About a month ago, I received an email from a woman named Natalie H. She was planning a camping trip and wanted some ideas. I, myself, am going camping ... tomorrow! YAY!!!
* AHEM * regaining composure *
Knowing that I'm also going for a short 4-day camping trip and would also be needing to think about this, I decided to put some time into my response ... as I knew it would also bleed over into my own trip! Before I got into the big email, I inquired as to the type of trip she's be taking, the length of time, distance, etc. It turns out she'd be taking a full two weeks, will be travelling to Yellowstone National Park and ... will be car camping. She also said there was a Walmart in the vicinity, but ... I got the sense it wasn't close. I wrote my response from the standpoint that Walmart could be avoided, but ... it would be a nice backup.
As I was writing it and looking for ideas, it occurred to me that this would make for a great blog post, too!
What follows is my response to Natalie's email, but with some slight modifications to make it more blog friendly.
Ok ... here are a whole bunch of ideas! The fact that you're car camping in Yellowstone means that you can really restock fairly easily. However, let's assume you won't restock at all. This suggests that you "may" need to at about the halfway point, but with good planning, should make the whole trip fairly easily!
I think the first thing to know is that a good cooler, kept in the shade and rarely opened, can keep foods cold for upwards of 4 days. I've also heard of people using dry ice for extended camping trips. Out of curiosity, I just did a little light reading on the subject. I think this could be VERY handy for you.
Personally, I'm a big fan of vacuum packing foods. If you were to take a large cooler, line the bottom with regular ice blocks, then fill it with pre-frozen/vacuum packed meats and prepared things (sauces, meatloafs, stews, etc.) and then line the top with dry ice wrapped in heavy layers of newspaper, you'll have a portable freezer which could last about a week. Even ice cream will stay cold! If you call ahead, the Walmart in the vicinity may stock dry ice, which would allow you to reset the whole thing at the halfway point. Alternately, just know that you'll have 7 days of frozen meats and goodies, followed by a day of thawing and 4 days of refrigeration. I grew up just outside of Yosemite National Park. There are plenty of places within the park to get ice. I assume the same is true with Yellowstone. With the occasional changing of bags of ice, that's 12 days and you'll never need to leave the park. If you plan for foods that don't need refrigeration for the final 2 days, you can easily make the trip in total comfort.
There's a lot of info in the internet about it, but I suggest reading this little blip. The COMMENTS are where the best info is ...
In terms of cooking ...
I don't know if you have a stove, or a grill or ... ? For the sake of argument, I'll assume you have a grill. Grills are great because you can cook directly over the heat, straight on the grates, but you can also put pans and flattop griddles directly on the flame, as well. With this technique, you can scramble eggs, make pancakes, quesadillas, etc. all on the same grill as you'll use to heat your coffee and grill the "Catch of the Day!" (or the chicken breasts from the cooler)
I do feel Frankenfoods have a place and ate copious amounts of them, early on. I've noticed that I eat less and less of them as time moves forward, but in reading about "low carb camping", it seems clear that THIS is an area where many of the pre-packaged Frankenfoods do really help fill a void. Here are some suggested items ...
- Packaged Deli Meats
- Eggs/Hardboiled, Scrambled, Omelets (can put a pan on a grill)
- Store Bought Dips/Spreads/Mayonnaise
- Chocolate Bars
- Hearty Veggies
- Sweet Potatoes (not totally low-carb, but good for some ... wrap in foil, roast, split, coat with butter and eat. Also makes a great breakfast hash!)
- Carrots (wrap in foil with butter and salt)
- Cauliflower (wrap in foil with butter and salt, make cauli-rice, etc.)
- Hot Dogs/Sausages ... on a stick!
- Pre-cooked Bacon
- Peanut/Almond Butter
- Sugar-Free Jam/Jelly
- Cream Cheese
- Low-Carb Pita
- Low-Carb Tortillas
- Butter/Bacon Fat
- Vacuum Packed Meats/Seafood (Frozen)
Some Recipes/Ideas to Use:
Chia Pudding: These little seeds just need liquid to make a tasty filling breakfast. Use 3 tbsp chia with about 3/4 cup almond milk, sweetener to taste and you've got a nice little pudding. Add some shredded coconut, toasted almonds and maybe a few raisins (chopped), with some cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg, and it tastes exactly like oatmeal! Here's another idea ...
Gluten-Free Bake Mix: Make ahead, bring in a ZipLoc storage bag or container. Can make pancakes and other things with it. No refrigeration needed.
Pancakes: Here's a good use for that baking mix!
Poorly Cooked Eggs: Throw anything in a pan with eggs and ruin 'em up!
