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The Great Outdoors - mhays style

The Great Outdoors - mhays style
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  • The Great Outdoors - mhays style

    Post #1 - July 27th, 2007, 3:20 pm
    Post #1 - July 27th, 2007, 3:20 pm Post #1 - July 27th, 2007, 3:20 pm
    This past weekend, we packed up the family and headed to a lovely campground off the Sugar River in Winnebago County, IL
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    Most people think of camping as a way to reconnect with nature and relax. Me, I look at it as an opportunity to rise to the challenges of storing and preparing food without electricity. So, the meats I purchased are pre-cooked: these survive a trip in a cooler with a lot of ice better, I think, than raw meats. I froze most of the liquids, meats, and breads so as to offer even more insurance against spoilage in the cooler. I made a couple discoveries this trip: the new butter/canola oil mixture is excellent for use in open fire cooking; a frozen head of roasted garlic is a welcome flavor enhancer, and you can bring a lot more kinds of seasoning if you use fresh herbs, thrown all together in a ziploc with a damp paper towel in the cooler. I missed my sea salt, though.

    So, trusty cookset in hand, I began with dinner:
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    Purchased polish sausage, potato pierogi and sauerkraut, followed by cherry cheese blintzes.

    Breakfast was scheduled to be S.O.S, but my version hardly resembles the original: the white sauce is seasoned with canadian bacon, fresh thyme, and roasted garlic over canned biscuits. Baking canned biscuits turned out to be simpler than I thought: using the aluminum plate/bowls, I created a little dutch oven by making one a lid and putting hot coals on top.
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    Lunch was salami and capicola with provolone, tomato/shallot relish and basil leaves
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    Dinner was cappelini with fried sage leaves, prosciutto, canned artichokes, roasted garlic, and the remaining tomatoes and shallots and topped with more provolone.

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    Amusingly, our pictures of the trip have more to do with my culinary experiments, and very little to do with nature! A pity, because one of the trip's memorable moments was being awakened on the first morning by a small flock of wild turkeys gleaning the bits left from washing-up...(unfortunately hunting is not allowed in the forest preserves...)
  • Post #2 - July 27th, 2007, 3:37 pm
    Post #2 - July 27th, 2007, 3:37 pm Post #2 - July 27th, 2007, 3:37 pm
    Great post! Thanks for sharing.
  • Post #3 - July 27th, 2007, 9:25 pm
    Post #3 - July 27th, 2007, 9:25 pm Post #3 - July 27th, 2007, 9:25 pm
    Mhays wrote: A pity, because one of the trip's memorable moments was being awakened on the first morning by a small flock of wild turkeys gleaning the bits left from washing-up...(unfortunately hunting is not allowed in the forest preserves...)


    Define "hunting." Is it a cleaver-wielding person whose cleaver happens to make contact with said wild turkey?

    Great post. *Almost* makes me want to go camping again. :)
  • Post #4 - July 27th, 2007, 10:13 pm
    Post #4 - July 27th, 2007, 10:13 pm Post #4 - July 27th, 2007, 10:13 pm
    aschie30 wrote:
    Great post. *Almost* makes me want to go camping again. :)


    Definitely makes me want to go camping again -- but with mhays and family. It is amazing what one can do over an open fire, isn't it?

    One of the things I learned while camping in Australia (and this may already have been figured out by everyone else, but it was an exciting discovery for me) is that, if you rip open wine in a box, it's really wine in a bag, and those bags stack quite nicely in a cooler. Easy way to make the dining finer while going bush.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #5 - July 28th, 2007, 11:00 pm
    Post #5 - July 28th, 2007, 11:00 pm Post #5 - July 28th, 2007, 11:00 pm
    this looks like a lovely camp spot. do you mind sharing how long it took you to get there from Chicago? and is this one of those "walk in" camp spots? (It looks like one.) If it is, how far did you have to walk? We went car camping up at Bong State Rec. Area last month and we are ready to go camping again but we're wanting a little more nature and less cars but not too long of a trek (I know, we want it all don't we?) Thanks in advance!

    bjt
    "eating is an agricultural act" wendell berry
  • Post #6 - July 29th, 2007, 7:11 am
    Post #6 - July 29th, 2007, 7:11 am Post #6 - July 29th, 2007, 7:11 am
    Thanks for your kind words, everyone!

    bjt, We stayed at the Winnebago County Forest Preserves - Sugar River, about a 2-hour drive from Evanston. It has the advantage of being in the middle of nowhere, but the campground itself is pretty civilized: we kind of made a secluded site for ourselves by tucking our tent into the woods at the edge of a drive-up site. They did have walk-up sites right on the river, a fairly short schlep, but they were out in the open on a well-manicured lawn.

