Category Archives: Product Information

“It slices, it dices…”

The Chef'n VeggiChop is had powered. It's surprising how fast it chops things up.
The Chef’n VeggiChop is hand powered. It’s surprising how fast it chops things up. This shot gives you an idea of its size.

I’m hardly the kind of person from whom you’d expect a review of a kitchen gadget–usually I write about things like solar panels, batteries, GPS units, motorcycle clothing and the like–but this review is in fact about a kitchen gadget which hints at the influence a certain wonderful woman has had over my life 🙂

Now, to be truthful, most people would be and should be alarmed should I write about preparing food. Why? Just taste my cooking… and I use the word cooking very, very loosely. Fear not, however, because I cannot take credit for this review. It was written by Diane after using the Chef’n for many months. While I am the chief bottle washer in the RV my lovely companion, Diane, is the head cook, always making delicious and healthy meals for the two of us. Thank you, Diane!

Diane has used the Chef’n many times. I think it fair to say she recommends it because it does a good job, is small, lightweight, uses no batteries or electricity, and doubles as a storage container: all things which are plusses when operating in the cramped quarters of an RV sometimes without a ready supply of household electricity and where the weight of things can really matter. Available for under $20 it’s also inexpensive.

Now, to be honest, not everything I touch in the kitchen turns to mud. Although there may be some debate about it, I do declare that I’m pretty darn good when it comes to making a peanut butter sandwich. There is one other dish I can do a bang up job with, and that’s lentil soup. For that I use the Chef’n to chop up the carrots and onions which it does quickly and easily saving me quite a bit of slicing and dicing, not to mention all those tears.

The four parts of the VeggiChop.
The four parts of the Chef’n VeggiChop.

PRODUCT REVIEW
by Diane

Chef’n VeggiChop Hand-Powered Food Chopper

THE CLAIM:
Chop large pieces of fruit, vegetables, boneless meats, herbs, nuts, and even ice without electricity; perfect for pesto, hummus, salsa, guacamole.

WHY YOU MAY WANT THIS:
Small, lightweight, no batteries or electricity, doubles as a storage container, works well.

THE FACTS:
Performance:
The product description on Amazon is accurate in that it REALLY does chop food. As its name implies, it is designed to chop, not puree. It’s absolutely wonderful for things like onions, carrots and egg salad. I was able to make cauliflower rice (but not mash), my hummus and guacamole came out more grainy than creamy, and soft fruits and tomatoes had more texture than blender smooth. That being said, I didn’t mind the compromise because I could boondock and have my hummus too!

Ease of Use:
It is not too tough on the hand as far as gripping the handle, but pulling out the cord does take some back and forth arm movement that requires average mobility. It has only a 3 cup capacity, so it’s good for about 2 servings depending on your recipe, but I didn’t find any problem in making things in several batches for a larger crowd. I even made my regular double pie crust recipe in it! I just had to divide the recipe and reload the Chef’n a couple times and then combine the batches. In fact, this gadget is so quick and easy to use, I often opt to use it even when I have a full-sized blender/food processor available!

Nice Features:
•Comes in 3 colors: red, black or green
•Non-slip ring on the bottom keeps it stable
•Storage lid

Tips:
Adding ingredients – The top of the blade mechanism has a recessed hexagon for connecting to the lid. It can collect finer ingredients like flour and prevent the lid pin from engaging properly. Put a finger over the hexagon when pouring into the chopper.
Cleaning and Storage – Take care hand washing the very sharp blades! Make sure the chopper is completely dry before storing it to discourage mold, especially if you are on the road. The care instructions do caution not to submerge the top because the cord is enclosed and won’t be able to dry out, but otherwise it’s even dishwasher safe. (The Chef’n VeggiChopper is available here.)

I also really like this sturdy multi-use dish brush with a useful suction handle to keep fingers safe when cleaning the blades.

