Thursday, November 9, 2017

Creole Camp Food


     Even on the road, camp food is as good as you want it to be.  With Barb helping out her sisters this week I'm left to prepare my own cuisine.  This will be quite wide ranging as it usually is; from blackened rockfish to sushi to Cajun.  Although the weather this time of year can be a bit unpredictable, why should the menu?  My latest example of this is Creole Crawfish Tasso Chowder.  The day I made this was a cold, rainy November day which made this perfect compliment to flakey biscuits and a puppy's cold nose.    
      One of our most valuable culinary tools on the road is our mini 2 quart crock pot.  As long as you are hooked up to shore power this creates some very tasty meals.  I adapted a recipe I found on the  NOLA restaurants recipe website, but you can prepare it in a stockpot on the stove if you like instead.  Technically this is a Creole recipe, but like any true chowder it has it's share of corn and taters.  I like Yukon Golds.  It also adds carrots to the bell pepper/celery/onion mix, much like a true mirepoix.  

      It is always easy to find crawfish on the road.  Wal Mart nearly always carries them in the frozen fish section.  Although not fresh, they are already peeled, ready to use, and not prohibitively expensive. 
      I am fortunate to still have some Tasso from our last trip that will work very well in this dish.  Outside of SE Texas or Louisiana this might be difficult to find.  For the bacon I love to use Wright's Brand Applewood Smoked, delicious.  I also like to buy my bacon at Wal Mart as Wright's Bacon is usually about 40% higher elsewhere.  The rest of the ingredients are pretty much in daily use and not hard to find.  I use an instant roux, but homemade is always the best if you know how to make it.  Remember, Creole cooking makes roux with fat drippings and cream, not flour.  Of course I had to scale down the ingredient portions to fit our pot.

      The best part about my adaptation of this recipe is the crockpot does most of the cooking.....I don't have to pre-parboil the taters; just dice them about 1/2".  I do lightly saute the bacon, veggees, garlic, and Tasso (about 2 minutes).  I use a separate pan; adding the stock, roux and bring to a boil for a minute; just to begin thickening.  Don't overdo it as it should go into the pot a bit soupy.  It'll help meld all the flavors as well as thicken on it's own.  The magic of the crockpot.  
Simmering mirepoix
Ready, set, GO into the crockpot
      Add everything (except the crawfish) to the pot, it'll do the rest.  Heat on low for about 4 hours.  I DO NOT, however, add the crawfish till the last 30 minutes.  When finished serve with garlic baguette or cornbread on the side.  The LSU game is optional.  
Give me a biscuit.....I'll keep your belly warm.

"Cooking is like love, it should be entered into with abandon or not at all"  
Harriet Van Horne
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Thursday, November 2, 2017

Fiddlers Fish House & Family Restaurant

    
     Here we are on the road again;  Winter 2017 and our first stop is SE Missouri.  This restaurant is located in Dexter.  We have eaten here several times while visiting Barb's family.  If there ever was a Webster's Dictionary For Dining, Fiddlers Fish House sets the standard for Family Style Southern Cooking. They feature an incredible buffet for lunch and dinner as well as 'ala carte' ordering if preferred.  We have always enjoyed their incredible buffet when we dine there, but I hear their prime rib and steaks are wonderful.
     The buffet is well stocked and features either thick, thin fillet, or whole catfish, shrimp, frog legs, clam strips, chicken (fried, BBQ, and gizzards), mac n cheese, meatloaf, roast beef, pork chops, and other daily items.  The sides include hushpuppies, corn on the cob, mashed taters and gravy, sweet taters, beans, green beans, kernel corn, okra, black eye peas, ham & greens, corn bread, biscuits, and many others that vary day to day.  The salad bar is excellent while the dessert bar has, among other items, the best darned peach cobbler you will ever taste.  Price?  Depending on time of day $7.99 to $10.49

     
      Of course what restaurant would be complete without their 'Food Challenge'.  Fiddlers features the Man vs. Fish Challenge.  20 Catfish fillets, a pound of fries, a pound of baked beans, a pound of hush puppies and a pound of coleslaw, as well as a gallon of water make up this challenge.  Eat it all and it's free.  It is featured on Missouri's Top Ten Restaurant Challenges.   www.onlyinyourstate.com/missouri/eating-challenges-mo/
      Ok, down to our visit.  Barb had already committed to work at her sister's house so I took advantage of the lunch buffet.  Behave myself I DID NOT.
Plate #1:  Catfish, frog legs, ff, and coleslaw
Plate #2:  More catfish, chicken, fried green beans n okra, and taters

