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Puckerbrush Preps

OK, confession time. Less than a decade ago my pantry was thin and my teeny RV freezer was chock full of Lean Cuisines, Hungry Man dinners,  State Fair Corn Dogs and Heat’n’Eat Hot Wings.  I didn’t own a water bottle because I drank a 12 pack of unleaded Pepsi every day.  A microwave was indispensable because – frozen dinner.  I distinctly remember buying Hungry Man’s  because it screamed out on the package they contained 2.5 lbs of food.  Mebbe not good and healthy food but Jesus H. Christ  -2.5 lbs of food!!!  How could you go wrong? The RV freezer was so small that I could maybe get a week-10 days of frozen goods in there – nada mas.  But hey, I was fat and happy; chock full of MSG,fructose syrup and killer doses of sodium.

AcuTemp AX56L milsurp freezer/refrigerator

Well sir, In 2010 I got all tangle footed with Little Blondie and one of the things she heavily advertised was the fact she was a gourmet cook………… and that was a fact true enough.  The smart question at the time would have been “Ummmm, how often do you do this gourmet cookery?” and the honest answer would have included the phrase when hell freezes over. So if she grudgingly put a pot on the stove it was usually gruel and hardtack.  Lucky me!   When she went to the store, she went down the frozen food aisle and stopped next door to where they kept the Lean Cuisines – you know the door with the ‘bargain’ frozen dinners.  Evidence pointed to the fact she would just back the cart up and scoop a shelf or two into the cart helter skelter.  I am NOT a vegetarian so why did my freezer have 4 packages of eggplant parmigiana in there?  BTW, I am still partial to those Hot Wings.

Wait, it gets better.  I have told y’all before that somewhere along about 2013 I decided I was gonna learn to cook – even though I was payin’ the freight and doin’ the heavy liftin’ for a gourmet cook in situ.  The catalyst for that decision was Little Blondie had a gourmet food stash.  She would do the gruel/hardtack thing for me and buy me dollar store TV dinners and then rathole her own personal stash of goodies.  When I called her out on that she was unabashed and said ‘ You can’t have ANY of that.’  F that Noise!   So I bought a set of Lodge Cast Iron Cookware and started to learn how to be a cooker man.  Over the years I have developed quite an affinity for Cajun cooking.  Those folks can take the most commonest stuff and make it taste good.  I swear I believe somewhere there is a Cajun recipe for bermuda grass clippings and garden slugs. Think about it — who was the first fella that picked up a mudbug and said ‘Wonder how this tastes?’  or gator tail or garfish?   My cooking bible has been Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen ca. 1984.  It is all tatted and worn with scribbles in the margins — well worth it!  In 1984, you would have gone to the Crazy House if you told ’em one day there would be a TV channel just about cooking. Time’s change but some things never will.

Last week I talked about My Katrina and that epiphany.  Some folks say they are doomsday preppers or end of the world-type survivalists and they do some of the same-same things I am doing.  I don’t lump myself in with those doomsday preppers because I don’t do this stuff part time and then put my shiny shoes on every Monday to go to work.   I learned to cook so I wouldn’t have to endure gruel or eat frozen dinners that had more chemicals than meat in them.  When Little Blondie flew out down south this time 3 years ago,  I was left on a job that traditionally required at least two people.  My lifestyle requirements radically changed and I adjusted.  With certainty,  living down here in the puckerbrush and not going to the store for months makes me more self-sufficient and better prepared.  That knowledge is a welcome safety net in this chaotic world for sure.

Danby chest freezer paired with two Rubbermaid Action Packers. That is some trapper cabin shit there for sure.

If we get down to brass tacks, refrigeration is a key factor for a deep pantry that eats well.  My little Danby Chest Freezer is a key player. It has been a tough soldier over the last 4 years. I have run it on grid power, generators and solar and it just keeps chuggin’ along. When I can see the bottom of the freezer, I know a supply run is soon at hand.  I do not know if I could get along without it honestly.

In 2015,  I did 5 months at the Secret Hideout because the oil field played out.  I saw it coming and planned accordingly;  the pantry was full when I turned out the lights and headed north.  That 5 months was all off grid with power coming from a 2000 Watt Portable Inverter Generator and a small RENOGY Solar Kit .  As the Spring months rolled by I really, really dreaded the heat of Summer with no AC.  One of the things I discovered quickly was how much cooking inside an RV heated it up.  I know now why the early pioneers had outdoor kitchens!

