Vegan Bean with “Bacon” Soup

In trying to replicate my favorite childhood canned soup, I came up with this. I doubled the recipe for my family (of seven), and there was plenty left over.

  • 3 cans white beans, rinsed and drained 
  • 6-8 slices Morningstar Farms “bacon” strips
  • 1-2 carrots, minced
  • 1-2 stalks celery, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 of a small can (approx 2 tbsp) tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste.

1. In the pan you plan to cook the soup in, fry the bacon on both sides until it is thoroughly cooked, but not crispy.

2. Remove the bacon from the pot. Add the carrots, celery, and onion. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened, 5-7 minutes.

3. Add the beans, broth, water, and bay leaves. Partially cover and cook over low heat for a good long while. (I let it go for a couple of hours).

4. Chop the bacon in to tiny pieces. Add chopped bacon and tomato paste to the soup. Cover again and cook another 20 minutes or so.

5. Just before serving, use an immersion blender to half-puree the soup, leaving some whole beans and chunks intact. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, remove about 2 cups of the soup, puree in a blender, and stir back into the pot.)

6. Season with salt and pepper to taste (it shouldn’t need much; the bacon is salty, so start with a light hand) and serve.

Day 13 Reflections

Tomorrow I will see my home.

Living in a camper. I love it. However I didn’t think before I purchased. What would I change? Bigger. It’s too small for 4. However it’s great for a pair of lovers at a festival. My friend Dawn was right about the children needing their own sleep spaces so that the kitchen is free.

Also a bed that can be approached from both sides. So that James doesn’t have to climb over me to get to his spot (he insists he doesn’t mind).

A hallway two people can pass through would be nice.

I make these complaints but small has advantages. We can park anywhere. Driving is easy.

Our camper took some damage this trip. But not nearly what I thought it would! When James hit the ice cream shop the vent for a previous propane refrigerator was knocked clean off. Hole in the roof! The door to the water heater and a wheel well fender just fell off while we were driving.

Also the motion detector color changing LED toilet bowl light broke and I really liked that thing.

Moms work hard in campers. It’s easier for me just to serve everyone their food because of tight space. I need to bring a propane stove. We don’t explore the campground as much because we have a toilet and shower right there.

Despite that, the children have become so good at playing. Sometimes together. Sometimes alone. I need to work on this at home.

We commented on some beautiful houses in Pennsylvania that were reasonably priced. I said to James “if we could live anywhere, where would you live?” He replied “We can live anywhere.” Revelation. That’s a lot to think about.

I had a clever ending, which I now forget. So I’ll share Anaïs Nin’s thoughts on New York:

“I’m in love with New York. It matches my mood. I’m not overwhelmed. It is the suitable scene for my ever ever heightened life. I love the proportions, the amplitude, the brilliance, the polish, the solidity. I look up at Radio City insolently and love it. It’s all great, and Babylonian. Broadway at night. Cellophane. The newness. The vitality. True, it is only physical. But it’s inspiring. Just bring your own contents, and you create a sparkle of the highest power. I’m not moved, not speechless. I stand straight, tough and I meet the impact. I feel the glow and the dancing in everything. The radio music in the taxis, scientific magic, which can all be used lyrically. That’s my last word. Give New York to a poet. He can use it. It can be poetized. Or maybe that’s mania of mine, to poetize. I live lightly, smoothly, actively, ears or eyes wide open, alert, oiled! I feel the glow and the dancing in every thing and the tempo is like that of my blood. I’m at once beyond, over and in New York, tasting it fully.”

⁃ Anaïs Nin

Day 10 – Westward Bound

This morning we left New York and hope to land in DuBois, Pennsylvania. We drove through a pretty big storm. But the scenery is amazing! America is beautiful.

Stopping in Scranton was fun. The Electric City. It’s a beautiful city nestled deep in a wooded valley. Lots of old buildings. The folks were really nice. They were prepping for a large Italian festival.

We’ve gotten really good at living in the camper. It’s too small for four people but we made it work.

I’m looking for an audio book to listen to. Any recommendations?

Here we are on the homeward leg of our adventure, and although I miss my grandbabies, my dog, my plants…. I still have some sadness it’s ending! And some anxiety about adjusting to real life. And the adjustments I need to make in real life to enjoy it more.

I think I could live like this. In a camper full time. Some people have told me it’s always good to have a home to go back to. But either way I see full time RVing in my future.

