Tag Archives: Food

Essential Pantry for an RV or a Bachelor Pad

So recently, we’ve acquired a Mercedes Sprinter Van. The initial plan was to use it for touring with my Fairy Godmother of Music gigs this summer to libraries around our state. Then, the Pandemic hit and all my performances moved virtual zoom, YouTube and Facebook Live events. I’m very fortunate to have such great partners in the librarians.

So, we still had this great van. It happens to have all the amenities of a posh tiny house on wheels… I joke it’s nicer than the house we live in now. It has a small bathroom with a toilet, sink and shower, a three burner stove, fridge with a separate freezer, microwave/convection oven, sink, queen bed, three captians chairs that rotate, tons of storage, a closet, a tv, a dvd player, navigation, rear cameras, eternal power, external hot/cold water, 25 gallons fresh water tanks, generator, air conditioning, heat, hot water heater… I’m sure I’m forgetting some whiz bang up contraption part cause it’s that amazing! Oh yeah, and solar power. Basically this is a great way to see the state of Michigan and be safe during the pandemic, the rest of the country and even beyond when the borders open up again.

As a part of getting this tiny home, we needed to set it up for living out of… You know, bedding, pillows, sheets, dishes, cookwear, drink ware, and a few other things that I didn’t think about the first two times we took her out. Like one trip we didn’t have chairs to sit in, another I needed a small cocktail table to set our snacks and drinks on by the fire, then we needed a poker stick to tend the fire, a camp table, some cd’s and dvd’s to listen to… Once I thought about cooking (even if it’s over a fire pit) we needed other tools, spices, fats like butter, and ingredients, dry goods, canned goods, sauces like ketchup and mustard. And moving on to beverages, drinks both alchoholic and virgin, water still and sparkling. I know, I this may sound fancy. But I’m not backpacking in somewhere for an overnight with this van. I need to be able to pull up, get dress, play a gig and eat a meal after the show. It has to be functioning as a business center because I need to mentor my students, record my music, edit my web sites, manage my social media and do everything else an entrepreneur on the road does.

So, how the bachelor part comes into this story is through my bass player, Rocco (featured in several of my YouTube videos). He’s a young man with an interest in taking good care of himself and enjoys a good cuisine. So since the Pandemic has limited our in person performance work, I’ve been helping him channel his creativity into cooking by teaching him inexpensive recipies and some homesteading techniques that help make food last longer and go farther.

With the onset of all the other life changes we’ve experinced over the past several years, I feel like this Pandemic has really set me on point with my people, my purpose and what I’m spending my time doing. We are very blessed to have the support network and talents that have taken us around the world and then some. I’m glad I get to share my passions with you in this medium and keep the tradition of my Permanent Workation lifestyle alive. I really do work to live and I’m focused on living life like it is a vacation every day.

So, as I pursue the love of food, music and travel and share with you the concoctions I create, the adventures we take and the sounds all around us… I hope you’ll join me.

First thing though is to figure out what we’ll need in our pantry for the most basic and frugel cook.

Must have spices

Must have pantry spices:

  • Salts (a sea salt and/or finer granulated non-iodized salt)
  • Pepper  (to grind fresh)
  • Granulated garlic (not powdered)
    • Fresh garlic is also a great option
  • Cumin  (ground & whole seeds)
  • Hungarian paprika (not smoked or spanish, but those are nice too)
  • Cayenne (hot, a little goes a long way)
  • Dried whole chili’s they store indefinitely…
    • Ancho (great for chili and beans)
    • Guajjillo (great for salsas)
    • Poblano (great for tacos & stuffing if you buy them fresh)
    • Chipotle (smoky & great for chicken and pork)
    • Blended Chili Powder  (I prefer a Mexican Chili Powder if buying a preground blend) 
  • Dried onions
  • Herbs de Provence (Great on chicken, fish, veggies, popcorn)
  • Oregano (Mexican and Italian, they aren’t really the same, but interchangeable enough in a starter pantry)
  • Coriander (ground)
  • Cardamom pods
  • Mustard seeds (brown, white or blend)
  • Red chili flakes
  • Whole Dried Bay leaves 
  • Basil, chives, cilantro, parsley really this should only be fresh as dried it has no flavor
  • Vinegar (two kinds apple cider & rice wine,  a balsamic if you want a good salad dressing option)
  • Cooking fats: Butter, (can be frozen to store longer), Olive Oil (for salad dressing), Canola or Safflower Oil (higher flash point oil for frying crisp or sautéing.)
  • Flour – All purpose
  • Sugar – pick your favorite style, some are way more intense on the sweet scale than others.
  • Bakings Soda & Baking Powder (they are two key ingredients to pancakes, breads and cakes)
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • vanilla (I buy Mexican)

I know that I’ve missed many things and there’s great debate about what really you need in your pantry. This is just a nice place to start and reflects alot of what I put in the van. (Besides many of our items are gluten free… including the flour and steel cut oatmeal we like to eat.)

 

When Friends Move To Austin

A couple months back, two of my dearest friends relocated from Detroit to Austin.