    We loved the wide grassy trails, and there was plenty of wildlife (and theoretically plenty of fish if you know what you're doing :x ...) There were smaller trails, too, but two caveats: poison ivy - so bring hiking boots and long pants if you're going to off-road - and lots of Wisconsin-size mosquitos, so bring your DEET. Critters sighted on this trip: Deer, woodchuck, turtles, snakes, frogs, evidence of HUGE raccoons, hummingbird, turkeys and enough crows to populate the Village of Fowl Devotees. Feel free to PM me if you want more specifics.
  • Post #7 - July 29th, 2007, 8:21 am
    Post #7 - July 29th, 2007, 8:21 am Post #7 - July 29th, 2007, 8:21 am
    I'm not much of a camper . . . but boy did you make me hungry. Those pictures are fantastic.
  • Post #8 - July 29th, 2007, 8:27 am
    Post #8 - July 29th, 2007, 8:27 am Post #8 - July 29th, 2007, 8:27 am
    Mhays wrote:Dinner was cappelini with fried sage leaves, prosciutto, canned artichokes, roasted garlic, and the remaining tomatoes and shallots and topped with more provolone.

    Mhays,

    Now this is my kind of camping trip.

    Did the camp site have WiFi? ;)

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #9 - July 29th, 2007, 4:33 pm
    Post #9 - July 29th, 2007, 4:33 pm Post #9 - July 29th, 2007, 4:33 pm
    Camping never looked so good -- or so appetizing. Is it always just about the food? :wink:

    Thanks for the enjoyable post!

    =R=
    Gardening is a bloodsport --Meghan Kleeman

    Why don't you take these profiteroles and put them up your shi'-ta-holes? --Jemaine & Bret

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #10 - August 5th, 2008, 11:15 am
    Post #10 - August 5th, 2008, 11:15 am Post #10 - August 5th, 2008, 11:15 am
    This year's second trip (we camped earlier this year on theHennepin Canal) was in McHenry County at Thomas Woods - we lost a large part of the day finding a campsite - although several sites are listed on the County website, this is the only one that doesn't require a group or a reservation. The campsite is rustic, although there are electric sites the water was only working near the host station, and there are latrines. Sites are nicely wooded, if rustic - and quite nearby.

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    We borrowed a much larger tent to see if we liked it; reviews are mixed as it was a lot longer to setup and tear-down, but it is nice to be able to stand up...

    At any rate, first night's dinner was crabmeat enchiladas - which conveniently fit the Food Desert parameters, so I'll post the recipe there, but the methodology here: After making the sauce, the enchiladas were stuffed, placed in cookset skillet, sauced, and set on the fire grate to cook:
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    I then (realizing that it would have been easier putting the food in the smaller skillet and covering it with the large one) put the other skillet on top of the first and topped it with hot coals (fire was a combo of wood and matchlight charcoal - we've learned to hedge our bets and bring this along, as you now can't carry your own firewood to a site)
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    Bake in this manner until top melts (waiting for the top to brown leads to crabby hungry campers...)
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    Day 2 involved a lot of fishing, at which Sparky suddenly became an expert - we'd let him choose a lure at Cabela's, and he apparently chose wisely - using his little batman rod, he skunked both of us completely by landing 3 fish in the space of 15 minutes: 2 smallmouth bass and what was either a rock bass or the largest bluegill I've ever seen:
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    Unfortunately, since we were headed to the McHenry county fair (had we stayed another couple days, we'd have been able to hit Boone County, which starts this week, as well :D ) we let them go.
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    After the fair, we tried fishing at Crystal Lake which sadly only yielded a couple bluegills, but when a very kind and much more professional fisherman landed a bass longer than my forearm, he offered it to us to fill out our dinner. He also offered Jason a couple cold beers, myself an iced tea, and gave us a fishing pail to bring his and our catch home alive - so, though the fishing wasn't great we came back to the site grateful and with heavy arms.
    These were gutted, scaled and fileted, cut into nuggets, battered and fried on the campfire for dinner:
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    I was sorely missing the internet for JayK's description on how to filet little fish, but we left the tails on the bluegill, which was delicious - but you have to be really careful eating them, because the end of the spine right where the meat begins contains some very hard, small, sharp bones.