Yeah baby, warm peach cobbler and vanilla ice cream tops it off
      The food is as good as ever and the hostesses keep your ice tea glass full all the time.  My tab for lunch buffet.......$8.56.  Of course there are literally thousands of Catfish Restaurants throughout the south as well as BBQ, but Fiddlers deserves several BIG THUMBS UP.  I have enjoyed catfish pretty much throughout the country and this is among the best I have ever tasted.  The salad bar and dessert only add to the meal.  DO FINISH WITH THE PEACH COBBLER.  There is NOTHING lacking about a meal enjoyed here.  The food is excellent and as always southern hospitality dictates the service 7 days a week.


"All great change in America begins at the dinner table"
Ronald Reagan

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Shrimp Feta Salad

Photo courtesy of Epicurious
      My last installment for this fall's @ home cooking/recipe series encompasses the healthier choices.  When I plan our weekly menu about every 6-7 days is 'Salad Night'.  Although we have smaller side salads with some dinners throughout the week, this one night is dedicated.  We have many we like such as Middle Eastern Couscous Salad, Chef Salad, Crab n Cuke Salad, Sumi Salad, or Crab Louie.  This salad is very much Greek with all the ingredients to make it tasty as well.  Your choice of lettuce is just that.  Romaine, Butter Crunch, Arugula, Spinach, or Iceberg; wherever your individual preferences lead you.  Although this salad could be an accompanying salad, I always serve a large one as a main dish.
      Of course the secret is fresh ingredients.  Lettuce should not be bought till the day you plan to use it to prepare this.  Shrimp, however, can be bought earlier.  I have never had a problem with the bagged, precooked shrimp purchased at your local Wal Mart, but fresh shrimp is never a bad thing.  
      You can use whatever size you wish, but for this recipe we used the small shrimp.  PLENTY of shrimp for everybody.  You can buy bigger shrimp, but then you have less meat per person.  Although the recipe can be found at www.lowfatlifestyle.com/salads/saladrecipes/shrimpandfetasalad.htm#.Wd1137pFyM9  this site will also provide many other healthy salad recipes.  

• 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
• 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro
• 1/4 teaspoon sugar (may use 1/2 teaspoons depending on taste)
• 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
• 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
• 1 pound medium fresh or frozen uncooked shrimp, shelled and deveined
• 1 - 2 clove garlic, minced, according to taste
• 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
• 8 ounces spring mixed spring salad greens
• 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

In a medium bowl combine vinegar, cilantro, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and sugar. Slowly whisk in the 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil and set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil in medium skillet over medium heat add shrimp, garlic, red pepper flakes and remaining 1/3 tsp salt.  You need only to reheat the shrimp as they are precooked, unless you are using uncooked shrimp.  In addition we add chopped tomatoes, pepperoncini, and capers. 
Combine shrimp with dressing and the greens and toss well to coat. Additionally, we like to add a bit of chopped tomato.  Garnish top of salad with the feta cheese and serve.


      Even though most salads are sometimes viewed as necessary to simply accompany the other food we eat, I am trying to provide recipes that are indeed delicious on their own as well as healthy.  This recipe has it all, whether you serve it on the side or as a main dish.  The combination of flavors from shrimp to the essence of Greek, pepper, garlic, vinegar, and wine enhance any dining experience.  Enjoy.  


"Prince Charles is very relaxed at the table, throwing his salad around will-nilly.  I don't find him stiff at all"
Madonna

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Reuben Stuffed Baked Potato


    Barb and I LOVE SAUERKRAUT.   We are definitely a German family.  We have thoroughly enjoyed a recipe we found for Reuben Casserole http://12tomatoes.com/reuben-casserole/ , but when this one surfaced on Facebook we just had to try it.  Being retired and with our schedule we miss growing/curing our own Late Flat Dutch Cabbage and making about 20 quarts of sauerkraut each fall.  Kraut and Sausage, Kraut and Ribs, and Cabbage Melts among a few others are the recipes that we loved on our fall harvest.  Now, we just get it on the road when we can. 

