We have some bad news. Yesterday our small RV refrigerator broke. It happened suddenly and without warning. And we were stuck with a fridge of warm dairy products and thawed veggies.
What we originally thought was a lack of propane, turned out to be a broken cooling unit. It's been a long two weeks of festival work and spending time with the Futurgarb crew (whom we do miss very much already), and we knew propane was running low. So after refilling yesterday, resetting the fridge again, and bleeding the propane lines of any air, we realized it just wasn't working.
You see, there are two lights on our RV refrigerator. The ON light and the GAS button. When the GAS light blinks, you're most likely out of propane, or the pilot light just isn't lighting. When the ON light blinks, then you may be in some trouble.
Vanessa read through the manuals and found that when the ON light blinks five times every three seconds, that means the cooling unit isn't turning on. If you reset the fridge (turning it OFF for 30 seconds, then back to AUTO) and it still doesn't work, then you're sunk. After that, the manual advises calling a Norcold specialist. Vanessa also tried calling Norcold, to which we almost caught a break. They said they had a lot of recalls and needed to see if our RV refrigerator was one of them.....
We waited with baited breath........
Alas, ours was not one of the recalls. They told us to turn the fridge off immediately and find a specialist to help.
So, we emptied out our fridge and had to throw away a lot of food which we are NOT thrilled about:
A) food is expensive and we JUST went shopping. B) we try reeeeeeally hard to not be wasteful.
We were able to salvage a few things, thankfully. We now present to you our new refrigerator:
Luckily we received a $25 gift card to Walmart for our travels from my mom in the mail, and although we wanted to spend it on water and supplies, we needed this instead. Thank you, Mom!! ❤️❤️❤️
It's frustrating and might end up being extremely costly, but we're keeping our spirits up and our positive thoughts churning. It definitely helps when we receive thoughtful gifts from home like this one from Jess:
Thank you, Jessica!! Your support and consideration really came at the perfect time :)
And onward we travel.
I know what you thought... I was going to say Chicago is for lovers. Although possible, it wasn't quite what I was thinking. Sure Vanessa and I had some picture-perfect moments in Chicago that are worth putting on the wall of our small RV Maude. Liiiike, this one.
....but this trip to Chicago was less for lovers and more for food and family.
First things first, the food. Ever since I met Vanessa (whose family is from Chicago) I've been hearing about the food there. Raving about the pizza, the vegetarian fare, the little places that pepper the city. I didn't really appreciate it though, until the initial bite of my very first Chicago-style pizza. Now, I'm from New Jersey and let me tell you, NJ and NYC both do pizza RIGHT. So when someone tells me that another city has pizza that I'll go crazy for, I tend to laugh it off.
Chicago-style pizza is the jam and I can appreciate the differences it holds to NJ and NY pizza. The deep dish style is by far my favorite, which is partially why Chicago had me in the first place.
Vanessa insisted that my first foray into Chicago pizza was with Giordanos, and I have to say I was impressed. The pizza took about 30-45 minutes to prepare for consumption, which they warned us ahead of time. So we decided to tide ourselves over with hand cut French fries, a ridiculously inexpensive Sam Adams draft, and a side of ranch dressing. (For the fries not the beer, gross). The ambiance in Giordanos was that of an old school pizzeria with memorabilia and pizza related knick-knacks on the walls.
The pizza was phenomenal and I would recommend this place for your first Chicago-style pizza experience. Note: if you can't fly to Chicago just yet, then order online and they deliver. Anywhere in the US. Yep.
We also had the pleasure of eating at Wildfire in Oakbrook, one of Vanessa's favorite restaurants. She swears by the chopped salad which was undeniably awesome (sans the chicken and bacon!). I had a fish sandwich.... Which was so crispy and rich -- the fish just flaked off under a light beer batter. If there's one thing I can assure you that Wildfire does right besides their exceptional service, it's their fish. For $20, I could get a glass of Malbec and a fish sandwich and call it a day. The restaurant resembled a 1920s-1930s steakhouse with photos of that era lining each wall.
By far though, my favorite dining experience in Chicago had to be the Chicago Diner. I've been hearing about this diner from Vanessa for what seems like ever (it's her fav veg food joint of all time), and now I know why. When you take diner food, things like burgers, country fried steak, gyros, and make them completely vegetarian without ever losing any flavor? That's A+ stuff in my book. I ordered the Titanic BLT burger which was out of this world. The chipotle sauce they put on top was delectable. I would go back just for that burger alone. But wait, there's more. A cookie dough peanut butter shake, and Bloody Mary that absolutely nailed just the right amount of spice, and a gyros with "cheese" sauce. It's no wonder Vanessa loves his place right in the heart of Boystown. Meat Free since '83 and proud of it.
