Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Let’s Bake!
We all do it, buying too many bananas or just not getting to eat them before they go “banana-bread-ready”.
I came home from my second work hardening shift at Amazon (only worked 6 am – 11 am) and was welcomed by 3 such bananas.  I searched online for a banana bread recipe, and then remembers that I ditched the loaf pan.  So, muffins it would be!
I adapted a recipe from The Plant Strong Vegan. I felt the original had too much sugar, and didn’t have chocolate chips or oats, which I consider a must in any sweet treat!
BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS
Ingredients:
  • 3 very ripe Bananas, mashed
  • 2 cups Flour (can use for gluten-free flour)
  • ½ cup Organic Sugar, or coconut sugar
  • ½ cup Unsweetened non-dairy milk of choice
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • ½ tsp Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • ¼ Cup vegan Chocolate Chips
  • ¼ Cup Oats of your choice
Instructions:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt & cinnamon.
  3. In a medium bowl, mash-up your 3 ripe bananas with a fork, and add milk & vanilla.
  4. Fold the wet with the dry and mix well.
  5. Mix in chocolate chips and oats.
  6. Fill muffin cups with approx 1/4 Cup of batter.
  7. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until golden brown and cooked in the middle.
Not totally oil-free eating if you do this, but if you are so inclined:
Top with a dollop of peanut butter and some banana slices
PREP TIME: 5 minutes
COOK TIME: 25 minutes
If you make these, share your feedback in the comments! I’d love to hear how they came out, and if you made any additions/modifications to make them fit for you. (Like using Pumpkin Pie Spice instead of Cinnamon).
~ Nancy

Pumpkin Pie Recipe

It is 42°F outside, and we are taking it easy as we rest up between jobs.  This is exactly when I get the baking bug! David loves pumpkin pie, but I have not made a vegan version yet, and am up to the challenge today.

When we went grocery shopping the other day, we noticed the display of pumpkin pie making supplies – and then read the label on the pumpkin pie filling.  Since we weren’t going to be adding sweetened condensed milk and/or eggs to our diet anytime soon, we decided to just get a couple cans of pumpkin and see what we could do with them.

I searched Happy Herbivore for a pie crust recipe. Found one that is incredibly easy, which is a good thing since I have minimal experience making pie crust.  I was almost going to use the recipe for cornbread and make THAT the pie crust, but changed my mind.

Discovered that I don’t have a pie pan, so a rectangle pan is going to have to do.

I whipped up the crust recipe, then pressed it into the pan.

I was then in search of a no-oil, vegan pumpkin pie filling recipe.  I didn’t find one, so I improvised and married two different recipes together.

Here is what it looks like going into the oven:

Going Into The Oven
Going Into The Oven

And this is what it looked like coming out of the oven:

Baked Pie
Baked Pie

Here are the recipes:

CRUST:

  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 whole banana, cold
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt (I omitted this)

Combine flour and banana (a slightly unripe, still greenish banana is best) in a food processor, pulsing until there are no whole banana pieces left.  Roll out on clean surface, or press into pan.

FILLING:

  • 2 3/4 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened plain milk of your choice (I used soy)
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds, mixed with 1/3 cup warm water (let sit for 15 minutes)
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or sub mix of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves)

Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth.  Taste to adjust spices, as necessary. Pour filling into crust.  Bake at 350° for 60 minutes.  Out of the oven, let cool for 2 hrs or refrigerate until ready to serve.

David’s opinion: Two pieces are gone, so I think that means he likes it!