    Fish question: when gutting large fish, how do you detach the guts from the throat? There's some large whitish organ (esophagus?) that was very difficult to reach with the knife and was very resistant to tearing. I walked through the entire process with Sparky, starting with a live fish...I have to say, though I appreciate the opportunity to do so, it's more than slightly uncomfortable to kill something and immediately eat it.

    We started off the next morning (prior to the St. Mary's Pork and Corn Roast) back at a bridge over the Kishawaukee River (many excellent spots for fishing off this nice little river) where Sparky and I caught a bucketful of sunfish (which we later released, realizing they wouldn't survive in the car and that I didn't have time to gut them all and get them on ice for later) and the 'spouse, using a "weedless frog" lure,
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    caught...a frog.
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    We let him go, too - there were only 2 legs and three of us. :D
  • Post #11 - August 5th, 2008, 8:20 pm
    Post #11 - August 5th, 2008, 8:20 pm Post #11 - August 5th, 2008, 8:20 pm
    Whoa! that's some big frog, Mhays! I'd sure have been tempted to make nuggets out of him, too... :)

    Sparky is turning into quite an angler. Now he needs only to learn to tie flies to be Ye Compleat Angler!

    We're all enjoying vicariously your camping adventures. You haven't mentioned any arthropod problems yet, tho'. Up here in Quebec, that's always an issue...

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #12 - August 5th, 2008, 9:01 pm
    Post #12 - August 5th, 2008, 9:01 pm Post #12 - August 5th, 2008, 9:01 pm
    Thanks, Geo!
    Geo wrote:You haven't mentioned any arthropod problems yet, tho'. Up here in Quebec, that's always an issue...
    :?: Do you mean spiders, centipedes, or crayfish? :D
    No trouble with those, though we did get attacked by Daddy longleggers and dragonflies, who apparently liked the tent and didn't bother us. We were, however, bothered by the Canada-size mosquitos and despite the layers of both Deet and Lemon/Eucalyptus they got us all, poor Sparky most of all - and we also had a raccoon try to horn in on the post-washing-up smore-toasting activities (just casually walked right up to the fire, looked at us quizzically, and then wandered over to where we'd dumped the dish rinse water)

    Oh, and BTW, speaking of 'smores, we found truly excellent smore-chocolate: it's still Hershey's (for tradition's sake) but it's dark and square and "Ultra-thin," which means you can use 65% dark chocolate and it will still melt. Excellent.
  • Post #13 - July 25th, 2009, 7:40 am
    Post #13 - July 25th, 2009, 7:40 am Post #13 - July 25th, 2009, 7:40 am
    This year's trip (or at least our first trip this year) was spent at the Mississippi Palisades, which turned out to be even more lovely than everyone says. We were able to make the three-hour drive much more pleasant with a few stops: one for bait where Sparky also scored a boomerang, and a somewhat frustrating side trip to Union Dairy in Freeport, which is not where the GPS thinks it is (Look for Lincoln-Douglas Debate Square instead; it's right next door.) where we feasted on berry ice creams. Sadly, the rain stopped threatening and instead decided to come down on us in sheets - but we decided to set up camp anyway, and I set about rigging a fire.

    Fortunately for us, my first pre-camping project with Sparky was to make a "Hobo stove," something I'd learned to do in summer camp as a kid. Using a can opener, you cut vents into a used coffee can for your stovetop. Then we made a burner by tightly coiling a strip of corrugated cardboard and stuffing it into a smaller can, and then soaking the cardboard in melted wax from old, unused birthday candles. Our recycled-materials stove worked like a charm in the rain, and we had hot dogs on toasted buns and nice warm baked beans for our first supper.

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    For dessert, I tried baking a mini-brie in foil with some homemade strawberry jam - while this was a great idea in theory, in practice nobody was in the mood for brie in the rain. (Frankly, it needed a better quality cheese , as I used one of those grocery-store singles, which, while easy to pack, really needed to be opened and left out to ripen.)

