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Old 07-08-2018, 03:48 PM   #81
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As this thread moves toward its fourth year, I move into annual preparation mode.

Lessons learned last year from my block ice mode of meal transport:

<< she bashes herself upside the head repeatedly with a rolled-up newspaper >>

FOCUS! FOCUS! What is my number one priority for the food that I drag three thousand miles??

Answer: To feed the 5+ adult family members who will congregate at the cottage for that particular week. NOT to feed myself on the road. NOT to feed LB_3 when he arrives by airplane. NOT to feed my off-grid neighbors (although I would love to feed my off-grid neighbors - they are wonderful).

I can only have one first priority. Last year my haul was a resounding success, but I fiddle-farted around too much with individually-wrapped smaller portions of food. I think I did that in part because the Vitrifrigo fridge was brand new at that point and I didn't know whether I should fully trust it.

This year I'll be freezing a smaller number of larger portions (group meals) into my sixty pounds of block ice. Simplify, simplify, simplify. And the larger portions will also help the blocks themselves to remain frozen longer, I hope. More monolithic. Like about the size of this 1.75 quart Pyrex, with perhaps a few smaller ones inserted to fill in the side gaps in the ice mold.

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Old 07-08-2018, 03:57 PM   #82
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I was thinking about you last week when we loaded up the Yeti 45 with our butcher's vacuum wrapped and frozen steaks and dry ice.

We were camped in Estes Park CO this year, so in a real town. I had to go to the local grocery store for about 5 things we decided we wanted. OH MY WORD!! Now I will never doubt the value of bringing my vacation food with me. What a crazy scene. Lines were 5 shoppers deep in every check out. Lesson learned that it IS SO WORTH IT to plan ahead.

Lesson #2 is that the gas station/quick stores these days have Ben and Jerry's

Lesson #3. If the town has a farmer's market-GO. Had some great tamales and chips and salsa. We ate them right there sitting on the tailgate
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Old 07-09-2018, 05:13 AM   #83
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An idea for those of you who live in disaster-prone areas, or whose house might burn down and get firefighting water dumped on it, or whose sewer may back up, or whose pipes may burst, or whose water heater may spring a leak, or whatever else misfortune could befall:

Last summer I bought a FoodSaver vacuum sealer in preparation for making my 30-pound twin ice blocks of food to take on the road. I was very pleased with the performance of the system - none of my food bags developed leaks even when I had to take a hammer to the ice to free them at my destination.

The FoodSaver has additional applications beyond food. A little background as I explain.

My undergrad degree is in geology and so I have absolutely no illusions about where I live or what the consequences are.

As a result of this, I've always done business with two different banks, located in two different counties, which in turn are located in two different watersheds, with a safe deposit box in each bank. I stipulated that both safe deposit boxes had to be situated above five feet in elevation in the stacks, and I split my valuables between them. Flooding in the Houston metro area is so localized that nobody can predict where it will happen next, but we know that it will absolutely happen. So I always knew that one OR the other bank would flood.

And so it was with Harvey. One bank flooded; the other did not. It took me weeks to go through the process of recovering my valuables. My stuff did not submerge because of my five-foot box height stipulation, but all of the non-STEM-educated customers who chose lower boxes ended up with soggy moldy messes that they had to claim (much of their contents ruined). It wasn't just the initial flood that was the problem - all that stuff sat in water for weeks as the entire city figured out how to cope.

When I finally got my box stuff released to me, they handed me the metal sleeve as well as the contents. I asked, "Why are you giving me this?!" They said, "It is contaminated with toxic mold, so either you take it or we destroy it, because it's too expensive for us to disinfect all of them."

So this became my souvenir of Harvey, but from this point forward, I will also be FoodSavering all of my box contents for extra protection. It's more water-tight than simply using zipper bags which is what I had done previously.

Even if you don't live in a flood area, do you have a roll of Benjamins sitting around your house in case of emergency? Other important papers? Consider FoodSavering it for added protection.

Hah - I turned FoodSaver into a verb. I FoodSaver'd my husband's passport for this show-and-tell:

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Old 07-09-2018, 06:04 AM   #84
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Great ideas, IB.