To mix it up a bit, we also indulged in some incredible Mediterranean food from Pita Inn. I was a bit hesitant at first because pulling into the restaurant, it resembled an old KFC joint. Pita Inn is one of the very few fast food type Mediterranean places I've ever seen. But let me tell you, they nailed it with the food. Their tahini sauce is so creamy and flavorful, when drizzled over their falafel plate, everything just melts in your mouth. I can't say I was super thrilled with their stuffed grape leaves, I don't like much tang to mine, but I can say that the veggie combo plate is well worth a stop. The restaurant itself is nothing to squawk about, fast food style. But delicious, inexpensive Mediterranean food on the go? Sign me up.
A few other notables in Chicago worth mentioning:
.....the Divvy bikes rule. For $9.95 you can ride around the city at 30 minute increments all day. There are SO many bike docks it's a perfect mode of public transport.
....speaking of public transport, you can take the Metra in from pretty much any suburb surrounding the city roundtrip for maximum $12. However if you want to save some cash, get the weekend pass for $8 and travel by train Saturday and Sunday.
....The Bean, along with the rest of the statues in Millennium park, are JUST as cool as they seem in pictures. Go check them out.
Also while in Chicago, we were able to enjoy some time with Vanessa's family. It really was a blast to meet her grandparents, both of whom I adored, and spend time with her dad and step-mom. I even rode my first four wheeler before hunkering down for an evening BBQ and fire.
Thank you Chicago, for having us. Hope to see you again soon. ✌
So, it's been a little while since we posted about our adventures. Our apologies. We've been extremely busy in Austin making some money for the road as well as exploring and getting into some of the local fun. First things first, Austin rules. It really is an amazing city. EXACTLY up our alley. By that I mean, there's an extensive art scene, kitchy non-corporate stores and shops, and super friendly people. It's so nice to drive down a street and see food vendors in Airstreams, coffee vendors in little side trucks, and pop-up places that haven't been touched by corporate hands. Now, I'm not saying I'm completely against corporations -- heck, we sleep in Walmart parking lots more than RV parks and we always feel safe and welcomed. But there's something to be said about Austin, and how it makes the entrepreneur in me feel like I can open a store and it can thrive just by passion alone. Take a look at some of the coolest things in Austin, Texas we've come across so far, in hopes to inspire you to plan a trip to this fantastic city.
Hope Outdoor Gallery
As we mentioned, the art scene in Austin, Texas is insane. Beautiful murals can pop up on any corner and become staples for the city. However, in order to curb just anyone tagging up the place, they opened the HOPE Outdoor Gallery where talented graffiti artists and amateurs alike can get their hands dirty and tag without abandon. This educational art project was developed to provide muralists, graffiti artists and community groups a kickass opportunity to display large scale art pieces driven by inspirational, positive and educational messaging. Now, it's become an Austin attraction. Drive by, or stop and peruse. The colors and content are worth a gander.
Bouldin Creek Cafe
Vegetarians unite! Bouldin Creek Cafe was our choice to explore our vegetarian and vegan palates and boy, are we happy we did. The ambiance alone is filled with creativity and individuality. The servers are from all different walks of life, which made us comfortable from the moment we walked in. Bouldin Creek Cafe is seemingly a staple to the community, as the main wall is filled with flyers and posters and notes from upcoming events. It's a great way to stay in the know. As far as the chow down was concerned -- we were more than impressed. Marisa ordered the Potato Leek Omelette which she says was hands down, one of the top three best omelettes ever. It was drizzled in a sour cream chive sauce that was to die for. I ordered a Thai coffee (my fave) which gave quite the kick in the pants. I also ordered a veggie Benedict that was overflowing with greens and a delicious hollandaise. I would recommend this place to anyone looking for unique food and a more artistic ambiance in Austin.
Barton Springs Pool
Hidden across from one of the biggest parks in Austin, there is a natural spring that is a hidden gem of a watering hole. Barton Springs Pool measures 3 acres in size (in other words - HUGE) and is fed from underground springs with an average temperature of 68-70 degrees. Granted, despite the temperature outside, a boiling 80+ degrees, the water was still very chilly for our liking. We're used to Miami weather, or even a bit warmer, so this was a tad bit cold for us. However, that didn't stop us from jumping in. The water is clear and refreshing and seems to pull so many different kinds of people to swim and sun.
