Monday, April 4, 2011

50nm at a time, stewing all the way

Today, I sat down and started plotting how to get from Alaska to Nashville. The first thousand miles are easy; I fly to Northway, and take the Alcan down, cutting a little east to cross the border at Montana instead of Seattle. Then, I started picking my way south down the mountains to Ogden, UT to visit a friend and crash on the couch. From there I tried to find an easy way out and east that didn't take me through Salt Lake City's airspace, and then a rough shot east with a descending southern curve.

Theoretically it's 3500 miles, with two couches (and more importantly, showers) assured between there and here. Hmm. More planning required.

While all this plotting and line-drawing was going on, a line of storms hit, and the house shuddered in the wind. I realized exactly why tying your plane down outside in the lower 48 seems less wise than in Alaska, and took a break from the computer to sear some cubed venison steak in a mix of olive oil and a hint of bacon grease, and follow with browning some minced garlic, then deglazing the pan with an oatmeal stout and a glass of lambrusco. (The original recipe called for sugar added, but lambrusco is a sweet enough red no extra sugar was needed.) With more thyme than I was comfortable with, a full tablespoon of my nemesis, Worcestershire sauce (Calmer Half loves the taste. I loathe it.), and two tablespoons of tomato baste, I added three cans of low-sodium beef broth and set it to simmer for an hour. Then I diced and sauteed potatoes, two carrots, and an onion in two tablespoons of butter. When the broth had simmered for the hour, I transferred it all to a crockpot to simmer merrily on high for another hour. Then I added a bag of frozen mixed vegetables and a teaspoon of pepper, and reset the crockpot to low. That kept the non-sauteed vegetables crisp and flavorful, while the rest of the stew blended together.

Then I pulled out the sourdough starter and the cast iron pan, and made Sourdough biscuits to go with the stew. Since my starter is thick, I added a little milk to thin it, and next time I'll cut the sugar to 1 tablespoon - but otherwise, followed the recipe at the end of the post. The biscuits came out of the oven as the stew was smelling irresistible, and our housemate finally made it home past downed trees and blacked out traffic lights. Dinner was good.

Now back to stewing over the route. Maybe there are state parks with camping facilities between Ogden and Nashville. Hmm. Maybe just cool places to land I could throw up a solar shower in the heat of the day, and fly in the evening calm to dry out my hair? Sadly, I have an addiction to hot water that makes being a dirty hippie slumming across the US a despicable thing to shun.

Irish Beef Stew Recipe
with venison instead
Dutch Oven Sourdough Biscuits made in the oven with a cast iron pan


  1. Both the trip and the steak sound good, and I envy you the both of those things. :)

  2. Wing: I know that the RV community (Van's Aircraft RVs) maintains an "RV Hotel" list of people amenable to pilots doing cross-country flights. I am a member on their discussion board and can ask for input from people willing to put up a talented cook and fellow pilot for a night along your route.

    Should I put out a feeler?

  3. Newbius - Sure! I'll try to solidify this darned 64-waypoint and growing list into a coherent map first, so folks even have some idea of where I'm roughly headed.

    Rev Paul - it made a good stew. Not to worry - if you get your hands on some moose, some stout, and a little red wine, I'm sure you can have much the same yourself. The joy of recipes - it allows us to recreate wonderful food!

  4. Envy you the trip... too bad you can't just land in farmer's fields like they did when the airplane was new! Travel Safe (I know you will, and your planning will probably exceed your flight time)! :-)

  5. I've slept out under my wing many a time. But yes, hot water, a necessity.

    It's probably too close to your destination to make a stop but if weather looks dicey you are always welcome to stay here for the night. You'll leave with a full stomach, clean hair, and avGas.

  6. Brigid,

    Thank you for your kind offer! I'll definitely keep it in mind, as an extra place to turn for the night, or when the way I want to go starts growing ominously dark under rising cumulus, is a wonderful thing!