Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Cooking investments

It is no secret to anyone who has known me for any length of time that I have not been a meal preparer during our marriage. Dwayne likes to do special meal preparation (those things that you start with marinating days in advance and have 20+ lines of ingredients and lots of steps)... but he didn't do that very frequently. If there had not been frozen meals and ready-to-eat and restaurants and fast food, well... I guess we wouldn't have starved cuz one of us would have figured out how to cook meals, but we survived on those substitutes.

This year, at the end of March, we started a diet. It involved eating "program meals" (pre-packaged 100-110 calorie glycemic balanced "fuelings) 5 times a day, and 1 "lean and green" meal each day. To comply with this diet, I started cooking. Ooooohhhhh did I hate it in the beginning. What a chore it was to have to prepare a meal (only *one* meal, mind you! no 3-meals-a-day requirement) each day!

But... as a result, I started using our kitchen, using our cookware, following recipes, and making my own customizations. I was doing a lot of stir-frying of veggies and our fry pans started showing quite a bit of wear (not only from the use, but also from the vibration against other objects during travel; even though I tried separating them with paper towels, I don't think that was fully successful.

So, about a month ago, I decided it was time to get a new large fry pan. I asked for input from folks on Facebook and got some ideas.
I wanted pans that would not stick and in which I could use less cooking oil, so I got a non-stick ceramic interior, and a T-Fal non-stick.
One of the recipes that we have ended up liking quite a lot is a "Lean and Green Lasagna" - it doesn't have lasagna noodles, so... if you were really wanting lasagna it would probably be disappointing, but we just enjoy it as a beef and tomato and cheese casserole. I have also found that it is much better the second day, so I like to double the recipe so it makes 8 servings. This was really overfilling the larger fry pan, so, when we saw a kitchen store at the outlet mall a couple of weeks ago, we decided to look for a larger pan.
A couple of folks on Facebook had recommended Copper pans - so I was interested in them... and there was a special packaging of an induction cooktop with a large copper induction cooking pan that seemed like a good deal, so we got them both. This was our first use trying out boiling water. It worked!

So, a couple of days later, I made "Lean and Green Lasagna" or (maybe a better title) "Cheesy Beef and Tomato Casserole". The pan was plenty large for browning two pounds of lean ground beef and briefly cooking the tomatoes with the beef.

I could have baked in the copper pan too, but chose to put it into the casserole dish for baking as I thought that the contents might be a bit deep for cooking through well in the square pan.

The recipe has a cheese (mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan) mixture with Egg Beaters in it which gives some "body" to the cheese, and then part skim Mozzarella on top.

All baked and almost ready to eat (it needs to cool a bit before it is cut-able). I turn the dish 180 degrees about halfway through baking since our microwave/convection oven tends to cook a little unevenly, and I cannot use the turntable with the oblong casserole dish.
So... we weren't sure where we were going to store the new pan and induction cooktop (possible solution in the works)... and unfortunately, none of our other pans had a magnetic bottom so they can't been used with the induction cooktop (we've since gotten a saucepan that works on the induction cooktop). One advantage of having the induction cooktop is that it uses electricity which is great when we are on electric hookups - we use the campground's electricity instead of our propane. We still have propane cooktop (built in) available when we're boondocking or not using free electricity (sometimes we pay separately for electricity, for example, when we're staying for a month - sometimes even weekly rates don't include electricity).

I guess you *can* teach old dogs (or humans) new tricks!

Monday, October 30, 2017

A little progress...

We are at Henderson's and Pete came over to the gravel lot to work on Miss Doozie a bit today... he said that he thought all the parts were in except the wheel and tire. We called the tire shop, and they indicated that the tire was mounted.

On our way from the campground on Sunday, we noticed a recycling place... so we first headed there to get recycling out of the Jeep so we'd have room for the mounted wheel/tire in the back of the Jee-rage.
Pete has done some work - hurrah for progress!
There's the wheel/tire up against the outer dual...
Unfortunately Pete realized that the lug studs were too short, so he had to remove them. He also indicated that we were going to need to move into the shop area where he would have access to the shop air for the other work to be done... but he was also going to check on whether the correct lug studs could be acquired. I guess that hasn't happened yet... hopefully tomorrow...
We were talking about how this experience has brought home to both of us how quickly our home could have been completely destroyed (and our other vehicle too) and how quickly we might have had to make a decision about what to do "next". Sobering thoughts...

