Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Plum Cobbler

I love plums.  I love the combination of sweet flesh and tart skin.  I must be in the minority because they don't seem to get the same attention as say, apples or peaches.  Don't get me wrong, I also love apples and peaches, but sometimes you want a new twist on your pie or cobbler.  That is when I turn to plums.

This is a simple crisp style cobbler.  It can be used with plums like I did, or if you are uninteresting, apples or peaches.  Actually a lot of fruits would work, so experiment away (grapes or strawberries maybe?).  It is made using a handful of ingredients you probably always have on hand and if you use a slice free fruit (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries) you will have it put together before your oven heats up!  I call that a win.

Plum Cobbler
12 plums, pitted and sliced (or enough fruit to fill an 8"x8" baking dish 3/4 full)
1/8 c. sugar (I like the tartness of plums.  If you don't increase to 1/4 c.)
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 c. flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt (if you do not like a little sweet/salty mix cut back to 1/2 tsp.)
1 egg
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
Combine filling ingredients and pour into greased 8"x8" baking dish.
Combine sugars, flour, baking powder and salt.
Add egg and cut in until mixture looks like sand.
Sprinkle over the top of fruit in dish.
Drizzle melted butter over top.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Soft Batch Style

My family went camping this weekend and I needed a baked good to take along.  Need may sound like a strong word to you but I have a sweet-loving (sugar loving, NOT sweet and loving, just to clarify) (well, he is also sweet and loving, it's just not relevant to this post) husband and three kids.  Need is actually putting it mildly.  I wanted something new and exciting (I am kind of a cooking whore. Yes I said that. Yes I meant it.) so I went where ALL women go when they want something new to make (you can act like you don't know, but I know you are on Pinterest as much as I am.) 

I found a recipe claiming light, fluffy, tender chocolate chip cookies, all with the help of cornstarch.  Interesting.  I baked a batch and packed them up to go.  My husband found them.  He and the kids snarfed one dozen before we even got to the campground.  I am not sure how the rest met their demise (I have my theories), but three dozen cookies were GONE within 18 hours (for the record, 8 of those were spent sleeping).  My husband said they reminded him of Soft Batch brand cookies and apparently he REALLY likes Soft Batch cookies. 

Being the good wife I am, I offered to make him another batch when we got home.  They came out of the oven an hour ago and 14 are MIA.  Apparently they are really good cookies.  Your husband called.  He said you should make some too.

Soft Style Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/2 c. chocolate chips
Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy (I use a stand mixer).
Add egg and vanilla and mix.
Combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt.  Add to butter/sugar and mix.
Stir in chips.
Drop by tablespoonfuls onto parchment lined baking sheets.
Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.  In my oven they take 9 minutes.
DO NOT OVER BAKE.  They will look underdone, these are not golden brown cookies.  If you over cook them they will be dry and you will be sad.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

New Camper Floor

My camper is now dry.  She is also re-sealed so she will stay that way.  All that is left to do is put her back together.  Like Humpty Dumpty.

First we had to decide what kind of floor covering to use.  Because of the water damage, we had a "questionable" spot to the side of the front door.

Remember this loveliness?
We could have cut that piece out and replaced it, but that would have meant removing the bench seat and then there was the possibility of having to remove the wheel well (because these things are put together in a way that one thing is attached to another and you don't know until you get there).  We found out the hard way, campers are a can of worms and the more you get into, the more you find.  In order to get this lady in perfect condition, we would have had to replace outer plywood walls and sub flooring.  Since we paid market price, and we do not have a barn to work on her in AND we want to use her at some point, we had to draw a line.  We decided to dry her out, seal her up and use her till she falls apart and be happy.
Back to the question at hand.  What kind of flooring?  Because we had an area with compromised integrity, we wanted something with some stability.  Linoleum was out.  Peel and stick was out.  Ceramic tile is too heavy so it was out.  We decided on laminate.
Laminate would give our floor the added support we wanted, it is durable, easy to clean and water resistant.  It does however, have a downside.  Campers are small with lots of jogs and corners.  I am quite sure my husband was questioning my love for him while he was cutting, and measuring, and cutting, and making templates, and cutting inside a teeny tiny 95 degree camper.  He did however, prove his love for me because now...
my camper floor looks like this.  Remember what this same corner used to look like?