Happy Tasting,

Nancy

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

It’s Fall, the leaves are turning, and I am succumbing to the Pumpkin Spice movement!
Here is a healthy recipe that I found online, and made even healthier by modifying it to be WFPBOF (whole food plant based oil free).  It’s how we roll.  When you make these, please let me know what you think in the comments section.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Adapted from recipe by Cookie and Kate
Prep time:  15 mins
Cook time:  25 mins
Serves: 12-14 muffins
INGREDIENTS
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 2 chia seed eggs (2 Tablespoons chia seeds in 2/3 cup water. Let sit for 15 min)
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice (I used unsweetened soy)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling on top
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice or cloves
  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour or regular whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats, plus more for sprinkling on top
  • 1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 325° F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the applesauce and maple syrup or honey. Add chia seed gel, and mix well. Mix in the pumpkin purée and milk, followed by the baking soda, vanilla extract, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice or cloves.
  3. Add the flour and oats to the bowl and mix with a large spoon, just until combined. If you’d like to add any additional mix-ins, like nuts, chocolate or dried fruit, fold them in now.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups. The don’t “grow” much while baking, so it is OK to fill towards the top. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with a small amount of oats, followed by a sprinkle of cinnamon if desired.
  5. Bake muffins for 23 to 26 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
  6. Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack. These muffins come out cleanly when they are cooled, but will break up if you try to take them out too soon.
NOTES
MAKE IT GLUTEN FREE: Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free all-purpose blend works well instead of the whole wheat flour.
STORAGE SUGGESTIONS: These muffins keep well in the freezer. Store them in a freezer-safe bag and defrost individual muffins as needed.
CHANGE IT UP: You could really go crazy with add-ins here! Fold in chopped dried cranberries or crystallized ginger.  If you are not nut-adverse, try chopped nuts like pecans or walnuts.  And my friend Barry suggest trying peanut butter chips (but they are pretty hard to find in the vegan variety).
Enjoy! 
~ Nancy

Day 1132 – Q is for Quiet

We spent the day getting settled, and we did not drive the 1.5 hrs to Havasu City for the Balloon Festival. It would have been cool to go, like 48 degrees cool, and we decided to play around here instead.

David and I started our day with a walk.  There are so many RV’s around us; it is fun to check out the rigs, and see how each group sets themselves up a little different from the next.  Our group is small at the moment – 3 rigs.  Once the Blythe Bluegrass Festival wraps this weekend, we will surely see a few more Hitchhiker friends.  This is what we looked like around 9 am:

Q and Q Day 2
Q and Q Day 2

After breakfast, I drove Hannah around town, and we looked for a place to drop off our garbage.  That proved to be very difficult, as we could not seem to find an unlocked dumpster for the life of us.  I think I need to check the dump schedule, as we did pass a transfer station.  I am sure the good people of Quartzsite would like us RV’ers to take our trash to the transfer station rather than fill up the dumpsters behind the businesses in town.

The town was really hopping, and the “Show” doesn’t start until tomorrow. We were going to stop and look at some of the booths at the outdoor market, but parking was already an issue, so we skipped it for today.

Once we returned to the RV, David and Hannah took off for a ride.  They just went down the road towards Bouse, and were all smiles upon their return, as you can see.

While they were out, I made David’s favorite biscotti.  Since we are going to be working for the next three days, I figured this was the last chance that I would have to get some baking done.  I baked some potatoes while I was mixing the cookies, then after I baked the cookies, I moved right into dinner.  I didn’t really have to make dinner tonight, as David and I had a Amazon training dinner to attend, but as you can imagine, it is quite a challenge to find food at a restaurant that follows our eating habits.  It is usually in our best interest to eat ahead of time.

For dinner:

Polenta Pizza
Polenta Pizza

This is one of those meal ideas that has its origins in a recipe that I grew up with, and then I modified it for us.  My mom used to make “Little Pizzas” – Pillsbury biscuits, flattened on a cookie sheet, topped with tomato paste, ground beef cooked with onions, and topped with cheese.  Baked and devoured!

For my updated version, I take a roll of polenta (found at Trader Joe’s or Walmart) and slice it.  The slices are put on parchment paper on a cookie sheet.  I then mix minced garlic with tomato paste, and spread the paste on the polenta rounds.  Next, I add veggies.  Tonight it was sliced zucchini, a kale greens blend and onions.  I season it all with a rosemary garlic blend, some Italian seasoning, and top it with nutritional yeast.  This is baked for 15-20 minutes at around 350 degrees.  If I have just pure kale as the topping, I cook it until the kale is crispy.

I also experimented with some to the potatoes that I baked earlier, as seen in this picture.