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    So, we ended our soggy evening with a somewhat soggy night's sleep (yes, that's rain on the lens there)
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    Next morning, the weather cleared up nicely and I was able to make buckweat pancakes on the fire:
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    After a hearty breakfast, we stopped by the open field at the campsite for some boomerang practice,
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    and then went hiking along the south overlook trails - just a beautiful view of all the waterfowl and the vastness of the Mississippi, and, of course, I forgot to take the camera! The trails were heavy with fruit: mulberries, blackberries and raspberries all in season right in arm's reach. Sparky was also fascinated by the park's collection of bat houses - if you walked right up to them, you could hear the bats rustling and squeaking inside.

    After a short visit to Savanna's quaint little train car museum and lunch at Poopy's, we packed up for some fishing (after the heavy rains, fishing was impossible - with the exception of the few under our feet at the campground, every worm in the county had been washed into the river. Not that it mattered - it was lovely to just be out there.) We headed south of town to one of the stops on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, where the water lillies were in full bloom and an egret eyed us disdainfully. (Oddly, fishing is allowed in the fish refuge. Not that it mattered.)
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    This preserve is really stunning - miles upon miles of bird sanctuary, completely unspoiled except for a few viewing decks and trails. The trails were covered with masses of wildflowers. On the way back, we happened upon this she-turtle who chose to lay her eggs right next to the sidewalk near the parking lot.

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    After a quick stop at the marina to rinse our dusty feet in the muddy Mississippi, we headed back to the campsite, where I made Thai Fish Curry, with canned fish I'd fortuitously brought just in case. A little stream weaves through the entire campground area, and we were lulled to sleep by the bubbling water and the music of the frogs.

    We rounded out our trip with a short visit to the Rock Island County Fair, a tiny affair that wasn't fully open in the daytime except for the exhibits and the petting zoo. I did get a shot of the prizewinning cabbage:

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  • Post #14 - July 25th, 2009, 4:52 pm
    Post #14 - July 25th, 2009, 4:52 pm Post #14 - July 25th, 2009, 4:52 pm
    HI,

    Sounds like a fine trip despite the rain.

    Did you get the boomerang to return to you? I've seen demonstrations, but never accomplished this feat myself.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #15 - July 25th, 2009, 5:49 pm
    Post #15 - July 25th, 2009, 5:49 pm Post #15 - July 25th, 2009, 5:49 pm
    Sparky managed to get it to arc a bit as he threw it like a frisbee, not enough to return, but enough that it seemed like a return might be possible eventually. Frankly, I can't imagine that having a relatively heavy wooden object hurtling directly at you after it's gained momentum to be a good thing, but I guess that's part of the fun. (of course, his Dad tried a chopping motion which caused it to arc - straight upward overhead. Not helpful - we all had to run for it.)

    We suggested that if Sparky gets good at it, he should wear his bike helmet. And maybe eye protection.
  • Post #16 - August 4th, 2009, 6:53 pm
    Post #16 - August 4th, 2009, 6:53 pm Post #16 - August 4th, 2009, 6:53 pm
    I love this thread. May it continue for years and years.
  • Post #17 - August 4th, 2009, 7:30 pm
    Post #17 - August 4th, 2009, 7:30 pm Post #17 - August 4th, 2009, 7:30 pm
    Thank you, Orca! :D (may I interject that Orcas are Sparky's favorite animal in the whole world?)
  • Post #18 - August 4th, 2009, 7:33 pm
    Post #18 - August 4th, 2009, 7:33 pm Post #18 - August 4th, 2009, 7:33 pm
    Mhays wrote: (may I interject that Orcas are Sparky's favorite animal in the whole world?)


