Off the Grid  Retirement at our remote log cabin in Colorado

Sunday, May 24, 2020

The Food Post

Posted by: Rick

I promised a food-oriented post. This will probably be pretty boring because it is just a list of our evening meals during this trip. And, there are no photos. I will provide links to our online recipe book, where possible. Still, it will serve to remind us what we ate when we look back in future years. We are often baffled about that. Do you ever think "what the heck did I used to cook back in the old days?" I'm actually struggling to remember last week, so some of these may be out of order, but why would you care?

Lynne made a great tuna noodle casserole on our first evening here. It is pretty easy, so makes a good "first night" meal.

We had grilled chicken with neighbors on Monday (or was it Tuesday? Wednesday?)

Flaky Mushroom and Gruyere Tarts with salad on Tuesday.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas, for which we do not have an electronic copy of the recipe. Too bad, because they were delicious. Basically a stacked enchilada with a flour tortilla covered with a filling of ground beef, chunks of sweet potato and black beans with appropriate herbs and spice. Top that with some cheese and repeat 3 layers. Bake. Yum.

Slow Roasted Baby Back Ribs with Potato Salad. This is one of my favorite rubs for ribs.

We had Grilled Chicken "Cordon Bleu" one night, and we are now discussing which night it was. So, already, we have things out of order. You should make this, it is delicious.

At this point, I give up trying to match meals to days. So, next on the list is Salt and Pepper Shrimp.

I do remember Saturday night, though. Grilled Hamburgers and true Twice-Fried Belgian Frites.

Sunday was store-bougth tortellini with Tomato and Butter Sauce, some salad too.

Monday will be (since I'm writing this before then) Egg Rolls made from Egg Roll Bowl leftovers, along with a Cucumber Salad. We freeze these then thaw and fry them for a quick and delicious meal.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Tuesday is “Foraging” Day

Posted by: Rick

We've been asked by the Governor to limit our shopping activity to one day a week. We can do that. It is ironic that we've worked so hard not to have the mass-shopping instinct we had at the cabin, (see our article on Winter Provisioning, for example), and now have to move back toward that behavior. One of the things we enjoyed about being "in town" was the abiity to run out and buy anything we needed at any time 24x7.

Now, there is no way we can buy everything on a weekly list at one place, so we have to go foraging among various shops and grocery stores to get supplies. 

Today, Costco started it program of early shopping hours for seniors. Lynne and I technically qualify although I still don't think of myself as a senior. We went a bit early, arriving in time to fill up with gas and still be at the door at 8:00. Only, we ended up a couple of hundred yards from the door and had to stand in line, in the cold, for 20 minutes. We were glad we arrived when we did because by the time the line started to move, it had tripled or quadrupled in size. It must have been 1/2 mile long!

Photo of the line in front of us

Photo of the growing line behind us

They let in 150 people at a time and we were number 142 and 143, I think. There was an immediate mad rush for paper products and meat. We are okay on TP but needed paper towels, so we got some. We also stocked up on chicken parts, hamburger, some nice NY strip steaks, eggs, flour, etc. Actually, we got almost everything we had on our list (and a little more). We stopped at Safeway on the way home and managed to pick up the remaining few items that Costco does not carry. In summary, a very successful day with little actual foraging required.

It is a beautiful day outside and we will likely take the dogs for a walk mid-day. 

I've started a batch of cemita rolls, and we are planning on hamburgers for dinner. More on that coming up.

It is now about 7:00 p.m. and we've finished our dinner of grilled hamburgers. Mine had Hatch green chili mixed into it and slathered on the top. Lynne's was just a normal burger. We had sweet potato fries and we served the burgers on homemade cemita buns--recipe available on request.

Sweet potato fries

My burger

After eating, we took the dogs for a walk. It is a beautiful evening and we saw a lot of people out walking dogs and kids.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Thoughts on COVID-19

Posted by: Rick

This blog has been silent for several years. Since we decided to move from off-the-grid life to life among other people in Windsor, Colorado. And, it has been a great couple of years. We have enjoyed a more active social life, the ability to shop for anything we might need in a matter of minutes, our trash and recycle being picked up each week! We miss the cabin, but not so much in winter. We've spend the past couple of summers at the cabin, only coming down to bring trash, shop and take care of the lawn.

Now that we are practicing social distancing due to COVID-19, it feels very much like being at the cabin and off-the-grid again. All the activities we most enjoy living in Windsor are now restricted or just downright difficult. We look forward to being able to get back up to the cabin for a while. But, there is too much snow right now. Maybe in a week or so.

Meantime, life is kind of crazy. Sometimes I feel like we are actors in an apocalyptic movie. We have definitely cut back our exposure to people. We try to do our shopping once, or at most twice a week. But, that does not mean visiting only one store. Getting basic necessities has required a foraging practice among various stores. We get a few of the thing we need at one store, and then go to another to try to complete the list. We are okay on toilet paper! With what we have on hand along with a box I ordered from Amazon, we should be okay for a while. What we are struggling with are the basic staples. Things like: eggs, milk and flour.

We recently decided to stop shopping for ingredients and cook from our pantry and freezer. So, we've inventoried both and found that we can eat pretty well (minus fresh vegetables and fruits) for quite a while.

Last night we cooked a pork schnitzel from some thin-cut, center-cut, boneless pork chops we found in the freezer. We simply pounded them out to be about 1/8-inch thick and dredged them in whole wheat flour, a beaten egg and some fresh bread crumbs made from a slice of whole grain bread. We fried them in a little avocado oil. We served them with eggplant slices from 1/2 an eggplant leftover from a meal several days ago. We mix equal amounts of room temperature butter with finely grated Parmesan cheese and spread it on both sides of 1/2-inch thick eggplant slices. Sprinkled those with a little salt and pepper and baked them at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Yum.

