Monday, August 17, 2015

Power of the Sun…and Ingenuity! -- Aug 17, 2015

Yes….I’m still hanging out here in Payson!  I think a lot of people are wondering….”Gee…she has a mobile home --- why the heck isn’t she out traveling around seeing lots of cool sites?”  Well….everyone has to remember, I’m not on a vacation.  My objective is “living for free” – no matter where that might be that’s a decent (variable aspects to “decent”) spot.  This spot serves many purposes for me right now, so this is where I’m living.  I’m definitely not going to be going any further south for awhile….it was a record breaker in Phoenix the other day – 117*.  Still lots of flash flooding in the mountains.  I’ll stay put where I am, thank you very much!  LOL!  30% humidity!  

Eventho’, I’m not out in the “wilds”, I’m still “boondocking”.  The only amenity I have here that I don’t have out in a forest is one extension cord which lets me keep my small devices charged and a fan running to keep it a little cooler….mostly for Nikko.  Other than that, it’s still very much “roughing it”.  Actually, I could do very well without the extension cord because my house battery stays fully charged almost all the time with the aid of my solar panel.  But I’ll take the little bit of electricity while I have it! 

Speaking of “solar”…..have I got a product review for you!  Keep in mind….you DO NOT have to be an RVer or camping enthusiast to get full use of this new solar technology product!  You can use it at home, at the beach, in a city park for a picnic, on a boat, roughing it in a cabin….anywhere you can see the sun! 


I’ve been looking at these for a few months now and finally have one!  Coincidently, I went to high school with one of the developer’s father.  Small world!  Anyway, I love this solar cooker!  It is VERY different than anything else out there….super efficient, super convenient, and super light weight.  All you need is the sun to cook almost anything!  “Solar” certainly isn’t a new concept, but really, it seems it hasn’t “taken off” to the degree it could…in all kinds of situations….at home, commercially, industrially.  RVers and the most sun-rich geographic areas know it very well, but it really needs to reach all levels of living, work and play….everywhere!  The Go-Sun can do that….everywhere! 

Looks rather peculiar, right?   Well, it IS different.  Nothing like those boxes with reflectors sticking out around the sides. (I don’t really have room for one of those anyway.) Originally developed for third-world countries, it is taking over the solar cooking world.  I have the Sport Edition, but there are other models.  Okay – let’s get cookin’ with the Power of the Sun!

The premise is loading the tray up with raw foods, sliding it into the glass tube and adjusting the reflectors to capture the most sunlight.  Simple!  And no pots and pans to cart around or clean! Inside the tube the temperature can get upwards of 600*.  It doesn’t cook quite that hot because the food itself keeps the temperature a little lower…but not much!  The first thing I tried was sausage /peppers /onion /pineapple skewers.  Just sprinkled with a little olive oil and pepper and in they went for about 35 minutes.

Result?  Perfection!  Perfectly cooked and very moist and tender!  All the moisture stays in the tube while it’s cooking.  Up next were similar chicken skewers….white meat…. fork tender and juicy!

I also made up a tray of potatoes and peppers, baked apples and heated up a tray full of leftovers  - all perfect!

Baking you might ask?  Yep!  It can bake!  I’ve made lemon poppy seed cake.  I kept the end of the tube open just a hair to let a little extra steam escape…seems that made sense for baking.  For the cake, I simply poured the batter right into the tube….about 1/3 full – maybe slightly more….it baked up in about 25 minutes…then I just cut it into little tea cakes.  It was light as a feather and not dry at all.  And, it came right out of the tube which I have lined with a very thin oven mat that I cut to size. No clean up!

Since that was a success, I thought I would try actual “bread”.  Just in case it didn’t work, I didn’t want to go to all the hassle and mess of making bread dough totally from scratch, so I bought an herb bread “mix”…just add the yeast packet and water to the flour mixture.  Easy!  I made little rolls and had enough left over for a small loaf.  It baked up beautifully!  Crispy on the outside and soft and moist inside. 