    Right on. ;)
  • Post #19 - August 22nd, 2009, 9:05 pm
    Post #19 - August 22nd, 2009, 9:05 pm Post #19 - August 22nd, 2009, 9:05 pm
    We spent a little more time on our next vacation, and drove seven hours to Mammoth Cave National Park, an incredibly beautiful, extremely wild park in the middle of South Central Kentucky. What's most amazing about this park is that the area surrounding it is so wild that (except for the small touristy area off the highway) it's difficult to tell where the park ends and "civilization" begins, though it has 80 square miles on the surface, and untold miles underneath (last count was over 300.) There is an awful lot of virgin forest left in Kentucky, in part due to the often inhospitable topography called "Karst," which is a landscape formed by the dissolution of soluble rock, in this case limestone - often, in karst areas, water disappears into subterranean lakes and rivers, and is especially susceptible to pollution as the water enters through fairly direct routes. Between the difficulty of obtaining fresh water, the sinkholes, and the rocky ground, this part of Kentucky is still relatively undeveloped, dotted with smaller farms (and an increasing Amish population.) The park is home to an incredible number of animals...many of them edible, but (sigh) protected: we saw several flocks of wild turkeys that put Butterball to shame (I've never seen such huge wild turkeys) and the deer walked around the campsite completely ignoring people, bicycles, and cars alike (is it wrong that when I look at wildlife I automatically envision food, as though I'm Tom the cat?)

    All that being said, Mammoth Cave National Park is breathtaking. I don't need 1,000 words.

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    I'm pretty sure this is the structure that Seth Zurer referred to as "Cave bacon" - sadly, in real life it didn't look very bacon-y:
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    But this one looked just like an open pita pocket, moreso than the picture indicates:
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    You don't need a license to fish on park property, and we did go fishing, but caught only a couple little bluegill (well, OK, I didn't catch anything and Sparky didn't want to come, so perhaps we is not the correct pronoun)...though it was pretty exciting to fish at the junction of a small car ferry and a subterranean river! Sadly, the charming ferry will soon be no more (though I'm betting the local population is thrilled) on our last day of the trip it was closed for the surveying team.
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    As is indicated above, traipsing through sandstone caverns made me really hungry and hot - even if it was only 54 degrees (kind of like being in a restaurant whose air-conditioner is on too high) So, on to our one new groundbreaking outdoor culinary discovery: Campsite frozen yogurt. Using David Lebowitz's Frozen Vanilla Yogurt recipe, subbing homemade vanilla sugar for vanilla extract to make packing easier, I loaded up the Ice Cream Ball and set Sparky and his little camping companions to "work" playing Wonderball.

    The wonderball goes round and round,
    To pass it quickly you are bound,
    If you're the one to hold it last,
    Then for you the game is passed,
    And You - Are - Out!


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    In short order, the gloppy mess of Greek yogurt and sugar became lovely light frozen vanilla yogurt, beautiful to behold. Plus it kept the kids occupied for half an hour, especially since I kept singing to whatever pace they were passing - I need to learn Homaru Cantuspeak so next time I can sing backwards when they reverse direction!

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    We also visited the little nearby town of Horse Cave, home of what's now called "Hidden River Cave" which is right spang in the middle of the business district. I wish I had a better shot, it's quite shocking to see the old Bank and Trust on the other side of the street and just a giant open hole right next to you.

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    The 'spouse and the friend we went with had spent a few summers in the early nineties working with what's now the Kentucky Repertory Theatre built immediately over the mouth of this cave (surprisingly, he hadn't been inside.) There's also a very nice museum containing good information about geology, ecology and the history of the entire area including a chronicle of the "cave wars," including the unfortunate death of Floyd Collins (which offered us the opportunity to track down the little Kentucky graveyard that was his final resting place to pay our respects) The town we all remembered had been hard hit by both the recession and the sudden downturn in the tobacco market - it looked like it had begun to bounce back when this recession hit. As a consequence, some beautiful startup businesses opportunities exist (sorry, my camera battery died here)

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    And some of the existing businesses are moonlighting a bit (the small sign says cash for scrap gold:)

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    For one lunch, after a long hike and a cave tour, we defied the Mike G. rule and ate at the Travertine Restaurant just off the visitor's center...and proved the rule. If you're in our situation, have anything with country ham in it - except the Hot Brown (which shouldn't anyway.) The country ham and cheese sandwich was quite good, if on uncharacteristically squishy rye bread, but the slice of ham had lovely chunks of fried pork fat. The rest of the food was beyond awful: especially, you are forewarned to stay away from the hot dogs.
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    I leave you with a moment of zen:

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  • Post #20 - August 22nd, 2009, 10:12 pm
    Post #20 - August 22nd, 2009, 10:12 pm Post #20 - August 22nd, 2009, 10:12 pm
    Dang Michelle, a luna moth! Looked for one for years and years, never saw one! Well done!

