In an effort to cut down on the heat in my RV during Texas summers and save on propane during winters, I decided to buy an electric countertop oven. One thing I have lots of is free electricity from a generator parked behind my rig while I guard a gate. Lots of gate guards have been buying them and reviews have been very positive right up to “Can’t live without!”. You can also cook much healthier with one of these since the grease drains away from food to the bottom of the bowl.
The most popular countertop oven appears to be the NuWave. It gets excellent reviews except for the lids breaking and the high shipping costs which are charged on every additional item you buy at the same time or are given “free” if you shop on their website. I’m sure it is a good oven nonetheless and everyone raves about their PIC countertop cooking burners too.
I decided to go with the Rapid Wave Big Boss countertop oven. Aside from being half the price of the NuWave, it comes with a large, solid glass bowl that is easy to clean and a glass lid. They also provide both the lower and upper racks along with the extension ring and a square tong to lift items out or turn them. The booklets that come with it are a bit on the light side but do provide some beginning help. The price was excellent on Amazon and well worth it. Unfortunately, I could not find a good American book on halogen oven cooking. The only ones available are written for British tastes. Recipes are available on the Internet though. My smaller sized square and rectangular RV pans fit in it very well as well as regular sized round pans.
I have had the oven for about 4 months now and cook with it quite often. When my microwave oven died, I started defrosting meat in the Big Wave. It works very well for that task. For cooking, don’t get the idea this is “set it and forget it”. You will need to turn the food half way through the cook cycle or it ill burn. You can set the timer for half the time so it goes off and rings the bell to remind you to turn the food and restart the last half of the cooking time. Cooking in this takes less time than in your RV oven though the temperatures appear to be about the same. You will need to experiment with your favorite recipes to figure out the times. I suggest writing down the successes in a notebook. The only drawback is what to do with the hot lid when checking food or finishing. I slide it part way off the bowl and balance it or just hold it by the handle in one hand. You can purchase a lid holder for it if you have counter space for it.
Cleaning up is super easy. Just drain the grease when done cooking, if necessary, and fill the bowl with soapy water. Let the rack soak in it too. Use a dish brush when ready.
Successes and failures:
- Meatloaf – I make meatloaf in two small pans from 1 lb. of hamburger. I eat one for dinner and freeze the other for later. I cooked it in the Big Boss on the lower rack for half the usual time and it came out absolutely delicious! Using the square tongs provided, I had no problem retrieving the pans from the bowl when done. Success!
- Chicken – After spraying the lower rack with oil, I liberally coated the chicken parts with BBQ sauce and placed them on the lower rack. This is one I’m still working on getting right. I may need to use the extension ring with it. The chicken comes out fully cooked (not over-cooked) but the skin always burns despite turning half-way through. I don’t particularly mind since I no longer eat the skin which is full of cholesterol. I like that most of the grease drips off it and cleaning up after is so much easier than it was with my previous cooking method. The chicken is tender and delicious after peeling off the burned skin. Semi-success.
- French Fries – The book says you can place the lower rack on the upper racks to cross them to hold the fries. I tried that but a lot of the fries fell through the racks into the bottom. The fry recipe in the book is delicious though. Failure.
- Brownies – It was great being able to bake something quick without heating up the RV. The brownies came out fully cooked but not burned on the sides as they usually are n the gas oven. The very center was a little bit moist yet but hey it’s chocolate and oh so delicious! Success!
- Biscuits – This is where this oven really shined for me. It baked perfect biscuits without burning the bottom as ALWAYS happens in RV ovens. You do need to turn them once to brown the bottoms a little and I used the extension ring. I love making biscuits in this oven! Major success!
- Miscellaneous items warmed – Warming up items in the Big Boss countertop oven is easier, faster, and much better than heating up the whole RV with the RV oven just for leftovers. Success!
I am very happy with my Rapid Wave Big Boss Oven. It does exactly what it says and works well as a replacement for the usual propane RV oven. It could even be used by tenters! It is a high wattage (1300 watts) appliance so watch what else you may be running on the same circuit. I also recommend buying an accessory bundle. The accessories for any other halogen oven will work with it. I bought this one. It includes the grill pan, round pan (great for biscuits), lid holder, and the steamer basket which is perfect for making those French fries into a success.
Time for another vacation away from 24/7 gate guarding. This time I decided to take my RV with me and give up the gate I was at. I needed to go see my doctor for an issue and was not sure when I would be back. I also had a bunch of RV repairs and upgrades saved up for an RV tech to take care of. Hitched up the night before for an early start. The relief guards showed up right on time the next day and I didn’t have too much trouble getting out of there. Headed back up to the New Braunfels/Canyon Lake area to Summit Vacation Resort as a Coast To Coast member for $10/night. Had some trouble on the way thanks to incredibly bad winds which tore up one of my bedroom windows again and the corner molding on my slideout. Nothing I could do about the window on the way but did find some help to secure the molding and continue on.