David and I then left to attend our training dinner with the Amazon team.  As we drove to the Mountain Quail Cafe, we witnessed a gorgeous sunset:

Start of Sunset
Start of Sunset

as we were driving:

Spectacular
Spectacular

I just wanted to stop and watch it; the colors were so interesting.

Once at the diner, we waited for the rest of our group, then had a nice meeting in the back of the restaurant.  The place was packed, and the wait staff seemed surprised by the volume.

We are now ready to start our 3 days at the Big Tent.  See, we are official:

Name Tags
Name Tags

This should be fun! I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow night.

I’m glad we could have this chat,

Nancy

Day 1127 – Rainy Day Sunday

A funny thing happened today out here in the desert – mud.  Yup, the day started with a little cloud cover, and some sprinkles.  The clouds were rolling in, and we could no longer see the hills behind us:

Rain is Starting
Rain is Starting

And it progressed:

Dripping
Dripping

As the day went on, the rain stopped for a bit, but really started to be steady around 2 pm.  Hannah was heading back to us, and since she had the stomach flu while she was away, we were hoping the drive would be easy for her.

The desert hardpack really did not absorb this water well, and it started getting messy:

Muddy Buddy
Muddy Buddy

About this time, I decided to get the soup started.  David stopped working on his project outside, and came in to play his keyboard for awhile.  Hannah arrived, and retreated to our bed.  She has been there ever since.  She is fine, just tired, and I am thankful to have her under our roof again.

While I was cooking, the rain kept falling.  Just before sunset, it looked like this:

End of Rain Day
End of Rain Day

This will hopefully be absorbed or evaporate by the time I need to head out on Tuesday.  I can only imagine how messy the car and truck will be if we have to travel on this for several miles.  Please do not get the impression that I don’t know what the weather is like in other parts of the country.  This rain is just a sprittle compared to what people back east are dealing with, and I know it.  Oh, enough about the weather!

The first thing I read this morning was from Timber Hawkeye at Buddhist Boot Camp: “Your job isn’t to go around trying to save people, or to drag them kicking and screaming with high hopes that in the end they will thank you… all you can do is live a healthy life yourself, trusting that those with eyes to see will pay attention and then save themselves. Your life is your message, so LIVE your message. Actions are way louder than words.”   Boy did that hit me hard! I have been thinking about it all day, and can see where I have pushed my idea of what is healthy or right pretty hard on my siblings and my mom.  OK, on everyone that I love. Even those who aren’t speaking to me right now.

Now, on to today’s recipe! I have been carrying around a too-large-for-RV-life bag of onions, and today was perfect for soup. I found this recipe online, and ignored the oil. I then added some celery, zucchini and mushrooms towards the end to give it some nutritional value!

EASY VEGAN FRENCH ONION SOUP RECIPE
Prep Time: 15 min
Total Time: 2 hours
Serves 6-8
Ingredients:
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 large white or yellow onions, sliced into thin half-moons
3 large fresh thyme sprigs (about 1 tbsp), leaves stripped (or ½ tsp dried)
2 tbsp good quality aged balsamic vinegar
4 cups (1qt) vegetable stock (no salt added)
2 cups purified water
1 bay leaf
3 tsp sea salt, divided
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, thyme, 1 tsp salt and drizzle 1 tbsp olive oil over the onions; lower the heat to medium low. The onions may be filling the pot completely but will cook down to about ⅓ of their mass. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the onions caramelize and turn light golden brown, about 50-60 minutes. Add the balsamic and cook until it’s absorbed and the onions are a deeper brown, about 15 more minutes. Add the stock, water, bay leaf, remaining salt and pepper, then bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer at least 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaf before serving.
– See more at: http://www.elizabethrider.com/easy-vegan-french-onion-soup-recipe/#sthash.zFmYnLSc.dpuf

Hannah skipped it, but David ate it with me. He just told me that he isn’t a fan of onion soup, but if he was, then it was probably a 10. Good thing he doesn’t write reviews!