I have had a FoodSaver about 5 years, and love it.

I have only done foods thus far , but having a stash of individually portioned meats and MREís in the freezer from meals previously cooked is worth its weight in gold.

When leaving on a trip, I fill the freezer with these to get me started and provide a hot and healthy meal in about 7 minutes in the microwave.

Almost anything that goes in the freezer can go in these, and the space saving nature is perfect for travel.

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Old 07-09-2018, 09:12 AM   #85
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Last year when we went to the Oshkosh Airshow, I packaged several meals for the trip using the food saver and the 3 cup rectangular pyrex glass storage container. I measured the inside and test fitted for max filling of the freezer. I was able to get (if I remember correctly), thirteen packages to fit standing up like books (with the tallest side into the freezer). I put the food in the pyrex container and froze it. After freezing, the food was removed and put in the food saver bag and vacuumed sealed. It worked great. I was able to use the microwave to reheat or put the food saver bag in boiling water depending on the contents. This size will also go into the 3 quart IP if you wish to use it for a boiling bag without pressure.
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Old 07-09-2018, 10:33 AM   #86
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Oooh, thatís a great idea for the InstantPot!

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Old 07-11-2018, 05:29 PM   #87
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Five sheets of this freakish Teflon material for ten bucks on Amazon. I'm going to try cutting a few down to size and using them as dividers inside my monolithic ice blocks.

That was the hardest part last year - I had the foresight to put in plastic dividers, but it was just plain plastic, and it didn't serve as a good release agent for the different layers into which food was frozen. I had to put a major Texas whoop-a** on my blocks to break them apart, LOL (I must have looked like a mad woman... but then again, I usually do). But nuthin' sticks to Teflon, hunny.


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Old 07-31-2018, 05:11 PM   #88
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Ice, ice, baby.



The Teflon (which the one on the left is wearing) really didn't buy me any convenience. What worked VERY well this year was freezing each 30-pound block in a Container Store bag fitted to the Yeti mold. Something about Container Store's plastic formulation made it very easy to remove the blocks.

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Old 08-05-2018, 05:54 PM   #89
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One of those two same blocks after 5 days in the Yeti, now transferred to interim deep freeze storage.


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Old 08-06-2018, 10:13 AM   #90
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I donít have (nor have plans to buy) a YETI type cooler, but was reminded of this thread in changing jobs as the latest tractor (Peterbilt) has a built-in fridge. Iíd bought a 12V/120 NORCOLD refrigerator/freezer (See also Engel, ARB & Dometic) last year.

And am hoping Iíve floor space for the NC for use only as a freezer. Trips are generally 2-3 weeks. Then 3-4 days at home. Truck has an inverter and capacious battery performance (truck engine or APU providing 24-hour charge).

This also pertains to the TT and even to the pickup while solo.

How to pack the freezer is greatly appreciated. Iíd already had a FoodSavr vacuum packing machine recommended, but hadnít thought thru how to do the rest. Thanks.
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Old 08-06-2018, 11:45 AM   #91
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Somewhere in this almost-four-year-old thread I likely mentioned that the Yeti has probably paid for itself two times over now, because of this way I use it. Food is expensive in remote areas, plus the quality is not always good. By making and freezing meals ahead of time, we get better food at lower cost than local.

And there's nothing that I despise more than hiking 6 miles up the side of a mountain and then having to go back to the cottage and start cooking. It needs to be ready for us in advance.
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Old 08-06-2018, 01:09 PM   #92
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Paying for meals at truckstops checks both the health and economy boxes. What not to do long term.

And

Canít just stop anywhere. Much less any time.

Thx
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Old 07-11-2019, 06:04 PM   #93
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Every year, I tried to improve a bit on my design of the year before.

This year I discovered good news for FoodSaver fans:

You can safely shove chopped up pieces of contractor trash bag plastic in that thing, and it will seal the pieces together just fine. Trash bags are a different grade of polyethylene than the FoodSaver was designed for, and I wasn't sure how this experiment would turn out. But it works very well.

In previous years, my ice blocks have suffered because I've had to take regular plastic bags, which are not rectangular on the bottom, and shove them into my mold. The resulting wrinkles, creases, and folds make for irregular ice block sides and bottom - for that reason, it becomes a pain to pull it apart later.

