Archives for category: FOOD & DRINK

Iwatani stove, via West County Explores Club

My friend Greg from gadmachine, who’s an avid home and camp chef, pulled out this cool little camping stove on a trip last summer. It’s a Iwatani butane-powered, single-burner stove. This particular one (Model ZA-3HP) puts out 12,000 BTUs and costs about $35. They make another version (Model 35FW) that puts out 15,000 BTUs that costs about $80. For comparison a standard, propane Coleman camp stove will produce 10,000 BTUs per burner.

That extra heat is great for searing steaks. You can even use it indoors, so it can do both camp and home kitchen duty. Greg says they’ve been making them forever in Asia and really have the design nailed down. People seem to love them.

They both come with carrying cases and might make great gifts.

Iwatani 12,000 BTU stove on Amazon, and Central Restaurant Products
Iwatani 15,000 BTU stove on Amazon, and Central Restaurant Products
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WCXC on Pinterest

Although I haven’t been so great at keeping on the blog lately (though I will be changing that), I have been good at keeping my Pinterest account up. And through a fluke of nature (which was Pinterest recommending one of my boards to new users), I now have over 20,000 followers. Whoa.

If you like your overland, off-road, camp, and adventure information in bite sized chunks, check out my Pinterest page. I have boards on camping, truck mods, Land Cruisers, Land Rovers, Skills, and a bunch of other stuff too.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, you’ll probably dig it.

Here are all of the WCXC boards.

And here are all of the pins.


Here’s another recommendation for your camp box. Kusmi Tea’s St. Petersburg blend. It’s a Russian black tea blend with citrus, red fruits, bergamont, caramel, and vanilla. It tastes as good as it sounds. We drank it all last summer. Lovely stuff.

Just a heads up that our first ever West County Explorers Club Meet & Greet will start this Saturday on Mare Island and finish up at the historic Warehouse Cafe in Port Costa.

If you’re not in the Bay Area but have friends who you think might be interested in meeting other overlanders and 4×4 adventures, please feel free to pass this on. And, if you’re already planning on coming, feel free to bring friends.

Again, here’s the info:
West County Explorers Club Meet & Greet
Saturday, February 22nd.

Part 1:     Meet & Greet and Truck Chitchat at Bay Area historical relic, Mare Island.
3pm        Here’s the location: 38.112815, -122.280988 (+38° 6′ 46.13″, -122° 16′ 51.56”)

Part 2:     Meet & Greet and Eat & Drink at Bay Area historical bar, Warehouse Cafe in Port Costa, just over the Carquinez Bridge.
5pm        Here’s the location for that: 38.046597, -122.182931 (+38° 2′ 47.75″, -122° 10′ 58.55”)

It’d be great to get to know you and swap stories. Come to both or either one!

See you there!


In a couple of weeks we’ll be having our first West County Explorers Club Meet & Greet. Come down, meet me & Natalie. Meet each other. Hang out. Show off your truck. Have a nice time.

It’ll be Saturday, Feb. 22nd. I thought we could do a two-part deal:

Part 1: 3pm

Meet & Greet and Truck Show & Tell at Bay Area historical relic, Mare Island.
Here’s the location: 38.112815, -122.280988 (+38° 6′ 46.13″, -122° 16′ 51.56”)
Follow the green arrow if you use the link.

Part 2: 5pm

Meet & Greet and Eat & Drink at Bay Area historical bar, Warehouse Cafe in Port Costa, just over the Carquinez Bridge.
Here’s the location for that: 38.046597, -122.182931 (+38° 2′ 47.75″, -122° 10′ 58.55”)

If you can make, let me know through the About page.

See you there!


I found this post on the blog Wandering the Wild, which gives ideas on camping food. This post is geared toward hikers but is also helpful for overlanders interested in no-nonsense provisioning. I like the way they pack everything in space-saving Zip-loc bags as well.

I’ve found dried soups (just add water and heat), canned goods, and single-serving, shelf-stable milk very handy for simple cooking on the trail. Except for cold beers, it’s not that difficult to travel without a cooler.

Food, Wandering the Wild


If you ever find yourself heading through central California on Highway 5 and in need of a meal, we have a place to recommend, a Basque restaurant in Los Banos called The Wool Growers Rest.

We were just looking for a quick lunch and didn’t really know what to expect. Well, walking into the place was like walking back in time 50 years. Dim light, no windows, just a big room dominated by two long communal tables that could seat about 40 people each. Natalie and I were seated at the end of one of the long tables. By way of introduction, the waitress placed in front of us a pitcher of water, some bread, and a small carafe of red wine. There were no menus.

She came back in a few minutes and said, “Today we have four choices: lamb chop, pork chop, tri-tip, or chicken.” After getting a recommendation from her, we ordered a lamb and pork split and an order of chicken, so that we could have a taste of almost everything.

The first thing that came out was a bowl of soup for us to share. Then came a plate of baked beans, and a bowl of salad. All of the food is served family style.

After that came a bowl of chicken and rice, and a good-sized serving dish of lamb stew. I flagged down the waitress. “I don’t think we ordered the lamb stew.”

“It’s OK,” she said, “It comes with it.” We looked at each other. Really? The lamb stew was delicious. The meat fell off the bone and I sucked out the marrow.

Only then came the main course. Natalie’s plate bore a full lamb chop and a full pork chop. I said to her, “Do you think you accidentally ordered two entrees?” Then I looked over at a neighboring party as the waitress said, “And here’s the lamb.” There were two chops on the plate. Natalie had indeed received a single split order. I was given half a chicken. Oh, and the entrees came with a share plate of fries.

Our eyes were popping out of our heads. How could we eat all of this food? I also thought. What did we get ourselves into? We had no idea how much it was all going to cost. And the place was cash only. I was glad I’d happened to have stopped by an ATM earlier.

While we were gorging ourselves, I joked to Natalie, ” I hope you’re saving room for dessert.” Sure enough, after the plates were all cleared our waitress sat a little cup of ice cream down in front of each of us.

We couldn’t believe just how epic the meal had been. When the check arrived, I gingerly turned it over to see what the damage had been, then looked at Natalie in disbelief. $32. We’d been served half a meat counter’s worth of food and it had cost $32.

It’s a great place. Quite an experience. If you go, make sure your appetite is in full effect.

The Wool Growers Rest


Our friend Greg, over at gadmachine has an interesting post on cooking “dirty chicken.” No grill grate? No problem. You can just bury the chicken right in the coals.

gadmachine, dirty chicken


We just came up with the best holiday cocktail. It’s kind of like a White Russian, except that you make it with eggnog. Call it a White Russian Holiday. If you pour it like the illustration above, it will come out just about perfect. Delicious!


If you’re looking for a treat for your sweetheart, or just looking for a way to take your camp kitchen to the next level, we’ve got a suggestion: Artisan Edibles jellies and chutneys. We bought a jar of their Champagne Rose Petal Jelly while visiting the Saltspring Cheese Company on Saltspring Island in B.C. and it’s absolutely amazing. Delicate, not overly sweet, it lasts longer than a bouquet of roses and tastes better too.

Their products are only available in western Canada, according to their website, but they do offer gift boxes available for shipping. They don’t list prices—I’m sure they’re not cheap—but if the rest of their creations are as good as what we’ve sampled, they’ll be fantastic.

Artisan Edibles Gift Boxes