Wednesday, April 21, 2010
We are proud to announce that the Road Tested Recipe postings on this blog now have a new home. These postings have proven to be very popular, so Deb decided to dedicate a blog that will concentrate solely on recipes adapted to a smaller RV kitchen.
You can follow these posts at deblane.blogspot.com or through the FaceBook link titled RV Road Tested Recipes.
Although the focus of these recipes is on preparation in an RV kitchen, all will feature dishes that are delicious no matter where you prepare them!
Deb also welcomes all of our readers to forward your favorite recipes that will be featured (with credit in your name) in future posts.
Enjoy and we wish everyone Good Eats!
Monday, April 19, 2010
Miller Family Farm - York, PA
An interesting aspect of our journeys over the past year has been the opportunity to see, first hand, the effects of current economic conditions on local communities in many parts of the country. Communities everywhere are experiencing the common problems of unemployment, decreased property values, large drops in local and state tax bases and disappearing small businesses. This is especially true in rural communities. There have been small towns we have driven through that, although a few years ago housed a few businesses and residents, are nothing more today than literal ghost towns. Some areas have been affected harder than others, but no matter where we have been, everyone hears the same news topics over and over; no jobs, cutbacks in local services, disappearing businesses and ballooning national expenditures.
While many people in all parts of this country are complaining about new federal programs and their impacts on the average citizen and local communities, they are oblivious to older federal programs that waste billions of dollars per year. While the debate raged on and on about how to pay for the health care bill, our government is paying subsides to the tune of $3 billion dollars per year to less then 20,000 cotton farmers. The program encourages American planters to grow cotton even when supplies are high, and this overproduction keeps prices low on the world market.
Given that we have children in this country going to bed hungry every night and that the official number of unemployed people today is 15,089,451 the cotton subsidy sounds really dumb right? Well, it gets dumber. At the same time we are paying American planters subsidies to grow cotton nobody needs, we are also paying Brazilian cotton farmers over $147 million dollars a year of our tax dollars to compensate them for the unfair advantage we pay our farmers! Time magazine summed up this mess by saying, "If you're perplexed, here's the short explanation: We're shoveling our taxpayer dollars to Brazilian farmers to make sure we can keep shoveling our taxpayer dollars to American farmers... Basically, we're paying off farmers to maintain our ludicrous status quo."
Now, before you think this money is going to the small, independent farmer who busts his or her butt every day to provide a quality farm life for their family, think again. Most of this cotton subsidy - our money - is going to big corporations who bought out the small family farms who could not compete with them and their government subsidies.
This topic is personal to me because I spent my formative years growing up on a family farm in northern Indiana. It was a great way to spend my youth and I am grateful each and every day for the lessons learned about life on that land. There's something very special about working alongside relatives on land that your great-grandfather homesteaded. It was often a difficult and hard way to make a living, but one that was filled with rich blessings and the support of a very large extended family. Unfortunately, the days of the independent family farm are quickly becoming a thing of the past in this country.
Farm subsidies have always been an important part of our national economy and security. They were first put in place to both safeguard the family farmer from the vagaries of weather and to protect our nation's food supply. This not only stabilized rural economies, it also helped make our nation the largest food producer in the world. Then, slowly, multinational corporations began to buy out family farms and expand their dominance in all areas of food production. Not surprisingly they built, and continue to expand, this dominance through the the very subsidies that were established to help the small farmer.
For example, did you know in America: 80 percent of all soybean production and processing is controlled by one corporation, Monsanto; that between 1995 and 2005, 73 percent of farmers and ranchers in New York state did not collect one cent of the $1.11 billion in Federal farm subsidies for that state - instead, most of that money went to just 10% of subsidy recipients including over 1,300 businesses in New York City (most large multinational corporations); that wealthy men like Ted Turner and David Rockefeller are taking in large sums of money each year in the form of farm subsidies; that most of the poultry you purchase at major chain grocery stores is controlled by multinational corporations who cornered the market in the 1960s; that most of the pork you purchase in major chain grocery stores is controlled by multinational corporations who cornered the market in the late 1990s; that the same is true for beef and corn products purchased through major chains; that multinational food-based corporations annually maintain one of the largest lobbyist influences in Washington, D.C.?
Today the inequity of how the federal government allocates farm subsidies - our money - is playing out in the dairy industry. It was given daily coverage on local news channels while we were in the Northeastern states last summer. Yet for the impact this crisis will ultimately have on independent family farms and our nations milk supply, it has received woefully little attention by national news chains.
Each day, our nation is seeing hundreds of independent milk producers going out of business due to a lack of adequate federal price supports. Right now dairy farmers are losing $200 per cow each month due to the gap between current bulk milk prices and production costs. If trends continue, we may immediately lose 20,000 of our nation's 60,000 family dairies and billions of dollars from rural communities, which are already hurting more than large communities during this economic downturn.
This dairy crisis is just not the result of overproduction or a sudden decline in demand spurred by the global recession. Instead, it is a disastrous combination of factors beyond the independent farmer's control. The price of milk paid to farmers collapsed a record 30% in January 2009 alone, the result of a volatile pricing system manipulated by a few corporate players. In addition, our country is allowing an unregulated flow of milk substitute imports from China. Most of the milk-based fillers used in processed cheeses and many other products now come from overseas, not from American farmers.
