Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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RV Cooking Hack Plus Recipe: Garlic Rosemary Potatoes and Meatballs

What some of you might not know is that RV ovens have one rack.

At least our RV oven has one rack. And it’s not a large one either. A half-pan cookie sheet fits inside, with just barely enough room around it for air flow. A Dutch oven does not fit (it’s too heavy, and I fear it would bend/break the rack). A low casserole dish fits, but some lids might bump the top. And once you turn off the oven, you have to let it cool completely before restarting it. The gas pilot light is under the bottom tray at the back of the oven, right where you will burn your arm if you try lighting it while it’s hot. Personal experience speaking here.

And something to watch out for, a lesson I learned just this week with the future scars to match my experience, is the spring loaded oven door is very spring loaded. Very. Using a similar trick as shown in the above photo, a foil wrapped pan, I attempted to put the pan in the oven, the foil stuck, I somehow lost control of the door, and it swung shut on my arm. Did I mention the oven was preheated? I threw the pan in as I jerked my arm out, bouncing the hot stove door edge along my arm. Yikes! I am thankful for fast reflexes. Yes, yes I am.

Oh, but our RV DOES have an oven. We love using it in the winter to heat the RV. We avoid it in the summer, preferring to cook on the BBQ and keep the heat outside.

I’ve often been frustrated by meal plans that need two dishes to be in the tiny oven. And then I started experimenting. See the above photo.

As with all experiments, you figure out new things to try or ways to improve an idea. Now, with the above meatballs and garlic rosemary potatoes, I wouldn’t bother with the foil dam in the middle. Just let the juices mix. Yum! But some things I might not want to touch while baking, like juicy salmon and sweet potato fries. Or something like that.

Either way, combining a main dish and side or two is the perfect way to utilize a small RV oven. I always try to cook too much, because leftovers make perfect lunches for the next day or two.

Garlic Rosemary Potatoes

5-6 small red potatoes, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces

5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 6-8″ sprig of rosemary, washed, dried, and chopped (leaves only, not stem)

olive oil

sea salt

fresh ground pepper

Optional: fresh grated Parmesan cheese, Tabasco sauce

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a bowl, mix potatoes, garlic, rosemary, and enough olive oil to coat it all. Spread on one half of a foil-covered cookie sheet (I like to spray my foil with vegetable spray to keep food from sticking). Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Fill the other half with meatballs. No recipe here for these. I love the Costco frozen meatballs.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, until potatoes are cooked through. We like crispy sides, so we cook them longer. If you want to cook yours until just done, aim for 25-30 minutes. Stir halfway through cooking and test potatoes along the way.

Serve potatoes and meatballs with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and a few splashes of Tabasco. We always add broccoli, salad, or green beans. Gotta have those veg!


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Meet the Author: Zach Christensen #authorinterview

Meet the Author!

Scromlette the Omelet Chef

Written by Zach Christensen

Illustrated by Chiara Civati

Mascot Books, 2020

Hello, book friends! Today I’d like to introduce you to the author of Scromlette the Omelet Chef, Zach Christensen. I was sent a copy of Scomlette the Omelet Chef by Mascot Books. You can learn more about Mascot Books here: https://mascotbooks.com/ .

I featured Scromlette the Omelet Chef back in December with three other newly released picture books. Today, let’s take a closer look at a book about food – one of my favorite subjects. On a side note, during a critique group meeting, one of my critique partners mentioned that many of my books have a theme about food, or some type of food connection. Lo and behold, now that she said that, I’ve noticed MOST of my books have some sort of link to food. You can imagine a book about omelets would catch my eye. Er. Stomach? On to Zach’s book.

My Short Blurb:

This book has a great message. Scrom goes from being a bullied child to an adult who shares his love of making omelets with those on the streets. I enjoyed reading how Scrom survived the bullies of his childhood by hanging on to what he loved: making omelettes. The closure of what the bullies did and seeing them later in life as adults-in-need helps Scrom understand why they did what they did, and offers him a chance to help even more. The colorful illustrations help tell the story. Scromlette the Omelet Chef makes me hungry for an omelet!

