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road trip refrigeration- 4 ideas on how to keep food cool while traveling and camping

keep food fresh while traveling and camping

keeping food fresh while traveling and camping, is going to be a priority. here are a few different set ups to make this possible. you should approach this with proper planning.

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get coffee- cottagecore style in Tucson at ceres

Ceres – Tucson, AZ

the first thing you notice when walking up to the window at ceres, is that it seems to be a place found elsewhere in the world, like France or Italy. Definitely not the Sonoran desert. İt’s housed in a former burrito restaurant, one that had operated and been a family business since 1927 but closed around the late 90s. İ hear the original owners still stop by from time to time.

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amazing vegetables! yu choi sum will rock your ramen!

Yu Choi or yo choy


Yo choy sum, or Yu Choi sum is one of my staple vegetables, similar to Gailaan (Chinese broccoli) but, it’s a tad sweeter + with a light mustardy flavor.

available at almost all Asian markets, it belongs to the brassica family, and is related to other Choi type vegetables. It’s characteristics closely resemble gailaan. A stalk around 6″ a few leaves, and a tiny brassica floret. Yu Choi is usually harvested once one or two flowers pop. So you may see a few little flowers!

Most of the the vegetables that hail from Asia, are the products of centuries of remarkable breeding. Taking up much less space in a garden plot, they typically mature at a much faster rate, giving the farmer opportunity for higher turnover. Thus, producing more tender and often sweeter varieties than Thier distant brassica relatives in Europe. The produce sections of Asian Groceries are usually swimming in all kind of lesser known, but totally valuable veggies. Yu Choi is one of the most popular. And with good reason.

flavor is one, with it’s slightly sweet and lightly mustard undertones. Slide it right into a soup, add a handful to a stir-fry, tasty side dish or prepare it with garlic and serve with noodles.

Being a mustard family member, a good starting recommendation for how to season Yu Choi would be all the alliums you can throw at it. The flavors of garlic and mustards are always a mutually supportive pairing. Other things to consider would be toasted sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, Korean red pepper flakes, rice vinegar, shoyu sauce and garlic chives. Ałl available at Asian grocery stores. Be aware that Yu Choi cooks fast. Only a minute or two of steaming or boiling, and three minutes in a pan. A little more time than that won’t ruin it, but experiment and be cautious! I’ll be adding recipes soon, in the meantime, if these things sound good and give you some ideas, experiment away!

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Get coffee- black crown, tucson, AZ

90s style coffee house

Open till midnight, it’s not too different than the beatnik-punk era coffee shops of the late 80s early 90s. It’s usually pretty busy, and the crowd rotates between students, bikers, goths, and some relatively regular folks. Everything about the place reaches back in time to when coffee houses were more social, more like a bar. There’s a few students doing homework silently on laptops, but the vibe is anything but 3rd wave.

As you enter, you may notice there are large plate glass windows lining the exterior walls, but it mysteriously remains dimly lit inside. Then, as you proceed to the counter, You pass a spiral staircase that winds up to a loft with couches, coffee tables, and a shelf of board games. there is only one place to stand to order, and in classic fashion, a line forms out towards the door. The espresso machine blocks the view to the barista. There is no chaos. it’s an old school set up with a pastry case by the register, and a drink menu looming behind the cashier. Black crown never felt the need to evolve into the 3rd wave coffee ‘experience’ that feels like you’re ordering coffee from the apple store.

then there are the little soft touches and flourishes. a Bathroom key is connected to a soup ladle, dangling from a nail on a post. Music is period appropriate with the occasional souxie and the banshees or sisters of mercy. Missing however, are the poetry readings and open mic nites that plagued the 90s. That’s ok, we can get by without those. They have a full rack of torani syrups. They have their own names for lattes and mochaesque concoctions.

after noticing all the important details and ordering, you can go up to the loft, sit ground level in wooden booths that line the large plate glass windows, or step out to the front patio.

the coffee is good and strong, the espresso drinks are made well. The atmosphere is inviting and cozy and never an air of snootiness from the baristas. This place is a nice break from what coffee houses have become. You’re actually meant to hang out here, And most importantly the doors are open when you need coffee at 11:30 pm…because you’re trying to stay up all night…to make art. Get directions. Next post: the lost art of staying up all night.

