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Traveling with no regret

Cooking As We Travel — September 7, 2020

Cooking As We Travel

We have had a great summer, loving our RV and the fun of taking our home on wheels to new places and experiencing new adventures.  So far, one of the best things about traveling in our RV has been being able to cook outside and taking the meals we love the most with us.  We’ve had some great food in beautiful spots.  Everything tastes great outside!   

Rose Mary’s Fried Rice

Not only did we eat great food in our RV this summer but we were asked to participate in the Rootless Living Magazine Summer Cookout Series which was tons of fun.  Over the course of a couple weekends, we used our RV and Blackstone Griddle to bring Rose Mary’s Fried Rice recipe to life to share with the RV community.  Check out the article and all the other great recipes included in the series at https://www.rootlessliving.com/rose-marys-fried-rice/.

While Roger and I were dating, his Mother, Rose Mary, taught me how to make her home-made Chinese meal which includes the fried rice and the family favorite, Egg Rolls!  I never saw a recipe but I’ve made the recipes my own over the years and we’ve shared them with family and friends for special occasions and on random weekends when we have a craving.  Rose Mary even had a great set of Chinese dishes that she would get out when the family would sit down to enjoy her Chinese and when she and Roger’s Dad sold their house and set out in their RV as full timers, she gave me a portion of the set, which I hold dear and try to use often! 

To get part of our favorite meal on the road, Rose Mary’s Fried Rice has gone from a wok to our Blackstone Griddle and I paired it with Grilled Asian Garlic Steak Skewers.  The two are easy to make on our griddle and are a great pairing for a Chinese take-out kind of meal in the woods!     

Putting our meal on the griddle

The rice comes together quickly so I prep all of the ingredients and then start to cook.  To make things easier, I cheat and use boil-in-bag rice.  You can easily adapt the recipe servings up or down depending on how many you’re feeding by making more rice and doubling your other ingredients.  We use pork in the rice, well, because that’s how Mom makes it!  And while our family might raise an eyebrow or two, you CAN use chicken, shrimp, or go vegetarian and add onions, or peas and carrots.  Make your favorite take out fried rice.  The sky is the limit!  

Ready to eat!

Rose Mary’s Fried Rice

Ingredients

Canola oil

1-2 bags of boil-in-bag rice, cooked and cooled; you can also cook rice in an Instant Pot or stovetop if preferred.

1-2 packages of thin cut boneless pork chops, diced

2-4 eggs, scrambled

1 bunch green onions or scallions, chopped

Low sodium soy sauce to taste

How to make it

-Cook the rice whether you use boil-in-bags or rice in your Instant Pot.  Set aside. 

-Lightly oil your Blackstone Griddle and cook the pork on medium high heat until cooked through and no longer pink.  Remove from the cooking surface and set aside. (If you don’t have a Blackstone, you can use a wok on your grill)

-Lower the heat.  If you are opting to add any vegetables, this would be a good point to cook those on a lightly oiled surface, removing them to join the pork. 

-Still on a low heat, add a little oil to your cooking surface and scramble the eggs until cooked completely.

-To the cooked eggs, add the cooked rice, pork, scallions, (veggies, if using) and soy sauce to taste.

-Stir to combine and continue to stir to prevent the rice from sticking and to heat the dish through.  Serve and enjoy right away.

Grilled Asian Garlic Steak Skewers Alyssa Rivers at

https://therecipecritic.com/grilled-asian-garlic-steak-skewers/

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds top sirloin steak, cubed

1 red onion, cut in large chunks

2/3 cup soy sauce

6 garlic cloves, minced (I cut back on this just a shade)

1/4 cup sesame oil

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon grated ginger

2 Tablespoons sesame seeds

Sliced green onions for garnish

Skewers

How to make it

-In a large bowl, whisk together soy sauce, garlic, sesame oil,  vegetable oil, sugar, ginger, and sesame seeds.  Add the cubed steak and toss to coat.  Marinate for 3 hours or overnight.

-Preheat the grill to medium high heat. 

-Thread the meat and onion onto the skewers.

-Grill 8-10 minutes until the meat is done to desired liking.