Meet the Author

Welcome, Zach! Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi Angie, and to any readers out there, thank you for listening in. I’m from Nebraska, I’ve worked in social services for six years, and I have always loved a good story. I have a master of arts in theology, so I had suspected for years that my first book would be something quite dense in the realm of philosophy or religious history. Instead, I came to find that a true test of your creativity and material is to distill ideas into simple and accessible stories for children. There is something magnificently compelling about a story that inspires you, give you hope, helps you reframe your state of mind, and reorient how you interact with the world around you. I have always enjoyed helping people find stories that illuminate their lives in new ways.

Zach, I just read what you said in a craft book about writing for children: A writer has to know and research much information about a subject in order to distill it down to create simple, engaging stories for children. I love how we both are thinking about this.

What was your inspiration for SCROMLETTE THE OMELET CHEF?

My primary inspiration was having seen such a resilience and fortitude in my peers and contemporaries around me for my entire life. Growing up, there is a great deal of bullying that children are susceptible to experience. Childhood is already a turbulent time, and it is when we are our most vulnerable that we are most susceptible to endure the worst trauma. Naturally, the book has strong anti-bullying themes. My aim is to tell children that there is something on the other side of the disorienting journey of growing up, and you’ll be able to see it more clearly if you can find something that you love.

With that, I wanted to likewise encourage children to find things that they love giving their time and energy to, while also finding ways to serve people around you. If you can find things that overlap in these two domains, then you have found something that is life-giving for yourself and the world.

What was the writing journey you took as you wrote this book? 

Believe it or not, I actually wrote the entire story in a parking lot while I was waiting for an AWOLNation concert to start. It was as if the story already had existed and I had it in my imagination for years, but the rhymes and stanzas just came to me in that two-hour window of time. The writing of the story really was a materialization of ideas that I had felt children (and really people all of walks of life) needed to hear for some time. I think that is actually central to the craft of writing a story – it is taking what you have encountered in your life, the good and bad, and synthesizing them together in a way that people can look at what you’ve created, and they feel a sense of shared experience with you. When people hear a story and think “me too,” I believe this what is empowering and compelling for people.

All this to say, if you have some life experience that left a lasting impression on you, whether it was characterized by pain, joy, a convergence of the two, or something else, I’d submit to you that you could transform that into a story, and there are people out there who need to hear it.

That’s pretty amazing – two hours! In a car. While waiting for something else. Writers out there? Keep those notebooks handy. Zach, I love this.

Everything is different right now with COVID-19, but how did you celebrate the book birthday (book release day) of SCROMLETTE THE OMELET CHEF?

Unfortunately, I was not able to have a conventional release party due to the pandemic, but I have been networking with a number of different teachers and educators to help circulate Scromlette to the general public and to get it into classrooms. Likewise, many people among whom I have promoted Scromlette were able to get their copies before Christmas.

Surprise us! What else would you like to share?

I have more stories in the works and some manuscripts are completed and ready for submission! So keep an eye out for new books of mine!

Zach, that’s great news! I look forward to hearing more about future books. Thank you for visiting my blog today, Zach. And thank you for writing such an encouraging picture book.

You can find Zach at:

Instagram: @psaltingtheearth

Twitter: @EarthlyPsalt

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ScromletteTheOmeletChef


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Happy Thanksgiving!

May the Lord bless you and keep you! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.


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Haiku Moment: treats

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salt, ice, elbow grease

mix, roll, squish-science freezes

creamy treats go fast

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treats by angie quantrell

photos by angie quantrell

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Book Report: Be a Superhero in the Kitchen by Donna Glass #BookBirthday

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Be a Superhero in the Kitchen

Written by Donna Glass

Illustrated by Alejandro Chamberlain

Mascot Books, March 2020

 

Friends, if you are stuck at home with young children (and most of us are right now, due to COVID-19), I have a great idea for you. It’s time to enlist your superheros and teach them to cook!

Why not? Plenty of time, cooking reinforces OH SO MANY skills (math, reading, science, nutrition, fine motor, life skills), and your enlistees will be SUPER happy to help you make a meal!

Thank you, Mascot Books , for sending a review copy of Be a Superhero in the Kitchen by Donna Glass. I didn’t know I was getting a very cool COOKBOOK!

Let’s dig in!

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Why I LOVED this Book:

~ Super colorful and engaging

~ Each page spread is an entire recipe, filled with simple directions, ingredient lists, and illustrations; Cautions are listed along the way

~ 20 different recipes are included for entrees and side dishes, desserts and breads, and even a beverage

~ Superhero Cooking Tips are listed right at the beginning of the book! Yay!