All our nation's independent milk producers are asking for is a fair price support from the government. They are not asking to get rich overnight or ripoff the taxpayer. They simply want a fair chance to maintain their businesses and keep ownership of their family farms. While this crisis drags on, our federal government has yet to pledge any increased support; they instead have established a committee to research the problem and present recommendations.
While some may argue that the expansion of multinational corporate farming is simply the result of economic trends that lead to lower prices for the consumer, I would have to say that I find that view short-sighted. We have seen the impact of lowered farm incomes on many rural towns and the outcomes are sad. With the loss of every dollar from small family farmers many jobs, local businesses and personal lives are placed into distress. It's not comfortable to stay in or drive through rural towns that are obviously dying due to a collapsed local economy. Ghost towns are once again becoming a part of our rural landscape.
I also find it short-sighted to not think about our food base being at the total control of multinational corporations. There's just too much at risk. As a family farmer from Iowa said, "If the government thinks they have problems with our nation's reliance on oil imports or the collapse of the banking industry, what will they do if we are dependent upon foreign entities for our food supplies?".
It just seems to me that if this nation can shell out our money to Brazilian farmers so that we can continue to overproduce cotton, or pay millions to wealthy landowners in subsidies, or pay multinational corporations a huge share of subsidies that were meant for the small, independent farmer they could, instead, spend our money in ways that better support independent dairy farmers and rural communities. That money, right now, could be going to the those who daily work to maintain the beautiful family farms we have seen in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and other parts of this great land. It could be going to those small towns who are currently dying a slow death. It could be going to us instead of another country.
There's a lot I don't understand but, like the title says, some things just don't make sense.
copyright 2009-2010 Lane A Geyer
photo by Deb
Sunday, April 11, 2010
This is another delicious recipe we have enjoyed numerous times. Once again, it saves us on LP gas because it can be easily prepared in our small RV kitchen using only a crockpot. It is best served with rice pilaf or mashed potatoes to soak up all the wonderful juices.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 onions, coarsely chopped
- 1 (16 ounce) bag baby carrots
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-1/2 pound salmon fillet
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
- Place olive oil and butter in crockpot. Add onions, carrots and garlic, stir, cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours stirring once during cooking time. Continue simmer until vegetables begin to caramelize.
- Place salmon fillet over vegetables and sprinkle with salt, pepper and dill weed. Cover and continue cooking on low for 1-2 hours until salmon flakes when tested with a fork.
- Place salmon on plate and cover with vegetable mixture. Serves 4.
copyright 2009-2010 Lane A Geyer
photos by Deb & Lane
Friday, April 9, 2010
A few random thoughts that have been bouncing around my head recently:
Bad Neighbors - Just like living in any type of house, the full-time RV life also includes dealing with bad neighbors on occasion. We have some now that leads me to believe there should be some kind of screening process before people are trusted with the care and transport of any type of RV.
First, to their credit, they are very friendly people who are only here at the Flower Mill RV Park (at least right now) during weekends. But they have exhibited the same behaviors we have seen in many other places that make us shake our heads in disbelieve.
The first sign of pending concerns was when they arrived several weeks ago. They have a 20 foot tow-behind trailer that was being pulled by a truck way too small for the job. As they made their way to a site, it was obvious they had no clue how to adjust the settings on the braking system. Every time the driver hit the brakes in the truck, the trailer brakes totally locked up causing it to skid wildly. On top of this, the brake lights on the trailer were not working. Given that they drove here from middle Tennessee, I had to wonder how many potential accidents could have happened along the way.
This is only one example of too many RV owners we have seen throughout our travels who have no idea how to safely operate their equipment on the open road. It's bad that those of us who drive large motor homes have to be constantly on guard for aggressive or unsafe drivers. If some idiot hits me I have a major concern about the amount of LP and gas inboard, but the impact to this 6 ton behemoth will be minor compared to that of a smaller vehicle. However, if I drive stupidly or do not know how to handle this same 6 tons safely, I have a very good chance of quickly killing someone. If you have not had previous experience or training in driving large vehicles or towing extended tonnage behind you, please do not assume it's easy. It's not; and knowing that could save a life.
The other thing they have done is constantly left burning campfires unattended. On more than one occasion it has been necessary to drag my hose to their fire ring to douse smoldering embers after they had gone elsewhere. The last time was a few mornings ago when wind gusts of 25 mph+ threw red embers from their smoldering fire over three different sites. How stupid (and inconsiderate) can one be? If you've never seen how quickly an RV can burn, go to UTube and enter a video search for RV On Fire. It's scary. It takes, on average, only 10 minutes for an RV of any type to completely burn to the ground.
One last thought on this topic. There is a very good reason that most RV parks have posted speed limits of 5 mph. Besides safety for the children who are usually present, lower speeds reduce noise, dust and freak accidents. There are too many people who want to drive their RVs through parks at the same speeds normally found on Interstate highways.