Around the campground

When I was walking around the campground I got a few pictures to share:

The squirrels here have quite magnificent tails...

Very full and long...

And they whip them around very proudly!

I don't know how well you can detect that "speed bump" - it is marked in yellow, but it is created by a tree root. There are a number of places in the road through the campground (and in a couple of campsites I noticed too) where the trees have done a number on the road. I guess it keeps the speeds down in the campground!

Sunday, October 29, 2017


Before he left on Friday, Robert Henderson gave us some suggestions for things we might want to do around town. Saturday morning we headed into downtown Grants Pass for the Growers Market.

It was foggy and chilly but we enjoyed looking at what was available. We got a loaf of bread and Dwayne got a donut. This was the last Saturday that they will have the market outside; next Saturday it will be held in a building at the Josephine County Fairgrounds (out near where we are staying and where Henderson's is located).

Robert had mentioned Rogue Creamery as a cheese maker in Central Point, Oregon, but earlier in the week we had talked with another lady who mentioned a dairy outside of town that did robotic milking and I realized when I looked up Rogue Creamery that the dairy for the cheese maker was the one she had told me about. I saw that they had a tour at 11am on Saturdays, so after the Growers Market, we headed to the dairy.  http://www.roguecreamery.com/store/content/399/Dairy-Farm/

We found out that today was last Saturday that they will be doing the tour this season (it will be getting muddy and yucky) so we were happy to have gone out there today! They also have self-guided tours, I don't know whether they allow you to walk around on the self-guided tours all year long or not.

Not only did we get to see the cows, we also were accompanied on much of the tour by one of the dairy-hands' kitties.
 Our tour was led by the herd manager, who has recently come on board here from New York State (I just tried to look him up on the website and I guess it has not yet been updated with his picture and name, and I don't remember his name). He and his family enjoy being in a more temperate climate. He had not previously worked on an organic farm but seems to enjoy it (albeit needing to alter some of the techniques he has used in the past - he mentioned needing to get approval to use a de-horning ointment that he had used in the past).

This was the maternity ward (for some reason I only got pictures of their heads through into the eating area and not of the area itself!). About 3 weeks before they are to calve, the cows are brought into this area to be more closely watched and to change what they are fed. The little girl in the pink top was quite the energetic youngster....

...She also liked kitty cats....

...very, Very....

....VERY much!
The kitty was SO sweet and gentle - he continued to come back for more hugs from the little girl, as well as rubbing pretty much every one of the other guests looking for petting.

I remember a picture (or maybe it was in a video?) of me when we lived at the house on route 608 and I'm holding our huge orange tabby cat (Sunshine) just like this little girl is holding this cat - it seems to me that in the picture with me, the cat's hind legs are almost on the ground because he was so big and I was so small.
Next we saw the young calves. They stay in these separate calf huts until they are weaned (I think he said at about 3 months of age). I can't remember the name of the breed of this one - and I think it may have been a type of cross with Holstein. This one was about a month old, but had been born a month early so was still very small.
Another of the calves - this was the herd manager's son's favorite so he got to name it - the son's name is Jake, and he named the calf Jake too!
This is the milk bucket nipple feeder that they use for feeding the calves. They put the bucket feeders on the fences and then come along and put the milk in for each calf all down the line - instead of using bottles. He said that using the buckets is quicker and that the buckets are also easier to clean than bottles.

These are weanlings. It isn't clear from the picture, but there were Jersey crosses (they were mostly very very dark brown, almost black, and looked more like Angus than Jerseys) and Brown Swiss too.

We got to see the robotic milkers. It was fascinating to watch - this one is named "Charlie"...

