Little Red Retro

Our blog is all about
life as seniors, our love of camping and so much more. It's named after our sweet little red Riverside Retro RV - our very first camper. We hope to share ideas, campground info, recipes and just thoughts and feelings. At this stage in life we are going through so many changes and we hope to share our journey and learn from others as we navigate this time in our lives.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Camp Cooking

Cooking and eating are two things we really enjoy about camping!  I especially love making stews and chili ahead and taking them with us.  You can freeze it for the trip and it will also help keep things cold in the cooler or fridge.

This week I made Chicken Corn Chowder with dumplings.  Now this is definitely not a soup - it is hearty and you can almost eat it with a fork.  You could make it soupier by adding more broth and or milk.  It is a little labor intensive but you could speed things along by using already prepared ingredients.  It makes a huge pot that would feed a hoard of hungry campers.

I am a utility cook, not a Martha Stewart wannabe or anything near close to it.  I love cooking but I make mistakes and burn stuff on a regular basis.  That's why I love soups and stews because they are so flexible and hard to screw up.  So here's my recipe.  Let me know if you like it or if you have any better ideas.  It will be going with us on our next weekend camping trip.
Fall camping is such a great time for this type of food!

Chicken Corn Chowder with Dumplings
3-4 pounds of boneless chicken breast chopped in bite size pieces
8-10 slices of bacon
1 stick of butter or margarine
1 large onion chopped
2 tablespoons jarred garlic (or fresh)
6 cups chicken broth (More or less depending on how thick you want it to be)
1 can cream of chicken soup
3-4 stalks celery chopped
1 jar alfredo sauce
1 1/2 cups carrots chopped
4-5 potatoes peeled and chopped
1 cup half and half
1 large bag of frozen corn
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 cups Bisquick or baking mix
2/3 cups skim milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Garlic salt

I like to build the stew so I start a stock pot with the chicken broth added and after it is warm I add the cream of chicken soup and alfredo - yep I said alfredo.  It gives the stew a nice creamy texture and a great taste.  I used a whisk to stir this as it heats and get it all mixed together.    Then in another pan, I add the chopped onion and sautee in grape seed or olive oil  (which ever I happen to have on hand) along with a couple of tablespoons margarine or butter.  I season each ingredient as it cooks with salt and pepper and garlic salt.  After they are softened I add the garlic and continue to cook for a few more minutes until both are transparent.  Then I add this to the broth and keep stirring.

Next I add the celery to the pan with butter or margarine and oil and sautee until tender, seasoning again as I go.  Add that to the pot and continue stirring.  Do the same with the carrots and then add to the hot tub.  Next add the potatoes to the pan and season well and sautee and add in with the broth mixture. 

Next I brown the bacon and put it aside to drain but leave the bacon fat in the pan.  Cook the chicken until browned slightly and almost done. I like it cut into bite sized pieces but hubby normally chops it for me.  He was working when I defiled this chicken so it was not chopped so perfectly but still worked just fine. Add to your pot.  At this point I let the stew simmer until the vegetables are almost done.  Then dump in the corn and stir well again.

Look at your stew and determine if it is brothy or soupy enough (yes I know that's not a word) and if not add more liquid.  Let it come to a gentle boil and add the half and half to a glass jar and add the corn starch and shake it up - after you add the lid.  Pour this into the chowder and stir well.  This will help it thicken.

Next add the Bisquick or baking mix to a bowl with the skim milk and mix well.  Be sure this is a very stiff dough or the dumplings will dissolve and you will have a pot of chicken mud. You can also use a can of biscuit dough cut into pieces.  Let the pot come to a gentle boil and drop the dumplings by the spoonful into the broth.  Don't stir - it's tempting but don't do it.  Let the dumplings cook 10 minutes with the lid off and then 10 with the lid on and this should get them done all the way through.  You can ladle broth over the top of the dumplings after the 20 minutes of cooking to get any raw spots done.  I also season the top of the dumplings with garlic salt and pepper while they are cooking. 