Aside from the cheap club member price, I chose Summit Resort for its hot tub to help my aching back and to be near Canyon Lake to check it out for another time when it is warmer. The staff have been very nice and the hot tub is wonderful! The RV sites are pretty spacious and I got a pull-thru. Water pressure is great! A large herd of deer come out every night to graze around us. There are several unheated pools, a clubhouse, tennis courts, shuffleboard, and basketball available. Propane is available just up the road as well as the Guadalupe River for tubing and fishing. Carver RV is nearby for repairs or parts and there is a very good Ace Hardware close as well. On the downside, they have constant speed bumps throughout the campground that are guaranteed to toss everything around in your RV no matter how slow you go. The WI-FI is at the Sports Center or the clubhouse. You may be able to get some signal at your site with a booster but it is fleeting. AT&T does not work at all in the campground even with a booster. There seems to be strong Verizon signal but I could not test it. Tracfone can receive but rarely can I talk on it. Virgin Mobile internet barely works and often jumps down to 1XRTT even with a booster. On the other hand, signal for all is fine down at the office or clubhouse. The problem is the campground is situated across the road in a canyon.
Continue reading How I Spent My Winter Vacation
Another story came out recently of multiple deaths in an RV from carbon monoxide poisoning. Every year we hear of another such tragic and easily preventable event. I hadn’t put much concern into it previously because I don’t have a generator mounted in my rig, the cause of many of these deaths. However, another recent article pointed out several other things I hadn’t considered and, well, it scared me. It pointed out that just like most of the car accidents I have been in during my life, it isn’t necessarily about me. It can just as easily be about the other guy, the guy who parks much too close and runs his onboard generator or furnace, or the guy who places his portable generator too close to another rig or upwind of it. I could get gassed out in the middle of the night with nothing to awaken me. Sure, many LP detectors which are installed in RVs by law also have carbon monoxide detectors in them but despite compliance with the law, the two detectors in one are fundamentally at odds with each other. LP gas is heavier than air therefore the detectors are installed near the floor. However, carbon monoxide is lighter than air so the detectors should be installed high up on a wall. For real safety, whether you have one built into the LP detector or none at all, you should have a carbon monoxide detector installed in or near the bedroom. Choose one your comfortable with. Just as with a smoke detector, be sure to change batteries once a year if going that route. Carbon monoxide detectors run between $20-$100 which is cheap insurance for a life. I’ll sleep better now that I have one!
The most wonderful thing about RVing is being able to go nearly anywhere in comfort. Big towns, small towns. Mountains, seashore, lakes, desert. There is so much out there to see and experience beyond what you see in a “normal” life in a sticks and bricks home. One of the bad things, sometimes, about RVing is being far away from the big stores or in an area where the prices are outrageously high. If you workamp as I do, you may be far away from town thus requiring a great deal of time or gas money, or you may be stuck at a location and unable to get into the nearby towns very often. What’s a camper to do if something goes kaput and a part or replacement is needed? The answer is online shopping. Whatever you could possibly need, you can likely find it online and sometimes it may be cheaper. I am always amazed at what I can find on sites like Amazon. It isn’t just for books and DVDs anymore. You can get groceries, RV parts, RVs, Shoe Goo glue, auto parts, electric scooters, computers, software, towels, scissors, batteries, kitchen gadgets and appliances, cat litter, pet food, and just about anything else. Even Wal-Mart has gotten in the game. If your local Wal-Mart doesn’t have the exact item or model you want, check their site online. They have much more in their online store and they will ship it free to the nearest Wal-Mart or you can get free shipping direct to your RV if ordering at least $35 worth of goods. Even their pharmacy will ship to you. Holy cow, Batman!
Are you a Harbor Freight fanatic but stuck in an area without one? You can order from them online and access their coupons too. Even if you plan to go to their store in person, signup for their email newsletter and they will send you sales ads and coupons that you can print out to take with you. Some coupons can be used online. Their shipping rate is very reasonable if you order more than one item.
Last week was Black Friday in all the stores and it is continuing through this week. Unfortunately, I’m stuck guarding a gate I can’t leave. What’s a girl to do? I fired up my laptop and shopped all the sales online. The one thing I wanted from Wal-Mart last year was sold out when I got there but I managed to snag the deal this year online. If I don’t like it or there is a problem with it when it arrives, I can easily return it direct to the nearest Wal-Mart store within 90 days. Black Friday just doesn’t get any easier! Of course, not all the deals will be online such as the door busters but sometimes they will surprise you with hourly deals just as good. As I write this, my new Black Friday sewing machine just arrived at my gate. Happy dance!
Continue reading Online Shopping
Our sister site, rvquartzsite.com
, now has a full business directory listing just about anything you might want to find in or around Quartzsite before or after you get there. Whether you are looking for RV parks, parts, grocery stores, dining, veterinarians, hospitals, water, sewer pump outs, mail, etc. it has it. Know before you go and feel more comfortable while you’re there. There is a small fee to become a member to view the directory but it is very reasonable and many exciting upgrades are on the way to make it even more valuable to members. Stop on by and feel free to give us suggestions for improvements to the site or let us know if you are going to Quartzsite this season.