       I have to say we love 'bagged fresh kraut' (always fresher) in the refrigerated section, but canned Frank's Kraut can be a good product.  I love that this recipe is submitted by "The Krautfather".  With the rich list of ingredients it is indeed a 'one dish meal'.  For those that love 'Anything Reuben' you could be approaching the very edge of Nirvana.  When it comes to corned beef FRESH DELI IS ALWAYS THE BEST, but in a pinch a can of this will do.  

www.sauerkrautrecipes.com/recipe/ruben-stuffed-baked-potatoes/  Of course I am posting the recipe which lists everything you need to know, but the link as well will provide access to the other tasty recipes.  This recipe is modified for the two of us.  
Reuben Stuffed Baked Potato
1 or 2 large Russet baking potatoes
1 cup finely cut corned beef
1 cup (your choice) sauerkraut
1/2 cup shredded Swiss Cheese
3 Tblspn. diced green onions
1 Tbspn horseradish
1 pkg. cream cheese (softened)
3 Tblspn. Parmesan cheese
Paprika 
       Bake Potatoes @ 425 for 60 (+-) minutes or until tender, cool.  In a bowl combine cornbeef, Frank's Kraut, Swiss Cheese, onion, garlic, horseradish.  Either cut both potatoes in half lengthwise or slice a single potato lengthwise and open to accommodate ingredients.  Carefully scooping out potatoes leaving just the skins of the potatoes.  Mash potatoes with cream cheese and stir in the corn beef mixture, then mound potato mixture into the skins of the potatoes.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and paprika, return to the oven for 30 more minutes or until heated through.  This very much resembles "Twice Baked Potatoes".  The mix is always much more volume when it is returned and sometimes the final baking eliminates the original baked potato profile.  It will be heaping full when done.

      This recipe will be so very welcome during the fall or winter weather, but for aficionados of cabbage or corned beef it could be anytime.  Just imagine the smells in our RV as we prepare this dish this fall either on the road or in hunting camp.  Joie de Vivre

"When General Lee took possession of Chambersburg on his way to Gettysburg, we happened to be a member of the Committee representing the town. Among the first things he demanded for his army was twenty-five barrels of Saur-Kraut."
Editor, The Guardian (1869)

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Friday, October 6, 2017

Creole Baked Rockfish

Photo courtesy of Washington Fish & Wildlife
      Even though we did not make it to Alaska this summer, as an unexpected benefit Barb and I brought back many pounds of rockfish fillets from our trip out west to Washington this summer.  We love the meat.  The fish and meat resembles Yellow Eye Rockfish from Alaska as well as Red Snapper from the East Coast, and as such lends itself to a wide variety of recipes.
      We have thoroughly enjoyed this fish in recipes from blackened, tacos, sandwiches, pasties, and now Creole.  We began with over 25 pounds of individual frozen vacuum sealed packs of rockfish and have searched for a variety of recipes by which to enjoy them.  It wasn't a difficult search.  This is one of the world's most enjoyed fish.  This recipe is a bit out of the norm, but with our love for Cajun and Creole cuisine it was an easy fit.  I LOVE Tony Chachere's spices and recipes.  I have used them for years.  The meal is delicious.  Creole being a bit more sauce than Cajun yet this meal thrives on the sauce created by the tomatoes, margarine, white wine, bell pepper, and celery.  Nonetheless, yummy! www.tonychachere.com/-Baked-Red-Snapper-P215.aspx   The only difference is that our fish was already in fillets rather than whole.  Additionally we scaled down the recipe for just the two of us.

INGREDIENTS:

3 pound Red Snapper
2 tablespoon Tony Chacheres Original Creole Seasoning
2 tablespoon Margarine
1 can Tomato Sauce
1 teaspoon Sugar
1 cup Chopped Onions
1/2 cup Bell Pepper
1 Tablespoon Garlic (the website recipe calls for 4 bushels of garlic......lol, typos)
1 cup Chopped Celery
1/4 cup Dry White Wine


Sautéing the sauce
Spread the sauce over the fish before baking

DIRECTIONS:

1: Season fish, inside and out;  place in open baking pan.
2: In a saucepan, combine margarine, tomato sauce, sugar, and vegetables cook over low heat for 30 minutes.
3: Pour wine over red snapper, followed by the sauce.
4: Place in 300 degrees oven cook for 1 hour, (single fillet 45 minutes) basting occasionally.
5: Serve. 

