Day 1-St. Louis

We gave new meaning to the concept of Western Expansion today as Thelma and Louise safely crossed the Mississippi with 8 kids in tow on Day 1 of the Crazy Tour.

So far, so good.

While the 5 hour trip took closer to 8, I blame that on an extra lunch stop in the parking lot of a sketchy floor tile and wood laminate store in Paducah, Kentucky rather than the lush rolling green pasture of a roadside park we had originally envisioned. Rest Areas were not abundant on I-24 in these parts; and the natives were getting hungry, so we pulled into the biggest parking lot I could maneuver and dined by a sale of porcelain tile of questionable origin and a peach stand in which we purchased 308 because nothing says, “Charge me the non-local price for All Consumer Goods,” like rolling up in 34 foot RV with a Yeti strapped to the back and a dozen people scarfing down Pub Subs on hot asphalt. In Paducah.

But let’s not let this eclipse the wins of the day, of which there were many.

1.) I filled up that big ol’ gas tank without having to make an insurance claim. Twice.

2.) The kids played Uno with actual cards and not on an electronic device.

3.) We made it to the campground with the same number of passengers we started with.

4.) No one cried. Not even me.

5.) Truffle cheese and wine for dinner, S’mores for dessert.

Bring on Kansas City.

The Trip

We are firing up the ol’ blog today in an effort to chronicle the epic road trip in which 13 people—9 of them kids—load up in an RV and attempt to navigate the next 5000 western miles and still remain coherent, contributing members of society when we pull back into the driveway a month from now.

I wish I was the type of person that had been aware enough to plan this family vacation to Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone over the National Park Service 100th birthday on purpose; but it looks like we’re just lucky instead. Truth is, this has been one of those dream trips that I’ve been planning only in my head and a well-worn atlas for a couple of decades, but never really found the right opportunity to take such a monumental trip. That it coincides during this celebratory anniversary is mere coincidence, but I’ll take credit for being that earthy girl I’ve aspired to be over the years and pretend I meant it nonetheless.

Our route takes us from Nashville to St. Louis, Kansas City, Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Deadwood, Cody, West Yellowstone, Bismarck, Minneapolis and Chicago. Over 4000 miles and 15 states. We are making 10 planned stops along the way; 2 major league baseball games, 1 MLS game, and dozens of the most touristy, cornball destinations within 10 miles of an interstate exit ramp we can find.

As stated before, we are not alone (by a long shot) on our adventure. There is another (large) family that just slightly off kilter enough to attempt this journey with us. The Louise to my Thelma, my friend and I will take the first leg of this trip with 8 of those children and guide the caravan to the first few ports of call until we are joined by our saner halves in somewhere in South Dakota. We see no downside, really.

We welcome you to follow along—even if in mocking disbelief—as our long-planned adventure commences this week. In addition to this dusted-off home, we also plan to update all of the usual inter web hot spots of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Bon Voyage, dear friends. Bon Voyage.


Review–SUBTECH Dry Skin Cover for the kitchen

I love to cook from an open cookbook or magazine. Scribbling notes in the margin, its pages gently spattered with floured fingerprints or remnants of the delicious recipe depicted.

But honestly, that’s not how we often practically cook in this millennium.

More often than not, I’m on a website. My phone is open to a page, and I’m trying to read the screen before it blanks out. Or I’m fighting with the kids for the computer at a critical point in the dish, and they want the Club Penguin window open instead. So my preferred method of 2014 recipe-following is on my iPad. But realistically, those floured fingerprints aren’t good for electronic devices.

Enter in the Subtech Sports dry skin. Originally designed for sports or outdoor activities—this waterproof protector is also a perfect solution for the home cook. I may not need to take underwater pictures or worry about a craggy rock face scratching the surface, but it sure is nice not having to worry about the splatters, drips, pooling béarnaise sauce or floured fingerprints that seem to be unwitting ingredients to just about everything I make.

