This is a Test and Only a Test……….

Whenever I’ve gone backpacking or canoe camping I’ve always used the already dehydrated meals. These are expensive and not always on the healthy side either. So back in January I purchased a small dehydrator for this sole purpose. Today I’m making my first attempt at dehydrating my own.

Today’s test meal is something I call “Sausage vegetable stew”. I put this concoction together yesterday in my crockpot and let it cook all day. Once cooled I put it into the refrigerator over night so all the flavors had a chance to meld. This morning removing the stew from the fridge I scooped it into a colander in the sink. I did this so any excess water can drain off. I then spread the stew onto my dehydration trays and now I sit and wait.

0715: The dehydration begins

1505: The Dehydration stops

I made three 6 ounce servings from this batch. Looking at one of my similar single serve pre-made meals they are 3.5 ounces. After a long day on the trail or canoeing I find that the 3.5 ounce serving doesn’t satisfy.

Stew:

1- pkg Gianelli Italian turkey sausage (6 links)

2- 28oz cans crushed tomatoes

1- 10oz can petite diced tomatoes with green chiles (Mild)

1- 15.5 can Goya black eyed peas

1- 15.5oz Goya small red beans (I rinsed and drained  both cans of beans)

1- 15oz can mixed vegetables

1- 15oz can cut green beans

1- pepper chopped

Half of an onion chopped

2- tbsp minced garlic

Salt, pepper and Italian seasoning to taste….

Combine all ingredients into crockpot except the sausage. Next fill a pot with water and bring to a boil, removing the sausage from the casings while you wait. Once the water is at a boil breakup the sausage as you put it into the water and cook for a few minutes. After sausage is cooked drain it in a colander. Next boil another pot or kettle of water and pour it over the sausage to rinse any residual fat (This is important). Once rinsed you can combine the meat into your crockpot.

I love the Gianelli sausage as it has half the fat and calories (90 calories per link) as pork sausage and it tastes amazing. This meal has a total of 1,875 calories according to all packaging. However caloric value does change during the dehydration process according to what I’ve read.

This recipe is endless with what you can do for your own personal taste. And a special thank you to my buddy Gary who claims he will be the guinea pig.

Cheers!

Putting the stew onto the dehydration trays.
The dehydration begins
The dehydration has ended and the weighing process starts.
Three 6 ounces meals bagged

 

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St. Pete’s Beach Florida

Michael had talked with us about taking a cruise as kind of a high school graduation present. To be honest I had no desire to take a cruise and I still don’t. However Julie being the voice of reason she usually is promptly stated how inexpensive it would be to feed Michael on a cruise as to a traditional vacation, she now had my attention.

Our trip to Florida began back on November 24th 2017 “Black Friday” as I booked our cruise online with Carnival Cruise Lines. We would fly into Tampa Bay the day before, relax at our resort by the pool with drinks and set sail to Cozumel Mexico the next day.

Fast forward to February 2018 as I received an email from Carnival stating that they had changed our port from Cozumel to Havana Cuba  I re-read the email a dozen times to make sure I was reading it properly and each time I became more upset. I approached Julie about it and she was equally annoyed. We stewed on it for a few days and came to the conclusion that it might not be all that bad. So chatted with the boys and they seemed on board as well. Heck if there are palm trees Michael is all set.

Several days later Julie being the researcher she is began diving into the specifics of traveling to Cuba. First our enhanced drivers license would not work and we would need passports. There is an additional $500. Next she discovered due to the relationship with the United States, Cuba would require us to purchase additional visa’s to even get off the boat, another $300. Then once off the ship we would not be permitted to roam freely and would have to be with a tour group. Even with the tour group you couldn’t breakaway. For example if Tourist A wanted to visit a certain shop or restaurant everyone would have to visit the same place, another $600 for the tour.

So on top of the flights, Cruise, hotel cost we would add another $1,400 to our trip. We were not happy to say the least. So we talked about it and decided to cancel the cruise. We had put a $600 deposit down the day of booking and the remaining was due by June. I contacted Carnival and they returned $400 of the $600 and we decided to just visit Florida instead since we already had the flights paid for and at least the first nights hotel.

I’ve never personally used Air BnB, VRBO or Home Away so I jumped online and began to search places near Tampa to stay. Long story short I found a great condo in St. Pete’s Beach only a 5 minute walk to the beach, two bedrooms, two full baths, kitchen, living room and a back patio. I contacted the owner and our dates were available since it would be August. Let me just say the the cost of the condo for 4 nights and a car rental was just under a $1,000. I didn’t know what to expected when we arrived at the condo since I only saw pictures of it online. We opened the door and the place was awesome, clean and comfortable. Definitely felt like a home away from home.

The goal for this vacation was to have fun and just relax and and not try to cram 4,000 pounds of shit into a 5 pound bag running around here and there. This actually felt like a vacation. We visited the Tampa Aquarium, took a guided kayak tour of Florida’s Shell Key Preserve, enjoyed a lot of food, beer & ice cream, went to a Waterpark with my cousin whom I have not seen in several years and relaxed a bit on the beach. I even read two books. Heck I barely took any photos.

Julie the boys and I had a great time and Michael has expressed possible interest in living in St. Pete’s during next summer.

Cheers!

Along the Gulf of Mexico in Florida’s Shell Key Preserve August 10th 2018, © Joe Geronimo
Exploring the Mangrove tunnels in Florida’s Shell Key Preserve August 10th 2018, © Joe Geronimo
The placid waters of Florida’s Shell Key Preserve before the wind kicked up August 10th 2018, © Joe Geronimo
Julie relaxing on treasure Island Beach St. Pete’s Beach, FL. © Joe Geronimo
Lagoon jellyfish at the Tampa Aquarium, © Joe Geronimo
Getting ready to board our plane in Tampa, FL to return home, © Joe Geronimo