Nathan Montgomery Jen Montgomery Detroit Austin Music Travel Relocation

Along the way, I’ve been sending them tips for weekending fun in the Austin area and I’ve collected them here for you.

Guero’s
1412 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
They have free music in their garden under the live oak tree on Thursdays and weekends. At home, I specialize cooking a runny “Charro-style” pinto bean. The recipe I wrote was inspired by that restaurant. (It also happens to be something I served at the Nate & Jen Learn to Say Howdy Ya’ll party I hosted for their going away.) I really like their enchiladas & margaritas. Guero’s is absolutely not the best place for Mexican food in Austin. But I love the vibe of the patio & the first inside room… so I cut their food some slack. Plus they always have fun friendly servers.

The Oasis on Lake Travis
6550 Comanche Trail, Austin, TX 78732
One of the first times I ever went to Austin with Jake, he took me there on a date. It’s one of the only places I’ve found where you can enjoy some food and the waterfront of beautiful Lake Travis. (If I lived in Austin, I’d miss the Great Lakes here in Michigan.) I believe they also have music, cover bands like 7 Million Jigawatts used to be.

My idea of one sweet Sunday in Downtown Austin’s SoCo neighborhood. ❤️🎶😀

Jo’s Coffee
1300 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704

Joe’s is my favorite coffee shop in the entire world. The Sunday Morning Jo’s Coffee Brunch Band on South Congress is totally worth getting motivated in the morning and going to listen. After you have a coffee, tea or Lone Star beer there, walk South, away from the river to get some brunch.

South Congress Cafe
1600 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
Plan on waiting (unless there are open seats at their tiny bar). If you have calories to burn, eat the carrot cake French toast. If not, there’s loads of other good Southwestern style options there.

Amy’s Ice Creams, they have multiple locations.
(my favorite is 1301 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704)
I always have Mexican Vanilla and/or the Mexican Chocolate. It’s my favorite sweet treat there and one of the best flavors around.

Oh yeah, everyone must drink a Topo Chico for me at any restaurant on any night.

Then, I took a trip to Roma, so I focused on all things that are Italian in Austin…

Spaghetti warehouse- wait we’ve never been there! So, sorry not that one. 😂👎

Whole Foods Market on Lamar and 6th. In their take out section, they have great ethnic sections, including Italian favorites. I think they still have ice skating on the roof, but it’s been years since I’ve been in that place. (I had owned the stock at one point in my portfolio. I did sell it at a profit, but I believe in this company and their mission still today.)

Vespaio
1610 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704 and their Enoteca next door offer rustic Italian. They have a great dinner and offer a nice weekend brunch too. Actually, good authentic inspired Italian food. Enjoyed it and the sister restaurant next door several times.

Botticelli’s
1321 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
Once, I had the best most amazing ravioli’s in there. To die for. They have a garden behind the restaurant, so don’t let the tiny interior fool you.They also have live music sometimes on the weekend.

Here’s an Austin related activity you can do from the couch while you’re vegging out 😀.

Watch anyone of the following films with some of Texas’ favorite stars & locations:
✔️Dallas Buyers Club (Mathew Mconahey’s Mom lives in Jake’s Mom’s Dell Webb community 😂)
✔️Chef (Shot in a food truck in & around Austin. One scene is shot in one of my favorite restaurants, Trulucks)
✔️Bernie (Morbidly funny shot around Austin & Georgetown)
✔️Urban Cowboy (just in case you need lessons on how to fit in also shot in Austin)
✔️Dazed & Confused (just in case you miss your stoner friends from high school or home – also starring Matthew Mconahey)
✔️Whip it (Because when you want to make a movie about Roller Derby girls, you should shoot in Austin & Detroit. Makes sense to me.)

Then Hurricane Harvey came to town, so I needed to think of fun things for a rainy weekend in Austin. What’s there to do?

Well, I suppose you could go shopping at The Domain
11410 Century Oaks Terrace, Austin, TX 78758. It’s a fancy name for a place to shop for things you might or might not need. Referred to on Google as a “sprawling upscale outdoor mall”. (Doesn’t sound that fun to me, especially in the rain 😂.)

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema (They also have multiple locations & I don’t have a favorite for this one.) Watch a film, have a snack, dinner and a beer/soda. On Sept 6, they had a “Garlic Festival”. When David Bowie died they had a music video party commemorating his lifes work. If you wanted to get scared, go there and see Stephen King’s IT.

The bad thing about Harvey, the weather was so bad they couldn’t even leave their apartment. So, I suppose when it’s winter, they will check out the inside stuff.

I’ll have more installments as Nate & Jen aclimate to the temperature, lifestyle and location in Austin, Texas.

OMG THAI FOOD OBSESSION

I have a major addiction to Thai food, well many styles of Asian cuisine to be honest. No, it’s not just cause I saw Anthony Bordain eat some really great stall food during one of his episodes of Parts Unknown. It definitely has something to do with working on cruise ships all over the world though. People who have a chance to eat in the crew mess on board a ship never look at or taste food in quite the same way. Not to mention the days when you get shore leave and are able to eat something truly local and unique.