For the messy cook. I'm looking at you, SD.
For the messy cook. I’m looking at you, SD.

Take a look to see if this might be helpful to you and your extreme cooking. The skin fits snugly and still allows you to do everything with the touchscreen. I’m not sure if I’m going to test the submersible aspect anytime soon, but it’s nice to know that I can save my rice for risotto instead of rescuing my iPad in case anything happens.

(They make them to fit smartphones, too.)

©2014 Tracey Henry

St. Patrick’s Day Dinner

One of the things I remember the most about my mother’s cooking was her corned beef dinner. She would make the corned beef, red-skinned potatoes and boiled cabbage. It was one of my favorite meals as a kid.

Except for the cabbage.

The cabbage smell would make me gag, but everything else was so good I tried not to notice. She claimed that you couldn’t make corned beef without the cabbage, and for years I took that as standard much like I believed Tiger Lilies were endangered. (She told me that so I wouldn’t pick them.) So over the years I’ve created my own version of the traditional St. Patrick’s Day dinner sans boiled cabbage.

Some things don’t change, however. You need to get the gross looking package of corned beef that will be on sale this week, and boil the crap out of it. Use the spice pack that comes with it, and boil it for like 3 hours or whatever it says on the package. Just leave an extra 30 minutes or so to let it rest on the cutting board before you slice.

Next is the potatoes–again, just boil the red-skinned potatoes until tender and drain. I like to melt butter, parsley and a little garlic salt to serve along side.

Next comes the cabbage. I found this recipe from Bon Appetit a couple of years ago, and I absolutely love it. Yes, I love cabbage when it’s prepared with a warm pancetta-balsamic dressing. So good.

The Barefoot Contessa has a great Irish Soda bread recipe that I use as well. She uses dried currants rather than raisins, and I think it gives it a unique tartness that gives the bread a little bite and freshness with the orange zest.

This year I topped off the meal with a homemade Bailey’s gelato because I am into homemade gelatos at the moment. I’ve also made Bailey’s cheesecake in the past which is super yummy. I’ll be working on that gelato recipe before I post it, however, because it didn’t set up as firmly as I liked, and was quite boozy.

Weird that there's nothing green on the plate for St. Patrick's Day....
Weird that there’s nothing green on the plate for St. Patrick’s Day….

But then what would a good St. Patrick’s Day dinner be if not a little boozy?

But the best part of this meal? The Corned Beef Who Hash the next day…

Best breakfast on March 18.
Best breakfast on March 18.

A weekend in New Orleans via Instagram

As a Catholic, I know darn well when Ash Wednesday falls. As a New Orleans non-resident, casual tourist and accidental hipster, I had no idea that Mardi Gras was not limited to the weekend before Fat Tuesday, and evidently we booked our Anniversary weekend getaway smack dab in the middle of the Crescent City’s biggest party.

This suggests that we are way cooler than we are, so here is a summary of our wonderful weekend via Instagram.

Every trip to New Orleans should begin here. If you don't have 6 inches of powdered sugar on your lap, you're doing it wrong.
Every trip to New Orleans should begin here. If you don’t have 6 inches of powdered sugar on your lap, you’re doing it wrong.
Bourbon Street looks so tame at noon. Leave now while you still can.
Bourbon Street looks so tame at noon. Leave now while you still can.
'Po Boys for lunch
‘Po Boys for lunch
Bloody Marys for lunch.
Bloody Marys for lunch.
Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop--the oldest bar in the U.S. (Suburban Diva--the oldest patron on Bourbon Street.)
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop–the oldest bar in the U.S. (Suburban Diva–the oldest patron on Bourbon Street.)
King Cake.
King Cake.
Better King Cake...
Better King Cake…
Where to your day in New Orleans.
Where to end your day in New Orleans.
Happy Anniversary. Bam.
Happy Anniversary. Bam.

©2014 Tracey Henry