Nana’s Recipes: Summer Watermelon

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Harsha K M/Flickr Creative Commons

When I was a kid, having that first slice of watermelon was one of those indicators that summer vacation had finally arrived. Some places go absolutely nuts over watermelon. For example, every June Luling, TX, has the “Watermelon Thump,” and for months prior to the “Thump,” you see pickup trucks all over Caldwell County with 8.5×11 sheets of paper taped to the back windows asking you to vote for this girl or that girl so she can become Thump Queen. So for those of you late comers to the fine state of Texas, let me state plainly: watermelon in the summertime is a big deal!

Some folks like to slice them into a kind of giant half-round, throw some salt on that slice, and chow down. That’s the simplest, quickest way to eat watermelon and one of the messiest if you’re a novice. Salting a watermelon seems to be a regional thing – up in Oregon, for example, when i salted my watermelon, folks looked at me pretty funny. “What?” I said. “It makes the watermelon more juicy, and you get that wonderfully salty-sweet flavor” Being wonderful, adventurous folks, they salted a small bit of watermelon and chowed down, forever converted to the Texas way.

One of the greatest tricks you can play with watermelon is to cube up a portion of watermelon that looks like it would be a good mouthful, then bet somebody (preferably someone who might be a lil bit of a know-it-all or one of those slightly irritating personalities like a brother-in-law or that jerk uncle everybody seems to have) that they can’t fit ALL that watermelon in their mouth. If they take the bet they’ll cram it all in there and once they do, bet them they can’t close their mouths. Fluid dynamics being what it it, the water in the watermelon won’t compress and watermelon juice will shoot out their nostrils to the everlasting delight of every kid who witnesses it!

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Nana’s Recipes: Port Isabel Style Shrimp

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Vince Smith/Flickr Creative Commons

Port Isabel, TX is so far south on South Padre Island…..(how south is it?)…..that if you went any further south, you’d be in Mexico! It’s the coastal town just to the east of Brownsville, kind of the Galveston if Brownsville was Houston, know what I mean? And of course it’s a fairly historic little southern port town too. As a matter of fact it used to be a major center for cotton exports and actually was  fought over during the Civil War. Pt Isabel also has one of those iconic old light houses, as well as the old town square around it. These days though, it’s a vacation destination offering seafood, beaches, and all the aquatic activities. Port Isabel is also home to the World Championship Shrimp Cookoff, so in that spirit we’re going to talk Port Isabel style Shrimp!

You’ll need a skillet, a pound and a half of peeled and deveined shrimp, a white onion, green onions, limes, and spices. First lets rub a little butter all over the skillet to make it non-stick, and then chop the white onion (about a cup and a half’s worth), finely chop the green onions (about a quarter cup’s worth), and mince two garlic cloves. Get the skillet up to medium-high heat and start sautéing the white onion for about 3 minutes or so and add a teaspoon of cumin, a teaspoon of chili powder, the minced garlic, and the shrimp! Sauteé for another 4 minutes or so and remove from heat, immediately after removing from heat add two tablespoons of butter, half a teaspoon of salt, and your favorite hot sauce (amount and style determined by your own personal tastes but let’s keep it subtle) and stir and stir until the butter is all melted. While you’re stirring add about a quarter cup of lime juice and that quarter cup of green onions. If you feel like adding some lime wedges, go right ahead, but serve on a bed of Mexican Rice. If you feel like drinking a delicious Mexican beer like a Victoria, Leon, or El Indio while you’re cooking, that is actually encouraged! We hope you enjoy this dish and if you have any favorite south Texas dishes, please tell us about it in the comment section below, and remember to come to the website and say howdy before you hit the road!

