. It winds both types of bobbins (Class M and Class L) perfectly. She has also wound Featherweight bobbins on it. My FW bobbin winder is getting difficult to use; after all it is made out of rubber and is over 60 years old (1952 model).

I left the snippers on it for size. The copper wire guides the thread to the tension assembly. It is so neat and clean compared to my old bobbin winder. If anyone is interested in her stuff, either quilting or quilting accessories, she can be found at www.fancyquilt.com (I wish I could make that a hot link – sorry). I highly recommend her products.

I also got a combination cup holder and mini trash can at my Bernina dealer when I was at the embroidery software class. I am always worried about spilling a cup of coffee or tea in the sewing studio, and I never have a trash can close enough. This hits two birds with one stone. I figure it will really be wonderful to take to sewing get together or classes. It screws on the edge of a table, and the cup part is HUGE, over 4″ inside diameter. It should easily hold even an insulated water bottle.

I should have more fun things tomorrow to show off after I attend the Utah Quilting and Sewing Marketplace show. I will help staff the American Sewing Guild booth in the morning, then I get to shop and look at the show quilts. So far I just have boring things to buy (needles and bobbins), but I probably will find something fun to get in addition; I usually do.

On the Instant Pot front, we had a great stuffed pepper casserole last night. The night before we made pork chops in the Anova sous vide again. We have been eating quite well.

Cleaning up the sewing room leads to distractions

I took my Carpenter’s Square quilt to my long arm friend yesterday and got a nice tour of her lovely, very clean sewing rooms (yes, she has two!). Sigh. My sewing room is a mess. I decided to at least sort a bunch of stuff before I start on my next project, and I did get a good start. However I also got distracted with sorting scraps. I decided to make some more rice bags for my hands since I had a piece of cute fabric just big enough. I have arthritis in my thumb and forefinger joints near my palm, and they get sore and achy on a regular basis. I had some other rice bags, but they somehow disappeared. I made two of them, one with a 3×5 finished size and the other 4×6 finished. I think I prefer the larger one. They are just two rectangles sewn together with some elastic on one side to keep them on my hand. I fill them with dried rice, then heat them in the microwave 20-30 seconds or so. The rice heats up and provides nice relief to my sore hands.

If you decide to make rice bags, be sure to use 100% cotton fabric, not something like polyester fleece. You also don’t want to heat the bags too long or they could burn since they use elastic. In fact, even 100% cotton and very dry rice can burn if left too long in the microwave so be careful.

After leaving my friend’s house I headed to a class on my Bernina V8 Embroidery Software. The dealer I use is 45 miles away from my house – a good hour drive. They are very knowledgeable though. I have been using this software for 12 or more years, and I really just need to learn the new features. It is still beneficial to go to a class for beginners since I pick up little tricks I hadn’t caught before. Last night was about variations on automatically digitizing a graphic, meaning converting a graphic into embroidery stitches. Wow, the software has improved significantly in this area since the previous version! The class doesn’t get out until 9:00 so it means a late night drive home. We won’t meet again until after we get back from our Yosemite trip. That reminds me that the NPS announced yesterday they enough road repair done to open up the road we need to take you Monday. Yeah! No change in travel plans needs to be made.

As for my continual experiments with Instant Pot meals, we had boneless country pork ribs two nights ago. I cooked them in high pressure for 40 minutes, and I should have added another 5 minutes. We live above 4000′ elevation, and I am still learning how to adjust the standard recipes for the altitude. I had added about 10% additional time, but I could have used 20%. They were still good. I can’t say the same for the “boiled” eggs I tried! I loved making hard boiled eggs in my old pressure cooker, but the Instant Pot is a slightly lower pressure system. My first two tries resulted in very soft eggs, but I finally discovered that 14 minutes at low pressure makes a nice hard egg like I enjoy for breakfast. I finished the last one I made for lunch, so I need some more.

Charity sewing and yummy food

Today I spent four hours with other members of the local American Sewing Guild at an “open sew” meeting. We meet once a month just to sew and talk. The projects are whatever you want to do, and I always use the time to do charity projects. I have been sewing medical dolls, complete with little hospital gowns. Today I concentrated on making dolls, and a lovely woman next to me decided she would cut out gowns from fabric I brought. She also marked the doll body pattern on a bunch of muslin I had. Tomorrow we are having five hours of sewing specifically to make medical dolls. It will be great to have so many items already cut out and ready to sew. I will post pictures of the group result tomorrow. The hospital needs hundreds of these a year, so it is a good group project. I also like to make these while camping. They are small and easy to sew in small pieces of time. That’s what I will do with the left over pieces I don’t get sewn this time. I also have a new quilt I am getting cut out. I can piece it while we travel.

We also made wonderful beans in the Instant Pot. I have never been a big fan of beans, but these were wonderful. The pinto beans were seasoned with bacon, onions, garlic, chipotle, and green chili. We had grilled hot dogs with them.

It was warm enough we ate on the front porch. While the temperature was only 50 degrees, the western sun made it quite toasty!

I actually do know how to spell and use correct grammar!

I was looking through old posts, and I can not believe how many errors they have! I am in the process of editing a number of them.

And I probably should have posted about our latest kitchen toy, an Instant Pot! I made stew first, and it was lovely.

Today we are going to make steaks with the Anova sous vide and garlic mashed potatoes with the Instant Pot. Nothing like good food!