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amazing vegetables! Vegan chicken base

better than bouillon – no chicken base

If you’re a vegan or vegetarian and you’ve never put a spoonful of this secret flavor weapon into a sauce or soup, drop what your doing. Go out, get a jar + immediately add some to your next savory recipe.

if this is your first experience, make an initial sipping broth just to see the potential contained within this powerful jar. Imagine adding it to rice. Saffron rice, Spanish rice, paellas, stir fry rice. Don’t stop there, send it in to back up a curry, a gravy, almost any soup. This stuff is truly amazing and adding it to the simplest of recipes will reap rewards and accolades. Even a tiny bit. Almost anything that contains water at any point during a cooking process. Experiment, and others will tell you how much your skills have improved. Trust me on this!

Better than bouillon vegan no chicken base
So freaking good
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essential camping gear – moonshade canopy

create shade wherever you go!

One of the two game changing additions to my camp set-up besides the cgear sand-free mat.

in previous years, camping around various desert locations, i could spend hours looking for the perfect rare shady spot. Usually, always occupied, mid-day was a time i dreaded. Not anymore, and if i see a shady spot, I’ll still jump on. but, as the sun arcs across the sky, a little supplemental shade to fill in the gap is completely welcome.

the moonshade is for all of us without roof racks or any other anchoring system. We are the bare-roofed ones. The ones left out in the sun. But alas! The innovative folks at moonshade, were paying attention and came up with the perfect solution.

it’s an easy one person set-up, with a variety of super strong anchoring magnets and suction cups to get attachment points in place. Clip the corners of the canopy in place, and then one by one quickly add the cross supports and upright poles. Finally, secure the moonshade canopy down with tent stakes and guy lines. İ like to back up the magnetic anchors with the included heavy duty suction cups, and an extra set of tent stakes along the backside of my van.

Quality and Craftsmanship seems great. İt’s been through some pretty high winds, and as long as i wasn’t lazy about securing it correctly, it’s stayed in place and kept me dry and shady.

set-up and teardown are easy, fast and I’ve never needed any assistance doing so.

About the author: stelae travels the US, camping, cooking and van living, while working as a silversmith and lapidary artist. You can view his creations here

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essential Camping gear – sand free mat

campsite

cgear original sand mat

want to transform your camping, picnicking, beach, yoga experience, or any outdoor adventure? If your into almost any outdoor based activity, a cgear sand-free mat can eradicate many of the subtle annoyances that can plague an excursion. You can create a 10 x 10 instant clean zone outside your tent, van or RV. Bring it to the beach, or on a hike. Take it canoeing or kayaking and and bust it out on the riverbank for an immediate welcome mat. I ordered mine from Backcountry.

its basically two separate + durable woven polypropylene fabrics, sewn together and including grommets for staking if needed. The unique weave allows particles of sand and smaller debris to fall through and not come back up. Anything else that happens to show up, simply can get swept off easily. I’ve used it all over the country for a year now, and I’m convinced of it’s durability and longevity. it’s polypropylene, so avoid placing it where campfire embers may pop onto.

ive found it enormously useful for keeping outdoor litter and debris from getting into tents and vehicles when placed next to them. It’s been great to pull out and do yoga on, fix a flat bike tire on and general hanging out. Fixing the flat tire was really nice to be able to set small parts and tools on without losing them in the sand and gravel. It also creates a sort of living room feel inviting you to chill out.

it does not work well for fine mud or in puddles. But, site selection is an art, and you really should try for a sandy, gravely spot anyways. However, it still cleans off easily and dries Fairly quick. One more thing to always avoid or anticipate is pine sap. I’ve put the mat on pine needles and reduced the amount of sap i would be tracking in everywhere. It can get on the mat as it would get on anything. That is the nature of tree sap after all. But, it cleaned off easily later washing it with pine oil based cleaner. It’s machine washable, packs up about the size of a sleeping bag and comes in a few sizes.

About the author: stelae travels the US, camping, cooking and van living, while working as a silversmith and lapidary artist. You can view his creations here

cgear sand free mat, perfect for a clean campsite
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Van life build out: turn an Astro / Safari into a tiny cottage on wheels

Interested in van life? Read about the van build out of a 2003 GMC Safari, complete with kitchen, bed, work studio, and a system for water storage, electricity, refrigeration and shaded patio.

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