RV Cooking Tips

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Tym/Flickr Creative Commons

Oh my Lord, social mealtimes have a way of creating some very long-lasting memories don’t they? Positive and negative. On the positive side, I STILL remember how incredible my grandmother’s green beans tasted ,or my great-grandmother’s homemade Lemon ice cream. MMM MMM! Unfortunately I also remember some mealtime disasters, like a ham served at a holiday mealtime a few years back. It’s impossible to truly recount the horrors of that ham, but I will tell you I slipped my serving under the table to the dog…then after the meal the dog ran outside and threw up! So today I reckon we could talk about some fairly common cooking mistakes and ways to help prevent upset tummies in our pets. Ha!!

It seems like most cooking errors come from either wanting to cut corners on time because we started late, or some other disaster in the galley has cause us to get stressed. Other errors are caused by tradition; the “Mom and Grandma cooked this way and and if it was good enough for my (long suffering) family, then by gum it’s good enough for you” mentality. Remember that secret ingredient your Grandma always told you? It’s always love isn’t it? That means caring enough about the poor folks who are gonna have to politely eat your cooking to not let your pride (or anyone else’s) or nerves get in between your loved ones and a good meal. It may sound a little harsh, but sometimes it’s as easy as:

Let the oven pre-heat! I had a relative that always threw the meal into the oven then turned it on and wondered why it was never done when the timer went off (and frozen in the middle).

Let your pans and skillets heat up! It prevents sticking, meat will sear properly, and if you want to sautee up some veggies, it’s an absolute must. Once your pan is up to temp, THEN add your oil or meat.

There is a difference between boiling and simmering! You can really mess up rice by not knowing the difference…a simmer is one or two bubbles every couple seconds or so, a boil is constant bubbles all over, all the time.

Truly simple ideas, but easily forgotten in the mad panic that sometimes happens in the kitchen. Worst case, treat everybody to a meal on the town, and everybody will sigh with relief! For any kitchen accessories you may need come to PPL Motorhomes.com and say howdy!

Thank God For National Doughnut Day!

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Dan/Flickr Creative Commons

If ANY food deserved it’s own National Day of Celebration it’s the miraculous golden brown, sometimes iced, sometimes jelly-filled, sometimes glazed, but always enjoyed doughnut! I admit I have my favorite doughnut shop, and I admit I sometimes pass it on my way home…and it’s not really on my way home. Why are doughnuts such a guilty pleasure? Nothing about them is healthy, you can feel them add fat to your body, they’r so easy and convenient to eat, someone is always bringing them to work, and they taste sooooooooo darn good! There should be a 12 Step Program for doughnuts!

And do you know what’s more sneaky than your average awesome doughnut? The doughnut hole. They’re like little travel sized doughnuts that have all the guilt of their full-sized compadres. And thy are pretty easy to make! All you need is a pot, some vegetable oil, a baking tray and a cooling rack.

First you make the glaze. Pour a cup and a half of confectioners sugar into a mixing bowl, then add 3 tablespoons of whole milk and stir it in. You’re looking for a fairly thing glaze so it it isn’t thin enough add another tablespoon of milk.

To make the doughnut holes, put five cups of vegetable oil into a pot big enough to have at least two inches of oil covering the bottom and heat to 350 degrees. Use a deep fry thermometer to ensure proper temps. In a separate bowl, whisk one cup of milk and one egg together. In yet another bowl whisk together two cups of flour, two tablespoons of sugar, four and a half teaspoons of baking powder, and a half teaspoon of salt. Melt a half stick of unsalted butter and then stir in the melted butter, and milk/egg mixture. Stir them all together until the dough becomes soft. Use a small ice cream scoop to scoop up a ball of dough and carefully drop into the oil and let them fry for a couple minutes or until they turn that awesome golden brown color. You’ll need to flip them in the oil from time to time and you can cook several at once just don’t crowd them. Once they’re golden brown, place them on a baking tin lined with paper towels (slotted spoon works or GENTLY using tongs). Once they’ve cooled, place them on the rack and pour the glaze on, then EAT EM!