Granola: What's camping without granola?
Breakfast Links with Maple Syrup: Vacuum pack and keep frozen. Throw on the grill or in a pan, even while frozen. Breakfast sausage!
Wraps: Use the tortillas, cream cheese, deli meat and veggies to make tasty lunch wraps. (lettuce may not make the trip, though)
Meatloaf: Make ahead, freeze and vacuum pack. Can grill slices of it.
Fajitas: With the tortillas, some grilled meats and veggies will make a nice lunch or two!
Jambalaya: Make in advance and freeze in vacuum pack bags, with shrimp peeled and packed separately. Throw the shrimp in, while reheating. Make some cauli-rice on the stove (cheese grater and non-stick pan). This would be GREAT in the middle of nowhere!
Green Chicken Chili: This one freezes up well, too!
Parm-Hazelnut Crackers: I've made these for camping and they're sturdy and hold up well, but I don't know what happens after a few days. They may get stale and they may not. If you try these and find out ... let me know!
Cheddar-Cumin Crackers: Same as above.
Baked Tortilla Chips
Artichoke Dip: Kept refrigerated, this has a lot of acid ... I suspect it would last a week or two, fairly easily!
Salsa: Like the artichoke dip, this has a good deal of acid and should last a good while.
Compound Butter: It's maybe kind of fancy, but it's actually a good way to pack a lot of flavor into something that solidifies into a log. Slice off a bit and put it on a steak, a piece of fish, a piece of grilled pita, etc. You'll find it's a quick easy way to add fat and flavor to a variety of things. Put some fish in foil with a bit of this, some onions and tomatoes, wrap it up and place near the fire. Easy and delicious!
Marshmallows: Melt 'em up! (I think they'll work, but ... I can't promise you that)
Graham Crackers: Mix with marshmallows and some gooey chocolate bars. Eat!
I think with a list like this and the ideas here, you could EASILY live well and have tons of variety. Pick and choose the ideas that work and leave the rest behind!
I hope this helps future camping trips. I know it's helped mine!
As I mentioned, I'll be gone for the next 4 or 5 days. I'm actually not going camping ... exactly ... although, I will be sleeping on the ground, in a tent, and I will be cooking my foods outdoors. I'm going to see a band that I loved as a teenager. They're coming to the Pacific Northwest and I'm going to camp out at night, then shake my cave-hippy rear to the jams during the day!
Don't tell anyone! ;)
I'll be back on Monday. I'm going to be scheduling a lot of fun recipes and books and more of my usual nonsense on my Facebook page. Go sign up to see! I won't be able to respond, but I won't be far and ... I will be back!
Shrimp & Avocado Salad
This is a whole lot like the Central and South American Sushi known as "Ceviche", except that ... well ... it's not!
Normally, a Ceviche takes a super fresh raw fish, packs it in fresh citrus juices to "cook" and then later tosses it with various spices and other odds and ends, like tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, cilantro, avocadoes, etc.
This recipe is like that, except that ... I'm suggesting we cook the shrimp. For the adventurous among you, if you've got some really excellent fresh fish or shrimp and you want to soak it in lime juice until they turn pink ... go for it! I, unfortunately, am not so brave that I'd suggest that the general public squeeze a little lime on some fish and then eat a big bowl of it. Anything ... just ... this ... side ... of ... "fresh" and we've got a problem on our hands.
*ahem* ... This is a PERFECT dish for a light summer lunch! You could even serve it inside the avocado shells! Or, serve it as a bigger south-of-the-border type feast for friends and family! It's exceedingly fresh, full of flavor y es muy saludable!
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Harisse / Harrise / Herriseh / Keshkeg
A few months ago, I suggested people let me know if there were any recipes they'd like to see me create for them. I like a good challenge and wanted to see what people had for me. One of the individuals who sent me some inspiration was a woman named "Pauline G." She almost took it as a homework assignment and sent me a LIST of recipes! Oh, and it was quite a list, too! This is the first of them added to my website, but more shall follow. It was no simple task. Pauline really wanted to push me, it would seem! Most of the requests were desserts, but this one is more a ... soupy-stew-mush. I'm not quite sure why I'm posting it, much less first! (actually ... it has to do mostly with the alphabet!)
This is a fairly obscure dish. It's actually a heavily overcooked mushy stew-like porridge, with just enough spice to make it interesting. It seems like it's usually made with lamb or chicken and wheat or barley kernals. It's something like an Armenian comfort food, but I've also seen references to it from Lebanon and other Arabic countries. Warm, soft, inviting and ... comforting. Perfect for a chilly winter day!
