What to do when you’re cooped up for three days?

Being former Californians, we’re used to fairly stable weather and not a lot of surprises. But while traveling in this lifestyle, we’ve had to get used to being prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at us.  For example, we were amazed by the non-stop rain for 3 days at Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and the sustained high winds while at Alamogordo, NM.  Then there was the sand storm we endured at Death Valley National Park, CA.

Here in the southeast, we’ve had to deal with storm systems that triggered severe weather events resulting in numerous thunderstorms and soaking rain.  We’ve learned that it’s what we do during this inclement weather that keeps life from getting too depressing. At these times, we usually catch up on our reading, do blogging or trip planning, or just watch the raging weather outside as we hunker down.  We’re getting pretty good at planning upcoming activities around the forecasted weather.  I mean, if the sun is out and the birds are chirping, who wants to be stuck doing computer work or taking care of inside maintenance stuff?  Not us!

Gulf State Park

Get ready, here it comes!

So, what did we do during the latest big storm?  Lots, considering we live in this tiny house on wheels.  For one thing, Steve was able to expand his culinary interests into Filipino cooking.   As you may know, he not only sits in the captain’s chair, but he also makes his mark in the kitchen.  He likes to experiment and learn new recipes, and I have to laugh because whenever something doesn’t come out just so, he wants to try it again right away until he gets it perfect.

For years since we met, Steve’s been hinting and goading me to teach him how to make Filipino lumpia.  I kept postponing, since it’s tedious and involves frying.  Well, as the storm approached I finally ran out of excuses, since I knew we would be RV-bound for the next couple of days.

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“Chef Steve” begins preparing the ingredients for his first batch of lumpia. I wish you could see his smile here, but it was too big to fit into the picture!

Filipino lumpia is the Filipino version of an egg roll or a Chinese spring roll.  It can be a mixture of several veggies (like cabbage and carrots), and meat (usually pork and/or shrimp), rolled into a thin wrapper.  In any Filipino gathering, lumpia is usually the king of appetizers – those of you who have tasted home-made lumpia would probably agree.  It’s that good!

Steve found a good Filipino lumpia recipe (not mine, sad to say) and gathered all the required ingredients.  There are several recipes and styles that are very good, he used this one for his first try.  As usual, he took this project very seriously and even watched Youtube to see several experts rolling lumpia so he would be prepared.

After preparing all of the ingredients, cooking the mixture (we made some pork and some shrimp) and letting it cool down, the fun began as I showed Steve how to roll the lumpia. He caught on quickly and went on to roll the remaining 30 pieces himself.

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Hey, this ain’t no thang!

We then fried a few to taste his labor of love, and stored the rest for future happy hours.  We fried ours in a small amount of oil in a pan, rather than deep frying, to make it a bit healthier.

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Lumpia is often served with a sweet-chili sauce, but we like it dipped in vinegar with fresh garlic pressed in and some black pepper

Well, that was it for the lumpia experiment.  What else did we do during the imperfect storm?  Read on…

We love fresh bread, no doubt about it.  One issue in our gypsy lifestyle is that finding good, fresh bread can be problematic.  After talking with John and Sharon of On the Road of Retirement about how they bake all their own bread, we were inspired.  I was surprised when Steve suggested we buy a bread making machine to try it ourselves.  Now, John and Sharon make their breads completely by hand, but we decided to be a bit less ambitious and try a highly-recommended machine that would allow us to “set it and forget it”.  That would allow us to have fresh home-made bread whenever we wanted it, without having to be present for every step of the process.

So, as the storm raged on we went to pick up our new Panasonic SD-TD250 Bread Making Machine at the local Walmart.  And what a fun day it turned out to be while we were cooped up!

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After our first successful loaf of wheat bread, I decided to go crazy and try for a loaf of honey walnut!

The manual that came with the machine had recipes for many excellent breads.  We started with a loaf of regular whole wheat, and it came out so good that we confidently proceeded to make a loaf of honey wheat.  Then we baked a loaf of french bread that was out of this world!  And I say that as a connoisseur of quality breads from San Francisco. Since most of the “base ingredients” are the same, it’s easy to make many types of breads with this machine, even pizza dough!  All we have to do is whip the ingredients together and then wait a few hours for our next fresh loaf.  We’ve been having a blast with this machine, and we love how our house smells like a bakery when it fires up!

Panasonic Bread Bakery

Fresh from the oven!

Bread Bakery

“Success!” declares the new baker…

Whole Wheat Honey Walnut Bread

This honey walnut bread turned out good, and we’ll keep baking until we find the perfect loaf!

I also got myself busy with some other inside projects.  After showing my hubby how to wrap a lumpia, I rummaged through our closets and started purging clothes.  This has been on my to-do list for quite a while, and it was a good time to do it.  I realized once again that I need even fewer clothes to live this lifestyle.  Going through my closet, I located the “never worn” and “special occasion only” clothes that I never got around to wearing, plus some really old stuff that I must admit I was sentimentally attached to.  After two big bagfuls of give aways, my closet now seems a bit empty.  Perhaps its time to hit the mall and get new clothes?  Oh, I hope Steve doesn’t see this…

In between these in-house activities, we caught up on some reading of our favorite authors.  Between the two of us we finished several books – two Ken Follet’s, two David Baldacci’s and a Jeffrey Archer best seller.

And the aftermath of the big storm?  A nice sunset and the promise of better weather for our upcoming planned activities.

Sunset after storm

Water everywhere after the big storm

Being cooped up can be fun and productive after all, and this time we learned some new cooking skills.  How about you?  What do you do when the dreaded cabin fever hits?

 

Next up:  Venturing back out and about at Gulf Shores.