... and this one is named "Matilda" (yes, the robots are named).
The robotic milking was fascinating to me, primarily because of the data that it collects (remember that I was called "Data Princess" at IBM) and how that data is used in their production. Each cow has an RFID in her ear that signals to the gating mechanism in the building who she is. The gates will only allow her into the milking area if her RFID indicates that it is time for her to come in, generally based on her production level though it can also be set to an amount of time since her last milking too. He mentioned that one of their cows that is a very heavy producer can come in about every 4 hours if she wants; others come in only twice a day or so. The sensors compare information about this cow from one milking to the next - temperature, blood content, other factors that I don't remember - and if there are any characteristics that would cause the milk to be rejected (also including milking early in the lactation that contains colostrum), the herd manager gets a message on his phone, and the milk is diverted so it does not go into the container with the rest of the milk. The machine then goes into a complete cleaning cycle so none of the hoses or containers have residue of that rejected milk when it starts milking the next cow. With the text, he knows if there is a cow that needs his attention. He said that he thinks that he becomes aware of an issue with a cow earlier with the robotic milker than with the previous systems he had used -- for example, the temperature may signify onset of mastitis before it would be detected by the human who would have attached the milker claw in a non-robotic environment (I think this is what he said... it's what I heard!). The data collection keeps information about each cow so her statistics are compared to her own prior statistics (instead of just to a "cow average"). The grain - I think both composition and amount, definitely amount - that the cow gets is supplied based on her production and how frequently she comes in. The grain delivery mechanism stops providing feed when the robot has detected that 3 of her quarters have been stripped, so her food pan should be empty by the time the gate opens for her to leave.

Isn't that fascinating from a data point of view????

Finally we saw the large open-span barn where the cows can come in to get some hay. I think due to the organic standards they need to get some minimum percentage of their intake from pasture, so they don't actually provide them with a lot of hay to eat here, or not at this time of year.
 He also told us that the bedding in the barn is made from recycling the manure. I can't remember all that he told us about it, but the barn is constantly washed out and the waste materials are transferred to a facility (on the farm) that separates the solids and liquid. The liquid goes into a "lagoon" that is used to irrigate and fertilize the pasture (during the fall/winter when the cows are not grazing on it so heavily - during the spring and summer the pasture is irrigated from the Rogue River that runs behind the farm). The solids are composted (I think that's the right term - I think he said it had to reach a particular temperature and be turned over and come up to that temperature again) and ultimately returned to the barn to be the bedding that the cows can stand or lay on. By doing this, he feels that he is not bringing in harmful bacteria or using up wood resources or incurring the expense of obtaining wood chips or other bedding.

Way over there against the far wall is a cow-massager/scratcher. It turns on when it is moved and spins kind of like a bristle brush at a car wash... the cow under it was there the whole time we were in this area of the barn - she must have had a very itchy spot that needed attention!
I think it was something like this one: https://www.delaval.com/en-us/our-solutions/cow-comfort/cow-brushes/

All in all a very interesting day, getting to see growers or producers of some of the foods that we enjoy!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Reading information on the walls...

Yesterday the wheel for the bus came in, so we picked it up and took it to the tire place in hopes that they could mount the tire on Friday. The fellow we needed to talk with was on the phone when we arrived, so I busied myself by observing the information on the walls...
I first noticed a teeshirt that indicated that they were supporters of the Basically Beef 4H Club. Then I started noticing the "Thank You" certificates all around the top of the wall, thanking Tehama Tires for purchasing show steers each year...

More Thank You certificates... and a couple of thank you notes...

A note from a young man raising a lamb encouraging Tehama Tire to consider purchasing his lamb.
Hi, my name is Parker Roberts, and I'm inviting you to the 2017 Josephine County Fair. This is my first year in 4-H and with the Faithful farmers 4-H club. This year I'm raising a market lamb. I am going into the 5th grade at New Hope Christian School. I play baseball and football and I love fishing, hunting and being in the outdoors.
My lambs (sic) name is Dash. He is very calm and gentle. Dash was 40lbs when I got him. Currently he weighs 119lbs and I expect him to weigh 147lbs by fair. I take him on a walk every day and then we work on our showmanship in my yard. I have really enjoyed raising Dash and learning how to care for a market lamb properly. I am exited (sic) to see what happens at fair. Thank you for reading my letter and I hope to see you at the Junior Livestock Auction on Saturday, August 19, 2017 at 10am. Please consider Parker and Dash.
Parker Roberts

A thank you note from a couple of years ago...

