Hello from eastern Texas!
We are enjoying a sunny, breezy day! This finds us between campsites, making use of free WiFi in a quiet, clean laundromat. Clean clothes for the win!
Edit: We were dazzled by this sunset sky at our new campsite on Lake Winnsboro later in the day:
A few observations on our travels in the Lone Star state: we crossed the state line into the Sabine National Forest. No scrubland or oil fields there; the terrain would have fit right in with some of Georgia or South Carolina's mixed pine and hardwood forests. Now that we're moving a little further north and west, we're seeing more signs of the oil and gas industry, as well as small ranches and farms.
We stayed in Old Sabine River Bottom WMA last night; it seems to be mostly a hunter's WMA. We would liked to have stayed longer had it been a little quieter. Semi tankers passed by several times through the night on their way to and from the well up the road:
Welcome to our first foodie feature!
First, a few basics:
There's no shame in our game, as Mr 78sqft likes to say. Fast food on the days we're traveling is still hard to beat for the price and filling our tummies. We also grab a hot meal from WalMart's deli occasionally when the fast food starts all tasting the same.
You won’t find exact recipes in our posts. We don’t necessarily make things the same way twice, and we utilize the same web resources you’re all familiar with, via Google, of course, and good old Pinterest.
We didn’t leave our taste buds or our appetites behind when we became frugal full-time roadies. We both enjoy a variety of foods. But there are some extra challenges when eating and cooking in the woods. Money, storage space, and kitchen equipment are all limited. Thus, we’re motivated to be creative when it comes to filling our bellies. I’ll speak a bit about each of these factors, then share pictures of a recent food score and some of the ways we prepared it.
Show me the money!
Actually, show me how much food you can get for the money. We patronize two stores in particular when we grocery shop: Wal-Mart and Dollar Tree. At Wally World we routinely check the fresh meat section for markdowns. We found ground turkey for chili last week for $2.00/lb. Cheaper than ground beef or pork! If we’re shopping in the late afternoon or evening, we swing by the bakery to see if the discounted bread cart is out yet.
Dollar Tree is like any other store: you can find good prices on some things but with others you’ll be ripped off. It’s hard to beat paying a dollar per item for chips, popcorn, or sweets. Canned mackerel is a staple for us; whether we fix chowder or fish patties, whatever we make from one can will last for a couple meals. Liquid milk in the quart-sized cardboard cartons is handy for cooking.
Beyond our two routine grocery stops, what excites us is finding the unexpected. Stores that sell some or all items at cost plus 10% were new to me but common in Florida and other southern states. Larger farmer’s markets often have a discount table. One awesome thing about being in the south in the late fall and winter is that fresh veggies are still available. It's so cool to be driving down southern backroads in November and December and see gardens growing!
Where you gonna put it?
Limited fridge space is a big factor! If you picture an Igloo cooler standing on end, you’ve got a fairly accurate idea of how big our RV refrigerator is. Part of that space includes a very small freezer. This is all very handy, but requires creative finagling of leftovers; not unlike playing Tetris. We typically don’t keep fresh meat more than a day or so before we cook all of it. For instance, if we find a family-size pack of chicken legs and thighs on sale, we’ll marinate and barbecue half, and fry the rest.
Kitchen in the woods
A two-burner propane campstove, two enameled cook pots, two cast iron skillets, a small microwave, and an assortment of stainless bowls and utensils make up our kitchen. We live without an oven. No crockpots here, either. Getting things to finish cooking at the same time is one of the bigger challenges of cooking while camping, as is keeping dishes hot until everything is finished.
Mr 78sqft currently mans the stove 98% of the time; he’s the expert in the delicate operations of the camp kitchen. (Not setting well-seasoned cast iron cookware on fire is one of those delicate operations!) I prep, stir, observe, and give honest taste-test opinions and suggestions. Cool marriage adjustment discovery: we’re finding that the more tasks we share, the more enjoyment we get out of them and each other.
A recent score
Roadside farmer’s market on the way to our next site: check!
Discount table? Yep!
Two bags of fresh produce, slightly battered, for less than $7? Oh, yeah. Final score: yellow squash, Brussels sprouts, eggplant, and green onions.
Tomatoes go on sandwiches, and in omelets or breakfast hash, and straight into your mouth.
Brussels sprouts get cut in half, tossed in oil with french fry seasoning salt, pepper, and garlic (mine); or Old Bay rub, S&P, and garlic (his).
14-16 minutes in a hot and ready skillet got them tender but still firm. Dennis flipped them every 3 or 4 minutes to keep them from charring.
All done! Enjoy with Coke and a smile.
Eggplant! Lovely, yummy fruit masquerading as a vegetable. Slice, dip in egg and milk, batter in cornmeal, and fry! Serve with spaghetti. Candlelight optional.
It all adds up...
...to all sorts of "Yum!" And it doesn't hurt our wallet too much in the process.
We'll continue our travels and let you get back to your own kitchens again. Be well, be free!