If you see us in person, stories to ask about include:

‘Melanie gets a hoodie’

‘Beet explosion’

‘James and the skunk Chipotle party’

‘Scranton post office’

Hey Pennsylvania, you’re fucking breathtaking.


Happy birthday Wolf!

New York City. I tip my hat to you. A barista told me “you have to be strong to live in New York City”. Fuck yes you do.

When I got on the ferry to go to Liberty Island I was like- how do I walk on here? This is scary! But by the time I got off I was pretty good at it and In fact it was kind of fun. That’s how I feel about functioning in NYC.

The city itself doesn’t give a fuck. But the individuals, when you make eye contact and smile, are nice.

Everyone openly smokes cigarettes, which I love.

The men wear more cologne than I’m accustomed to.

We had a terrifying taxi ride.

The NYPD are sexy beasts.

The Statue of Liberty was like when we visit the Black Isis in Iowa. On a much bigger scale. The tour and monuments were very pro immigrant and it’s an interesting contrast to what’s in the news right now.

I tried to go to the store Enchantments but it’s closed on Tuesdays.

New York City fashion- most people dress practical (zero fucks, remember) but there was a theme:

-Crop Tank tops that are muscle cut

-linen pants that are high waisted but show your ankles and are loose at the bottom

-clunky shoes or Roman like sandals

-Bobby pins. So many Bobby pins

-thick headbands

-the color “champagne”

Speaking of clothes, I brought two large bags of clothes. And have worn the same pair of Walmart jean shorts every single day. And maybe 3 T-shirts (don’t worry, Beyoncé). Plus a hoodie I got in Salem. Which should be it’s own blog post.

I saw people from all over the world. Heard over a dozen languages. I asked everyone “where were you born?” And they happily told me their stories.

I want to end with a big thank you to the man from Israel who bought our liquor as we were leaving town. He asked me not to put his picture on the internet. And when I asked why he bought our alcohol he said “one good deed a day”. Cheers!

Day 5 and 6

Boston! We went to Boston with a simple agenda: Legos. Pie.

We rode a train from Salem to Boston, then took the orange line subway into town. The children had never ridden a subway before.

The children loved Legoland. A lot. It was pretty cool. I do have a few complaints. We bought this activity pack at the beginning but most of the stations for it the stamp was broken. Also James and I were looking forward to a factory tour and were disappointed when it was a movie of a factory tour. :/

However, we stayed for hours and bought some fun legos.

We heard that the best Boston Cream Pie was made at Mike’s Pastry. So we walked there next. And we were not disappointed! This was my first ever taste of Boston Cream pie. James however had had it because his father had been quite fond of it.

So randomly heard on a passing radio that our subway had a fire! Sure enough I got to see Boston’s first responders! We took a taxi back to the train station, which was fun because we got to see Downtown Boston.

(Real time interjection. I’m in Connecticut. I didn’t even know I was going to be in Connecticut)

I must say, I’m sad to leave Salem. It’s a wonderful town. And not just the witch stuff. Winter Island campground was fantastic. The staff was super nice. The campers were partiers. There was a wedding. A man fell off his boat and the coastguard saved him. The ocean all around you. Next time I go (see what I did there?) I want to go whale watching.

Real time again. I’m in New York at a KOA. It is absolutely the busiest campground I have ever been in. New York right? Wine store. All day activities. Two pools. And there is not a shuttle to NYC center like was advertised so we’re going to have to take a train. Also when we hit the ice cream shop we took the hood off of our stove vents and some of the roof of our camper, so James has gone into town to find items to repair this. Also New York is very beautiful and the people are nice. When I got here and saw that the roof of my camper was damaged I pulled out a bottle of wine but no corkscrew. I went to the people next-door, and they brought me one immediately and were very friendly with very cute accents.

Speaking of the camper next-door they have ceiling fans, they have a television, I mean an outdoor movie projector, on the outside of the camper, and they’re all watching some sort of sports ball with their family and I see it as #Goals.

OK I’m at the point where I’m doing voice to text. I’m gonna make my kids some ramen and watch Hocus-Pocus and go to bed.

Thank you all for following! I’ll put some photos on Facebook.

Ps. Check out this blog from my friend :

Highway to Hell – Day 3

0800 Passed over the Erie Canal. Learned so much about its history.

0900 TBH, I did very little planning for this trip. Imagine my surprise as we went through the Adirondack region. So beautiful. The pictures can’t do it justice. Majestic.