Creole Rockfish w/Garlic Bread
      Serve with white wine and some garlic bread and a salad on the side.  There is still quite a bit of rockfish in the RV freezer and will occupy a spot on our menu about once a week.  

"It's okay to eat fish because they don't have any feelings"
Kurt Cobain

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Henry Big Boy Wildlife Classic

     
      This is somewhat of a departure from my normal blog posts as I cross over into 'MAN CAVE' country.  I have always been an avid sportsman, fishing and hunting since I was young.  I have dabbled in just about everything.  Hunting for deer, bear, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, turkey, upland birds, wild hogs, and elk.  I have hunted with rifle, handgun, shotgun, and bow.  I even reload my own custom ammunition from time to time.
      Upon his passing my Dad left me several of very nice weapons.  A Savage over/under single shot in 22 LR over 20 gauge.  A very handy camp weapon.  An original Winchester Model 94 John Wayne rifle in 30-30. To this day it has never been fired.  I myself, have had a novice level proclivity for some collecting.  I own an Italian Side by Side flint lock shotgun, and an original US Army M-1 Garand Tanker Model (never been fired).  Unfortunately, several others I had were stolen during a break in our first winter south in 2014.
      I have always had a passion for the 'Old West' and it's weaponry.  I was probably a cowboy in a previous life.  My handgun of choice for hunting is a Ruger Blackhawk Single Action in 45 Long Colt.  I have taken deer, bear, and wild hog with it although it can be admittedly a borderline caliber for larger big boned game.  Shot placement is critical.  I decided recently to pursue another weapon.  I have always admired both the Sharps and Henry Rifles.  No longer made except for replicas (and there are some fine ones out there) the Sharps BIG FIFTY is a classic.  However, it was Benjamin Tyler Henry who conceived the first practical, lever action repeating rifle.
     Patented in 1860, the Henry gave a single man the firepower of a dozen marksmen armed with muzzle-loading muskets.  A pioneering design in a reliable and practical lever action repeater, and adopted in limited numbers by Northern forces during the Civil War, the Henry was the 16-shot rifle enviously, and angrily referred to by Southern soldiers as “That damned Yankee rifle that loads on Sunday and shoots all week long!”  Henry Rifles was resurrected in their New Jersey factory with the same commitment to quality.  Henry Repeating Arms is the leading lever action manufacturer and one of the top-five long gun manufacturers in the USA.  Henry is a family owned business and it’s company motto is “Made in America, or Not Made At All”. Read the roll mark on the barrel of any Henry and it is going to say Made in the USA. The company’s headquarters are based in Bayonne New Jersey. A second manufacturing facility is located in Rice Lake Wisconsin. Henry has over 400 employees and builds over 300,000 Henry rifles annually. www.henryusa.com/
     I really loved the clean, original lines of the original Henry Rifle, but it only comes in 44-40 and 45 Long Colt calibers.  Looking for a larger caliber I wanted a little more OOMPH.  The 45-70 Government caliber has been in existence just as long as many others, but not many modern manufacturers except Marlin have continually produced it.  I remember hunting with my uncle when I was young and he always referred to his 45-70 as his "Pumpkin Lobber".  It was a hell of a gun, but it had to be.  My uncle was afraid of nothing.  From Black tailed Deer, to Mule Deer, Black Bear, Elk, and Moose he killed them all without a loss.  This is the caliber I was looking for.  I wasn't planning on venturing out after Cape Buffalo or Alaskan Brown Bear, but for Black Bear and Big Wild Hogs this would be the ticket.  Talk about 'upside down'?  A 350 grain jacketed flat nose bullet with a muzzle velocity of 1800 fps and muzzle energy of 2517 foot pounds will do that.  Whether busting through the shoulder of a big black bear or wild boar, this is it.  As with my 45 Long Colt, Buffalo Bore Ammunition is my load of choice.  They make this caliber in bullet weights up to 430 grains, but the 350 is the best all around fit.  Tim Sundles and his crew manufacture a quality product in Salmon, ID.
     Henry Rifles offers a selection of rifles in this caliber, but my choice of staying with the authentic style was the Big Boy Wildlife Classic in Engraved Bronze.  www.henryusa.com/rifles/lever-action-brass-wildlife-edition-30-30/   (page shows both)  The 45-70 undeniably provides it and the engraving, black-filled to bring out detail as it is on both brass Wildlife models, reflects that with American vine scroll and braided border again; surrounding on the right side a detailed depiction of a moose head in a circular setting, and on the left, a bear in an oval outline. This model also adds a larger lever loop for gloved use to the package.  There is no concern about the strength of a brass receiver as Henry engineers a safety factor into the brass frame well above the relatively mild 28,000 psi specifications set for the caliber by SAAMI, and that includes loads up into the heavyweights that specialty outfits like Buffalo Bore and Garrett produce. You can safely run the gamut from lead rounds at 1,200 fps on up to jacketed rounds at 2,000 fps.  Beauty and the The BEAST.   