**Note/Tricks: If you love garlic, go for the 6 cloves in the recipe.  I cut back on it just a bit to balance out the flavors. You can buy your sirloin and cut it into cubes or buy it already cubed which is a short cut that I use. 

If you like Chinese Take out like we do, I promise, making your own is a wonderful treat and it is really easy to make.  It’s not too late to try these recipes out and we truly hope you enjoy this meal!

Grilled Bruschetta Pizza; A Joy of Summer — July 27, 2020

Grilled Bruschetta Pizza; A Joy of Summer

“It’s a smile, it’s a kiss, it’s a sip of wine, it’s Summertime! Sweet Summertime!”  –Kenny Chesney

There are so many joys of summer: swimming in the pool,  digging your toes in the sand at the beach, swinging on a rope and dropping into a clear, cool lake, heading into the woods with your family in your RV, or family fun at an amusement park— there is so much to enjoy about summer!

One of my favorite joys of summer are the vegetables that are at their best in the warm summer months like summer squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn on the cob, and fresh herbs of all kinds. I love a good farmer’s market or the blessings of a neighbor’s good will and overly abundant garden for fresh vegetables.  In a pinch, even the grocery store gets better produce options in the summer!  I love to cook and the fresh summer ingredients certainly help me to make yummy, healthy summer eats. 

One of our favorite summer meals is Grilled Bruschetta Pizza.  This summer, we grew our own Cherry Tomato and basil plants specifically to make this recipe.  Thankfully, our plants did not disappoint!  We’ve also been blessed by our neighbor’s garden with an abundance of sweet heirloom cherry tomatoes of yellow, orange and red.  I’ve made a lot of Bruschetta and we are making the best pizza this girl and her guy can ask for. 

The colors of summer! Bruschetta ready to top the pizza crust.

If you like a flavorful, light summer dinner, Grilled Bruschetta Pizza is a great recipe to try.  It’s easy to make at home or take with you on an RV trip. 

The Star: What Tomatoes Work Best

While this summer, we have enjoyed the sweet Cherry tomatoes that we’ve grown, Roma tomatoes are a good option as well.  Use your favorite tomato but a sweet, fresh tomato variety makes this recipe a delight.  Tomatoes have a lot of liquid inside them when you cut them so I always squeeze the liquid and the seeds out and then chop them into small bites. 

The Co-star: Roasted Garlic

Depending on how you feel about garlic, you should know that when you roast it, it gets sweet and mild and it really shines in this recipe.  To start, I roast the garlic earlier in the day to allow it time to cook and cool so it’s ready when I’m ready to put the Bruschetta together.  To roast the garlic, peel away any loose layers of the garlic head skin.  Cut the top of the garlic bulb off to expose some of the cloves.  On a sheet of aluminum foil, sprinkle the cut garlic with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.  Lightly fold the foil around the garlic and place it into a 400 degree toaster oven or conventional oven for 45 minutes to one hour, depending on the size of the garlic bulb.  I always check it when I start to smell the garlic cooking, testing it with a fork.  The garlic should be fork tender.  Allow the garlic to cool completely and then pop the garlic out of the head and chop.  YUM!

Mixing up the types of tomatoes!

I recommend roasting two heads of garlic.  I find that, for us, one head is not enough for this recipe and while two heads might be too much, the remainder of the roasted garlic can be used in other recipes that you might use garlic in and it can be saved in your refrigerator for a few days for later use.   

The Supporting Cast: Pizza Crust

You should know that I struggle with yeast and dough.  As a result, I avoid any recipe with yeast.  If you are a Yeast Guru, then make your own crust!  (Lucky Duck!)  The cool thing is that you can make this part how you wish and the pizza crust options are up to you and the preferences of those you’re feeding!  We have used Naan, fresh pizza dough (from the pop-can in the biscuit section of the grocery store, cooked on the grill), and pre-made crusts of all kinds.  We like the crust to be thin and crispy so the Bruschetta becomes the star of the show. 