Amazing.  Husband of the year. 
I will tell you a couple of pointers.  We bought flooring with padding already attached.  Definitely worth the extra money.  Take your time.  It seems like it would go fast because it is a small area.  Wrong.  Takes for-ev-er because of all the cutting and limited range of motion.  It is very worth it.  At least in my opinion.
***What?  You've never installed laminate flooring before?  Don't worry.  Us either.  It is surprisingly easy.  Watch this video.  It helps.***
***Like my flooring?  Got it at Lumber Liquidators for $1.99 a square foot.  It comes with a 30 year warranty (pretty sure my camper won't last that long but it's a nice thought), the name is Manatee Hills Mahogany and it comes in 12mm planks.***

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

How to Re-Seal a Camper

Did you know that campers have to be resealed every 4-5 years?  If not, don't feel bad.  Most people don't.  Definitely a bad thing if you are in the market for a used specimen.

Even if you buy a brand new model, you will have to maintain the seals.  Luckily, it is not a difficult process, just time consuming and sticky.

When I talk about camper "seals", what I am referring to are the seams along the edges.  They run up each corner, all around the top and each window and door.  These areas are where two edges come together and the seam has to be waterproofed.  This is done by laying a length of "putty tape" along the edge and screwing a piece of trim over it.  This putty, is soft, pliable and a little sticky.  When you screw on the trim, the pressure squeezes excess putty out the edges and creates a watertight seal.

The bad news is, over time this putty dries out and cracks, leaving little hairline channels for water to sneak into you camper.  The water will seep in and you will not know it is there until it has caused significant damage.  It is imperative that you seal your camper religiously whether you think it needs it or not, because I guarantee you, it does.

Step one of this process is to remove the trim pieces.  To get to the screws holding it on, you will have to remove the flexible "tape" covering them.

All you have to do, it get under a little spot on the side and it will pop right out of it's grooves.  Sometimes, there will be an end cap at the bottom holding the strip in place.  If this is the case, remove the screw holding the cap on, and pop it off.  There should be putty tape under this cap, gently scrape that off the trim piece and proceed with removing the "tape".

Now remove all the screws holding the trim on.  There are about a billion of them.  Once the screws are out, the trim will easily come off.

Now scrape all the old "putty tape"  off.  Some of mine stuck to the camper, some of it went with the trim.  I used a wide scraper on most of it...

However, as we discussed in an earlier post, the people who we bought our girl from, sucked...  big time.  They did not know how to seal a camper (or didn't care to do it right) and they used silicone.  DO NOT USE SILICONE.  Putty tape and many other sealing options WILL NOT stick to silicone or it's residue.  That means that you have to use a screwdriver, utility knife and any other means necessary to get it off.

Then, you have to be sure you get all the residue off.  They make silicone removers that you can order, but we used acetone (the chemist said it would work fine) to clean on all the trim and the body of the camper where the trim was going. 

Now, lay a strip of the putty tape along the edge (it still has protective paper on it in this picture) and screw the trim piece back on.  Carefully cut away any extra that oozes out the sides with a utility knife.  Replace the tape that covered the screws.  Be sure to use putty tape under any end caps you have when you put them back on.

I found this video showing how to reseal camper windows.  It is great because it shows what putty tape looks like and how to place it (ignore the use of silicone at the end).  If you are having trouble understanding my directions, they will make way more sense after you watch this.

That is it!  It takes the better part of a weekend, but it is well worth the effort to protect your home away from home.  We were super paranoid about leaks (can't imagine why?) so we went one step further... but that is another post and you can find it here.  You'll hear about the extra step we took and find an update about how it's holding up.