[Editor’s note: the article titles “It slices, it dices…” is taken from a very old TV commercial which as I recalled has many times been parodied and as such is intended to be humorous. The Chef’n chops.]

Too Much of a Good Thing – Electricity

EMS Remote IMG_5169_1200
This remote display panel supplied with the Progressive Industries EMS-HW50C alerts you to any errors, voltage for each leg as well as current draw for each leg. A bypass switch on the left allows you to easily use generators that don’t work with the EMS or to bypass the EMS for other reasons.

When we bought our new RV it was for us a sizable expenditure. Such being the case we considered things we could do in order to protect it. A good polymer treatment for the paint was one thing. Another was a Progressive Industries 50 amp hard-wired electrical management system (EMS) in order to protect the electronics from, among other things, power surges, high and low voltages sometimes encountered at campgrounds. Progressive makes a number of EMS systems, some intended to hang on the power pedestal and some to be hard-wired into the RV.

Another measure of protection we purchased was a 50 amp voltage regulator, a Hughes Autoformer. This device can boost campground voltage when it falls dangerously low allowing you to safely use equipment that might otherwise be damaged by the low voltage. They also make a 30 amp model. [READ MORE…]

DIY 1000 Watt Inverter Installation

110 volt outlet and remote on/off switch installed.
The red 110 volt outlet dedicated to the inverter and inverter remote on/off switch installed.

In my previous RV I only had 110 volt household current when I was plugged into shore power at a campground, when I ran my disturbingly noisy generator, or when I turned on my inverter to power the single, dedicated outlet I had installed along with it. This last method involved running extension cords from that outlet to other points inside (or outside) the RV where I wanted or needed household current–inconvenient and a tripping hazard.

Upon getting a new RV my plan had always been to have an inverter installed that would supply power to all of the RV’s existing 110 volt outlets so that power would be available throughout it without needing to run extension cords–a more convenient and aesthetically pleasing arrangement that would also eliminate the hazard of tripping over extension cords.

When I started looking at all that was involved in wiring an inverter into the RV’s electrical system it soon became apparent to me that it was outside my wheelhouse of skills. So, I decided to have that done professionally later on, but until I could hire it done I was comfortable doing a more simple trip-over-the-extension-cord style hookup that would at least provide us with some AC until the professional installation could be performed. [READ MORE…]

Good Sam. Bad Actor?

This is the reimbursement check I received from Good Sam in its original envelope showing a postmark date more than 2 weeks after I was told it was mailed. My address has been redacted.

This is a short saga (the oxymoron is intentional) of my recent experience with Good Sam Roadside Assistance.

I have Good Sam Roadside Assistance for my 5th wheel. Recently while backing my RV into my parking spot where I store the rig I got myself into a jam and couldn’t move forward or backward without a high probability of damaging my RV or the one next to mine. Don’t ask…

I called Good Sam for some suggestions or help. The agent I spoke with asked me some questions, one of which may have been key to deciding whether or not they would help me. He asked if there was any risk of damaging my vehicle or another and I said yes. After all, that is why I called them. When I answered that question I was thinking about towing it forward or backward with my pickup truck, not having it dragged sideways by a tow truck with a winch. I’m not used to thinking in those terms. Why would I be? I didn’t know that could be done.

I was told there was nothing they could do if there was risk to my vehicle or another. The conversation ended. Flustered and frustrated, dead in the water so to speak, blocking traffic at the storage facility, in desperation I called an independent tow company. A tow truck was dispatched and about 10 minutes after it arrived my RV had been dragged sideways, without risk of damage to neighboring vehicles and I was able to move again. I was handed a bill for $281.

After thinking about it over the next few days it seemed to me Good Sam should have dispatched a tow truck and handled this on their dime. After all, wasn’t that what I was paying them for? I called them and asked if the kind of tow operation used to rescue my rig (something called a “winch out” I learned by reading the invoice) was covered under my policy. I was told yes, it was and that the agent I spoke with on the night of the problem didn’t ask enough questions to properly determine the correct course of action.