Bruschetta Pizza on the grill

Grilled Bruschetta Pizza

Ingredients

Sweet, fresh tomatoes like Roma or cherry tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1/2 Red Onion or Sweet Onion, finely diced

1-2 Roasted heads of garlic, chopped

1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh basil, julienned

Salt and pepper to taste

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Mozzarella, shredded or in chunks (whatever your preference).  Mozzarella is a mild but gooey melted cheese and doesn’t mask the other flavors.  It plays well within this recipe.

Pizza Crust of choice

How to make it

  1. Roast the garlic in advance so it is cooked and cooled when you are ready to assemble the Bruschetta-see tips above.
  2. Prep your ingredients.  Chop the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and julienne the basil and place in a bowl. 
  3. Drizzle with olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle lightly with sale and pepper.
  5. Combine gently all ingredients with a spoon. 
  6. Shred or cube the cheese in tiny cubes. 
  7. Spoon the Bruschetta over the pizza crust and top with cheese.
  8. Carefully place pizza on a pre-heated grill on medium heat.  If you are working on a grill, cover.  Grill for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. 

Slice and enjoy!

My personal heaven with Angels singing!

This might be a great summer recipe but let me assure you that when we are deep in January with temperatures outside dipping below freezing and we are missing summer most, this is still a recipe I go to when I really miss the warmth of summer.  In the winter, the pizza can be placed on a cookie sheet and popped into the oven at 400 degrees until the cheese is melted and the pizza is hot.  It’s a great hint of summer just when you need one. 

I hope you enjoy this simple taste of summer, anytime of the year!

“Count the Memories, Not the Calories” — June 6, 2020

“Count the Memories, Not the Calories”

“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”  -James Beard

Travel can expand your mind through art, architecture, culture, and the people that you meet.  While all of that is worth buying a ticket and packing a bag, I can assure you that your travel memories will be most firmly cemented in your mind around the food  you eat.  Some of the most spectacular food we have had when traveling has left us wanting more!

Let’s see if I can get your mouth watering!  These are my top ten foodie moments from our travels: 

Honorable mention-The Spice House, Chicago, Illinois.  Find them at http://www.thespicehouse.com.  The Spice House is a vibrant, aromatic shop with rubs, salts, extracts, and spices. They have been highlighted in Eating Well, Taste of Home, Food & Wine, bon apptéit, Condê Nast, and Real Simple, to name a few.  The Spice House was a food tour discovery for me.  While there, they took us into the store and out into a delightful garden at the back of the property.  There, we learned from the experts about the different types of cinnamon.  Cinnamon is cinnamon, right?  OH NO!  With my eyes open to different spices and how they can enhance my cooking, I have faithfully ordered from them since 2012 and I love the quality and freshness of their spices.

The Spice House, Chicago, Illinois

 Vienna, Austria: Schnitzel at Figlmüller.  Find them at http://www.figlmueller.at/en/wollzeile/.  Recommended to us by our Concierge on our Viking River Ship, we left our tour for the day and tracked down this cozy, traditional restaurant hidden deep in the city.   Figlmüller is referred to as the “Home of the Schnitzel” and since 1905, they have been serving expertly crafted Viennese specialties.  Genuine Schnitzel is crunchy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside and serve with a warm, vinegar based potato salad.  What a treat! 

Vienna delights

Maine: Naked Lobster Rolls.  When in Maine, I try to eat Lobster in any form, as often as possible!  My favorite is a Lobster Roll.  I recommend the “naked” version (no mayonnaise).  Mainers know how to do lobster right!

This must be what the Angels eat!

Rome, Italy: Gelato at the Trevi Fountain, Il Melograno (my favorite was tiramisu).  Find them at Piazza di Trevi, 101, 00187 Roma RM, Italy.  Gelato in Italy can’t be beat.  Eating it at the Trevi Fountain….was a pure joy!

Naples, Italy: Sfogliatella (Lobster Tail Pastry).  This lovely morsel is a shell shaped filled Italian pastry.  It’s very thin, leaf layers were delightfully crunchy and they held a slightly sweet ricotta filling.  This culinary treat was the courtesy of our guide who took us to a very crowded pastry shop and we stood outside and fell in love with this wonderful Italian treat with every bite!

Sfogliatella in Naples and Gelato in Rome!