      The barrel is 22" of octagonal blued steel with fully adjustable semi-buckhorn sights and a total weight of 8.1 pounds.  I special ordered this through Lake Effect Guns n Gear, a local outdoor specialty store in our town of Kalkaska, MI.  http://lakeeffectguns.com/   A special thanks to Scott, Cindy, and Aaron at LEGG for all their help.   I also ordered a custom sling through Lever Gun Leather of Athol, Idaho.  www.levergunleather.com/p_rifle_slings.htm. Dark brown stained leather engraved with simply "Pumpkin Lobber".  Keep the tradition going. 
    I sighted the "PL" 1.25" high at 50 yards which provides a 100 yard zero.  Using my new Caldwell Lead Sled the groups right out of the box were at 1.8" and sighting was fairly straight forward. I consider this to be a functional collectible, which is exactly what I wanted.  It will challenge many a beast before it's day ends on the wall.  First up for us will be Wild Hogs this winter in Texas.  

"A vote is like a rifle; it's usefulness depends on the character of the user" 
Theodore Roosevelt

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Sunday, September 10, 2017

4 Weeks in Montana: Prospecting, Chokecherries, Hay Sculpture, and Boondocking Numbers

Chokecherry Festival Lewistown, MT
      We began our journey eastward once again toward home in Michigan.  It was a long visit with Mom, but in the end we did the best we could making sure she was taken care of and everything we could do was accomplished.  She is in much better health than when arrived nearly 4 months ago.  Barb and I spent some very good quality time with her.  We spent 2 days in Naches, WA to gather some fresh fruit and honey.  We picked up some Fireweed and Chokecherry Honey, Marionberry and Chokecherry Jelly, Creamy Bacon Blue Cheese Mustard, Pickled Beans, and Doughnut Peaches.  We had never seen these before, but boy were they sweet and delicious!  
WE STAYED IN YAKIMA AT SUNTIDES RV PARK.  A NICE FACILITY EXCEPT THAT THEY COULDN'T PROVIDE ENOUGH VOLTS TO POWER EVERYONE'S A/C IN 100+ TEMPS.  IT DIDN'T MATTER WHETHER WE DID THE STRAIGHT 30 AMP HOOKUP OUR USED OUR PIGTAIL TO USE 50 AMP.  A/C WORKED HARD TO KEEP UP.  WE ALTERNATED ON/OFF DURING PEAK HOURS.  $38/night at this park.
Naches fruit market

Doughnut Peaches
   We headed across Montana with several stops to prospect and enjoy life. We stopped at Lincoln's 50,000 Dollar Casino in Haugan, MT.  Still warm but shady and high in the mountains just across the Montana border at mile marker 16.   Free camping with electric and water as well as a few slots and good food inside. This is a pretty standard stop for us.  It was pretty full when we got there, but managed to tuck in behind a motor coach where there was still one hookup left.  There is a large turnover here daily.  There is also a full service truck stop. This was a 'kick back' stop for us.  No hurry, just chillaxin'.  Sleeping late, movies, and a little geocaching were the order of the day.  Here we dined on Razor Clam Chowder, Fish Tacos, Lasagna and dined out.  www.50000silverdollar.com/ We always bag up a bunch of Ponderosa Pine Cones here as they make great campfire starters down the road.  We stayed here 4 nights as our next stop wouldn't be available till Wednesday.  There is an RV dump east down the Frontage Road at Big Sky Towing.  $10 to dump.  Average 13.5 MPG this leg.  