This can be served with shredded cheese and the chopped bacon.  It is delicious and it will stick to your ribs for sure.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Maiden Roll for the Little Red Retro

We took our Little Red Retro out on her first journey and rolled up to Calhoun Falls, SC.  If you have never heard of this little town don't be surprised.  We live in SC and had never heard or been aware that it existed.  It is very small with only one little grocery store and it it's surrounded by Lake Russell.  We camped in Calhoun Falls State Park which sits on the lake.  We have a state park pass and hope to hit all of the ones in South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina.

This park is large compared to some we have visited and when I say natural and quiet, that is a real understatement.  We actually witnessed a family of deer running through the woods and squirrels frolicked about with no fear.  Each site includes a large iron stand to hang your trash so that its not down low for animal consumption.  Our site was on the lake and most are and each one has
ample room for an RV and tents as well.  There are pull through sites for third wheels and we visited one of the handicapped sites which was located in a good flat spot with a roll up pad for wheel chairs, etc.  All lake front sites have a set of steps to get down to the water.  Of course there's a picnic table, grill and hook-ups for RVs.  We had no trouble with our trip to the dump station when we left and recycling is also available.

This park has something for just about every camper including tennis courts, basketball court, swimming area with a beach front to the lake, boat launch ramps, hiking trails and more.  The one thing you won't find here is wireless.  Lots of campers had tailgater pods and  little satellite dishes and they appeared to work fine here.  We have an air TV antenna on our unit but nestled in the trees here in the woods it didn't work  We did get good cell reception and that worked good throughout our two day stay.

So for us this campground hit about 4 out of 5 campers on our rating system.  The bathrooms were typical of state campground facilities and had ample supplies with older showers but toilets were in good condition and the bath houses were located in fairly convenient locations.  One thing to be aware of is there is very little lighting at night.  We found that a good flashlight was a life saver and really was necessary.  There were lots of dogs in tow and we of course had our little camper Lucy.  You will just need to bring along your dooty bags for pick-ups and pups must be leashed at all times.  Lucy gave this campground a big ole paws up - she made friends and loved smelling all the trails and lake areas.  So in summary we enjoyed Calhoun Falls and would definitely return.  We found the staff at the lodge helpful and friendly and the little onsite store had lots of goodies as well as necessary items you might forget.

Ok so here is our rating for Calhoun Falls Campground:

Cost:  $
Location:  4.5 out of a possible 5
Service:  Excellent
Overall Rating:  4 out of a possible 5 Campers 

So far we love our Little Red Retro and are very happy with our first RV purchase.  We already have our second trip planned for the end of September.  We will be checking into Hunting Island State Park Campground!  Pics and our review on that one to come.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Litte Red Retro ~ Our Road Warrior

Well - we finally did it!  After 30 plus years of wanting and wishing, we took the plunge and got ourselves a tiny sweet little camper.  As old tent campers this is an awesome refuge from the heat and more.  We are in love!!  She is a Riverside Retro RV and very light making it possible that we can pull her with our Ford Edge.  We took her out on her maiden roll a week ago and it was awesome - more on that later.

This little unit is so compact but packs a punch in details and comfort.  It has a roof top air conditioner that will absolutely blow you out with cold air.  It has both heat pump and gas heat, gas stove and a wet bath.  There is a full size queen bed and dinning area and tons of storage spaces and cabinets.  It also includes a little dinette reminiscent of the 50's and 60's canned hams.  We had thought for years that we would try and rehab an old original one of these but one day when we were out and about we saw a couple of the Retro's at a local dealership and we were hooked - it was love at first sight!

There are different sizes and models of the Retro and we chose the Model 166 based on weight and affordability.  Their web site linked above gives the floor plans and pics of them inside and out.  Down the road if we change up vehicles, we may opt for a bigger model of RV.  For now this one is a dream come true and we are hoping to schedule one camping trip per month.

We will rate the sites we visit and offer tips and info on senior camping and what makes it easier, harder and just plain enjoyable.  For me, I have always loved the atmosphere of the campground and seeing all of the different campers and set ups.  It's an awesome community and we are so excited to be a part of it.  Join us as we roll through South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina on our first adventures.  By the way we live in South Carolina.