Scotland and England; Sticky Toffee Pudding at St. Andrew’s Golf Course in Scotland & Eaton Mess in Durham, England.  I have a sweet tooth.  Being a huge fan of the British Baking Show, I was determined to eat all things British that I have seen on the show.  The two I had the opportunity to eat on our Scotland/England trip was Sticky Toffee Pudding and Eaton Mess.  Equally heavenly, I dream of these two delectable desserts often! 

Eaton Mess and Sticky Toffee pudding!

New Orleans, Louisiana: Beignets at Café Du Monde. Find them at http://www.cafedumond.com.  If you are ever in New Orleans, you must try the Beignets of Café Du Monde.  A NOLA tradition, these heavenly donut-like pastries shouldn’t be missed.  They are covered in powered sugar so care should be taken.  No matter what you are wearing, you will inevitably and delightfully be covered in sugar.  TIP: wear light colors!

Roger and my Dad enjoying Beignets

Waco, Texas: Lavender Donut Holes, Magnolia Table; Grilled Cheese, Cheddar Box, Gourmet Grilled Cheese Food Truck on the grounds of Magnolia Silos; Brown Butter Ice Cream, Heritage Creamery.  There was no shortage of yummy things to eat when we visited Waco.  Of course, the main focal point of our trip to Waco was the Magnolia Silos so the wonderful food was a delight.   

**BREAKFAST: We started one of our days at Magnolia Table.  Find them at http://www.magnolia.com.  They only  serve my favorite meal of the day.  Breakfast.  For me, the highlight was the delicate and complex Lemon Lavender Donut Holes.  Don’t wrinkle your nose! (I know what you’re thinking because I thought it too).  They did not taste of potpourri or soap at all.  They are lemon, floral, and sweet all at once.  Try them!  You won’t be sorry!

**LUNCH: On the campus of Magnolia Silos, you can choose from any number of food trucks for a quick bite to eat.  For us, that was the humble Grilled Cheese at the Cheddar Box Food Truck. Find them at http://www.cheddarboxwaco.com.  Crunchy and cheesy, it met our expectations of one of our favorite comfort foods and we paired our sandwiches with Iced tea from another food truck, Alabama Sweet Tea, which was served ice cold in a reusable mason jar.  Very Texas! 

**TREATS: I hope that it goes without saying that the Magnolia property is best known for it’s bakery.  Serving cupcakes, cookies, and cinnamon rolls…we wanted them ALL!  But also, not to be missed is the small batch, hand made Ice cream at Heritage Creamery that you can find not far away just off the campus of Baylor University. Find them at http://www.heritagecreamery.com.   This ice cream is creamy, flavorful,  and scrumptious!  As an ice cream enthusiast, this is top notch, hand made ice cream that you will fall in love with when you take your first spoonful.  You can’t get ice cream like this from a grocery store.  We loved it so much, we visited twice while we were in Waco.  Heritage Creamery sources their ingredients locally and their flavors reflect the season and ingredients available to them.  They have unusual hours so be sure to check them out on line as you plan your trip.  Don’t miss it if you have a chance to visit Waco.

The Wonderful food in Waco, Texas

Galway, Ireland, Rathbaun Farm: home made Irish Soda Bread, Salad, and Hot tea.  Find them at http://www.rathbaunfarm.com.  An Irish Sheep Farm, Rathbaun Farm was a chance to see the art of sheep farming in Ireland first hand.  It was also a lunch stop.  We were served the simplest and most delicious of lunches.  It was a damp, rainy day so the fresh, warm Irish Soda Bread and tea were soothing and delicious.  We felt welcomed and at home.  Proof that a simple meal is often all you need to sooth your soul.  Time spent on the farm was a wonderful addition to our trip and we did not go away hungry.

The simplest of meals, but oh, so delicious!

Key West, Florida: Glazed Donuts.  Find them at http://www.glazeddonuts.com.  Saving the very best for last and speaking of soothing the soul…Glazed Donuts is the Southernmost donut shop that makes fresh delights that this Travel Addict adores.  We have been known to plan a trip to Key West around as many visits to this delightful place as possible.   “Right in the heart of Old Town Key West, Florida, ”  Glazed Donuts “is the donut shop you dreamt of as a kid.”  I would say that this adult dreams of it often!  Be aware that when they sell out for the day, they make no more for the day.  For that reason, we always go early.   They are also closed on Mondays so be sure to plan appropriately so you don’t miss out!   