The one upside of having bad neighbors in the full-time RV lifestyle is that you can quickly move your house at any time to get away from them.
Gas Prices - We own a home-on-wheels that has an 80 gallon gas tank and can get 8-10 miles per gallon under the best of conditions. There have been times, like when we where driving through the steep grades of the Allegheny mountains, that our fuel average dropped to 3-4 mpg. Needless to say, we have to keep a very close eye on gas prices. I track the crude oil prices almost daily to try and stay ahead of the fluctuations at the pump.
The thing that burns my butt over the current average of $3.00 per gallon is that it has not been driven by supply and demand. It has only happened because of investment speculators in the commodities markets. Without their influences over the past several months, most experts state that gas prices would still be in the same ranges as a year ago.
Aside from the extra money current gas prices are costing us, my biggest concern is that there is no way for our economy to recover if these trends continue. Gas prices affect everything from shipping costs to manufacturing, which keeps consumer prices high and expansion stifled. We all need some kind of relieve from the overbearing influences that gas prices have on our lives.
The Continued Media Fascination With Lady Gaga - What's up with that? Enough of just another no-talent freak show!
copyright 2009-2010 Lane A Geyer
photo by Deb
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Monday, April 5, 2010
Have you ever had one of those days when you wake up and life delivers an unexpected reality THWACK out of nowhere? Well, we had one of those days early last week that altered our plans to be in Florida by now. Man, I hate when that happens; especially before my first cup of coffee.
Not to fear. Our change in plans are not due to any major problems. My Mom is doing fine, we are fine and our old RV Howie (House On Wheels Is Excellent) is in great shape. The decision to hang out a little while longer here in Taylors, SC is due to "circumstances beyond our control".
I should have known better than to check my phone messages before I was fully awake, but I did and had one from the RV park we were going to in Florida. There was a problem and they requested a return call as soon as possible. After downing enough coffee to feel conscious, I called and found out they had major water line problems. They were more than willing to accommodate us anyway, but warned that the spaces would be tight and the repairs could take as long as three weeks to complete. Although they didn't elaborate, I was left with the impression that the problem was based in their sewer lines and drain field.
We have stayed in places where underground repairs were being completed and it is not a pleasant experience. There is a lot of noise, dust, mud if it rains and disruptions to water access. If the problem is indeed in their septic system, that also leads to the additional potential for some very offensive odors. The fact that they said it could take up to three weeks to complete repairs left us with a potential situation of being in tight, uncomfortable surroundings for longer than is desirable.
We could have arranged for another place to stay, but after careful discussions, came to the conclusion it was in our best long-term interests to stay put for now based upon several factors. One is the desire to be in Florida for a potential work/camp position and the other is financial.
Our first stay on this journey was at the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park and we feel in love with the place. It is a quaint, small "Old Florida" town with genuinely nice people and beautiful scenery. Between the dense Spanish moss dripping from the trees and the hourly music heard emanating from the park's 97-bell carillon, the area has an almost ethereal quality. Landing a work/camp position at the park is something we have always worked towards. It would provide a free, full hook-up site at no charge for up to three months in exchange for 20 hours of light work per week. The weird thing about Florida State Parks is that they have no central point for obtaining a work/camp position. They suggest that it is best to just go, in person, to the park your interested in and check availability. I can see their wisdom in this structure in that it is much easier to make a decision about a person first-hand than through other routes. Besides, outside of the surreal madhouse that is South Florida, that is the way business is done throughout most of the state.
In addition, it would provide us a chance to spend enough time in Florida to maintain our residency in the state. One of the odd aspects of full-time RV living is maintaining a legal residency when you have no other residence than your "house on wheels" and travel constantly. It is best to stay a little while each year in your registered state to avoid complications with voting rights, insurance claims and other legal considerations.
As far as the financial considerations, it was pretty much a no-brainer. We have a steady monthly income, but aren't exactly swimming in money and try to save a buck whenever we can. You never know when a tire will go flat, a mechanical problem will arise or something else will come up that makes you glad you've set something aside to cover unexpected expenses. The rate at the park in Florida is very reasonable and equal to what we are paying here at the Flower Mill. To stay anywhere else in between would have been more expensive overall. Add to that the fact that fuel prices are currently around $2.90 for mid-grade and the numbers are in favor of just riding out the situation. We are comfortable, safe and still close to family. Sure, we are disappointed to not be on the road again, but this too shall soon pass. As they say, "life happens".
One of the great things about living in an RV is that you have your house with you, so it doesn't matter where you are, because you're always home. If you don't like your surroundings, you can move on at any time. If the weather is bad, you can just wait until it improves. If you are comfortable with the surroundings, you can stay as long as you like. And, if unexpected surprises arise, you can quickly adapt to the new realities of a sudden change in plans. The lifestyle has a lot of freedoms that cannot be found otherwise.
Hopefully, the problems in Florida will be resolved quickly, but we are not counting on it. For now, we will continue enjoying the beautiful spring blossoms that surrounds us and stay ready to move on as soon as the opportunity arises.
Thought For The Day - If you're not where you are, you're nowhere!
copyright 2009-2010 Lane A Geyer
photos by Deb