I should be making the David’s Favorite Biscotti tomorrow. That should put a smile back on his face.  I have to do something, as I have been sitting on my butt too much today.  Maybe I will venture out to the workout class at 9 am.

Hope your got out of today what you wanted.  If not, try again tomorrow!

I’m glad we could have this chat,

Nancy

Day 1125 – Time Zone Oops

There are a couple of bulletin boards here at the Imperial Dam LTVA with flyers announcing items for sale, meeting times for hikes, church hours, etc.  One of the flyers caught my eye:

Exercise Time!
Exercise Time!

What perfect timing! Just as I was getting a little rough around the edges, here is a FREE class at my disposal.  Before I went to bed last night, I put together my bag.  I then woke up at 7 am, killed time until about 8:50 am, and then drove the mile or so to the Gravel Pit Ramada for class.

When I arrived, I discovered about 30 people sitting on their mats, following an instructor as she led them through some stretching.  My phone said I still had 3 minutes before class time.  What the heck? A couple was sitting at a picnic table with their yoga mats next to them.  I asked them if the exercise class was starting early, or was I just completely off? They pointed out that even though we are physically in California, Arizona time is honored here.  Ugh! I could have sworn that last year California time was followed.  Yup, I missed all but 3 minutes of the exercise class today.

And then there was the silver lining.  A yoga class runs from 10 – 11 am!  And my neighbor from last year (and this year), Anna, was here to introduce me to the instructor.  Caroline was pleasant, and this turned out to be one of the most pleasant yoga classes I had ever had.  I was in the sunshine, just breathing and stretching, with the slightest of breezes blowing over me.  It was really magical.

I gave Anna a ride back home after class, and we had a lovely chat along the way.  Once inside, David and I proceeded to change our clock and computers to reflect AZ time.  I will not be able to blame the time zone for my tardiness again.

After I ate the oatmeal David had waiting for me, I got to work on this blog site.  I was able to add some widgets that I hope will improve your experience here: a “Where Are We Today” section with a map, a link to our Flickr account (where I hope to add more pictures as we go), and a button to “Follow This Blog”.  Next up will be a map showing where we have been, along with a couple of other little improvements.

The rest of the day was spent working on projects and doing a bit of cleaning around the RV.  Tasks such as sorting through the kitchen drawers, cleaning the silverware tray, stove, oven – fun stuff like that.  I binged on episodes of “The Good Wife” while I worked.  It was just an easy, breezy day.

As I sat outside enjoying the last of the day’s sunlight, I noticed the new neighbors that pulled in this morning had completed their camp set up. Today’s featured photo shows what I call “ooze” – when the chairs, tables, mat, plants, dog run, etc. all comes out of the RV.  This particular camper seems to be a little flag happy.  While I get that we are out in the middle of the desert, and there are many, many RV’s around, I would rather see the sunset than flags. What do you think?

Since Hannah is still away in Los Angeles, I was not compelled to make much of a dinner.  Therefore, it was clean-out-the-fridge leftovers tonight.  I did, however, make desert: Carrot Cake Cupcakes.  Again, my go to was Happy Herbivore (http://happyherbivore.com/2008/05/the-famous-carrot-cake-cupcakes/). I am not big on frosting, so they are topless.  While those cooled, we sent our resumes to a couple of KOA’s, and even received a response from one tonight.  Hopefully, we are that much closer to having a summer job.  Oh, wouldn’t that be lovely?

Wrapped up the night with a 60 minute phone call with my sister Bonnie in Austin, TX and a 20 minute call with my Mom in Vancouver, WA.  It’s always so nice to catch up – I do feel disconnected from everyone most of the time.  That is one of the drawbacks of being on the road.  And one of the perks, if you know what I mean.

Looking forward to a long walk in the morning, and who knows what else the day will bring? Hope you get to make the most of your Saturday, too!

I’m glad we could have this chat,

Nancy

Day 1122 – Dump Day

I am hoping this blog gives the reader a realistic glimpse into nomadic life.  That being said, it stands to reason that not every day smells like roses.  Today was one of those days.