I'll update this site once-in-a-while. Not sure anyone is reading it, but it will be a record of our activities and thoughts during this pandemic.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Springtime

Posted by: Rick

We haven't posted much lately. My excuse is that nothing very newsworthy has happened. It has been kind of boring lately. Still snow on the ground, so we can't start wood gathering. Cold, even freezing at night (it is 22°F as I write this), so we can't really do any decorative planting yet. There has been very little wildlife. For some reason we are not motivated to take long walks.

Blowing snow after one of our Spring storms.

It is a difficult time of the year for us. The weather teases us with Spring. We have had a few bright sunny days in the 60s. I want to get outside and start doing outdoor chores: building a planter box, cleaning up trees that came down in the winter, refurbishing the cabin exterior, sitting by the campfire in the evening, fishing! Then, the next day it snows. We are in that seam between Winter and Summer and the weather just can't make up its mind.

April is typically a very wet month. We get heavy wet snows often. But, the snows melt quickly leaving behind mud and the moisure needed for the wildflowers. I've started a Spring 2017 photo gallery that you should visit occasionally. I'll stick photos of the flora and fauna this Spring in that gallery to document our progress. You can access all our photo galleries using the link on the right-hand side of the web page under "Photo Galleries". Just scroll down a bit to find that link any time.

With the melting snow and the warmer weather we start to get sprigs of grass and the trees start to bud. This brings out some of the wildlife in the area. Over the past couple of weeks we've started to see elk--there was a herd of 10 hanging around for a couple of days--as well as some moose. The mule deer are more prevalent, too. Soon, we'll start to see the babies. While the bears will already have had their cubs, the elk, deer, moose and antelope will drop their babies in late May and June.

The fox, who we see all winter, is still visiting.

We've got the itch to take a trip in the new RV. It is pretty well outfitted now with what we think we'll need. We just need to add clothing and food and we are ready to go. The plan was to take off on 1 May for New Mexico to visit my (Rick's) family in Albuquerque. But, the weather is not looking great. I am writing this on the prior Friday morning and we just got a Winter Weather Warning for overnight and tomorrow with the possibility for lots of snow. We'll see. If it does snow a lot, we'll postpone our trip. If not, we will probaby try to go.

Just sitting there ready to go!

The long days are nice. It starts to get light about 5:30 in the morning with sunrise around 6:00, so the dogs begin to stir and Destin jumps up on the bed repeatedly trying to get us up. Then, once we are up, he goes back to bed. Often with eBay (the cat).

Destin and eBay.

The sun goes down around 8:00, but we have twilight long fter that. This means great conditions for a solar powered house. Even on somewhat cloudy days we have a long enough sun exposure to get a good charge most of the time.

With the longer days and the dream of Spring-like weather, comes the itch to grow something So, I've started some herbs indoors. Lynne got me an herb kit for Christmas and I was excited to get it going. But, nothing ever grew. Even after 3 tries. We'd see a bud or two of something green, then they would die. I finally threw away the soil they had provided and used some old potting soil I had in the barn. That seemed to do the trick and now we have starts on oregano, parsley, cilantro, chives, basil and thyme. I've started some mint, too, but it has not sprouted yet. And, we have rosemary and sage that we bought as more mature plants. Just need some tarragon and we are good to go for the summer...assuming they continue to grow.

 

Herbs.

We've been trying a lot of new recipes too, lately. Anything to break up the "same old thing" day after day. Some have been fantastic. Some, bombs. But, it is fun to try new things. Maybe we'll start posting more foodie stuff on the blog!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Gourmet Dinner Off-the-Grid

Posted by: Rick

Who say's you can't cook gourmet "off the grid"?

The other day when we were in Fort Collins for a reunion of Destin's brother and sister, we stopped by Whole Foods and picked up a 1 pound octopus and a few squid. Next door at Wilbur's we got a nice rosé wine.

Last night, we cooked up a great seafood dinner: grilled octopus with an orange-honey sauce, fried calamari with homemade marinara dip, and a fresh shaved fennel salad.

We even ate at the table and on our best dinnerware!

For the octopus, I poach it in a mixture of wine, water, garlic and black peppercorns for 45 minutes. That seems to be about right for a 1 pound octopus. When it is cooled some I cut off the tentacles and toss them with some melted bacon fat. They then go on the grill for a few minutes to get some char. Finally, into a sauce pan with some of the orange sauce, toss a bit, then into the oven for a few minutes while I cook the squid.

The orange-honey sauce is inspired by a Bobby Flay recipe. He uses tangerines, which we can't find. So, I simmer some orange juice and honey until it is syrupy. Put that in a small food processor with some Dijon mustard and red wine vinegar. (An anchovy would be great here, but I didn't have any). I added a squirt of siracha sauce. Then blend this together while adding some canola oil to create an emulsified sauce. Yum.

The octopus is served on top of the sauce with some chopped oregano and crushed pink peppercorns.

The squid is easy. Just cut it into rings about 1/2" wide. We use the tentacles too. Dredge them in a mixuture of flour, cornmeal, salt and a dash of cayenne. Fry at 350° until they start to brown, about 1 minute. Serve with a homemade or bottled marinara sauce for dipping.

The fennel salad was just shaved fennel, olive oil, lemon juice, grated parmesan and seasoning.

Lynne doesn't want to do this again soon. Too much clean-up!

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