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
After a whirlwind of working Austin City Limits (post soon to come), Marisa and I decided that we needed a night out together. We wanted to relax and get away from the Austin scene, so we decided to check out Alamo Drafthouse Cinema on South Lamar. Let me preface by saying this is the COOLEST movie theater I've ever been to. First, there's a bar in the lobby. Second, all the walls are filled with awesome cult movie posters. Third, they serve food and drinks seat-side. Not just nachos and popcorn. Although we did get delicious popcorn served in a huge metal bowl. They have some creative contemporary bites, as well. Fourth, they have a no talking, texting, or being rude policy. If you are caught, you'll get a warning. Second time -- you're thrown out. So if someone ruins your movie experience, you immediately get a refund. It's places like these that truly care about the movies, NOT about just making money.
Oh and fifth, they show both new arrivals and classics alike. Like Goodfellas being shown this month with a four-course Italian dinner. HOW COOL.
Barton creek greenbelt
We had to go hiking. We needed to sweat and be outdoors and enjoy some downtime with nature. So, we found a hiking trail in Austin. Barton Creek Greenbelt is a hidden gem that we heard about via word-of-drunk-mouth from a girl at the bar. We decided to check it out and damnit, we're glad we did. What used to be a running creek and ton of waterfalls is now dried up and barren. Except for a few spots we found along the way. Apparently it's a seasonal drought and will fill back up when springtime hits. But we did manage to find one little creek that we sat next to and did a guided meditation. It was beautiful.
The one drawback to the trail is that there are snakes. For those of you who know Marisa -- she's afraid of them. When asked why, she simply responded, "I don't know what it is, besides the fact some can kill me, and their bodies just shouldn't move like that."
But me, I'm not afraid. So when I carefully approached what we later found out to be one of the most poisonous snakes out there (a Coral snake), I didn't seem to mind. Do it for the blog, I guess.***
***Just kidding, that's stupid. Coral snakes are dangerous and Marisa has since asked me to wear closed toed shoes on hikes and leave snakes alone.
Amy's Ice Creams
Since seeing the stand at ACL Fest, we knew that we had to try Amy's Ice Creams. It was a bit hard to find on Lamar, but worth the many times we turned around, because the ice cream is so unique in flavor and toppings. Just check out the photo and see for yourself. Liam, shown above, scooped us out some flavors to try and did not let us down in explanation. The Texas Dirtcake for example is heaven in a cup with chocolate cookie cheesecake ice cream. It actually sold out while we were there. Or the Cop Stop which is coffee ice cream with chunks of cake donuts. GO TO AMY'S. You won't be let down.
We're having a blast in Austin -- as you can tell. So much so that we decided to stay a few more weeks. We felt that we haven't truly experienced enough in the time here, and want to keep going. Marisa and I both said that when we love a place, we'll stay for as long as we need to, just like when one of us hates a place -- we'll go.
Stay tuned for more Austin adventures, like last night's Maze Room escape challenge we did with some friends. Oh, and of course we need to tell you about Austin City Limits Music Festival. Duh.
Here's the thing, we love kale. No, not because everyone told us to. We loved kale before kale even loved itself. The texture seems to bother some as far as salads are concerned. They are used to that wet, watery Romaine that adds crunch but no content. Kale is filled with healthy vitamins and minerals, and chock full of antioxidants making it a superfood. If you buy kale at most farmer's markets, you'll get a sweet deal, most clocking in around $1.99 a bundle.
So, our love for kale plus our love of salads made this a very easy recipe. We wanted to add something a bit lighter to our Recipes from the Road, and we immediately thought of one of our favorite salads. We eat it as a side or even sometimes as a main course if we're looking for something on the lighter side. Take a look.
Serving Size: 4
Price per serving: $1.56
3-4 generous handfuls of chopped kale
1 full lemon squeezed
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 tsp red pepper flakes (more if you can stand the heat)
1-2 TBS olive oil
1 cup baked Parmesan crisps (just buy some parm either whole or grated and we'll help with the rest below.)
1. Parmesan crisps need some bakin'. Grate the Parmesan and place moundfuls onto some parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-6 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool, then break into tinier pieces.
2. Chop the kale. Or tear it. Whatever floats your boat. Just make sure to take thick stems out and allow more bite-size pieces. Add to bowl.
3. Add lemon juice, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan crisps to kale. Mix generously.
4. Eat that salad.
We love cooking in our RV. It brings us together and helps it to feel more and more like home in our small RV. Feel free to leave some comments and let us know what you think of the salad! Anything you'd add? Drop us a line.
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