Happy New Year!


Just testing… Is it dead yet?


Hello and Happy New Year, starting in just a few hours.  I’m not camping this weekend but have been doing a heck of a lot of cooking.  As you can tell from the picture above, Jenny was not exactly helping the situation.  She was trying to hook the fish with a claw but I’m not sure as to what she would do with it!

With the weekend off and 2016 winding down, tonight seemed like a perfect opportunity to kick back and relax.  I’d caught some trout earlier in the week and decided a nice dinner was in order.  But then the project got bigger and bigger!

First came the smoked trout dip idea on the top left… Using last night’s smoked trout (a mix of alder and hickory woods), I whipped this up with some mayo, cream cheese, sour cream, and spices.  It was a no recipe experiment that turned out great.  If only a person could remember what all went into it!


The large serving tray was also a Walmart clearance item… It’s large enough for a very big turkey. How large is it? That was once a 15-16 inch fish!

The soup in the $1.94 Bambi bowl (Walmart clearance find) was made with snapping turtle meat.  It’s a cheesy, creamy potato chowder type thing but again with no recipe!  The goldfish crackers were added for fun!  As always, I like to experiment with ingredients that could be used in camping.  The veggies (carrot and celery) came in a tiny snack tray at the grocery store.  Why buy big containers?  The potatoes were the tail end of a bag of the pre-packaged, skillet ready cubes.  They worked great!

The fruit / yogurt cup was actually the favorite thing on the tray!  There were several crab stuffed mushrooms, one lobster cake (left) and a crab cake (right) that all came from the store and were warmed on the Pizza Pizzazz.  I baked the biscuits this morning.

The trout was scored deeply on both sides.  I squeezed lots of lemon juice into the scores on the top as well as stuffing the belly with lemons.  Butter was also added.   The rice on the bottom was a pouch of Uncle Ben’s but I cooked in salad shrimp and a bit of soy sauce.

In honor of my little buddy, Jesse James, there was a row of his favorite food…. Shrimp!  I miss the little guy but Jennifer is plenty of company.  What did she get for New Years?  More cat condos.  Sis gave her one that is on top of the coffee table.  I gave her the three on the floor.  Using the laser pointer, I get her to run back and forth through the tunnel.  What did she eat for dinner tonight?  Jenny turned her nose up at the whole seafood platter… except for one thing – the fruit cup.  She loved the blueberry yogurt, something she can have in small quantities.


Well, 2016 came to an end very quickly.  Things have been very busy at the farm store.  The job is still fun the majority of the time – no job is perfect – but it’s paying the bills and the customers are cool.  How earthy is this occupation?  Yesterday I was busy outside accepting deer hides.  Yep, during hunting season we pay store credit for each “Bambi” skin that is brought in to the yard.  I stack them and a vendor then buys the skins from us.  These kinds of tasks are fun and the outdoor physical duties are therapeutic.  I hope everything stays just as enjoyable in 2017.

For now, it’s back to working on some of that tray of food and then putting the leftovers in the fridge.  Thanks for stopping by and a very Happy New Year to everyone!

Safe and happy travels!

Brad and Jennifer
Jones County, Iowa


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About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"

4 Responses to Happy New Year!

  1. Jo says:

    I love your food tray and the soup bowl and of course everything on them. I always drool when you post pictures of your food, you presentations are really well done.

    Good to hear you are still happy with your job that is so important when one must work.

    HAPPY NEW YEAR Brad and kitty

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Jo! Happy New Year! Thanks for the kind words about the food. It’s fun finding new dishes to make and enjoy. Would you believe in all these years of camping and fishing, I’ve never made a s’more? LOL

      It’s getting late here – I’ve been downloading dozens of “3 Stooges” episodes to the laptop for the next camping trip. It’s nice to have entertainment in those places where you cannot get TV. 🙂

      Take care!

  2. Laurie Stewart says:

    Hope all is well with you there…Happy 2017!

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Laurie. I hope your new year is going well! I am doing pretty good other than smashing a finger. I had to go to the hospital and have it looked at. The doc said to rest the remainder of the day… Oh well. I might go camping at a new place tomorrow. If so, there will be a post. Jenny might go along this time! Take care!