I decided to give it a shot with shirataki rice and ... here's where this recipe nose dives into Lala-Land. See, without the starch to really bind this thing together into a comforting mush, it would be shredded chicken in and amongst tiny slippery pearls of glucomannan fiber. Whee!
So, knowing there was nothing in it to really make it STICK to itself, I opted to make it more soup-like. In the end, I really liked it for what it was. It was a flavorful bowl of chicken soup with some interesting spices and little shirataki pellets. It was warm and comforting, but I know it wasn't the homey porridge I was being asked for.
It's good enough as a soup and tasty. Give it a shot for something different. The flavors are excellent! However ... in terms of recreating a low-carb rendition of the dish? I feel I failed ... and I'm sad.
Oh well ... can't win 'em all!
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Cheddar Taco Shells
A really common question is, "What to do in place of a tortilla?" One obvious answer is Mama Lupe's tortillas. And, while these are great, tasty and obviously fit the bill, they are also made of wheat products and qualify as a processed food. I've got a decent cheddar cracker which does a solid job of replacing the taste and texture of a wheat based cracker, but without grains! This tends to fill the void for some. For others, there's always the old, "Wrap it in a leaf!" Baby romaine leaves, leaves of Bibb lettuce, iceberg lettuce and even cabbage all make for nice handy little holders for your taco fixin's. Again, this answer doesn't satisfy those that pine for the CRUNCH of a crispity taco shell.
For you, I offer this cheddar based taco shell!
These shells can be a bit fussy to make and hot oil tends to get everywhere, but they are also a lot of fun to make! They're delicious and quite toothsome, to boot! The crunch isn't quite is quick-to-crisp, as a baked or fried corn tortilla taco shell, but ... come on ... let's be realistic, here. This is a taco shell made ENTIRELY out of fried cheese!
Is this REALLY that much of a sacrifice? *wink*
Serving Size Note: 2 lbs of cheese should make about 12 shells, depending on thickness and size.
Nutrition Information: I don't really know how to calculate this. Easily half of the fat (and calories) are rendered from the cheese and poured off. These are not as calorically dense as the nutrition information will have you believe.
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The word "Fajita" (FA-HEE-TAH) is Spanish for, essentially, "little strips" (likely of meat). It's actually not a traditionally "Mexican" dish, per se. It's actually more something that likely occurred near the Mexican border in Texas, around the 1930's.
So, this "Tex-Mex" foodstuff is actually American! I learn something new, every day!
Legend has it that ranches would slaughter an animal to feed the ranch hands. The skirt steak (considered a throwaway item at the time) was often given to the Mexican cowboys as payment. This was usually grilled up at the campsite and served in a tortilla! This tradition went on unnoticed by anyone but the Vaqueros' and anyone close to them. Eventually this tasty tradition could live in the darkness no more and was sold at Texas fairs and festivals in the 60's and 70's. By the 80's skirt steak was no longer a throwaway and was increasing in value. By the 90's, a "Fajita" was big business for places like "El Torito", where it is served on a hot sizzling platter with peppers and onions.
Nowadays, pretty much anything grilled and served with peppers and onions is called "Fajitas". Shrimp, chicken, squid, etc. It's all good!
Serving suggestions: The photo is taken with cheddar taco shells, but this would work well with Mama Lupe's tortillas, as well as leaves of Boston Bibb Lettuce or Red Cabbage! Also tasty with sour cream, salsa, guacamole, cheese, fresh chopped onions, cilantro, fresh limes, etc.
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There are several recipes on my site which are here, in large part, simply because I feel I should offer a full and well rounded website complete with new things, but also some old classics. There are very few quick and simple side dishes are as classic as "creamed spinach".
Creamed spinach, at its core, is little more than "cream" and "spinach". A large bag of spinach is mostly air, followed by a lot of water and then ... the rest of it. 2 full lbs of spinach will LOOK like a lot, but when it's cooked and the air is removed and all the water evaporates, it shrivels into a small creamy mound of yum! One COULD just take a large pot full of cream, add the spinach with a bit of salt and pepper, then cook it until it's reduced, the cream thick and the entire concoction is coated with a viscous cream. This is quick, easy and delicious, while also being somewhat one dimensional and a little lacking in vibrancy.
I'm going to suggest a few extra steps, but these will give us a slightly sweeter taste, with more developed flavors and a MUCH brighter green color ... creating a far more attractive side dish!
Random Note: I SO badly wanted to add bacon bits to this, but ... I decided to go minimalist. I also was feeling a bit bacon'ed out, if you can believe it! If you happen to trip, while walking through the kitchen carrying bacon bits, and a few are flung into the mix while it cooks ... go ahead and leave them there. They'd be delicious!
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