Let me drive the engineers nuts by potentially using the wrong term here... I created an open rectangular cuboid (?), a hexahedron with no roof (?), by melting together cut pieces of Hefty bag. This way, the plastic conforms much better to the shape of the inside of my ice mold, without a lot of excess bulk, as there is when I use regular shopping bags for this purpose.

Being able to put trash bag pieces into the FoodSaver opens up some other interesting possibilities. One jumbo contractor bag costs about a dollar and could achieve many things. Compare that to the sky-high price of the FoodSaver plastic rolls. Even the aftermarket stuff is very expensive.

I overexposed this shot to show how this plastic insert is rectangular on the floor of the mold. You can sort of see it, but it's black, obviously.

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Old 08-05-2019, 06:00 PM   #94
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This year I added a radiant barrier-style outer cover to the Yeti, plus I used the Foodsaver to create the outer block forming bags, which resulted in more monolithic blocks (fewer rumples, basically).

Those measures coupled with moderate temperatures on the drive north greatly reduced the degree of melting. At most, there was a half-inch of meltwater at the bottom of the cooler, and I never added any ice. These blocks went into the Yeti this past Thursday at the crack of dawn, and were taken out mid-afternoon today (Monday), 2,800 miles later.

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Old 08-06-2019, 09:00 AM   #95
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IB, The food cubes look really good this year. So how do you store them now that you are there. Do they stay in the yeti, ice get added and get pulled out to thaw and use daily.
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Old 08-08-2019, 05:19 PM   #96
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IB, The food cubes look really good this year. So how do you store them now that you are there. Do they stay in the yeti, ice get added and get pulled out to thaw and use daily.
I throw them in my Dad's freezer for a few days until we set out for the cottage about 80 miles away in the Cape Breton Highlands. He's got one of those ancient freezers that you could store dead bodies in, if you had to. It sits on the floor and has a hatch lid on top.

Wa-ay back at the beginning of this thread, I probably mentioned that we prefer to hike until our butts fall off, and then arrive back to the cottage too tired to cook. Before we leave for the day, we'll chisel off some section of a block and have that thawing for the evening meal.
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Old 08-11-2019, 10:20 AM   #97
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BEWARE OF PYREX BREAKING!! I have not read through this entire thread yet to see if anyone brought this up, but please note, Pyrex IS NOT the same product as before. They took away the thermal resistance a few years ago. It is not longer the "old stuff" where you can take a hot Pyrex dish and make it cold nor cold to hot. It will EXPLODE!!! We had it happen on top of our stove, it is like a small scale glass nuke going off in your kitchen. Someone set a cold Pyrex dish on somewhat warm burner that had been shut off quite long before. Very thankfully no one got hurt. We had no idea until then and I read up on it. Please be very beware!!!!!
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Old 08-11-2019, 10:40 AM   #98
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Ideas for larger-scale meal transport in an Interstate?

Pyrex is no longer made in USA by Corning in New York. Itís now made in China and as noted above, NOT even the same material.

If you have the original stuff, cherish it and use it as normal. The same-brand crap lately is a hazard. Iíd avoid it if possible. Look for Ďmade in USAí versions in garage sales and the like.

I have a load of original Corning Ware and other ďreal PyrexĒ stuff Iím not getting rid of. Bought it at the factory in New York ages ago, and itís darn near bulletproof in normal use. Wonít part with it.

Sorry state of affairs when some old line manufacturers sell their brand name off and it becomes dangerous junk. Buyer beware...this is happening a lot lately. Corners are being cut and itís a real problem now.

We wonít talk about cheap tires from China either...
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Old 08-11-2019, 02:33 PM   #99
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This is how LB_3 deconstructs the ice blocks. He dribbles hot water until each Foodsaver pack is freed from the monolith, without melting the individual packages. Then they go to into the regular cottage freezer to be used one by one.

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Old 08-11-2019, 04:41 PM   #100
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freezing each 30-pound block in a Container Store bag fitted to the Yeti mold.
60 lbs. Holy cow! You folks eat a lot. Or you eat the same food for days at a time.
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