I roasted up some garlic heads (cut in half) and some mini-peppers and made little bruschettas out of that mix and the little bread rollnd rounds.  Heated them in the Go-Sun.  Everything made with the Power of the Sun!  No hot oven, no charcoal, no propane….just the sun! 

The Go-Sun even works when the sun isn’t at it’s brightest….the cooking just takes a little longer.  You can even use this when there’s snow on the ground.  Just take it out on one of those bright, sunny days….even if it’s 32*.  As long as it’s in the sun, you can cook!  Any ice fishermen out there?  Cook your lunch right next to your fishin’ hole!  In fact, just clean your fish and put it right in the Go-Sun!  You never have to go back to your cabin! 

I will be experimenting with everything I can think of in the Go-Sun!  I’ve yet to try fish, but I know it will be perfect!  I’ll keep updating you on my experiments.  I think you will want one, too!  Here’s the link if you’re interested right now!  Initially, it may seem a little pricey, but the sheer convenience and efficiency….and don’t forget the important ecological factor….makes the payback a quick one! And there’s a two-year “no matter what happens” warranty!  You will be helping these young entrepreneurs, their dedicated efforts in third-world countries, the environment, and have great meals on top of it!  What could be better?  And your kids will be wide-eyed at what the sun can do!  Might be a good idea for a school science project!  


Now….a second very high tech innovation to tell you about!  Well….not really….it’s called “making something out of nothing”!  I purchased a little Smokey Joe Weber table top grill at the Time-Out thrift store for $4.00 – and it included a bag of charcoal!  It was virtually new…maybe used once.  New, they are about $30-35.  My very tiny mini grill was on its last legs and wasn’t great to begin with.  I decided I would try making a “smoker” out of this Weber grill.  I really miss my big smoker, but my friends back home are getting good use out of it! 

I found a piece of paver here at the house that miraculously fit perfectly inside the grill to divide it into two sections. I filled one side up with charcoal, lit and heated up as usual…then added some soaked wood chips.  I had seasoned the salmon with some “rub” and let it sit in the refrig for several hours…then brought it back to room temperature.  I placed the salmon over the empty side of the grill.  I added a small tin of water to regulate the temperature.  LOW AND SLOW is the rule for smoking.  Ideally, you want to keep the temperature anywhere from about 230-250*.  I slipped a probe thermometer into a vent hole in the lid…being careful that it wasn’t touching anything.  Put the lid on and just waited!  The vent holes MUST be over the meat.  That way, the smoke is pulled over to that side of the grill to encircle the salmon.  After about 45 minutes, I had perfectly cooked, moist smoked salmon. The temperature stayed within the desired range. Could be the best smoked salmon I’ve ever had!  I made two meals out of it – one hot and the other cold…. smoked salmon on Ritz crackers! 

Yesterday, I tried boneless/skinless chicken thighs using the same method.  Delicious!  That’s not BBQ sauce – that’s the smoked color with a little of the rub.  So moist and flavorful! 

My homemade “smoker” is a success!  From here on, no matter where I’m parked, most of my cooking will be in the Go-Sun and in the smoker/grill.  I see very few reasons to use up my propane for cooking! 

So, you see….you don’t always have to be parked somewhere “exotic” and remote to enjoy the “living free” lifestyle and experiment with “off grid” cooking, etc.  Actually, this is a good way for those of you who are considering a lengthy boondocking stay in an RV to get your feet wet with the virtues of solar and ‘roughing it’….driveway living, but with only your off grid supplies!   

I’m still doing Zentangle art….but on a much larger scale.  I’m not too interested in doing the small 3.5 x 3.5” pieces so much – I’ve migrated to 9”x12” pieces!  In fact, I entered a contest that my good friend, “GG” told me about - $1000 first prize/$500 second place.  Here’s the piece I entered: 

I think they announce the winners around the end of September.  Even if it’s not a winner, it’s still a fun and very relaxing activity. I don’t plan on giving it up anytime soon.  It has taken over reading!