RVs are equipped with holding tanks.  Our particular RV has one fresh water tank, which holds 90 gallons. It also has three waste tanks – a 50 gallon grey water tank for the kitchen, a 50 gallon grey water tank for the shower and bathroom sink, and a 50 gallon black water tank for the toilet.

As we are “dry camping” or “boondocking” here outside of Yuma, AZ, this particular area of BLM land has a dump station and a water supply for the campers to use.  It is part of the $180 fee that we pay for use of the land from April 15 – November 15.  One could conversely pay a 2 week use fee of $40.  Last year, we ended up parking here for 6 weeks, for a total of $120.  This year, we anticipate staying longer, so the season pass made more financial sense.  Of course, we are not bound to stay here, but it suits us, has lovely weather (now that it has warmed up a bit), has room for our friends to park, and we don’t really have any set plans to go anywhere else.  So, here we are.

Dry camping offers us the opportunity to live using minimal resources.  That’s a nice way of saying that one has to pay attention to how one uses water when not hooked up to a continuous water supply.  One way we conserve is to have a wash bin in the kitchen sink to collect the water that we use when we wash dishes.  This water is then put into a bucket and placed in the toilet room to be used to flush the toilet.  Another conservation method is to have a water collector in the shower to reuse that water to flush the toilet as well.

I will admit that this seems like a really rough way to live.  But can you see the adventure in it?  Can you see that by changing some simple daily practices, we can all conserve a precious commodity?

Even using this conservative approach, one does eventually have to empty the waste tanks and refill the fresh water tank, to start the cycle all over again.  Last year, David and I were able to go 17 days before we had to “dump”.  With three of us in the rig right now, we have to empty more frequently.

To move the rig to the dump station, we prepare it for travel.  This is no different than how we prepare to drive to our next location – secure the inside contents, bring in the glides, hook up to the truck, and roll.  The process doesn’t take long, but one does need to be aware and focused.

Hannah went  off on a bike ride while we took care of the tanks.  Here is a picture she sent me from her adventure:

Hannah's View
Hannah’s View

Now, let’s compare that to my view:

They Said Please
They Said Please

 

It wasn’t so bad:

Dump Station
Dump Station

 

 

We were the only ones using the station at 2 pm today.  See, David didn’t even need to bring the solar panels flat.  He would absolutely do that if we were going on the road.

The process to dump the tanks is pretty simple.  One attaches a flexible sewer hose to the RV at one end, and places it into the hole in the ground at the dump station.  Then, one opens the black tank by pulling on a lever.  This releases the contents.  Smells good, let me tell you!  But, like all things unpleasant, it is only temporary.  Once the tank is empty, we dump a couple of 10 gallon buckets of non-potable water into the toilet to give it a little flush.  The black tank lever is closed, and it is on to the grey tanks.  This allows the grey tank water to flush out any of the black tank deposits that may be in the line and the sewer hose.  Once those tanks are emptied, the levers are closed, the sewer hose is rinsed and stored, the cap is put back on the RV, and we move on to the fresh water supply.  Actually, at this point, David washes his hands, and uses hand sanitizer before getting into the drivers seat to go to the water supply.

Now, I describe all of this as if I have actually performed this tank emptying task.  I have not.  Just like cleaning the bathroom, as long as David is willing to do it, I will leave it to him.   But I could do it if I had to.

Water Filter
Water Filter

 

This is the water filter that David created.  We use it every time we add water to our fresh water tank.  It is also used when we are hooked up to a water supply directly.  It includes a pressure regulator, so that we do not blow our lines with extreme water pressure.  That is not a problem out here, as the water really flows quite slowly.  We were only down to 60% in our fresh water tank, but it still took 20 minutes to add that 40%.

Even with all of this filtering, the water here is not the greatest, so we choose to not use it as drinking water.  For that. we head on over to the Salt Free water kiosk that is pictured at the top of this post.  For $1, I fill up five 1 gallon containers of really tasty drinking water.  We have been blowing through this 5 gallons every 2-3 days, but that is a good thing.  It is important to stay hydrated in this environment.

