From My RV Kitchen: Sinful Chocolate Fudge Pie

We encountered a bump in the road two weeks ago, with a catastrophic fuel pump failure in the BFT, stranding us just south of Dallas. Luckily, we were able to have The Toad towed to a park with hookups, so we could live somewhat normally for the duration.

But after five days of trying to keep my spirits up by making lemonade out of our proverbial lemons, I decided I needed something stronger to soothe my soul.

Chocolate.

There are times when only chocolate will do, and this was one of them.

Beware:  This pie is so sinfully rich and intense that you may want to draw the blinds and turn up the volume on the TV to disguise any embarrassing noises or facial expressions you might make while eating it.

Yes, it’s that good. Remember the “I’ll have what she’s having” scene from When Harry Met Sally? That.

Sinful Chocolate Fudge Pie

8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate morsels, melted

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, softened

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

3 eggs

2 tsp. instant coffee

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup flour

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Microwave chocolate in microwaveable bowl on HIGH 2 min. or until almost melted, stirring after 1 min. Stir until chocolate is completely melted; set aside. (Alternate: melt over very low heat on stovetop in heavy saucepan, stirring frequently.)

I prefer melting chocolate on my gas stovetop to the microwave method, as I’m less likely to scorch it that way.
You use the method you’re good at.

Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.

It’s gonna look like this.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well blended after each addition.

Add chocolate, coffee, and vanilla extract; mix well.

Chocolate going in.

I used my very precious pure Mexican vanilla, purchased in Mexico on a recent vacation.
You can find it in the states too, but read the ingredient list: if it has anything other than water, vanilla bean and alcohol in it, don’t waste your money. You’d basically be buying vanilla-flavored corn syrup.

Stir in flour and chopped walnuts.

I used walnuts.
You use whatever nuts you like, or leave them out.

Pour into pastry shell.

That nice glossy uncooked batter yields a nice glossy top crust after baking. Underneath it?
Gooey fudgy moan-inducing filling.

Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until pie appears set. (I used my gas oven for this pie. I have not tested it in my convection oven.) Toothpick test is unreliable. It will come out coated with filling, which is exactly what you want. Don’t be fooled into over-baking!

Cool pie on rack, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Top with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.

My version is adapted from this original recipe.

(Author’s note:  a version of this post appears at Heartland RVs. It is printed here with permission.)

Home for the month: not lake side, nor even lake view, but kind of lake near

After ten days of “leave at 8:00, commute 45 minutes to Norfolk, work on house all day, drive 45 minutes back home, shove something edible in our faces, get clean, go to bed, and repeat,” we took today off to explore our home at Davis Lakes Campground.

Here we are. Our spot's off to the right, near the recreation area. And the dumpsters. The spots around the lake are all parallel parking for better views, although "parking" seems like too temporary a term for some of the set-ups we saw.

Here we are.
Our spot’s off to the right, near the recreation area. And the dumpsters.
The spots around the lake are all parallel parking for better views, although “parking” seems like too temporary a term for some of the set-ups we saw.

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Many lakeside encampments blur the line between temporary and permanent, with patios and other covered structures built on.

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The Plunging Swirling Hole of Transport to the Middle of the Earth! OK, so it’s probably just a drainage thing, but there’s no fence around it, which is astounding, because if I were 8 years old? First place I’d go.

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Best part of camping here: daily bunny outside our doorIMG_5869

Funniest part: signs

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True story: the odometer in the BFT hit 99,999 as we rolled by this sign a few days ago.

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Every RV’er needs to review the departure checklist. No spouse left behind! Well, not by accident anyway.

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Um… this is a section of our lease. It very clearly and consistently follows the “If you’re not sure when to use an apostrophe s, just use it everywhere” rule.

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No fish were using the sinks today.

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… of gravity?

Worst part: lack of time and/or warm enough weather to enjoy the lakes

Don't let the sunshine fool you. It's 67 degrees today. So not beach weather. Talk to me when it's 20 degrees warmer.

Don’t let the sunshine fool you.
It’s 67 degrees today — not beach weather. Talk to me when it’s 20 degrees warmer.

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But hey, I’ve got a sassy new shirt to wear when we do get a chance to spend a day on the lake. Thanks, B!

After 2 days and 800 miles on our butts, 6.5 miles on our feet felt wicked good

We’ve stopped for a 3-night road break on our way from San Antonio to Norfolk.

(You haven’t heard? We’re selling the other house.)

The Toad is all set up here at Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park between Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, AL, and it. is. lovely. After two months of living in military RV parks with few trees and with burn restrictions in place, it’s refreshing and restorative to spend a few nights under these tall beauties, falling asleep to the crackling sounds and toasty smells of neighboring campfires.

Home for 3 nights

Home for 3 nights

We walked all over the park today, covering a little more than 6 miles in distance, and 150 years back in time, to the Civil War — errrr, I mean the War of Northern Aggression, now that we’re sitting here in the heart of the Confederacy.

Come join us…

From our campsite near the, we walked the perimeter of the park counterclockwise, from

From our campsite between the train tracks and the office/museum loop, we walked the perimeter of the park counterclockwise.