The steer they purchased this year.

Hi my name is Julie King. I am 10 years old this (sic) is my frsit (sic) year in 4-h I am raising a market lamb, I named my Sheep Hudson When your (sic) in 4-h you have to feed your lamb and give your lamb water I feed 8 cups of grain two Times a Day. I would love for you to come and enjoy a Day of auctioning and fun to support me and everone (sic) eles (sic) in 4-h
Julie and Hudson's pictures -- isn't she a cutie?!?!?
 Lest you think that only the tire store has interesting information on the walls...
We also went back to Cartwrights - I got a picture of my Mr Cartwright in front of one of the Cartwright's signs.

Interesting information found on the wall at Cartwright's

Unfortunately, no mounted tire to show... supposedly the shop is open today, but I'm thinking that they won't be mounting our tire until Monday. Our times are in God's hands!
14 But I trust in you, Lord;
    I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hands;  (Ps 31:14-15a)

Friday, October 27, 2017

Schroeder Park

We moved Miss Doozie a few miles away from Henderson's for the weekend. On our AllStays Camp and RV application we found a county campground and had checked it out yesterday. We found a site that Miss Doozie could fit in, and, after the shop closed today, drove over here to have full hookups for the weekend.
After getting hooked up, we walked down to see the Rogue River... there was a guy fishing in a boat right at the bottom of the boat ramp.

Some geese flew overhead while we were down at the river...

It was getting kind of late in the day, but the trees and the river were still beautiful.

Peaceful and serene...

Schroeder Park is a facility of Josephine County Parks

Miss Doozie and the Jee-rage in the site. The camp host and manager had raked the site for us - I had come over earlier in the day to pay for the site to ensure we had one that we could fit into (they were only available for walk-up for tonight and tomorrow, reservations have to be made at least two days in advance). We had met the manager yesterday when we drove over to check out the campground and she recommended this site for us, so today when I came to pay she said that she would ensure that the site was raked and in good shape for us and promised to post an "Occupied" sign on the site. They had done a good job of removing the leaves on the site, but I suspect we won't even be able to tell by tomorrow!

Other things around our area...

We continue to enjoy our enforced stay in Grants Pass...

We stopped by Tehama Tires who had dismounted our previous tire from the wheel so we could recycle the wheel. You can see the gash down there at the bottom part of the tire. The guy at Tehama said that the gash went down to the steel belt.

We were not able to get a new Michelin tire (nothing available in the area) so decided to go with an off brand for a time until we can get a Michelin sometime later down the road.

We stopped back at Yumberry Bowls and Dwayne got a Forest Grove and I got the Australian Outback (chocolate). Honestly, though the chocolate was good, I enjoyed the fruity Rio more... the chocolate one has more calories and was really a bit more than I wanted to eat!

After getting the wheel from Tehama, we found a metal recycling place and took the aluminum wheel there for scrap value.

Dwayne is weighing himself on the scale... it says 140#... a little lower than what our scale in the bus says. It showed 120# for me... also a little lower than what our scale in the bus registers too... maybe we should always go to this location to do our weigh-ins!

We were trying to find a hardware store and found Farmer's Building and Feed Supply, which has a bit of EVERYTHING - including cute bunnies for sale for $10.00! We decided that two kitties are enough to have in the bus...

We wrapped up our day yesterday with a visit to "Cartwright's" Meat Market, Produce, and Deli...

We got some 93% lean ground beef since it was on special... and enjoyed hearing that the store was started by a man who had been a butcher in the military and when he got out, he started a butcher shop... I think I understood that the third generation is now in charge. They had very nice produce and meat; we got a sandwich from their deli counter. I think we'll be visiting them again!
We're thinking that we will move to a campground for the weekend... will check with Henderson's this morning whether they think they will do any work on Miss Doozie this afternoon. The shop is closed over the weekend, so we can get full hookups and relax for a couple of days.