A fresh glazed donut from Glazed Donuts.

So.  When you travel, how do you know where the yummy eats might be? 

Take a food tour

Think of a food tour as just that, a tour.  An excursion of sorts.  It can be a fun way to meet people, immerse yourself in the local culinary scene, and give you an idea of great places to go back to eat if your tour is early in your trip. 

We took our first food tour in Chicago.  Our friends that live outside the city wanted us to have a taste of all things Chicago and this tour was not for the faint of heart!  We had deep dish pizza, Rueben sandwiches, chocolates, oils and vinegars, and an introduction to my favorite supplier of spices, The Spice House (if you like freshly ground spices, this is the place!  I have bought nearly all of my spices from them-through the mail-since 2012).  Thank goodness this was a walking tour!

A few months later, as we planned a trip to Ashville, North Carolina with friends for a long weekend visit to The Biltmore Estate, we decided to try another food tour.  In Asheville, we tasted Devils on Horseback, local chocolates and wines, Gourmet popcorn, and Italian main courses.  Again, thank goodness for the walking part of the tour!

Our most recent food tour was while visiting Bar Harbor, Maine.  This tour included local blueberry soda, gourmet French fries, blueberry and caramel pop corn, lobster rolls, coffee, several Irish pub appetizers, and a vinegar and oil tasting. 

Gourmet French fries and Maine soda!

A food tour vendor will have relationships with some of the best restaurants and shops in town.  We have observed that the food tours have been small businesses supporting each other and it gives you a great community experience.  A great food tour will offer some really great food and drinks (some offer adult beverages) mixed with some sight seeing between the biggest food items.  We used Trip Advisor to find our food tour in Maine and based on some delicious bites on our tour, we went back to one of the restaurants for dinner later that evening.   

If a food tour sounds like fun, I would recommend planning one at the beginning of your trip.  Finding a yummy place to eat early on can give you spots to return to for subsequent meals and if you enjoy supporting local businesses when you travel, which I recommend, this is a great way to do just that.   

Maine Foodie Tours, Bar Harbor, Maine

Ask a local

Who better to ask for recommendations on the best food and drink in town than a local?  A native will likely steer you to an eatery that is frequented by locals and might be a bit off the beaten path of the tourist mobs. 

On more than one occasion, we have eaten where the locals have pointed in Key West, Florida.  One specific local was a U.S. Custom’s Agent that had come on board the cruise ship we were getting off of to check our re-entry into the U.S.  He lived in Key West and was kind enough to recommend El Sibooney Restaurant on Catherine Street which serves traditional Cuban home cooking.  Delish!  Thank you to our Custom’s Agent friend!  

We’ve never had a local steer us wrong.

Research before you go

Sometimes knowing  what the local specialty might be for your destination is a great place to start.  When in Rome, right?  Trip Advisor, locals, and just simple web searches can point you to good local food or specialties that you might want to try. 

One very memorable research that we took advantage of was during the same cruise mentioned earlier that stopped in to Key West.  Before getting off of the ship, my husband did a quick search on places to eat in Key West.  He found an article that had a list.  Of course, the one listed spot that jumped out at him was Glazed Donuts on Eaton Street.  OMG!!!  If you love a FANTASTIC donut and you’re in Key West or thinking about going that direction, this has to be on your list of places to go.  God bless Glazed Donuts!  Since that discovery, we have been known to plan a trip to Key West around  grabbing a donut (or two) at Glazed Donuts.  They ARE that good!

My Husband and I are always afraid that we’ll fall in love with something yummy in our travels that we can never have again.  And while that is likely to happen, eating with the locals or trying a regional cuisine has always enhanced our travels, given us great food porn (what we call it when we photograph our food), and given us another experience to remember.  Each trip has had it’s own distinct food that has made us story tellers!

Enjoy your culinary travels! Bon appétit!