Monday, August 26, 2013

Camp Recipe: Camp Nachos


Okay, so it's not really a recipe...I'm mostly just pointing out that Nachos, a favourite of kids everywhere, can be made while camping.  It's not something I really thought about before, and once I did, I was kicking myself for taking so long.  This is a super easy lunch or appetizer that your kids will love. It can be as simple or as complicated as you like depending on how you many ingredients you like adding to your nachos.

To start, you'll need some disposable round cake pans.  I bought some at the dollar store in a package of three.  Layer some tortilla chips in the pan and add whatever ingredients you like.  At the very least you'll need cheddar or Tex Mex cheese.  We usually add chopped peppers, maybe some pickled jalapeno slices...but you can also add things like sliced olives, pre-cooked taco beef, shredded chicken...anything you like.  When I made these recently at Bon Echo, I took a can of white chicken meat and mixed in about a tablespoon of taco seasoning and sprinkled that onto the chips.

Once you've got all your toppings on, cover with foil.  We cooked ours on our portable BBQ, but I'm thinking it would work if you put them on the grate over your fire...as long as the flames aren't too close to the food.  A good bed of coals would give off enough heat to melt the cheese, and really, that's all you need.  On the BBQ it only took about 5 minutes.  All that's needed is some salsa for dipping, but you could also bring a small container of sour cream if you want.

If you have your toppings prepared ahead of time and in your cooler, you can get this on the table very quickly, which can be a huge bonus with hungry kids who want to eat and head back to the beach, or who swear they'll die of starvation before dinner is ready.

If you don't want to get the cake pans, you can always make a pouch with foil. I found the pans to be easier for serving, and I ended up reusing the sheet of foil for two batches of nachos.

This would be best as a car camping meal or snack.  The bag of chips would take up a lot of room in a food barrel or pack. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Camp Recipe: Spam Hash


Okay, anyone with taste buds is probably cringing right now...spam?  Blech.  Reminds me of the Klik sandwiches my Granny used to make when I was a kid.  Chris likes Spam more for the Monty Python reference.  He doesn't eat it much, just once a year or so, gets this crazy need to eat Spam.  Usually, he'll slice up the whole can's worth, fry it up and eat 2 slices before feeling queasy.

This year, his urge hit while we were planning for our camping trip to Bon Echo, so I thought about what I could do with the Spam so most of the can wouldn't go to waste - that stuff is kind of expensive. I figured why not make something similar to corned beef hash, but with Spam.  My first attempt was simply Spam, canned potato and chopped green pepper, but after listening to Chris and Shawn quote the whole Spam sketch, I thought about adapting "Spam, egg, sausage and Spam" into a whole breakfast.

Ingredients

1 can of Spam, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 Italian sausage, cut in half lengthwise then into half moons (mild or hot...whatever you want)
1 can of diced potatoes
1 small red onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 egg per person (or more if you want...)
a bit of oil for cooking the eggs

You'll want a fairly good sized frying pan for this.  I used my cast iron skillet the first time, but the second time I forgot it and we had to divide it between two smaller pans.

Heat up the pan and add the Spam.  Let it cook for a minute then add the sausage.  Cook and stir until they have browned a tiny bit.  Add the potatoes, cook a few minutes then add the onion and pepper.  Cook until the pepper and onion are softened, the potatoes have a bit of colour and the meat has crisped up a bit.

In a separate frying pan, heat a small amount of oil and cook your eggs how ever you want them.  We scrambled ours because that the only way the kids will eat even a tiny bit, but my mind was envisioning this on the plate with a sunny side up egg (or over easy) on top.

This is definitely a car camping recipe, and it does require a bit of chopping and prep work, but it's worth a try, even if it's just to prove to yourself that Spam can be quite tasty.  If you are like me, and watch videos online of people preparing for a hike or camping trip and Spam is on their menu, you start to think Spam is some kind of camping staple.  But the way I've seen people eating in (and the way we have in the past) just fried up by the slice?  Not so appealing.  This is a fun and tasty way to include it in your menu and pay homage to a comedy classic.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Trip Log: Bon Echo Provincial Park - Aug 8-11, 2013


I apologize for the lack of posts the last few weeks.  I was taking a photography course, then Chris had his family reunion, and then we were getting ready for another camping trip...all while handling a new puppy.  Biscuit, the new addition to our family had his first experiences camping, and he did really well.  At the reunion, he slept in a tent and I was completely sure he'd spend most of the time trying to claw his way out.  While everyone was eating dinner, I snuck off and decided to sit with him in it to see how he did...during the day rather than in the dark.