1100 Driving the Thruway. Discussing how to clean our tanks so we can drink the water (bleach!), secure the coffee pot, and fix the awning. Meanwhile the boy draws custom monsters for us.


1300 1724 feet above sea level

1400 Walmart. What a mix bag. I get everything I need in one stop for a good price. But now everyone across the country wears the same clothes and eats the same food.

1500 Lighthouse Liquors. Yesterday I was tricked into buying “diluted” vodka and couldn’t figure out why I was so sober.

1730 Ten lanes of bumper to bumper traffic outside Boston. As I ponder if the campground will be nice for the children, what sites to see, and do I get a tattoo?

And once we hit Salem the blogging stops. We are at Winter Park campground (what a terrible name!) after three days in the car, Wolf man picked the song for the video. (Which won’t load again! Check my Facebook!)


Reflections on Day 4 – Salem

I spent the morning at the edge of the ocean, watching the fog roll in while the children played on the boulders.

I must confess (TMI) that traveling together for 3 days straight and sleeping together in a 17 foot long box at night had taken its toll on our nerves. The children were restless and mouthy. James having to work on the trip was testing my patience (how lucky am I?). You have to be really clear with your feelings and expectations. We had some good conversation.

Speaking of living in a camper- I don’t know how these people on Instagram do it. My camper constantly looks like a camping bomb went off in it.

Salem is amazing.

We started the day at the memorial. There are two. One by the cemetery in the center of the city and one at the execution site – Proctor’s Ledge. That’s fairly new, as they only discovered it recently.

The cemetery memorial made me sob. Their last words are engraved in the pavement. I pissed on the judges grave.

The hanging rock is so disturbing. And yet I stood there with my lover and my children. Entire families destroyed at this spot and yet I take my daughter’s photo. Again – how lucky am I?

Never have I seen tragedy so marketed. (Donner Pass didn’t come close) And I participate.

Enchanted- fun witch store owned by Laurie Cabot. Wiccan feel. Lots of great altars.

Circle of Stitches- hands down my favorite store. Could have stayed all day.

Hex- Christian Day’s store. More traditional witchcraft style. Nice altar to the dead.

Allison’s Mansion- ok not actually belonging to Hocus Pocus’ Allison butmakes a great phot op.

The Witch House- overpriced. Not a lot to see. However, the staff was very nice and knowledgeable. It was the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin and his wife. And there is a birth room with lots of info. It is humbling to learn that Mrs. Corwin gave birth to 14 live children and only one made it to adulthood.

Almost forgot! The Satanic Temple! Basically paid $25 donation to get a great family photo. Worth it.

I am typing all of this on my phone on a train heading to Boston.

A day without driving has done us all very well. Great day. Children slept sound.

Sorry my videos and pictures don’t load well here. Check my Facebook! And thanks for following along.

Let’s pirate some boats aye?

Give Me Music or Give Me Death. A Road Trip Playlist.

As we travel, we are listening to songs about and from the regions we travel through. Feel free to make suggestions!

Because I am a terrible blog manager and using only my phone, you’ll have to click the link below to listen. ☺️

Liberty or Die! Day 2- Niagara Falls

Today we woke up in Toledo and landed in Canandaigua, New York. We are at the KOA. The staff is a little rude to my children, but the campground is AMAZING. You could totally spend a week here.

Holy smokes Niagra Falls. The park is way more touristy than I imagined, especially for a state park. I recommend just hanging on Goat Island. We had to park far away because we were in a RV. We rode the trolly to get to the park, which took way longer than expected. It was fun to see people from all over the world. And James put his arm around me which made me smile. The actual falls though- totally worth it. Blew my mind. Magical.

On the drive we had a great talk about people who have gone over the Falls, one way or another. And who made it.

Tomorrow we finally hit Salem. <swoon> I’ll need a supply stop. And I’m still looking for a NYC hotel.

(PS- watch for us outside the Today show August 27!)

The Road to Liberty – day 1

Today we drove from Wilton, Iowa to Toledo, Ohio! We had hoped to make it by 1:00, but y’all know my love of rest stops! Most of this video was filmed at the World’s Biggest Truck Stop just 30 minutes from our house. We arrived in Toledo around 7 pm. Putt putt and Stephen Universe it is. Tomorrow – Niagara Falls. Planning revolved around whether or not to take a boat to the Statue of Liberty and how to get a hotel for less than $500 in NYC. Please let me know what’s cool to see in Salem, Boston, and New York.

Liberty or death!