Thursday, December 3, 2009

massaged kale salad recipe

To celebrate the new-found ability to keep my fridge cold, I'll share one of my favorite recipes: kale salad... it's a great way to get some fresh greens into my diet during the colder months when kale's still in season, and versatile enough that I don't get tired of it. I used to make a simple marinated version of it, but my friend Tracy shared the trick of giving the kale a salt massage, which saves considerable time... I can eat it immediately after making it, rather than waiting overnight while it marinates. Optional additions or substitutions include fresh fruits, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, hard-cooked eggs, fresh herbs, mushrooms, fresh vegetables, etc. I usually make a double batch and snack on it all week long. Bon appetit!

Massaged Kale Salad
6 servings
1 bunch kale, de-stemmed & cut into bite-sized pieces
1t medium-coarse salt
1/4c olive oil
2T apple cider vinegar (or more to taste)
1/4c finely diced red onion
1/3c currants or dried cranberries
3/4c diced apple
1/3c sunflower seeds, pine nuts or pumpkin seeds
1/3c crumbled gorgonzola, optional

Massage salt into kale for 2 minutes. Gently stir in oil, vinegar, onion, currants/cranberries, apple & sunflower seeds/pine nuts/pumpkin seeds. Taste for salt & vinegar. Gently stir in optional gorgonzola (or store in fridge and add gorgonzola individually just before each serving).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

powering the "fridge"

Thus far, I've been restricting my use of perishable foods in the van, because I'm hesitant to power my DC-powered cooler (the replacement for the van's stock fridge that's been removed) while I'm not driving, and I don't drive enough in a typical day to run the cooler enough to keep it cold. But I have a solution now. I've ordered a portable battery "powerpak" that can be charged via AC electricity, DC, or even solar power. Once charged, it can power both AC and DC appliances... plus it has a built-in air compressor and jumper cables-- good "peace of mind" features for use in the van. Now I can look forward to stocking my "fridge!"

I did consider just getting a deep cycle house battery to stash in the typical place under the driver seat, but I like the portability of the powerpak, its versatility (3 options for charging), and its added capacity for filling my tires and jump starting my engine. Besides, I can always add a house battery later, and attach it to the powerpak via the jumper cables, to join their capacities. But I'd rather get a solar panel first...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Olympian Wave 3 heater installation

Now that there's a cavity where the Westfalia's refrigerator used to be, I decided to install my Olympian Wave 3 heater on the inside of the fridge cabinet door. That way, when I want to use the heater, I can just open the cabinet door at whatever angle will point the heater in the most advantageous angle (it opens a full 180-degrees), leaving it out of the way on the inside of the fridge cavity when not in use. Plus, it makes for easy installation-- I can simply tap into the propane line that used to service the fridge. It took a few trips to the hardware store to get the correct fittings, plus the flexible hose to run from the van's copper propane line to the heater and allow for the cabinet door to open and close, but everything is connected now. It was nearing dark by the time I finished the project, so I'll wait till another day to turn the propane back on and test the system. I also need to make a cover for the heater, as I've read that the catalytic pads in the Olympian heaters are particularly sensitive to dust.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

substitute van fridge

I discovered awhile back that the stock refrigerator in my van... the one that runs on on-board propane or battery power... doesn't work (a common problem for Volkswagen Westfalias, from what I've heard). So today I decided to pull it out & make some extra space for storage.
I'll be using a DC-powered Koolatron electric cooler to keep my perishable foods cool. It fits right behind my driver seat (since I'm short, I keep the seat pushed all the way forward). Plus, I got the optional AC adapter so I can power it on AC electricity when I have access to electricity. (It also works as a food warmer, but I don't see myself taking advantage of that product feature).

Pulling the stock fridge out wasn't a difficult job, once I figured out which propane line to disconnect (the connection point wasn't visible until I had the fridge partway out of its cavity). I still need to install some kind of panel to cover the exposed insulation at the back of the fridge cavity, and will probably build some shelves to make the new space more usable.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

entertaining in a van

I just landed a brief (10-day) house-sitting gig in Port Townsend... great town; I love the food co-op there... and the local Khu Larb Thai is my favorite Thai restaurant anywhere. One downside to van dwelling is the relative difficulty of entertaining guests, so I may take this opportunity to have a few friends over for dinner one evening. Entertaining isn't so much an issue in the warmer months... I often arrange to meet friends in public parks, beaches, etc. to hang out, hike or picnic... and in colder weather, there's always the option of getting together at a restaurant or a coffeehouse, but I do enjoy cooking and there's not much opportunity to do so for other people within the confines of a van (unless you count group camping trips). Some van dwellers do well sharing their space with a partner or with guests, but for me, although it works as a solo space, I can't easily imagine it otherwise. Although I thoroughly enjoy occasional company, I also thrive on solitude.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Vanagon capitol of the world?

I'm in Port Townsend this week, taking care of a project for work. I'm quite amazed by the number of Volkswagen Vanagons in this town... a veritable plethora of Westfalias, Weekenders, Synchros and regular passenger vans... some in colors I've never seen before. I have no idea if this is a tourist season phenomenon or not, but I can't seem to travel a single block without passing at least 3 or 4 Volkswagen vans! Very cool. I'll bet some of them are fellow van dwellers.

While here fo
r work, I'm being put up at the Water Street Hotel. I highly recommend it- quaint seaside historic hotel, reasonable rates; feels like you've gone back in time. Several of the rooms are large suites- even with lofts in some cases- making them ideal for a full family or group outing.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

YMCA: one-stop shopping for van dwellers

I go through phases of spending a lot of time at the YMCA... exercise, shower and Internet cafe all in one spot. I love yoga, and one of the Y branches that I frequent has daily classes at convenient times. I'll typically show up first thing in the morning, run in & brush my teeth & use the toilet, then head back out to the parking lot for a light breakfast in the van, and maybe a short meditation depending on how long I have before yoga class starts. Then I grab my gym bag, and head back inside, spend some warm-up time on the indoor track doing some cardio-walking, followed by an hour-long yoga class. I enjoy the guidance of several different instructors over the course of a week at the Y- one will focus on breathing aspects, another on adaptations to protect joints, and another on the transitions between poses... this way I can apply what I learn from each instructor during the other instructors' classes. I'm new to this type of exercise, so it's all helpful. I usually get my shower in after yoga, then grab some lunch and my laptop, and either head to the library to put in some computer time, or stay put at the Y; my favorite branch has a great little lounging area and free wi-fi. There's a nice little community of fellow van dwellers that hangs out there as well.

About Me

I go by the name of Myst. Addicted to freedom & somewhat of a nomad at heart, I hail originally from Seattle, WA and currently spend most of my time splashing around & about Washington State's magical Olympic Peninsula...

About My Van

Appa the Wonder Yak is a pale yellow 1981 Volkswagen Westfalia camper van. She's been converted from air-cooled to water-cooled and runs on a Mazda RX-7 B13 Rotary engine. She enjoys ramblings along forest roads, has a large appetite for motor oil & is particularly proud of her environmentalist bumper stickers...

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