Lincoln's Silver Dollar Bar and Casino
Free 30 amp camping out back


Ponderosa Pine Cones

       From here we headed SE to Phillpsburg, MT and Barb's favorite place to pan for sapphires, Gem Mountain.  Free boondocking at their campround is provided.  A water spigot, but no power.  We stayed here 3 nights.  Solar and the battery bank kept us going.  I prepared Croque Madame and Wild Boar Ribs. www.gemmountainmt.com/  Barb panned for three days, accumulating nearly 300 sapphires.  27 were gem quality and she sent the 12 largest off for faceting.  

The main sluice box area at Gem Mountain

The Maestro at her craft
Croque Madame
      Back on the road again after 3 days we arrived at Ruby Reservoir, about 90 miles SW of Bozeman, MT.  This time of year the reservoir is usually drawn down quite a bit by the local hay farmers below the dam so it is easier to get to lower terraced levels of gravel for Garnets and Rubies.  Not so much panning here, but Barb is able to simply sit on the shore and pick thru the gravel.
Ruby Reservoir (when full) BLM Photo

Ruby Camp
      We camp right on the shores of the lake as it is a free boondocking area.  No power, but you can 'water up' in the town of Alder before the 7 mile drive up to the lake.  There is a clean vault toilet in the parking area.  It is an excellent area for solar power in the valley between the Ruby, Gravelly,  and Tobacco Root Mountains.  A relaxing place to stay.  We spent 5 days here.  Plenty of room for Roux and Bones as well.  There is plenty of wildlife in the area; mostly deer, bighorn sheep, and antelope, but you do have to keep an eye out for mountain lions and coyotes who have good numbers in the nearby hills.  There are gas, groceries, and supplies in town.
NOTE:  THIS IS AN EXTREMELY DRY YEAR AND AS SUCH THE USFS AND THE STATE OF MONTANA HAS ISSUED VERY RESTRICTIVE BURN BANS THROUGHOUT THE NATIONAL FOREST, PUBLIC LANDS, AND EVEN SOME PRIVATE LAND AREAS.  THERE ARE SIGNIFICANT FIRES IN MANY PARTS OF THE STATE.  WE MISSED OUT ON CAMPFIRES AND SOME OF OUR MENU IDEAS.  We also used nearly 44 hours of generator gas as the daytime temps were in the 90s and the furbabies were not comfortable in the RV.  In fact we couldn't leave them outdoors much either as 2 rattlesnakes were killed in the area while we were here.  While camped here we enjoyed Wild Boar Tenderloins, NY Steaks, Razor Clam Strips, and Monster Burgers.  Unfortunately, all our meals were cooked indoor due to the fire restrictions.  
Nearly 2 ounces of Garnets and Rubies this stop;
in fact she had nearly 40 gem quality
Barb had 2 Rubies over 4 carats (these will equate to about 1.5 carats each when faceted)
Razor Clam Po Boy

BARB'S PROSPECTING TOTALS THIS TRIP:  GQ (Gem Quality) Faceted sapphires (14.5 total carats) $435 w/ facet cost $299 factored in.  GQ Facet-able Rubies (3 total carats) $265.  GQ Facet-able Rubies (2 single @ 4 carats each) $465.  Barb had the sapphires sent to be faceted, but the rubies remain rough for now.  The two largest will be faceted at some point.  It's always a decision whether to keep them as souvenirs (NOT), have your own jewelry made, or keep the faceted stones for investment.  
      We did have nearly two extra weeks to spend so we stopped in Bozeman for the Montana Pitmasters Classic KCBS BBQ Championships, boondocked in the Little Belt Mtns. as well as spent some time at the Fam Camp in Great Falls, MT (Malmstrom AFB) to shop, restock, visit several USAF friends, shop, restock, and (did I say) shop?  www.militarycampgrounds.us/montana/gateway-famcamp Camping here only $130 for a week.  We wanted the hookups after a couple weeks of boondocking to recharge and refresh.  Averaged 15.5 MPG this leg.  Enjoyed Chicken Fried Wild Boar, Cordon Blue, Brats, Rockfish, and among others Eggs Ahogados (Simmered Mexican Green Salsa w/Poached Eggs and Tortillas for dipping).  This was a delicious breakfast change, in fact I made it twice this trip.  The recipe calls for a medium heat salsa, which is fine if that is your taste, but Barb and I preferred a milder version.  I don't like WAKING UP my taste buds till later in the day.  

