Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Bitten by the travel bug again.

I realize that when I post this most of this information will be a little dated and I'll try to get some real up-to-date posts coming A.S.A.P.

So I realize that it has been a while since I've done an update on my day-to-day living situation so I figured I'd do one or two to catch you guys up. Basically since arriving back in Aspen after the Thanksgiving road trip to Joshua Tree I have been working four days a week at the Ute Mountaineer and on the remaining three skiing as much as possible up and down the Roaring Fork Valley. As of writing this I've accumulated 18 days with planks strapped to my feet with two of those riding lifts at Sunlight.

Whenever not skiing or working it's likely that I was writing for the blog, van shopping, talking about the blog, talking about the van or dreaming about retiring in a new van on the massive funds generated by the blog (heavy emphasis on the dreaming part). Or I have been spending a bunch of time at the Pearce household with my delightful girlfriend and her family.

Most recently I have also started working on planning some up coming travels and quitting my job in Aspen. It looks like I will be leaving the good old U.S. of A on valentines day to spend a little over a week in Jordan with my parents and littlest sister to see the sights and git gud an' cultured. From there I'll be heading to Zambia to meet up with a friend from high school finishing up his stint in the Peace Corps for a couple of weeks. After that it looks like I'll be heading back to England for a week or so with a few days in Scotland, hopefully doing a bit of climbing, slogging and suffering in the cold. So if post are sporadic it's because I'm doing awesome things or dealing with massive amounts of jet lag.

Hopefully I'll be back in one piece around the 3rd week of March to do some rocks climbing and more adventuring!

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Van Life Eats

One of the foremost topics on my mind is food because,  if you're anything like me when you get cold your body kicks it's metabolic activity up a notch or ten in order to keep you warm, as a result you need more calories. Food in the van, especially during the winter, can be quite the logistical challenge. I guess I should rephrase that, food that you could serve your mom and be proud of is a challenge. I suppose one could live off of those dried backpackers meals that only require the addition of hot water, note this is not an option I have ever exercised while in the van. I, instead choose to eat food that I have prepared and can control the flavors beyond adding hot sauce. I’ll admit I do use instant mashed potatoes from time to time because of their convenience. I digress, when you get down to it meals in the van are influenced by logistics and personal practices. I’ll mostly be focusing on what I've been doing for my winter meals, to remain consistent with my previous posts of course (but perhaps there will be a warm weather cooking themed post in the future).

I have found that I pretty much cook breakfasts and dinners in the van, leaving either left overs for lunch or, more often, I find myself cruising by the grocery store for discount groceries. I'm sure my co-workers will confirm that I am a master of finding the managers special items. Favorites include salad kits, racks of ribs, chicken tenders, unhealthy amounts of Italian sausage and brats.
Shizzam, it's pavlova!
Photo Credit: Meril Shane

While it is not impossible to eat luxuriously in the van a few of the set backs that I have encountered over the past couple years have included a longing for a few kitchen appliances that I just can't fit or run in the van. Those appliances include and are limited (by my memory) to: an oven, blender, kitchen aid and a crock pot. To compensate the lack of these amenities I'm sure to take advantage of them whenever I have the chance whether it's to bake a quick cake or whip up a pavlova.

That being said I’ll share some wisdom that I was sent off to college with and has certainly held true after moving in the van. If you want to eat well, a well stocked spice cabinet is a necessity.

Recent menu items include:
Cream cheese stuffed jalapeƱos wrapped in bacon
Spicy Italian sausage w. colby jack on hoagies
Grilled cheese supplemented by instant oatmeal
Penne with red sauce and an unhealthy amount of cheese
Mashed potatoes with shredded turkey and cheese
Eggplant Parmesan with grilled asparagus
Rotini with sausage and red sauce
Moose chili, of course sprinkled with some sharp cheddar

Can you tell which of these were made and eaten within a conventional house and which were eaten with snow falling and winter winds rocking the van?

Chicken Cordon Bleu with grilled veggies made over the Coleman,
 utilizing the 3rd burner option.