For those of you who have discovered the wonderful world of eBooks along with both the weight and space savings in your RV of keeping your entire library on a Kindle or tablet running Kindle software, Amazon now has a program to buy very cheap Kindle versions of paperback or hardback books you have previously purchased through them. They call it Kindle Matchbook. Click on the link below to learn more about the program and see what books you may now be able to move to your Kindle.
Amazon Kindle Matchbook
According to CheapRVLivingBlog.com
, the National Forest Service is hassling and ticketing full-time RVers and van dwellers due to a law prohibiting residing in national forests. The law was created to keep the homeless from camping perpetually in our forests or even for 1 night but as usual has unintended consequences. Since those of us who live in their rigs all year often no longer have a sticks and bricks house to go back to, technically we can be ticketed under this law even though we are just camping for a few days then moving on to the next sight to see. Even one night can bring a ticket. If rangers show up and don’t see a car at your campsite, they may assume you are working poor and cite you. Apparently they are leaving the folks in expensive class As alone but those of us in cheaper or older rigs may get nailed. Class warfare rears it’s ugly head again! To protect yourself, be ready with an address you can tell them is home and DON’T tell them you are a full-timer or working anywhere. If the address on your driver’s license looks like a regular address rather than a PMB, you may be able to use that though some may be familiar with some mailing service addresses. Perhaps you can use the address of one of your children or other relative. In any case, be prepared at all times to ante up with a home address if asked and watch what else you say. Don’t make your site look too lived in or comfortable either.
With no idea when the water would recede and I could get back to work, I paid for a week at a campground. With nightly rates being very high in the oil patch, that was a bargain even if I didn’t stay a week. I ended up staying 4 nights which did come out cheaper by the week.
Even in disaster, some good can come from it. With time off, I cleaned up my home thoroughly and then was able to explore Carrizo Springs shopping all I liked. I got to check out what a Stripes was that the guys are always running off to. It turns out it is a super gas station or truck stop with lots of local food for takeout. Their egg rolls are very good and the bean burritos were good. I’ll have to try their chicken next time. I picked up a couple newspapers to see what was going on in town.
I did my usual grocery shopping at the HEB but with more time, I was able to stock up more. It was nice to hit up the Redbox machine outside as well. I can’t do that when I’m working since I only get off the gate every 2-3 weeks. I finally got to see the latest Star Trek movie. I liked the previous one better but this one was OK.
Later, I thoroughly explored the Wal-Mart which is pretty pitiful. It isn’t very big at all so don’t expect variety or many of the usual departments you find in other Wal-marts. It’s useful but just barely.
Now that I was finally away from the grass and soil heavy with spiders, snakes, and bugs, I was able to get some work done on my rig. I moved around underneath it spraying foam in every hole I found. One hole was a 4″ square the previous owner had cut into the subfloor. I’m sure mice were using it to get in under my kitchen cabinets. Because of the material around the hole, a piece of wood screwed over it was not going to work. I cut a piece to size of the old plastic mudguard from my truck that I had saved. I then slipped it between the subfloor and rail and screwed it to the wood edge on the opposite side. It works!
Inside, I finally fixed the broken bedroom window. I have had the parts for months but no free time and it was just too hot to do it. I had to completely replace the bar which they don’t make to size. I ordered in bar stock with the slit already cut in on one end then had to cut it to the right length and cut in the slit with whatever tools I had on hand. That was interesting. Thankfully, I got it right. I was able to wiggle it and the other parts into the window with some patience and a bit of math. Then I removed the bent or broken slats from the window blind, salvaged those I could, and replaced them. It is so nice to have my privacy back and I don’t look like trailer trash anymore.
I was informed we were released from the gate I was at so I wouldn’t be going back to that gate. I had mixed feelings about that. I want to work certainly and gates are getting harder to come by now that the snowbirds are coming back down but that location was below the road and surrounded by grass so I knew it would be problematic from the start. Happily, a new gate opened up with my previous rig crew returning to work it. It isn’t far from where I was though it is on higher ground. I went out there to take a look. The pad hasn’t even been built yet and the entrance is too muddy to get my trailer in so I get a couple more days off.
On the way home, I stopped by the previous gate to see if I could retrieve any of my stuff that floated off. Luck was with me and I managed to find my missing long awning stake and 2 yellow plastic levelers. I also found one tire chuck but it was damaged and had already been replaced. The shovel I bought when I started this job and carry around sure has come in handy. Not only is it good for killing snakes, I used it to tap the ground as I walked out into the bushes in my boots to get my stuff and then to lift the items up to me or toss them out to the road. Later, I used it to bury the mice I found in my mouse traps inside my rig. Every gate guard should have a long handled shovel.