~ The superhero theme is wonderful. I love how it is continued throughout the entire book. Kids will LOVE being a SUPERHERO chef!

~ This book is perfect for teaching young readers and chefs how to TAB a favorite recipe with a sticky note. The age old method of quickly finding your place…

~ Well written, fun, interesting, and very useful

~ With so many families caring for and homeschooling their children and grandchildren right now, this “activity” book is perfect. Plus, you get help making dinner.

~ Scroll down to the bottom of this post and follow the link to order your own copy.

Let’s get cooking!

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Amazon Blurb:

Every caregiver knows the trials of feeding a picky eater. Some nights are truly a battle. Nerves are frayed, and a pleasant, relaxing dinner can quickly be filled with tears, tantrums, and some nights, a battle of wills. Well, my goal with this book is to tip the scales in our favor. One surefire way I’ve discovered to get my picky eaters to eat is to let them help make the meal. After all, food tastes better when you’ve had a hand in fixing it. Let your child try their hand with the recipes in this book. A child who becomes the superhero of dinnertime is one who eats super well.

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To purchase a copy of Be a Superhero in the Kitchen, click this link:

Purchasing Information


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Welcome, November!

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I love November.

The scary stuff is gone. Pumpkins still hang out. Leaves whirl down and crunch underfoot. Nights and early mornings crisp any remaining plant life to bed. Birds flock and insects tuck in for the winter. November is perfect.

Also, let’s not forget Thanksgiving. When we lived in a house (bigger than the RV), I loved hosting Thanksgiving dinners. The good smells, tastes, and fun made the work all worthwhile. And after dinner, our traditional putting up and decorating a tree and watching a Christmas movie.

Notice I said “a” tree. Since I am a lover of Christmas trees, we usually had at least one in each room. Thanksgiving evening was just the harbinger of festivities in decor and traditional pastimes to follow.

AND November is my birthday. I’ve always had a fondness for my birthday month. So much fun anticipating not just my birthday, but also Thanksgiving with Christmas gaily tromping on its heels.

Apple crisp, pumpkin pie, juicy turkey, stuffed squash, toasty hot drinks. I guess I think and remember with my stomach. The nip in the air gives way to red noses and tingling fingertips. And if it’s to be perfect, the first snow falls. Just enough to whet my whistle.

November is also a time for me to focus on gratitude. Not only Thanksgiving Day, but each day of the month, I like to consider and remember the things for which I am thankful. God has been so good to me and my family. Giving thanks and naming the many blessings is the least I can do to honor Him.

Today, I am thankful for:

God and His provisions, my honey, my family, my veteran (our son), my RV (no matter how tiny), fall in all its glory, pumpkins, food, my health, friends, chocolate, our hunter kitty who keeps the fields free of tasty kitty morsels (mice and voles), warm clothes, music, and trees.

Which is your favorite month? How will you celebrate in November?

Blessings to you and your family.

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Spidey Snack, A Teeny Story

SPIDEY SNACK

by Angie Quantrell

 

Written in honor of Susanna Leonard Hill’s 9th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest. As Susanna says, “aahhhrrrooooOOOOO!!!!!” It’s time for some fun!

Read more tiny stories at Susanna’s blog here.

 

SPIDEY SNACK

“Help! I’m stuck in this cobweb!” shouted Bumblebee.

Hedgie looked up. “I’ll help” she called. But how? She was too low, Bumble too high.

In her workroom, Hedgie searched recipes. Grow tall spell? Invisible wings oil? Jumping legs gel?

Hedgie heard a chanting voice. “Hungry, yes, starving! Who’s in my web?”

“Legs is coming!” squeaked Bumble.

A floating spell? That’s the trick.

Hedgie mixed ingredients and chugged the potion. She glided up, grabbed Bumble, and popped open her spines.

“Ouch!” yelled Legs. “Wahhh! I’m still hungry.”

“You may not eat my friend. But do join us for Halloween pumpkin soup.”

 


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Throwback Thursday: Mama’s Cooking

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I’ve been thinking quite a bit about my mom lately, especially in the car, which usually leads to driving through the tears. I truly miss all those phone calls, hugs, and visits since she passed away in May. She is happy. I will be fine. But I do miss her.

