The Instapot Miracle

Admittedly, I’m a little late to the game on the Instapot, a sensation that the rest of America has embraced judging from the number of online advertisements at Christmas last year.

I had borrowed my sister-in-law’s IP a few times when we lived in her stick and brick in Denver. She did not use it much. I liked it, and she, being a very generous person, gifted it to me. But after I cooked maybe five meals in it, the “new” wore off, and it went back on the shelf collecting dust again.

When we purged everything last year and moved into our 25 foot Arctic Fox trailer, I wasn’t sure I should bring it so I gave it to my Mom and her husband Danny. He does most of the cooking, and he went to a class at their church on Instapot cooking.

But, last summer when we were in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Illinois and Michigan, places that get quite warm, I really missed it. Yes, I have a full kitchen in our RV, but you do NOT want to heat your trailer to 90 degrees using the oven or the stovetop just trying to get a healthy meal fixed. Yes. You can grill outside, but that doesn’t work for everything.

So, when the Instapot was blowing up all over the internet at Christmas last year, and we happened to be at the ranch visiting my Mom and Danny, I mentioned I was going to order one. Mom said they had not used the one I gave them despite taking the church class, and why didn’t I just take the one I gave them back?

I was so happy to have it back! I find I am using it several times a week this summer. this is the one I use:

When we are plugged into “shore” power, such as an electricity post at a campground, it is a snap to use. We seldom camp at campgrounds though, so often I must start the generator to use the Instapot. It is easy, all the same, as it is like starting an old-school gas lawnmower with the pull of a cord.

Most recipes are finished in half an hour or less of pressure cooking so I don’t even have to run the generator that long, the trailer doesn’t heat up, and, because there is a sauté mode, I only have one pot to wash!

One of my favorite things to make is chicken broth. I buy precooked whole chickens at Costco or any other grocery store (most places around $5). I save the bird carcass in the freezer along with any onion and celery ends. When I have two frozen carcasses, I throw them in the IP…..

I use the broth in various other recipes or just drink it plain. It also makes killer chicken tortilla soup.

I made this last night with what I had on hand:

Lentils and Chicken

  • 1 c. Lentils
  • 1 1/2 c. Homemade IP chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 TB oil if your choice (I used coconut)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 chicken breasts (this is what I had on hand but you could use thighs or even a different kind of meat)
  • 4 cloves of garlic diced (or use the garlic in the jar)
  • 2 t. Paprika
  • 2 t. Rosemary
    2 t. Oregano
    Salt and pepper to taste
  • Put the IP in Sauté mode and add the oil. Let it get hot then add the onions and garlic and a sprinkle of salt. Keep stirring this as you cook it for about 5 minutes.
  • After the onions are slightly soft, turn off the IP and add in the broth, scraping the bits off the bottom of the pan, then add the chicken on top. Put the lid back in the IP and cook at high pressure for 15 minutes.
  • Let the pressure naturally release and viola!!!! You have a hot dinner and an unheated kitchen!
  • You could add parsley or feta cheese or whatever to this to garnish it and make it look pretty.

    The IP makes boiling eggs super easy and screw-up free. I make a lot of boiled eggs when I work for a healthy snack or on-the-go snack. Oatmeal is also easy and fast, and you can feed a lot of people very quickly with this one. You can lay out a la carte toppings in bowls so everyone can customize their oatmeal.

    Here is a handy chart:

    There are lots of great IP recipes out there, vegetarian, paleo, keto…. any thing for any diet with the exception of a raw food diet, perhaps. Just check Pinterest or there is also an Instapot app.

    One Year In

    June marked a year since we set out from the ranch in Texas and truly commenced on our full-time RV living adventure.

    We have learned so much about our new way-of-life and how we operate in this new realm.

    One thing we have learned is that we need so much less than we thought we did. Although the back of our truck may say something different. We took time out at our friends the Marshes house in Montrose, CO, to empty the back and reorganize/reevaluate our gear. We had a decent sized donation pile afterwards and left our donations at the Salvation Army.

    Even so, I would say that we could easily cut our stuff down by half again and possibly move into a more mobile and versatile unit such as a truck camper or a conversion van. A 250 square foot travel trailer seems like the height of luxury these days.