    I spent two lost years in Bubbling Gum, er, Bowling Green, hanging out at Western Kentucky U., so I know the country well. You described it perfectly. Funny place, Kentucky. Glad you had a good time.

    For decent food, Loo-ah-vuhl is the only option.

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #21 - August 23rd, 2009, 6:46 am
    Post #21 - August 23rd, 2009, 6:46 am Post #21 - August 23rd, 2009, 6:46 am
    Yup, the kids were pretty excited to find one hanging out under a leaf in broad daylight - none of us had ever seen a live one, either. I was also excited to see my first owl, either a Great Horned or a Barred Owl - fly up right next to the road as I drove past. It's always disconcerting to see something the size of a schnauzer suddenly leap into the air and take flight, at least until you figure out what it is...
  • Post #22 - July 12th, 2010, 8:29 am
    Post #22 - July 12th, 2010, 8:29 am Post #22 - July 12th, 2010, 8:29 am
    On this particularly perfect week in July, we packed up our car and headed northwards to Blue Mounds, WI. After a lovely drive through pretty countryside punctuated by the odd dairy farm (and even odder llama farm) we arrived at our destination and quickly set up camp, built a fire, and started on dinner, hotdogs wrapped in homemade pizza dough:

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    Although everyone had a good time cooking and eating them, these were not a rousing success; we discovered that it's quite difficult to get the pizza dough to cook correctly while on the hotdog, and probably would have been better off with the canned crescent dough recommended by the original recipe. Still, starting and ending dinner with food on a stick (of course we had smores; I'd actually won a Lindt chocolate bar in a recent blogger contest, and used it with great success!) set the theme for cooking for the rest of the trip!

    Well, with a few exceptions, for instance our breakfast of polenta and eggs. After removing the bit that somebody else got to before me,
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    I chopped peppers, onion, and green onion, and sauteed them in a pan with some previously prepared blue polenta (I serendipitously found the trick to making it actually blue is to add white cornmeal, which I'd done to address the texture issues I had with the blue cornmeal.)

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    I then thawed and dumped in some eggbeaters (much easier to use when camping than eggs, IMO) and some goat cheese, and cooked the whole thing over the fire into a kind of polenta frittata. All enjoyed it very much; it went beautifully with coffee sweetened by the reflection of the trees.

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    Breakfast was followed by an exploratory hike: if you love hiking or mountain biking, Blue Mounds is the place for you - bike trails the size of deer paths shoot off through the woods in all directions. The walking trails are all well-graded - but they are for hikes, not just a nice walk; there's a lot of variation in elevation and you come out feeling it. There were all kinds of things to see, and once you get to the top, the vista is spectacular:

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    After breakfast, we decided to lunch in nearby Mt. Horeb (the mustard museum appears to have closed.) We checked out the Grumpy Troll Brewpub, but a look at the menu revealed it was $4.95 for cheese-covered garlic bread, and the cheapest sandwiches were in the $10 range - a red flag for me. Instead, we opted for Schubert's Downtown Diner & Bakery, a place that says it's been around for 100 years. This classic diner brought us in with a pie display - the menu offered a lot of standard fare, along with a few scandinavian specialties like a Lefsa-wrapped omelette and Norwegian meatballs.

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    I opted for the meatballs, standard pork/beef baked rounds in salty Knorr-style beef gravy, and the hubs had a chicken-fried steak. I was pretty sure we had a better than even chance of real mashed potatoes, and I was right. Although still classic diner fare and not particularly scandinavian, all was delicious and salty and I tried manfully not to eat every bite. The steak was crispier than it appeared to be, a serviceable plate of fried meat. The kids (Sparky brought his buddy, Zuko this year) had nice breakfasts of French toast and pancakes (which were a thinner-style, not Lefsa by any manner of means, but different from your standard diner pancake) and malted milkshakes. We ended the meal with cherry-apple dumplings, kind of a fried pierogi, causing a small flurry in the kitchen because they were either cherry OR apple, but, after a bit of gentle teasing, they accomodated us by giving us two cherry and two apple with no problem.

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    FWIW, next weekend Mt. Horeb is offering a Volunteer-Baked Pie Sale to benefit the public library. It might be worth checking out - it's only a 3-hour drive.