Which is not the main focus of my thoughts. For some reason, perhaps the upcoming season of feasts and gatherings, my inner foodie is on high alert. Mama was an excellent cook. Sure my dad usually had smart comments about biscuits being hard like hockey pucks or gravy being thick enough to plaster walls, but that was just dad. He loved to tease. That was how he showed love.

I know mama worked hard to keep us fed. She also worked as cheaply as possible, cutting costs, stretching meals, and making most meals from scratch. Even without much in the pantry, Mama was so creative, we still had filling meals. She might have been short on stature, but she was a giant in love and resourcefulness.

Not every meal did I LOVE. I avoided fried grit pancakes with syrup if possible and cornbread milk toast. Eggplant, no matter how much she battered and fried it, did not agree with my taste buds. But she was famous for so many of my favorite foods. I’m going to do a quick brainstorm list and see how many I can remember. Just consider that each dish was made from scratch…

Grits and eggs

Sausage gravy and homemade biscuits

Hash browns and gravy

Tortillas and refried beans

Burritos

Homemade bread, butter, and jam

Spaghetti (my go-to birthday request favorite meal)

The Gasser (her noteworthy casserole, aptly named, which included beans, onions, green chilies, corn, hash browns, corn tortillas, and enchilada sauce)

Chicken and dumplings

Pancakes

Homemade syrup

Jam

Fried bologna and cheese sandwiches

Sliced hotdogs baked with ketchup

Fresh corn (either frozen or on the ear)

Macaroni and milk, the first meal after stomach flu

Homemade noodles

 

Mama was always purchasing, harvesting, preserving, and storing food. I still remember the 50-pound bags of dried pinto beans, onions, and corn on the cob. We had goats, cows, chickens, and ducks. Eggs were plentiful and the milk was sold for extra cash. Nobody can drink that much milk! I was not a fan of the bits of cream lingering in the whole milk, regardless of how much we carefully skimmed it off the top. Unpasteurized to boot! It’s amazing that we survived.

How about you? Did you have favorite home-cooked meals? If you know my family, do you remember any other special foods my mama made?

 

 


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Fun Things to Do in Victoria BC

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Downtown Victoria BC view from our Hotel Grand Pacific balcony

Millions of thanks to my cousin, Melissa, for taking me to Canada with her! We had such a wonderful cousin time, exploring, giggling, eating, and shopping. So much fun and tons of memories (and calories). Don’t forget your passport!

Here are some of the fun things we did.

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Picturesque views while riding on the Clipper

1. Ride the Victoria Clipper. Besides getting us to Victoria in 2 hours 45 minutes, it was a fun way to travel. Parking at the Bell Street parking garage was only $10 a day with a pass from the Clipper. And only a block from the dock. Do check in online as soon as possible. We were in boarding group 1, and it only made life easier.

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Melissa and I headed north on the Victoria Clipper

2. Splurge for a nice hotel. Melissa chose the Hotel Grand Pacific, literally one block from the Clipper dock. It was so easy to wheel our luggage across the street and down the block. Check in was a breeze. Do check. They had our room ready early, though I can’t promise that all the time. The room was fabulous and we had a combined view of the city and the harbor. Comes complete with pool, hot tub, restaurants, high tea, and very friendly and knowledgeable concierges. You can’t lose with this hotel.

3. Schedule High Tea. Do it! Sure, it’s another splurge, but where (in my neighborhood) can I get fancy high tea? Uh…nowhwere. We researched a bit and settled on High Tea at our hotel, Hotel Grand Pacific. So much food, plenty of tea, oodles of sugar, ample time, short walk, wonderful company. Instructions included wearing proper shoes (no flip flops or beach wear items), so we planned ahead and brought summer dresses and dressy sandals. We both ate most of our tea foods, and swapped items we didn’t finish. Or left them on the tier. Not saying who. But I do enjoy a good smoked salmon. And tuna. Our server was kind enough to pack what was left in a container for later snacks.

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Loved this fountain!

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Two adorable 50-somethings enjoying Butchart Gardens

4. Ride city bus #75 to Butchart Gardens. Originally, we planned and booked a day-long tour which featured many popular destinations. Due to low registrations (I think we were on the only two), it was cancelled. We hemmed and hawed and eventually overhead someone saying, “Take the bus.” Excellent suggestion. $5 Canadian for an all day bus pass. Worth the entire fiver. Saved tons of money by going to Butchart on our own. And saw some great sites along the way. Skipped the parking lot fiasco. Butchart Gardens. Two words. DO IT. Gorgeous. We had lunch at The Blue Poppy Restaurant.