He crawled right onto my sleeping bag and feel asleep.  I know you should let sleeping dogs lie, but I couldn't resist moving him into his own little sleeping bag, and he stayed there for a good half hour.  That night he slept in his bag for a while then crawled into mine.  Since it was a bit of a chilly night, I didn't mind the extra warmth.  Even the storm didn't bother him (though Bubbie was shaking and crying...too soon after the storm at Achray for her to be comfortable camping in bad weather I suppose)

Anyway, onto the Bon Echo trip.  We arrived at our site around 5.  This was a Boler camping trip with our friends who also have a Boler camper.  I'd been bugging Chris for months to do the renovations to the trailer, and he started them the day before we left, so I couldn't get packed up ahead of time.  Some of  the renovations didn't work out as planned, and will require more fiddling, but I'll try and get a post up about the changes we are making.

Our site was in Sawmill Bay again, but this time, we were closer to the comfort station (and there was a path to it so we didn't have to way around)  I was pretty excited about this since I'd have to make all my late night trips to the bathroom solo.  (Oddly enough, in the three nights we were there, I only had to make one trip in the middle of the night...normally it's at least once per night...figures)

Our friends weren't going to arrive until around 8pm so we set up the new screen tent Chris's dad gave him, and had dinner.  I'd frozen left over pulled pork, so heated that up with some extra barbeque sauce, and reheated the barbecue baked black eyed peas I made the day before.  A bag of coleslaw finished the meal.  I'd planned to make cornbread to go with it, but ran out of time.  Everything was really good, and very filling.  Messy though.

We got a fire going and our friends arrived.  We were maybe a little noisy that night...especially the kids.  Two little boys who like to talk don't make for quiet campfires.  Also, their new puppy (only 2 days older than our puppy) was determined to play with Biscuit, who was both terrified and thrilled.

We stayed up later than usual.  Biscuit spent the whole time snuggled on my lap.  When we went to bed, I realized that wearing polar fleece pajama pants when sleeping in a bag with a fleece liner was not conducive to a good night's sleep.  My pants pretty much stuck to the liner and I ended up tangled up.  It was pretty chilly the whole time we were there, except day 2 when we went on our hike.  On the plus side, Chris had taken the memory foam from our old bed and put it on our bed.  It was a lot more comfortable.  Biscuit slept at our feet all night.

The next morning I made spam hash, my first try at this experiment.  It turned out much better than we'd expected, and I've since added a few things to make it even better.  Even Bubbie liked the second version.  We had eggs and maple baked beans with it, all while quoting lines from Monty Python's Spam sketch.

Chris and Shawn worked really hard at learning to ride a unicycle, and made good progress.  Neither of them managed to go more than a half dozen feet, but by the looks of it, 6 feet was quite an accomplishment.

We did a hike that morning, the Tall Pines trail.  It was a nice hike, but with 2 dogs dragging us through it, we didn't get to take in much of the scenery.  There wasn't anything that stood out, no look out or pond, just a nice walk in the woods.  It was hot though, and there were lots of mosquitoes out.  After a quick lunch of hot dogs and Mr. Noodles, we headed for the beach.  While the kids and husbands swam, Andrea and I took the dogs to the dog beach.  Biscuit does not like water...at least not yet.  We'll be working on it.  He was okay until he got to about belly depth, then freaked out and ran to shore.

Dinner that night was a pot luck.  I made barbeque beans and biscuits, Andrea made meatballs and garlic hashbrowns and we both contributed to a really amazing dessert of dutch oven apple pie (which isn't a pie at all, but cinnamon bun pieces with apples, brown sugar and graham crumbs baked together and topped with caramel cream cheese dressing.  Go here for the recipe

I'm not going to go through the rest of the trip. This trip was pretty much about catching up with our friends.  We didn't do much beyond hang out for three nights, and though we did hike a few short trails, it was mostly an excuse to walk the dogs so they'd sleep for a bit.  I didn't get much chance to take pictures because we hadn't brought anything to tie the dog to the table, and his leash is really short...plus he cries like crazy if he's not right next to me.

One thing I will say, you don't realize how messy a seemingly clean campsite is until you have a puppy that tries to eat every tiny piece of plastic, every old tent peg, and every scrap of garbage.  Also...I don't know if it's coincidence, but it seemed like we were surrounded by screaming babies the whole time.  I felt a little out of place because we were the only ones that didn't have three toddlers having a breakdown every five minutes.  All night long at least one baby was crying, and usually we could hear them from several directions.

Wildlife spotted: 1 deer

Menu

Dinner: Pulled Pork, BBQ baked black eyed peas, coleslaw
Breakfast - Spam hash, scrambled eggs, maple baked beans (cereal for the kids)
Lunch - nachos
Dinner - pot luck - BBQ beans and biscuits, meatballs, garlic hash browns, dutch oven apple pie
Breakfast - blueberry pancakes (cereal for the kids)
Lunch - pizza monkey bread
Dinner - spaghetti
Breakfast - Red River Cereal