    I had this affirmed for me when we stored our trailer, and I set out on a month-long journey. With the help of 2 space-saver bags from Dollar Tree, I managed to get enough clothes for 9 days of work, a beach vacation, a visit to my parents’ ranch in Texas and my semi-formal Anniversary Banquet at Southwest Airlines all into my 21-inch roll aboard that I use for work. I didn’t even have it expanded out (at least until the last flight back to the home-sweet-trailer).

    I didn’t feel like I was doing without or that I had forgotten anything. Having access to a washing machine in all the places I stayed, did help. I did do a couple of panty wash outs in the sink.

    Another quirk in our personalities that I have begun to embrace is that, even though I used to plan our lives for months out when we lived in a stick and brick is that, in this nomadic lifestyle, we are loathe to commit to anything. We do not know what we are doing until we are doing it. And I love it! It feels good to live loose and carefree!

    Something that we began to realize as we began to stay longer in some places, is how limited we were by our resources. We figured out a hack for our freshwater which was to tote collapsible 5 gallon containers of water back with us and refill our tank.

    With our gray water, we use biodegradable dish and shower soaps such as Campsuds and all Seventh Generation products, so we could usually let it go wherever.

    However, our black tank would fill up after about a week. Sometimes we could stretch it longer if we were out a lot and not using our RV toilet. But inevitably, we would have to break camp to dump our black tank or use our Blue Boy tank to dump it which was gross, scary (as lifting a 180 pound fully loaded tank of sewage into the back of the pick up was suspenseful in a very bad way) and not convenient.

    So, to celebrate our year anniversary of the full-time RV living lifestyle, we acquired an Airhead Composting Toilet! https://airheadtoilet.com

    This solves our problem with waste disposal as the composting toilet can go weeks before it must be emptied and, when it is time to empty it, you simply discard the “dirt” into a composting bag and discard it into a trash can. Then, you refill the chamber with more moistened coconut hulls to start the process over again with a new batch. The urine gets diverted into the black tank and can go a long time before being emptied. Also, it is more sanitary as urine alone is sterile. When it mixes with number 2, it becomes “sewage”.

    A composting toilet is also better for the environment because it uses less water.

    While I was in Texas visiting my Mother and attending the Southwest Airlines anniversary party, Hans went to Montrose, CO, to his friend of 30 years, Wayne Marsh, and enlisted Wayne’s help and his shop in order to make the modifications (it took a LOT of modifications, but so worth it) to install the toilet.

    I came back to a fully functioning composting toilet with the addition of a bidet. (The first time I ever went to France when I was 17, I was fascinated by bidets and resolved to someday have one. I just never realized my wildest dreams would come true in the toilet of my camper!)The bidet!

    I have to say that the composting toilet is even better than I thought it could be. It strangely doesn’t smell AT ALL… even less than our original porcelain toilet.

    The price tag is high on the composting toilet, over $1000, but thanks to my mother-in-law, Patricia, we are proudly perched on our new throne. She did something nice for Hans’ sister, and she believes in being fair, so she wanted to do something for him and he chose the toilet for us!

    Hans making some mods:

    This brings me to another thing that we have learned about ourselves. Somehow, some way, everything that we need is provided for us when we need it. The Universe Has Our Backs. Gabby Bernstein apparently wrote a whole book about this concept, aptly titled, “The Universe Has Your Back”.

    Our beloved Arctic Fox 25Y was manifested out of the blue when we happened to find a used one only an hour away and at the right price when we were ready for it. This, despite the fact that I could only find 3 used ones in the country, and they were all thousands of miles away.

    From month to month, I used to wonder how things would pan out. Would we be able to “clear our boards” and not have to commute back to Denver to work? Did we manage to work enough to cover our expenses? But I have ceased to worry about these things as apparently, things manage to work for us, even when we aren’t sure at the moment how this will manifest.

    I don’t understand it, but I do believe it! And I believe this probably operates for all of us, but we have to give it SPACE TO HAPPEN for it to work it’s “magic”.

    When we simplified and slowed down, we created the space to let the magic happen.