Barking with the Spuds

Traveling in an RV ... from a cocker spaniel's point of view

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Ree, Blue and Bentley

For the humans, of course. We're spuds of leisure. And we're relaxing here in the coach.

Dad was on desk duty this morning, so we got to hang with Mom. Problem is, she didn't hang with us. We might not have minded, except we didn't get any of the brunchy baked goods she was working on instead of giving us attention.

The folks don't work the same time slot, but they do work the same days. So while Dad was making sure the printer queues worked and arranging brochures, Mom baked some bacon and cheese scones for their late breakfast.

Some nerve she has cooking half a package of bacon and not giving us one little taste! She also cooked it in the oven, so we didn't even get any bacon fat spatters to lick off the floor. And you know what cooks in the RV stays in the RV, so we had to smell bacon all day long, aaarrrggg!

Then she made another yummy smelling bowl of food, this time a meat loaf to cook for dinner after her shift.

And all we got were a couple of dog biscuits....

Apple-Smoked Bacon and Cheddar Scones

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter -- cut into small cubes
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
4 green onions -- thinly sliced
10 slices apple-smoked bacon -- cooked and chopped into 1 inch pieces (any type of bacon may be substituted~)
3/4 to 1 1/2 cup buttermilk -- (start with 3/4 cup)

Egg Wash
1 large egg
2 tablespoons water

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine flour, baking powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl on low speed.

3. With the mixer running, gradually add the cubes of butter until the mixture is crumbly and studded with flour-butter bits about the size of small peas.

4. Add the grated cheese; mix just until blended.

5. ~~(Or, in a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Gradually cut butter in with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles small peas. Stir in cheese).

6. Add the green onions, bacon and 3/4 cup buttermilk to the flour and cheese mixture.

7. Mix by hand just until the ingredients are incorporated.

8. If the dough is too dry to hold together,use the remaining buttermilk,adding one tablespoon at a time, until dough is pliable and can be formed into a ball.

9. Stir as lightly and as little as possible to ensure a light-textured scone.

10. Remove dough from bowl and place on a lightly floured flat surface.

11. Pat the dough into a ball.

12. Using a well-floured rolling pin, flatten the dough into a circle about 8 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick.

13. Cut the dough into 8 to 10 wedges, depending on the size scone you prefer.

14. Place scones on an ungreased baking sheet

15. Whisk the egg and water in a small mixing bowl.

16. Brush each wedge with the egg wash.

17. bake 18-20 minutes,or until golden brown and no longer sticky in the middle.

18. Serve warm.

Servings: 8-10

Source: Rebecca Rather, The Pastry Queen: Royally Good Recipes From The Texas Hill Country's Rather Sweet Bakery And Cafe

Italian-Style Meat Loaf

1 1/2 lbs 92% lean ground beef
1 cup fat-free tomato-basil pasta sauce, divided
1/2 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup (2 ounces) preshredded fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 large egg whites
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Combine beef, 1/2 cup pasta sauce, and remaining ingredients except cooking spray in a large bowl. Shape beef mixture into an 8 x 4-inch loaf on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Brush remaining 1/2 cup pasta sauce over top of meat loaf. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160°. Let stand 10 minutes. Cut loaf into 12 slices.

Servings: 6

Source: Cooking Light, MARCH 2006

Today's the first official open day for the campground. We hear there are a couple of RVs expected to arrive for the weekend. The folks don't actually have their first work day until Sunday, so the plan is to do a little landscaping around our site today. They bought some flowers at a local nursery yesterday and also bought something called "Earth boxes" to plant tomatoes and herbs for Mom to cook with.

These earth boxes have a fatal flaw, they raise the plants above our special 'strike zone'. We feel leaving them unmarked makes them vulnerable to woodland creature attack, a fate which will not occur to the car tires.

Our olfactory examination of the Earth Boxes revealed we'll have several kinds of heirloom tomatoes, something the folks seem quite excited about. We aren't sure what the big deal is - if it's not meat, cheese, pizza crust, Ben and Jerry's frozen yogurt, or Cider Mill donuts, we see no point in wasting our tummy space on it. I mean what would we do with a Mr. Stripey anyway?