This process of dumping the tanks and filling up with fresh water took us about an hour.   That really isn’t that much time, and as I said, it is not a daily chore.  But it is a necessary task, and we will do it again when we leave to relocate to Quartzsite, AZ on Sunday.

Now, the fun stuff – FOOD!  We had our usual oatmeal breakfast, and everyone was on their own for lunch.  I made myself a wrap, as did David.  He used the last of the Pinto Burgers, and I used the last of the Trader Joe’s Eggplant Hummus (the only oil-free hummus I have been able to find).  Grocery shopping will be on the agenda tomorrow, as we are starting to run low again.  I have no idea what Hannah had for lunch, but I made the Happy Herbivore Cheater Pad Thai for dinner.  Here is a link to the recipe: http://www.thechinastudy.com/endorsed-by-t-colin-campbell/happy-herbivore-series/recipes/   I double the sauce, and use buckwheat soba noodles.  For the veggies, I pretty much use whatever I have – tonight it was a bag of frozen cauliflower/brocolli/carrot/squash mix.

But that wasn’t enough.  At about 7 pm, I was hankering for some cookies.  I had a molasses cookie recipe that I wanted to try, so I went with that. The recipe was focusing on being gluten free, but I used whole wheat flour. I also added some vegan chocolate chips.

Soft Molasses Cookies
1 cup oat flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ cup white beans (any), smashed
2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
2 tbsp brown sugar (optional)
¼ cup molasses
⅛ tsp allspice

To make oat flour, whiz instant or rolled oats in your blender until it reaches a flour-consistency. Mix oat flour, cornstarch, baking soda, salt and spices together in a mixing bowl until well combined. Add remaining ingredients and stir until combined. Set batter aside to rest while oven heats to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop 14 spoonfuls of batter on to the cookie sheet and bake 10-15 minutes, or until cookies are firm to the touch.

These puffed up nicely, and were cakey – not flat or hard.

One last thought for the night –
Please, let me know if there is anything that you would like me to write about.  There are likely aspects of this lifestyle that I just take for granted that you want to know more about.  Post a comment and I will address it!

I’m glad we could have this chat,

Nancy

Day 1118 – Slow Day

Some days just seem to move slower than others.  Whether one lives in a “stick and brick” or an RV, a lazy day feels the same.

It is still too cold for my liking, so I did not spend much time outside.  In fact, all three of us seemed to be running in our own little worlds, even though we were sharing a small space.

David has been doing a great deal of research on job opportunities in Maine for this summer.  We very much want to return, and we know now that Hannah is no longer playing soccer for SDSU, we are not required in Southern California in August.  That gives us the opportunity to work for a “season”, something that would help with the bank account, as well as keep us active.  I wish I could share with you some of his finds – they sound fantastic.  Our biggest decision point is whether we want to work for a campsite but no wages, a reduced-priced campsite and wages, or forget the campsite and wages.  More discussions are needed and opportunities will be explored at the upcoming RV Show in Quartzsite, AZ in a couple of weeks.  More on that later.

The handyman David fixed a blind and tilted a solar panel today.  He is also designing a solar water heater that he would like to install.  I swear, he is going to keep us off grid for a whole year if he has his way.  Just an FYI, he is tilting the panel to catch more power, as the winter sun is lower on the horizon and we have not been reaching 100% charge.

Tilted Tiles
Tilted Panel

Of note, in the background of this picture is Castle Dome.  Last year, we tried to find the trail to climb this, but it eluded us.  Hannah would like to try again this year, but her foot still needs to heal before we can attempt that level of a hike.

David and I also did a quick run to the Christian Center, which is down the road a couple of miles from us, and is supposed to have a Post Office and UPS drop that is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday until noon.  Well, apparently today is Fifth Saturday (RV-living day calendar) or something, because they were closed up tight.  My Amazon return and our applications for a job {squeal} will have to go to Yuma to get into the system!

Luckily, the Salt Free Water kiosk was open, and for the second time in three days, we filled our gallon jugs. 5 gallons for 4 quarters! Hannah certainly drinks more water than we do, but I am noticing that this desert air is pretty drying.  I will start drinking more right now!