 

Nana’s Recipes: Pure Texas Nachos

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Abi Skipp/Flickr Creative Commons

Anyone who’s read these blogs for any amount of time knows how proudly Texan I am, and when it comes to food Tex Mex is the name of the game around these parts. “Tex Mex” is kind of a misnomer I suppose. Here in Texas we call it “Mexican Food,” but what we call Mexican Food is derived more from what Tejanos were cooking, that is the Spanish and Mexican folks who were living in Texas before the revolution. They had taken traditional northern Mexican and Indian dishes and adapted them to what was available or would grow in Texas. Nachos seem to be one of those dishes very very closely associated with Tex Mex, and Tex Mex nachos are very specifically prepared.

Legend has it that Nachos were invented in Piedras Negras, which is just across the river from Eagle Pass. The story has several ladies from Texas going to a club in Piedras Negras for drinks late in the evening and asked the barman for a snack. As the kitchen was already closed, he melted some cheese onto some tortilla chips and added a slice of jalapeño to each and presented them with his compliments. Allegedly the barman’s name was Ignacio and the common nickname for Ignacio of course is Nacho.

So to make Pure Texas Nachos, you need to rustle up a bag of fresh corn tortilla chips, grab some Longhorn Cheese, and fresh jalapeño. To do these nachos their proper Texas justice, melt the Longhorn cheese — add a portion TO EACH INDIVIDUAL CHIP, don’t just slop the cheese all over a pile of chips… those are called “Lazy Nachos,” or even “Yankee Nachos.” So anyway, add a potion of melted Longhorn cheese to each individual chip, and add a slice of jalapeño to each chip as well. The goal is to not make the chips soggy or limp, so add cheese to taste as well as what the chips will support. Some folks like to add refried beans, salsa, guacamole, or sour cream t0 suit their own tastes, just remember to keep it simple.

And remember to swing by our website for any RV parts and accessories you may need!

Nana’s Recipes: Maragaritas

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Lindsey Turner, Flikr Creative Commons

Like any truly world changing event, the invention of the Margarita has several origin stories. Anyone who reads this blog will know by now that I am a proud Texan, so the origin story of the Margarita that I prefer to believe happened right here in Texas!

Ahem… it was a dark and stormy night in 1948, and an internationally known leggy lady singer named Peggy Lee sauntered into the Balinese Room in Galveston, TX. She stood there a moment, surveying the room. The South Seas style interior of the club was dimly lit, the bandleader saw her and immediately broke into “Mañana (Is Soon Enough For Me),” which was her song currently at #1 on the Billboard Charts. She nodded to him, then made her way to the bar.

“Good evening Miss Lee. What would you like me to make for you?” bartender Santos Cruz asked as she placed her handbag atop the bar.

“Hello Santo! I don’t know, how about something new? Just for me?” Peggy responded happily.

“Yes ma’am!” he said, fetching down a bottle of Tequila. He scratched his head for a moment, then started to reach to the right, changed his mind, and bent down to bring out a bottle of Triple Sec. He looked around the bar for a short moment, then brought out a small basket of limes.

“Wow, Santo. This is going to be quite the production,” she laughed.

He grinned back at her and set a thick glass on the bar. A moment later he added two ice cubes, poured in a shot of Tequila, added a dash of Triple Sec, cut a lime in half, and, after he’d squeezed the lime over the glass, he rubbed the rim with the lime and sprinkled a tiny amount of salt on the rim.

“With my compliment, Miss Lee,” he smiled, and placed the drink in front of her.

She reached down, smiled, and took a sip.

“Why, this is MARVELOUS!” she sighed. “What do you call it?”

“I don’t know ma’am, I just made it. You said you wanted something just for you, so let’s call it Peggy,” he said.

“No, no, no… this is a Spanish drink. What is Peggy in Spanish?”

“I don’t know… err, what’s your middle name?”

“Margaret.”