Historic cabin along the creek

Historic cabin along Mill creek


The old furnaces date back to 1830, and they produced iron for Confederate military necessities during the Civil War.

The old furnaces date back to 1830, and they produced iron for the Confederate military during the Civil War.


That's me there in the doorway, for perspective.

That’s me there in the archway, for perspective.


View of the charging bridge into Furnace 1

View of the charging bridge into Furnace 1


Close-up of some of the works at the ironworks

Close-up of some of the works at the ironworks

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When we stopped to read this sign, I said to Tim. "Hey. I've heard of Montevallo. Mom & Dad have some old friends there." Remember that. It's gonna come back later.

When we stopped to read this sign, I said to Tim. “Hey. I’ve heard of Montevallo! Mom & Dad have some old friends there.”
Remember that. It’s gonna come back later.


Along the Iron Road Trail was a spur that led to this marker, which allowed us to stand in three counties at once! It also tells me which county each of us peed in afterwards. Look. We were in the woods, there were no facilities, and... you know the rest.

Along the Iron Road Trail was a spur that led to this marker, which allowed us to stand in three counties at once!
It also tells me which county each of us peed in afterwards.
Look. We were in the woods, there were no facilities, and… you know the rest.


We couldn't walk that far without stopping to visit the old slave cemetery. It was sad in its starkness. Those rocks in the background served as headstones. I know.

We couldn’t walk that far without stopping to visit the old slave cemetery. It was sad in its starkness. Those rocks in the background are the headstones.
I know.


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The grist mill is long out of use. Probably because people stopped buying grist.


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After we finished our walking tour, we wandered into the Alabama Iron & Steel Museum to read up on everything we’d just seen. I happened to glance at the shelves in the gift shop, and that’s where I saw this book. Remember I said my parents had friends in Montevallo? That’s him. I very nearly peed again. Um, hi Norman and Joan!


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All that walking worked up an appetite, and even though I’m not a big burger fan, I’ll support a local business that boasts the best (Yelp users concurred). I had a much harder time choking down that apostrophe.


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Thanks for joining us on today’s walkabout! One more day of rest tomorrow, and then we’ll hit the road again on Saturday.

We are literally in the hospital’s shadow, but can’t get there from here

See this map?

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This map is why we chose to stay at the Fort Sam Houston RV Park for Tim’s surgery (detailed here, if you missed it).  Brooke Army Medical Center, BAMC, is circled in purple. The RV park is circled in red. See how close they are? Doesn’t it look convenient?

And here’s the view of the hospital from our site.

I am standing at the end of our parking spot. No zoom.

I am standing at the end of our parking spot. No zoom.

Looks like we could walk there — easily. But no. Thanks to fences, train tracks, and barbed wire, it ain’t happening. And because of random road blocks, base security, construction, and mystifying Army logic, we can’t even drive there the quick way.

Instead, the trip takes 9 different turns; exiting one gate and entering another (with the customary armed sentries, ID card check, and slalom course of barriers); and a total drive time of anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, depending on whether or not we have to wait for troop formations to cross the street.

By comparison? When we lived in our house, I could get to BAMC in 30 minutes, from 22 miles away.

Strike 1: shitty commute

Strike 1: shitty commute

But let’s get back to those train tracks. They are active. Very active. Perhaps the most active train tracks on the planet, with locomotives passing by at least once every hour, day and night. And at night, they’re a bazillion times louder, and the sadistic engineers seem to enjoy pulling on the horn for nice, long, ear-shattering blasts. Every hour. All night. It’s really not conducive to sleep at all, much less a peaceful recovery from major surgery, even with regular doses of narcotic pain relievers.

Strike 2: loud fucking trains

Strike 2: loud fucking trains

And to top it all off, no wifi or cable. None.

Strike 3: electronic dark ages

Strike 3: electronic dark ages

Yyyyep. Three strikes and we’re out. We’d originally planned to stay for the 30-day maximum, but that has really become an unattractive — and probably unhealthy — option. If Tim gets the all-clear from the surgeon at his follow-up appointment on Monday, we’re moving out on Tuesday. Hell, I’ll take 0630 reveille at the Air Force base over this business any day. And every day, as it were.

On the positive side of this coin, Tim’s adrenalectomy was a success, and although he had a rough ride coming out of anesthesia, he was able to eat normally and walk around the next day, and had to spend only one overnight in the hospital.

Yes, they called him "Sir," even when he was puking into an emesis basin. Care was top notch, with only one issue. "Just once, I'd like a tech who is over 12."

Yes, they called him “Sir,” even when he was puking into an emesis basin.
Care was top notch, with only one issue.
“Just once, could I get a corpsman who looks older than 12?”

And here at home in the Toad, Nurse Lola is on duty. And by “on duty,” I mean trying to beat me to Tim’s side every damn time, and sneaking into the bedroom when he’s supposed to be resting.

"See? You turned your back for that one second, and I walked in here to stand guard. I win."

“See? You turned your back for that one second, and I walked in here to serve as guard dog and charge nurse. I win.”

But this human nurse has purple streaks in her hair, not to mention opposable thumbs. Pretty sure I win.

But this here human nurse now has sassy purple streaks in her hair, not to mention opposable thumbs.
Pretty sure that means I win.