Eggs Ahogados

Chicken Cordon Bleu
      We took a couple of days off in one of our favorite towns, Lewistown, MT.  (pictured at top)  We wanted to take in the Annual Chokecherry Festival www.lewistownchokecherry.com and What The Hay Celebration www.montanabaletrail.com/ the next day.  A good place to boondock for an overnight is the Kiwanis Park at the west edge of town on top of the hill by the airport.  No charge, but no hookups whatsoever.  Just a box for any donations.  Quiet and some shade.  A good overnight spot.  Choices here are limited.  We camped at Mountain Acres RV Park just north of downtown.  Price here:  $28/night.  Once again we felt we deserved some convenience AND within walking distance of the festival.  It is a pretty bare bones park with half reserved for full time residents.  We had full hookups, but our spot was on grass; fun to level.
The sign says it all
A variety of food vendors
Honey like you've never tasted it! 
The Sandwich!
      This is not our first visit to the Festival and Celebration of Hay.  We always have a good time.  What is it about Small Town American celebrations that are just the most fun?  We walked a lot, Barb got some of her favorite Chokecherry Honey, and we ate far too much good food.  Love them Indian Tacos, Funnel Cakes, and Deep Fried Pork Chop/Mac n Cheese Sandwiches! 
      An interesting side trip is Big Sky Grocery located just west of Lewistown about 17 miles.  This is a family owned Amish Grocery (from the nearby King Colony) that specializes in their own harvest products.  From pies to cakes to cookies to bread to noodles to canned veg and fruit and pie filling, there is no end.  You can even get homemade ice cream, deli meats, or sandwiches (which are delicious).  They have a very well stocked produce and dairy section as well.  Local selection abounds.
Big Sky Grocery
www.visitmt.com/listings/general/specialty-store/big-sky-grocery.html WORTH THE STOP.....my Roast Beef Horseradish Cheddar Sandwich on Whole wheat with extra meat, mayo, pickles, and onions was to die for........at only $4.99.
Super Mario Bale
    Monster Tiger Muskhay
      'What the Hay' is a colorful celebration of the local hay crop and has been for many years.  The amount of creativity and secrecy that goes into these creations is unbelievable.  The competition can very nearly be called cutthroat.  As always we drove to Hobson to pick up our ballots and drive the 20 mile country route to judge the bale competition.  Braggin' rights here can last even longer than next year.  After the drive there is always a very good burger to be had at the Oxen Yoke Bar near Windham. 
      Although these events cover only two days we spent 4 in Lewistown.  It is just about as friendly, relaxing town as you'll find anywhere.  Barb loves looking around Don's Sporting Goods and just about any local gun shop is easily my 'Mother Ship'.  7 stops and 28 days in Montana; time to go home. 
Wil E. Coyothay
Woolhay Mammoth
      From here it's 4 days drive home now, boondocking and just making time.  We will dine on a Ham Potato Frittata for two nights, but then all other meals are 'catch as catch can'.  There will be some long days driving, but we may stay an extra day at the casino in Marquette.  Barb loves to play the slots and we'll be craving some lasagna/meat balls as well as pick up some cudighi at Ralphs Deli www.ralphsitaliandeli.com/ for the winter voyage.  It's been a long summer.  Casa Hilts awaits.

BOONDOCKING NOTES:  Lowest diesel price this entire summer was $2.56 in Lewistown, MT and the highest $3.08 at Sprague, WA.  Average MPG 14.7 towing.   Total boondocking days this summer 79 out of 143 total.  With an average RV Park cost of $30/night (minus $260 paid to mom for electricity & $35.70 generator used) =$2083 savings off the grid.


"One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things"
                 Henry Miller
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