I was informed I could file a request for reimbursement online and I did. After doing so an email arrived  on Nov. 28 saying I would hear from Good Sam in 5 days. I didn’t.

On Dec. 23 I called Good Sam to follow up on the situation. I was told that a reimbursement check had been mailed on Dec. 4 and that it could take 3 weeks to arrive. 3 weeks? I asked. Why would it take 3 weeks. I was told it was sent 4th class mail. What? How much money could they save sending a letter to me with something less than 1st class postage? How much is a stamp nowadays? 50¢?

I’d never heard of 4th class mail so I decided to do a little checking. What I found is that there is such a thing for items over 8 ounces, but not for a letter. Was the agent with whom I spoke misinformed? Lying to me?

The check arrived a couple days after I spoke with the agent and it was postmarked Dec. 22, not Dec. 4, although it was dated Dec. 4. It was sent first class mail not 4th class as I had been told.

I was originally denied service to which I was entitled. Had I not had the wherewithal to look further into the situation I would have been stuck with a bill for $281. How many people I wonder are told by Good Sam they aren’t covered for something when they should be and wind up paying out of their own pockets for something they shouldn’t have to?

Next, I was promised a response in 5 days which I didn’t get. After that I was misinformed about when my check had been sent and the mail service used.

In my estimation, nothing about my experience with Good Sam in this instance except for the eventual reimbursement went right–Good Sam fumbled the ball at every possible opportunity. That’s my opinion anyway. What do you think? Is Good Sam a bad actor?


Coming soon, a report of my DIY installation of an AIMS 1000 Watt Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter.


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Nothing to Sneeze At

Parts of a so called non-refillable pepper mill
A so called, non-reusable pepper mill. Using some heat as described in the accompanying article I was able to easily disassemble the parts and refill. There are three parts to this one: the vessel or body (glass), the grinder core (black), and the grinder housing (white).

While pepper may make you sneeze, choosing whole peppercorns over pre-ground, paired with a good quality pepper mill is really nothing to sneeze at. Freshly ground pepper is preferable to pre-ground pepper bought in a tin because peppercorns contain volatile compounds that begin evaporating the moment peppercorns are ground and exposed to air. There are green peppercorns, black peppercorns, white peppercorns and more. How do you know which to choose? There are different pepper mills. Which are the best? Can you refill those “non-reusable” pepper mills from the spice isle in the markets? All this and more in today’s episode of Old Man in the Kitchen. […READ MORE]

The Eye of the Eagle

Immature black-crowned heron preening.
Immature black-crowned night heron preening.

One of my greatest joys while living full-time on the road in my RV was visiting America’s most beautiful natural places–Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon National Parks, Zion and Canyonlands, Yosemite and Yellowstone, to name just a few. I can’t tell you how many times while doing so I wished I could have had a closer look at things in the distance–animals and scenic vistas, even the heavens. Some of the places I visited were recognized as International Dark Sky sites–places renowned for stargazing–and here too a close-up view would have come in real handy and enhanced the experience. If I could only see like an eagle! Read more…

Wilson Mobile 4G RV Cell Signal Booster

Wilson Mobile 4G RV Cell Signal Booster
Wilson Mobile 4G RV Cell Signal Booster

The idea behind this product is to boost cell signals thereby improving your ability to both make cell calls and transfer data (Internet) in locations where it can otherwise be difficult or impossible to do so. I’ve used one of these for almost a year (as of April 2015) as I’ve traveled about the country in a motorhome. So, it’s from that vantage point my comments are issued.

At times my Mobile 4G has made all the difference: the difference between being able to make a cell call or not; the difference between being able to load a web page, send an email or not. By bolstering signal strength it can also reduce dropped calls, prevent dropped Internet connections as well speed up Internet downloads. Surprisingly, there have been occasions where it has been advantageous to avoid using the booster–more on that later–but in those situations you wouldn’t need it anyway, in my experience. READ MORE…