Travel Thailand
Travel Thailand with advice from Lonely Planet

 

I’m missing the days we sat on the beach in Pattaya, Thailand with Jon & Kat while it downpoured on the umbrellas over our heads. There was steam coming off our giant glasses of icy cold Chang beer.

Chang Beer of Thailand

We just kept ordering more food from the locals passing by. There were sweet rice balls with fresh mango slices. Lemongrass steamed prawns that some random guy was just carrying in a basket down the walkway between the vendors, guests, chairs and the beach. How he delicately balanced the baskets on the pole across his shoulders, smiling with that typical mischevous look in his eye. (If I were my Mother, I would have worried about food poisoning.)

Lemongrass Thailand Travel Buy a Taste
Wonder what that unique fresh flavor is in Thai cooking? It’s Lemongrass & you can order it from Amazon here.

 

Oh my, what fabulous memories of the swealtering heat and the cooling effect spicy food has on your insides. For me, contrary to popular belief, that’s how hot food works. On a 99% humidity and a 99 degree day, all you need is a spicy Tom Yum or a nice Red Coconut Curry and rice. Awe, yeah.

Key Thai Cooking Ingredients Shipped Directly Fresh from Amazon
Wonder how you can make these tastey Thai recipes at home? Key Thai Cooking Ingredients Shipped Directly Fresh from Amazon.

None of my homoginized descriptions of Thai food are in the Pok Pok book. He’s put way more originality, research and ingenuity into Ricker’s offering to the home cook.

Koh Samui Thailand
You can see the humidity hanging in the air
Koh Samui Thailand

After hanging around on ships with various friends from Thailand, I felt lucky to spend a few days amid their beautiful vistas, lounging on beaches and taking in the funky, fun, and in some ways outragous activities that make up their daily lives. While I was surfing on the web the other day for Thai inspired cookbooks, one really caught my eye, Pok Pok by Andy Ricker @pawkhrua on twitter. Not only does he own several restaurants in both NYC and Portland that are supposed to be stellar, he also wrote a book about Thai food. (I’m putting the Portland Pok Pok locations on my list for a soon to be planned USA West Coast Adventure.)

Pok Pok on Amazon by Andy Ricker
Get a copy o Pok Pok by Andy Ricker on Amazon

Now that I have this beautiful hard cover book in hand, I can’t wait to try some of these recipes out. If Pok Pok & Ricker are out of reach for me, I have a fall back plan from the folks at Lucky Peach.

101 easy Asian recipes
Lucky Peach and their sense of humor are also offering this homage to all Eastern influenced foodies out there, 101 Easy Asian recipes.

One St Patrick’s Day in Dublin

Did I ever tell you the story about Jake, myself and comedian Tom Briscoe in Dublin on Saint Patty’s Day? Well if you can imagine two rockers and the king of getting fired from jobs comedy ripping up the secret speakeasies, rocking out at the hidden gems in Temple Bar and drinking a bunch of Guinness and all the Irish coffees Ireland has to offer… You’ve got a great start for the day and be about 1/2 right.

Buy Lonely Planet Ireland Trave Guide
Lonely Planet Ireland Travel Guide is an Excellent Travel Resource

A couple of years ago while we were touring the British Isles, we were fortunate enough to land in Dublin right on the blessed day. What’s funny is in Ireland, Saint Patrick’s Day it’s sort of just another day, everyone celebrates but there’s no 10 AM drinking silliness with leprechauns and parades. (Don’t get me wrong we found plenty of tourists in Dublin willing to live up to that side of St. Patty’s Day!)

We started the day on the second floor of Mr. Briscoe’s favorite Dublin pub, O’Neill’s, which happens to be in the heart of Dublin right near to Trinity College. O’Neill’s offers a carvery… It’s like going to Sunday Dinner, Christmas, New Years Eve, American Thanksgiving and the Super Bowl all in one lovely homey pub. They offer am amazing selection of meats and fish for you to choose from along with tons of traditional sides. Trust me, come hungry and plan on leaving extra full.

Buy UNESCO World Heritage Site Guide Book
Excellent Reference for UNESCO World Heritage Sites

After we filled our bellies, we wandered over to the Temple Bar neighborhood. Note: there is an establishment called “Temple Bar Pub” and the name also refers to the neighborhood surrounding the bar. Temple Bar has music pretty much 7 days a week. If you didn’t hear music in the streets, check out the many different bars for local artists performing both traditional Irish music as well as modern pop covers.

 

 

Many famous authors and artists hail from Dublin. It is and was a literary mecca for writers. Some very famous and classic authors hail from the fabulous city on the Liffey River like:

James Joyce, Ulysses

Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

Bram Stoker, Dracula

and of course Johnathan Swift, Gullivers Travels

Other artists that also hail from Dublin like U2, Bono, Sinead O’Connor all create a bit of tension when spoken about in the local pubs as people are very opinionate about their outspoken political and religious views.

 

If you get a chance to visit Northern Ireland, near Belfast, you absolutely must take the journey up the Antrim Coast to the Giants Causeway and learn about Finn & all the other folk lore associated with the hexigonical stone way. It’s an amazing sight of wonder and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We’ve written about Ireland a few other times. You can check out those articles here.