“Perfect! Margaret in Spanish is Margarita, so happy Margarita Miss Lee!” he beamed, and thus the Margarita was born. And if it didn’t really happen that way, well, it should have! Happy Margarita from all of us at PPL Motorhomes!

Nana’s Recipes: Mexican Flag Soup

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Martha Silva/Flickr Creative Commons

Sometimes on those chilly evenings a nice bowl of warm spicy soup just hits the spot. As you feel the warmth flow down from your tastebuds to your tummy, life just gets a little better doesn’t it? Especially on these warm during the day, cool in the evening sort of days. Anyhow, today we’re going to talk a little bit about Mexican Flag Soup which is the invention of a friend of mine. He calls it Mexican Flag Soup because the ingredient’s are red, white, and green and it can be as spicy as you like.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Spinach
  • Green Onion
  • Quinoa/Mexican Rice
  • Hominy
  • Veggie Broth
  • Olive Oil
  • Spices (red pepper flakes, garam masala)
  • Salsa
  • Chips
  • Tortillas

First pour enough veggie broth into a pot to feed however many people you feel like feeding, (today it’s just going to be me so multiply the amounts to suit the number of mouths you’ll have at the table) add a splash of olive oil, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and a pinch of garam masala. While the broth is warming up, grab a bowl, chop the green onion and put the chopped up bits into the bowl. Add a big ol’ spoonful of (previously cooked) quinoa or Mexican rice, add a big ol’ spoonful of hominy, also add a big ol’ spoonful of salsa. Grab a small handful of spinach leaves and tear them into chunks about the size of a nickel and add them to the bowl. While the pot continues to warm, warm up your tortillas and your corn chips, and get them set out on the table. Don’t forget to have a bowl of salsa out too, and whatever you’d like to drink. Once the broth in the pot is swirling around but not quite boiling just yet, pour it into the bowl with all your ingredients and stir a couple of times. Then, chow down! This soup is guaranteed to make your mouth warm and happy, so come and get it!

If you need any kitchen accessories for the RV or travel trailer, swing by PPL Motorhomes.com and see what we’ve got for you.

 

Nana’s Recipes : Lemon-Basil Pasta with Shrimp On Top

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jeffreyw/Flickr Creative Commons

There’s nothing simpler than cooking up a mess of pasta on the ol’ stove. All you have to do is heat water, throw in the pasta of your choice and wait til it reaches that “al dente” state right? Well, yeah. Kinda. But what are you going to have with it? What kind of sauce? Well let’s look in the cupboard and the fridge and see what we’ve got laying around. Hmmm, we’ve got some shrimp in the fridge, that would be nice. There’s a little bottle of capers there in the door, some fresh baby spinach down in the veggie drawer…what else have we got? Let’s see there’s some basil left over, a couple lemons, here’s a box of spaghetti. We’ve even got some olive oil left in this bottle and I know I’ve got salt and pepper, let’s do this!

I guess first thing, let’s chop about a quarter cup of fresh basil, then let’s get the shrimp peeled and de-veined. We’ve got a pound of it, and that’ll feed four folks I reckon. Once the shrimp is all prepared, we’ll need to get the water boiling in a pot and we’ll need a pan to cook the shrimp. We’ll get three quarts of water boiling then add about eight ounces or so of spaghetti. While the spaghetti is going, we’ll put about a tablespoon of olive oil in the pan and heat the pan until the olive oil just begins to smoke then throw about half the shrimp in as well as some salt, pepper, and even a pinch of sugar is you’re so inclined. Shrimp cook pretty fast so keep an eye on them, when the edges turn pink and they’re spotty/brown take the pan off heat, grab some tongs and pull them out and put them on a plate, so you can cook the other half of the shrimp.