To kick the season off, all the work campers and the campground owners got together for a pot luck dinner last night. We got a little sample of what Mom made, some true comfort food for a cool, breezy day. She combined two recipes to come up with this one, and says it has more calories than the two original recipes put together.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Panko Topping

6 Tbs butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
5 1/2 cups milk
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
18 oz sharp or extra sharp cheddar, grated
8 oz gruyere or fontina cheese, grated
1 lb elbow macaroni

3/4 cup panko
2 Tbs butter

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish or 9 x 13 pan; set aside.

2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter. Measure panko into a small bowl and pour butter over panko and toss. Set aside.

3. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a 3 1/2 quart or larger saucepan. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.

4. Slowly pour milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.

5. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, mustard, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and roughly 2/3 of each of the cheeses. Stir until the cheese is melted and incorporated into sauce. Set cheese sauce aside.

6. Cook pasta 2 to 3 fewer minutes than manufacturer's directions, until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone. Drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

7. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese; scatter panko over the top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes; serve.

Servings: 12

Not for us (because you know when you are as well behaved as us you don't need any stinkin' training), but for the folks, who have to learn all sorts of new things.

While they've been helping get the campground cleaned up from last fall's leaves and various yard work things, the main job the folks were hired for is office work. That's stuff like answering the phone, taking reservations, checking people in, running the register in the camp store. So this week they've been gone from the coach a lot during the day.

After their first day with the reservation system, the folks were babbling something about nostalgia and PF keys. Dad said he thought the software looked like it was from the 1980's, and sure enough the copyright showed it was - other than the yellow KOA background the screen looks just like the old CRT terminals the folks used when they first went to work over 25 years ago.

That's a lot in dog years!

The weather has been "mixed" since we got here, one day it's sunny and nice and the next day it's cool and rainy. They try to take advantage of the nice days to grill out, so this week we got to try a California "barbecue" dish called Santa Maria Tri Tip. It's not really barbecue (which is "low and slow" like we do it in Texas), but it had all of us drooling just the same. It was a recipe one of the guys on the Big Green Egg board posted. Mom also made the traditional side dish, Pinquito Beans to complete the meal.

Santa Maria Tri Tip

2 (3 pound) tri-tip roasts
Basting Sauce, recipe follows
Seasoning Salt Mixture: recipe follows

Seasoning Salt Mixture:
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp white pepper
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp onion powder
4 Tbs granulated garlic
6 Tbs salt

Basting Sauce:
½ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup garlic-infused vegetable oil

1. Mix together seasoning salt ingredients in a small bowl

2. Whisk together vinegar and oil in a small bowl.

3. Coat both sides of the tri-tip roasts with the seasoning mixture, rubbing it in as you would a dry rub. Let the seasoned tri-tip rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.

Regular grill cooking:

Grill on medium-high until rare to medium rare, basting every 5-10 minutes. If you have a smoker box in your grill, use some oak chips for more authentic flavor.

Big Green Egg (BGE) cooking:

Sear each side of the tri-tip at 600 to 700 degrees for 3 to 4 minutes each. Remove seared tri-tip from the BGE, cover it with foil and let it rest while bringing the BGE temperature down to 350 to 400 degrees. During this cool down period toss in a couple of oak chunks. Put tri-tip back in the BGE and cook to an internal temperature of 125 degrees for medium rare, basting with the sauce every 5 to 10 minutes.

Remove tri-tip from the grill or Egg, cover it with foil and let it rest 15 minutes. Cut into ½” slices against the grain.

Source: Morro Bay Rich

Pinquito Beans

1 lb. pinquito (small pink) beans
4 slices (about 1/4 lb.) bacon, chopped

2 chopped onions (12 oz. total)
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup tomato purée
1/2 cup red chile sauce or red enchilada sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard

1. Pick over and rinse beans. Place in a 6-quart pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, cover, take off heat and let sit 1 hour.

2. Drain beans. Cover with fresh water, bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, and cook until tender, anywhere from 40 to 90 minutes depending on the freshness of the beans. Drain, reserving beans and 1 cup cooking liquid.

3. In a 5-quart pot over medium-high heat, cook bacon. When bacon is crisp, remove all but 1 teaspoon of fat from the pan. Add onion and garlic to the pan. Cook, stirring, until onion just starts to brown. Add remaining sauces and seasonings and the pinquito beans and reserved liquid. Salt to taste. Bring to a boil, stirring often, then lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes to blend flavors.


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