I cooked on the smoker or used the Lodge cast iron outside. It was really no big deal.  The Lodge Dutch Oven Cooking Table sure made it easier on my back! A recent addition was the Camp Chef Outdoor Oven and my SIL tells me UPS delivered a Camp Chef High Output 2 Burner Stove to the Hideout soon after I left. How about some down and dirty info on propane stoves and burners? A typical RV stove has 3 burners. The big center burner is 9500btu and the smaller rear ones are 6500btu. My most used piece of cast iron is my Lodge Cast Iron 12 inch Skillet and that center burner is marginal for that big a skillet because the outside edges don’t get hot enough.  A 10″ works just fine; keeping in mind all the while that goods left stacked in the corner and not used until the lights go out is a recipe for disaster.   There is a learning curve with all this stuff and reading it in a book is just not good enough when the chips are down.  The Camp Chef oven is great………  the two top burners not so much.  They are only 6500btu so as evidenced above, their utility is limited. You just gotta know what you are working with because they will simmer up a big pot of beans just fine.  .  BTW, it fits very tidily on the Lodge Cooking table.

AX56L with the Hardigg lid off

If you have been visiting here long enough you know I prefer to purchase quality equipment – just like maybe one day my life might depend on it.  Good equipment is not cheap…. I call that philosophy  Buy Once – Cry Once.  Amazon can be a weird marketplace.  Sometimes they will do an insane price reduction on a product for a short time and that is what I troll for.  I have a wishlist with equipment I need and I patiently wait for a price reduction.  That is what happened with the 2 burner Camp Chef stove.  I caught it at almost 70% off.  And why do I need another outdoor stove?  Simple – the burners are 20,000btu!  And why would I need a 20kbtu burner?  Simple again…… An All American Pressure Cooker is on my purchase list and you are not going to do any decent canning on a puny propane burner.

Same same with a big ‘ol cardboard box currently taking up valuable floor space in the NO Princess Palace.  It is another item that has been on my wishlist since day one….. an Excalibur Food Dehydrator that I just picked up at almost $80 off normal price. As soon as I can make a supply run to pick up some fresh produce, we are gonna test drive that rascal.

Interior of AX56L

The last addition to my equipment was the AcuTemp AX56L freezer/refrigerator AKA the bad ass fridge.  I had the opportunity to pick one up milsurp and NIB for pennies on the dollar vs. new cost.  BFF Cait and I discussed its’ usefulness  at length and finally decided we could not pass it up because of its’ versatility and rugged construction.  Basically, it is a military blood product transfer case with approximately 2cu ft capacity.  It will run on any power source  from 12vDC to 240vAC.  It has onboard AGM batteries that will run it standalone for 12 hrs in freezer mode or 48 hrs in cool mode.  It only has two temp settings –  minus 8 degrees and 39 degrees.  It is a true compressor fridge inside a Hardigg case and I have enjoyed piddlin’ with it.  So far I see two cons — it is big and bulky and it weighs 142lbs!!  Plans for its’ use right now is overflow capacity for the Danby chest freezer which will stretch my necessity for supply maybe as much as 30 additional days.

 

End Note: Heaven’s Only Days Down the Road by Shelby Lynne for the Revelation CD.

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5 comments to Puckerbrush Preps

  • Rob

    Who’s the first person to try a mudbug you asked? Somebody really hungry I’ll bet!

    I learned to cook because I liked to eat, that was years ago.

    Want to talk about the first person who? Think about coffee, someone had to get up one morning and decide that they wanted to take the pit out of the coffee bean,roast it & grind to make a drink that picks you up.

    Learning to cook…
    In 2003 I moved from Minnesota back to the west coast & for what ever reason I decided to learn to cook on a bbq grill, well something more than hamburgers & hot dogs. I bought a book, it told me how.
    I bought a Weber grill, a charcoal starter chimney, etc. I also found a forum on the web that was a huge help in answering my questions.
    I now live in the world of pulled pork & smoked Thanksgiving Day turkeys and it’s good!

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  • Don

    Looks like you are getting set up to cook more with propane, but on the dutch oven side of things, check out Kent Rollins.

    He has a website where you can buy his cookbook. http://www.kentrollins.com/

    However he also provides lots of dutch oven tips and recipes on his you tube channel. https://www.youtube.com/user/krollins57/videos

    Still experimenting and practicing myself.

    Don

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    • Andy

      I will check out Kent Rollins.

      From my experience, A 40lb bottle of propane will last me 5-6 months in the RV. That is cooking and hot water heater in the summer. The RV can’t deal with an AC running nonstop and a water heater on electric.

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  • Piper

    Great information. When you go back to the pipeline, how much food do you prepare for in advance? This time I think we are going to purchase a small deep freeze and buy plenty of meat, vegetables and fruit. I notice you have not said anything about using a slow cooker, but I have found that invaluable when cooking on the pipeline. It takes a special kind of person to be able to live alone and isolated from society for so long. Most people could not do that. You said you just drink the water that is delivered to you – do you run it through a filter or do anything to it before you drink it? Our tank ran dry at our last gig and there was 2 inches of dirt and sand in the bottom of the tank – they were not real careful about the cleanliness of the water.

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    • Andy

      Piper
      I have a small chest freezer and a full size residential refrigerator. They are full as well as a full dry pantry when I go back on a gate. I filter the water — check the blog for more details.

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