If you were a short-order cook back in high school or college running the pasta and the shrimp at the same time is no problem because they’ll cook in about the same amount of time, but if you get flustered and overwhelmed in the kitchen, cook the shrimp first and pasta after. Once the pasta has reached that al dente goodness level, strain it then pour it into a mixing bowl. In the bowl stir in the chopped basil, a couple tablespoons of olive oil, a couple tablespoons of capers, a couple tablespoons of lemon juice, then salt to taste. Grab four plates, put a handful of fresh baby spinach on each plate, a serving of pasta on top of that then crown it with the shrimp! This stuff is so good you should eat it immediately and thank me later, or swing by PPL Motorhomes.com after dinner for any parts and accessories you may require.

 

That Retro Style!

Recreational Vehicles are around 105 years old, and with that amount of time comes a variety of change in styles, purpose built vehicles, as well as changes in plain old everyday philosophy. The good news about all those changes is that these days you can more or less choose  to decorate, convert, or modify an RV to suit a particular period of RV’ing. Some folks go full retro 50’s kitsch, some folks prefer a more “glamping” style of luxurious modern appointments that have the classic antique look, while others prefer that old-school utilitarian look. The options for decorating are as limitless as you allow them to be.

Of course if you choose to pursue a decorating style from the past you will have to decide if you want to track down and purchase actual antique or vintage equipment which is generally fairly expensive, hard to find, fragile, and irreplaceable. One of the benefits of today’s interest in classic styling is that today’s manufactures are creating current production items that represent those looks of yesteryear while maintaining modern functionality. For example, we offer sets of vintage style crockery (see photo below):

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Getting that look from the past is quite an individual pursuit and also one that’s also very gratifying. There’s nothing quite like having a recreational vehicle that stands out from the herd, above the rest, and does so in a classy way. Even if you’re part-timing the RV, or more especially if you live in your vehicle year-round, you want it to reflect your individual sense of taste and style. When folks come visiting and they feel transported to another time and place, it makes for a great evening.

Please feel free to come visit us at PPL MOtorhomes.com and peruse our online catalogue for those vintage-flavored item, we’re always glad to see y’all, and happier to see y’all pleased with your purchases!

Nana’s Recipes: Mediterranean Style Salmon

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Steve Hooton/Flickr Creative Commons

It’s cold and wet  and dark all across most the state of Texas this morning (sorry Panhandle, Midland, and El Paso), and though all this moisture is mighty welcome, it made me start thinking of sunnier, warmer climes like the Mediterranean. The Med is home to some of the oldest European culture on the planet, and boy do they know how to cook! So instead of staring out the window cussing the time change and the wet, let’s talk about a warm spicy awesome salmon recipe.

This recipe works for however many salmon steaks you feel like cooking, just duplicate  the process on each slice of fish. We’re also assuming an average weight of 1/2 pound of fish per serving. All seasoning and garnishing in this recipe should be done to suit your taste. If you don’t like an overpowering onion flavor for example, don’t use a lot of onion! A lot of folks look at recipes as an absolute, but I’m here to tell you that this one is more of a guideline, after all what we’re after is a delicious meal.

I suppose while we’re visiting you should go ahead and pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. There are a few veggies to prep while the oven is warming up, so grab a smallish tomato and chop it into 1/4″ or so cubes, same with a purple onion, and set the chopped bits aside. Now get a pie pan, line it with foil and put the salmon in there. Drizzle some red wine vinaigrette over the salmon, then add a little olive oil. McCormick makes a Mediterranean Seasoning Blend in those little red bottles you see at the grocery store, sprinkle some of that on the salmon, and add some red pepper flakes. Once the salmon is spiced, take a handful of chopped tomato and sprinkle over the top of the fish. Then add some the chopped purple onion. Finally, add some sliced black olives and capers, add a light dusting of crushed black pepper over the top of the whole mess, close the foil into a packet and bake for 30 minutes on a cookie sheet with each fish you cook in it’s own separate foil packet.

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do! Drop us a line in the comment section below and let us know how you like it, and what you do to make it suit your tastebuds. www.pplmotorhomes.com