    For dinner, I had prepped a simple satay-style chicken ahead of time: I'd skewered chicken breast on sticks, poked the prepared sticks into the styrofoam container the chicken came in so they wouldn't poke holes in the bag, and then poured yogurt/curry marinade over, and froze the whole thing solid in a ziploc bag. Chicken was still a bit frozen when I put it on the fire, but cooking on flame helps a lot. I made a quick sauce with peanut butter, soy sauce, wine, ginger, garlic and scallions, and let it warm up next to the chicken.

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    I had fully intended to accompany the chicken with some szechuan string beans, but of course the beans didn't survive the trip...so I compromised and used a wild rice salad I'd prepared in advance (it helps to have a number of cold, prepared salads in the cooler.) I'd prepared David Lebowitz's Chocolate Sorbet, but due to an unfortunate ice-cream-ball failure, we wound up with more smores (I think to the boy's delight) We fell asleep under the trees and stars, stupidly forgetting to put our garbage bag in the car. The raccoons only suprised me a little bit when I woke up at midnight (wish I had a picture: they grow 'em big in Wisconsin!)

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    More to come!
    (edited to add link)
    Last edited by Mhays on July 12th, 2010, 10:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #23 - July 12th, 2010, 8:41 am
    Post #23 - July 12th, 2010, 8:41 am Post #23 - July 12th, 2010, 8:41 am
    Mhays wrote:After breakfast, we decided to lunch in nearby Mt. Horeb (the mustard museum appears to have closed.)

    The museum has changed its name to the "National Mustard Museum" and moved to Middleton, Wisconsin (northeast of Mt. Horeb, just west of Madison).

    Sounds like a nice trip to a very pleasant part of the midwest.
  • Post #24 - July 12th, 2010, 3:24 pm
    Post #24 - July 12th, 2010, 3:24 pm Post #24 - July 12th, 2010, 3:24 pm
    This is the first time I've seen this thread. Lovely Mhays! I am not a camper, but I wouldn't mind sharing a few meals around the campfire if you were cooking!
  • Post #25 - July 16th, 2010, 5:39 pm
    Post #25 - July 16th, 2010, 5:39 pm Post #25 - July 16th, 2010, 5:39 pm
    So, for day 2 we had cereal and milk for breakfast, followed by a really beautiful drive to nearby Merrimac, WI - where we took the ferry across the WI river for fun, and did a bit of fishing (hubby caught a small bass, but that was it)
    Image

    After lunch, we went on a hike through the woods, which turned into a 3-mile long affair after we got a bit confused by the trail map: Not sure if this was a sulphur shelf, the photo doesn't really do the color justice (sulphur it was - shelf, not so much)
    Image

    Sparky and Zuko discovered a spring peeper - those are both their nine-year-old fingers - can you see the frog?
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    When we finally got back to the camp, we were starving, so I whipped up a snack: savory s'mores.
    Mise:
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    Take 2 bocconcini and skewer on marshmallow stick. Roast over fire until smoky and hopefully melty.
    Image Image

    Set up crackers with a dab of pesto (and a nice basil leaf) and top with a smoky, melty cheese ball
    Image Image

    Yet another way to use a stick for cooking!

    We had some not-terribly-successful fajitas for dinner (we piled the meat on the skewers and roasted on the fire as well - that worked - but the slugs had decimated my peppers and the rest of it was just OK.)

    We then hiked halfway up Blue Mound to an evening swing concert by a local music fraternity, and got to hike back down by lantern light.
    Image

    For our final morning, Sparky and Zuko made muffin-stuffed oranges, to be detailed in Sundays with Sparky, but here's a shot of the final product:
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    On the way home, we made a quick pitstop at the very nice, free zoo in Madison, where Sparky was able to do what came naturally:

    Image
  • Post #26 - July 17th, 2010, 1:23 pm
    Post #26 - July 17th, 2010, 1:23 pm Post #26 - July 17th, 2010, 1:23 pm
    Great photo there of Sparky on the monkey bars, Michelle. As a hobby photographer, I love to see good photos of life in action.
    "Your swimming suit matches your eyes, you hold your nose before diving, loving you has made me bananas!"
  • Post #27 - July 18th, 2010, 8:46 pm
    Post #27 - July 18th, 2010, 8:46 pm Post #27 - July 18th, 2010, 8:46 pm
    Thanks, Katie - it is his current natural habitat.

    Sparky's Apple Muffins in Oranges, in case anybody's interested in specifics.

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