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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Portable Hot Sauce - Variety Is The Spice Of Life

Compact Kitchen
    Sometimes, when cooking, I like to spice things up a bit. There are any number of hot sauces available, probably in the hundreds of thousands at this point. Obviously, we can't carry them all. My basic rule regarding hot sauce and spicy food is this: "If I can't taste the underlying flavors, only the heat...that's too much!" That being said, a bit of heat, mixed with some extra flavor, is a welcome change to daily favorites. I love to add a few drops of Chipotle flavored Tabasco sauce to my morning eggs. Delicious. Adding regular Tabasco to other dishes makes them into something else...easily and with no real effort. Of course, you can use Sriracha as well...different flavor profile, but just as delicious. I am sure you all have your favorites too. I know I am leaving a lot of them out...ones I like too...but you have to be selective when you have very little storage space. Here's how I keep a variety around.

Cute, Right?
Small Bottles...REALLY small bottles. Enough for a recipe or two. I keep finding assortment packs of hot sauces that include a few different recipes in the various close-out shops I haunt. A few days ago I found a Tabasco"sampler" pack. While not the smallest bottles I have seen (those were in Military MRE's back in the day), they are just the right size for a dash of flavor in your RV recipes. This one included, Original, Chipotle and Jalapeno (though not "on-a-stick," for all you Jeff Dunham fans!) All in a cute little box. How much? A single buck. 1 Dollar for about 6 (OK maybe 9) meal additions. I couldn't resist. So, I bough a few of them to have "reloads."

Now, if you, like me, enjoy the odd squirt of Sriracha to liven up a meal...amazing with Asian inspired dishes!... you'll love the handy tiny sizes that are available. You can even get two different keychain with carabiner styles as empties that you fill yourself. Perfect for on-board use. You could even use it as a keychain, but I'd hate to have it open in my pocket! Ouch!  Believe wouldn't let that happen again....ever! Here's an awesome tip...add Sriracha to Ramen noodles and some leftover vegetables. WOW! Quite warming and fantastic on a rainy (or snowy) day. It's also great with leftover chicken and fresh spinach. Just stir some in when you heat it up in a skillet. Whenever I have leftover stir fry, I'll make an omelette the following morning. A couple of shakes of this stuff will definitely wake you up in the AM.

If you like your food crazy hot, these tiny versions aren't for you. Unless you can find a Ghost pepper extract that comes in the eyedropper bottle. No joke! It's insanely hot...could damage mucous membranes hot. If you're into that kind of thing. Personally, I like less actual pain with my meals!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Even The Simple Things - Removing Labels, Gunk, And Stuff

Crazy, Huh?
    How often have you purchased something only to notice a bunch of adhesive labels all over it? Usually on the bottom. Ever try to scrape one off with a finger nail and end up with little bits of label and a bunch of excess glue still on your shiny new item? This kind of thing happens to me all the time. Getting the glue off is usually pretty easy. Some kind of citrus based cleaner will do the trick, but what about getting the label off in the first place. Wouldn't it be easier if you had a small tool that would get underneath it and remove it quickly and easily in the first place? What about cooked-on gunk in a Teflon-coated pan? You know, as soon as you get a scratch on one it's useless to cook in. No metal tools, ever! Well, after a long time using my nails, I can honestly say I found a better way to do it that won't scratch the finish on anything (within reason!).

Simple AND Handy!
It's one of those crazy simple ideas that I wish I'd thought of (and marketed!) myself. But I didn't. Ah well, at least I can share the knowledge and save some of you some time and aggravation. A week ago I was in a Bed, Bath and Beyond. No, I'm not a regular there...just visiting! While wandering around I noticed a bunch of little kitchen tools in baskets. One drew my eye. It was/is called a "Thumb Scraper." Just a soft silicone covered handle with a depression for your...well...umm..thumb! And a thin, stiff plastic scraper end. It seemed way too simple (and cheap at 1.99) to work. So I bought a clearance aisle glass with a bunch of labels on the bottom and removed them...quickly! I was sold.

When I got it back home I made myself a, purposefully, cheesy and messy omelette in a regular Teflon pan. Made sure the cheese was nice and stuck to the bottom. Pulled out the scraper and, voila!, all the mess was scraped off with no damage to the pan at all. Double win!

This thing is pretty tough, looks like it could be used to pry apart small electronics as well. Like a cell phone's case. I'll be trying it on a few more things. Who knows how many uses I'll be able to come up with.  Drop me a line... let me know if you come up with any nifty uses! Hey, how about decal removal...or maybe just the small leftover pieces?

I love inexpensive items that solve multiple problems and take up very little storage space. Seems like they are tailor made for our RVs. If it speeds cleanup...double win!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Check Your AC Outlets! - Right Voltage? Polarity? Ground? - It's Easy!

    When I have access to 120 Volt AC power, whether by using my generator or connecting a shore power cable, I ALWAYS make sure the power I am receiving/using is up to snuff. Does it have the correct Voltage? The correct Polarity? Is it Grounded? In extreme cases, improper wiring at a campground or other power source could fry your electrical system and lots of expensive components. It's easy to check before you connect so....why risk it?If you think it's a P.I.T.A. (Sound it out...Pain In The A...) then these two inexpensive simple devices will make it easy!

First off is a $4.75 Polarity and ground checker. These come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Mine is Yellow, don't you know. They have three lights on them and a small diagram telling you what those lights mean. Typically, you get the two right most ones lit and instantly know the receptacle is wired correctly. It's really easy to use. Just plug it in to the outlet and look at the lights that illuminate. For me, ANYTHING that isn't "CORRECT" won't be receiving my shore power plug any time soon. Some incorrectly wired receptacles are worse than others. It really never pays to gamble with your expensive electrical system. A few seconds of testing could save you a whole lot of grief and money.

Once the wiring has been checked and is OK to use. I test the actual electricity coming out of the socket. Namely, the Voltage and the Frequency. Everyone knows about what the correct voltage is. It should be around 120V, sometimes as high as 124V or as low as 110V. Anything above or below those numbers could very likely damage things plugged in and operating. Frequency is a bit more complicated. In the United States we use 60Hz power. Not to get overly technical, that just means that the power oscillates back and forth (Alternates) from the power station to you. 60Hz just means 60 times per second. Some of the rest of the world uses 50Hz. Most modern power supplies can use either. If it's WAY off you shouldn't use it. This can be an issue with your generator as its speed will directly affect the voltage and frequency. I use a Kill-A-Watt meter to check both. As a bonus, it will tell you how much power (amps) your device  (that's plugged into it) is drawing among other features. At about $20.00, it's well worth it!

Again, a tiny bit of work before you plug in, can save you a world of hurt. I'm all about enjoying my RV and each and every minute of each and every trip. If I can prevent something from going wrong, I'm way ahead. Every moment I get to travel is precious to me. What's that worth in dollars?? Priceless!!!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"