I get antsy to bake something about every other day, so today I tried the Chocolate Donuts from Happy Herbivore – http://happyherbivore.com/recipe/chocolate-glazed-doughnuts/

This is how they came out:

Chocolate Donut Muffins
Chocolate Donut Muffins

Well, I do not have a donut pan (really not practical when you have one drawer for pots and pans), and I don’t keep confectioner’s sugar in the pantry, so I made muffins instead, and made my own “glaze” from vegan chocolate chips and a little soy milk.   These little babies hit the spot! Now, to find a spot to hide one so that I get one in the morning.

I also got to catch up with my Mom on the phone today.  She is visiting Bonnie, Sam and Sami (my sister and her family) in Austin, TX.  It seems that the flu is visiting each of them, so they are not exactly having the greatest visit.  But, Grannie got to be there for Sami’s 11th birthday, and that is what matters.  How can he be 11 already? Dang.

And, while I am on a roll, I decided to update the HappyCamperSoap.com blog as well.  Just to get started again. I found a “theme” that I really like, so I think that I will be more apt to post photos and get cooking again.

Hannah kept to herself pretty much, until it was time to run to the showers.  Yes, we could use our own shower, but there is a bathhouse down the road at Squaw Lake that is clean, and for $1 you can get a hot shower and not worry about running out of fresh water or dumping your grey tanks.

Squaw Lake Showers
Squaw Lake Showers

One of the perks of heading down to Squaw Lake is the view. The lake is pretty quiet right now, and the ducks were looking for a handout.  As soon as I walked towards the waters edge, I was greeted by a few of my little buddies –

No, I Don't Have Anything
No, I Don’t Have Anything For You

Getting back home, I decided to treat myself to an episode of “The Good Wife.”  I am still on Season One, and have made it to episode 5.  I really do enjoy Josh Charles, and this is such a good show.  But it is a guilty indulgence.  Thank goodness for Amazon Prime (and a camping spot with great Verizon signal).

One of my favorite things to do is to get a show going on my Kindle or my laptop, put on the headphones, and get cooking!  Tonight, dinner was another Happy Herbivore recipe  – Tempeh Chili Mac. You didn’t ask for it, but here is the recipe.  It is one of my favorite meals, and it is a great “comfort food”.

Tempeh Chili Mac

Serves 3
4 oz whole-wheat elbow macaroni
1 8-oz pkg tempeh
1 c water
1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 1 ⁄ 2 tbsp chili powder
1 1 ⁄ 2 tsp ground cumin
1 1 ⁄ 2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp garlic powder (granulated)
1 1 ⁄ 2 tbsp ketchup
1 1 ⁄ 2 tbsp yellow mustard
1 sweet onion, diced
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1 15-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
hot sauce (optional)

Cook macaroni according to package instructions and set aside. Meanwhile shred tempeh with a cheese grater and set aside. Whisk next nine ingredients together (water through mustard) in a skillet or large pot. Add tempeh and onion and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to low-medium and continue to cook until most of the liquid has absorbed. Add tomatoes with their juice and beans, and cook for another minute or so, until both are warm, but be careful not to let all the liquid cook off. Toss with pasta and serve with hot sauce on the table.

CHEF’S NOTE: Any small-shaped pasta or gluten-free pasta can be substituted here. CHEF’S NOTE: For a one-pot meal, cook macaroni in a large pot first, then use the same pot to cook the tempeh. NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION 362 Calories, 11.1g Fat, 48.8g Carbohydrates, 7.9g Fiber, 5.7g Sugars, 22.8g Protein

Nixon, Lindsay S. (2011-11-29). Everyday Happy Herbivore: Over 175 Quick-and-Easy Fat-Free and Low-Fat Vegan Recipes (Kindle Locations 3890-3925). BenBella Books, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Since I am about out of fresh fruits and veggies, it looks like a road trip to Yuma is in order.  It’s about 35 minutes away, and I will likely have my favorite redhead as a co-pilot, so it is all good.  Tomorrow is starting to look bright already!

I’m glad that we got to have this chat,

Nancy