That’s it for now….the BIG rodeo is this coming weekend here in Payson.  I hope to get there! 

Have a great week, everyone!  Let’s all think about moving more toward solar living…even if it’s just a little solar charger for your phone.  Every little bit helps keep our environment clean and productive…and it’s a great learning experience for the little ones to carry into their future…use the “Power of the Sun”!

Thank you for shopping via my Amazon link !

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Zzzzzen....Zzzzzen....Zzzzzen -- Aug 8, 2015

Hey everyone!  I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted! 

I’m still here in Payson, AZ in my friend’s driveway…The Payson Hilton!  The monsoons have kept me from going back up into the mountains.  Too much flash flooding up there and too warm to head further south.  So, I’m thankful to have this spot for now!  It has been convenient in many ways, that’s for sure!

So, you may wonder what in the world I’ve been doing if I’m not out exploring forests and trails or looking for rainbows and sunsets.  Well, there’s always reading!  I’ve probably polished off 5-6 books since my last post.  But, one (at least me) can only do so much reading day after day!  I’ve walked down to the strip shopping centers several times for groceries and tidbits.  There’s a great thrift shop, “Time-Out”, just a couple minutes walk away.  I’m a bargain hunter, so I love thrift shops.  The other day I picked up (2) books, (2) t-shirts, (2) button-up shirts, (1) skirt, (1) lounge set, and (1) pair of designer, leather short boots….everything looked virtually new.  Grand Total = $6.00!  Can you believe it?  I couldn’t!  It was ½ price day on clothes….but, even if it wasn’t, I’d be saying $12.00 – can you believe it?  LOL!  So, that was fun! 

I’ve also been totally zen-ing out on Zentangle ©.  Zentangle is an art form based on small, repetitious designs within a 3.5” x 3.5” “tile” (watercolor paper) using a very fine point pen.  It’s all free form – you don’t draw out your design first….it’s whatever happens when you put the pen on the paper.  It’s been around for probably 10 years.  It had been a long time since I played around with it.  Actually, I was doing something like this back in the 70’s….but it wasn’t a “trademark” art form at that time.  Shoulda thought of that!  LOL!  It is extremely meditative.  Very “zen”!  And, anyone can do it.  And, it takes only a few supplies……a pencil, a pen and paper.  And, you can do it anywhere…no studio or particular space needed.  The design option as limitless!  It's all about what you feel like Zentangling at the moment -- no rules!!  I’ve been using a Sharpie Ultra Fine pen, but it’s really not fine enough.  So, I’ve ordered some Sakura Micro Pens.

The Zentangle movement is huge, relatively speaking.  There are classes and seminars and Zentangle products and scads of books.  One can become a CZT (Certified Zentangle Teacher).  I think it would be fun to travel around conducting classes.  I wouldn’t want to do it without the certification, tho’….just not as credible, as far as teaching goes. They hold those seminars in the early summer in Rhode Island, I think.  Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to here at the Payson Hilton.  I’ll probably be here awhile longer.  Maybe stay for the BIG rodeo!  Payson will be hoppin’ when that starts up!  Cowboys will be everywhere!

I’m short on internet data time right now, so I’ll just post some samples of the Zentangles I’ve done.  You can learn a lot more about it at Zentangle. If you’d like a custom Zentangle for anything….initials, holiday cards, invitations….anything else you can think of….just let me know.  I’d be happy to design something for you.

So, here ya go…….

Although I’m partial to the traditional black & white, color can be added…

So....get out your fine point pen and some paper and try it yourself!  

Here's a great book to get you started!
One Zentangle A Day

As always, thank you for shopping via my Amazon link!
(Christmas is only a bit over four months away!)
Upcoming Amazon Deals

Til next time....enjoy your weekend!