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Water lilies in front of Hotel Grand Pacific

5. Wander. From the bus windows, we saw the drug store we needed, plus many other fun places to explore. Touristy shopping is right on Government street, filled with all such souvenir treats one could want. It was pretty easy pickings to find surprises to take home with us.

6. Murchie’s. Visit both sides of this landmark. Coffee, tea, breakfast, lunch, snacks. We hit Murchie’s for breakfast one morning and I was enchanted to have my hot tea come in a pot! If you do this, check for tea strength. I think there were 4 (FOUR!) teabags in my pot. A bit strong, so I pulled some out. The bran muffin was excellent. We then walked right next door to the shopping portion of Murchie’s where we sniffed teas, handled tea items, and purchased loose leaf tea and gifts. Bagged and loose leaf teas are available, as well as tins, tea cups and pots, tea paraphernalia, and assorted whatnots. Knowledgeable tea staff are on hand to help with purchases and tea choices. Sadly, they no longer sell spices.

7. Eat at 10 Acres. They have 3 restaurants with farm to table foods. They grow most of the items they use to prepare meals. We first visited 10 Acres Commons Bistro. I loved my fresh salad and French onion soup. The drink I had included a (ONE) fennel seed, which had accidentally transferred over during the herb harvest process. It was so tasty. We would definitely visit this bistro again. A different evening, we timed our visit to 10 Acres Commons for happy hour when some foods would be on special. Delighted to have an outside table with a lovely view. My bunless burger and salad were exceptionally delish and Melissa’s fish and chips looked super tasty. Just a warning. And I thought it funny. My usual take when I ask for no bun, lettuce wrap instead, is that I am saving you money and buns. Their take is sure, we’ll leave off the bun, but charge you extra for the lettuce wrap. LOL. My happy hour price was eaten up by my lettuce wrap and bacon. Oh well, it was so yummy, I didn’t care.

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Garden of Roger the Marmot…we did not see him.

8. Stop and smell the roses. Or lavender, geraniums, dahlias…Victoria is a beautiful city. We traveled north in August, and flowers were on abundant display. Bees and bumbles adorned nearly every flower bed we saw.

If you wander near The Empress, facing the Empress from the harbor, follow the path along the left of the far left entrance. You will find the home of Roger the marmot and his accompanying bee hives. Though native to the area before land development, marmots do not usually live within city borders. Somehow, be it RV, big truck, or baggage, Roger found his was to this tiny hidden corner of rock walls, trees, and flowers. Four attempts have been made to capture him, but he is wily and wants to stay where he wants to stay. We didn’t see him in person, but what a fun character! The Empress has turned his garden into a wildlife bee and marmot sanctuary. Go see it.

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No photos of Rogers’, but plenty of treats from High Tea!

9. Rogers’ Chocolates. If you love chocolates, you will want to enjoy some treats. We only stopped once for an after dinner truffle. Mine was pretty tasty. But they don’t give correct change (true elsewhere). I asked why I didn’t get any pennies back for my change. I was kind of grumpy about it. I love my pennies. But she said they didn’t have any. Then as I wandered on, I vaguely recalled Canada doing away with pennies. Yep. That was true. No more Canadian pennies. The Rexall cashier explained in detail. I don’t know who benefits most. The government does surely, as it costed about $1.40-1.50 to make $1 worth of pennies. Do shop keepers? Customers? No idea. But don’t expect exact change OR pennies.

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Harbor view from Fisherman’s Wharf

10. Walk the harbor sidewalk. Sit and rest, watch the people, watch the boats and air traffic. Even sitting still, there is so much to see. Victoria is beautiful and popular.

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Pot of tea at Hotel Grand Pacific breakfast. My kind of WAKE up time.

We need to plan another trip. There was so much we did not see. Castles, distilleries, China town, pickle boat rides, museums, Parliament buildings . . . So many more restaurants and malls and exciting things to see.

Have you been to Victoria? What was your favorite thing to see, do, or eat?

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Fisherman’s Wharf. It was a hot day when we walked here, only food and one shop! But beautiful. Most of these are personal homes.