Camping Requires Food – Wine Tasting a Bonus

 

I have been remiss in my food blogging for sure.  I’m blaming it on a great summer.  It was the first time my kids flew on an airplane by themselves.  Plus a great all family trip to Oregon.  Where even the grandparents went white water rafting.  When I think back on the summer I don;t remember much about the food, other than what I already shared.  Yes, there was the Edible Excursion trip to the Mission and we certainly had our share of ice cream recipes.  But really not much to speak of for great food on this summers travels.

Until we went camping over the Labor Day holiday.  We went with about 10 families and had a great time.  I must say I don’t always look forward to this trip.  There’s the amount of people.  There’s the lack of sleep and worrying about the kids poking each other’s eyes out with sticks.  And there’s my daughter whining “what will I be able to eat” when planning the camping food.  But it was great.  There was everything from hiking to biking to rope swings and reading and of course campfires.  But here was also wine tasting.  We went to Hendy Woods State Park where conveniently right out the gates are wineries such as Husch Vinyards, Navarro Vinyards, Roederer Estate and others.  It was quite relaxing meeting at  Navarro before even heading in to the campground.  A nice glass of wine (and grape juice for kids) and the tranquil setting helped everyone rejuvenate after the drive, before pitching tents.  We also ventured out in shifts – one of moms and one of dads (Anderson Valley Brewing) on one of the days to get a break from the camp activities for an hour or two.

 

Of course if you’re going to buy good local wine and cheese and local beer you’re also going to cook some tasty meals.  Unfortunately I don’t have photos (you’ll have to imagine) of the camping grub because my phone died in the park.  It was actually a nice break from electronics and taking photos.  Just enjoying the time, food, friends and family.  One night was every kind of burger – veggie, turkey and beef and pesto, pasta salad.  Another night was a variety of sausages and dogs and edamame salad.  Lunches were a smorgasbord of sandwich fix ins from hummus and grapeleaves (yes, my daughter) to cold cuts, veggies and fruit.  Breakfast was big with this group.  Open fire bacon and eggs, plus bagels and fixings.   The last day one dad made his famous berry pancakes and must have made at least 100.  Of course there was s’mores every night.  Not just the traditional Nestle milk chocolate but also some dark chocolate bars.  And the marshmallows were both vegan and regular.  When my daughter explained why she didn’t want to eat marshmallows with gelatin, and talked about the animal products to make gelatin,  it seemed like a scary campfire story.

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Camping Cookout 101 – Go Veggie

My family just got back from a camping trip with extended family and friends to Lake Millerton, CA.  We had a great time boating, swimming, visiting, reading and cooking.  I must admit our camping meals were pretty great.  No simple hamburgers and hot dogs at this campsite.  We had everything from sausages, to grilled veggies, to homemade chili (my sister’s prize winning),  to scratch scones (pumpkin and lemon poppyseed, thank you), to grape leaves and hummus wraps, to orzo salad, etc… Did I mention pretty much everything was vegetarian, or vegan?  My sister organized the trip and she and I divided meals and shopping.  Since she is vegan and other family members are vegetarian (my daughter of course) we went with what would be easy and satisfy everyone.

Surprisingly, the most beneficial part of the vegetarian cook outs was no bees.  There are so many times I dread eating outdoors because I think the bees are going to come eventually.  Do you eat fast?  Or buy something to keep them away?  I’ve heard everything from citronella candles to dryer sheets (not what I want to breathe when I’m eating).  Now we know, just don’t cook meat.  Ah ha!My extended family sat quietly enjoying our camp dinners, while our friends at neighboring tables were running and screaming from yellow jackets.  Not fun.  Especially with little ones.

There is a great spread about camping, cookouts and favorite chef recipes in this month’s Sunset Magazine.  Ironically, I read it while camping.  I plan to make this fire-roasted veggie salad at home on the grill for Labor Day and keep the pests away.

Fire-Roasted Vegetable Salad

(by Russell Moore of Camino in Oakland, CA)

1 garlic clove

  • 2 tablespoons high-quality red wine vinegar
  • 4 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise 1/2 in. thick
  • 3 ears corn, husks and silks removed
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, cored
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • About 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • About 1/2 tsp. pepper, divided
  • 2 whole onions, unpeeled
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 yellow bell peppers
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves, torn into pieces
  • 1. Build a wood fire* in a camp grill or fire ring, using about 4 logs and some kindling; let burn to medium (you can hold your hand 5 in. above cooking grate only 5 to 7 seconds), about 1 hour. Adjust fire so there’s a thick area of embers and smaller logs in the middle and larger logs to the sides.

    2. Smash garlic, put in a small bowl with vinegar, and set aside. In a large bowl, toss zucchini, corn, and tomatoes with 2 tbsp. oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper.

    3. Place onions in embers between some smaller logs and cook, turning every 10 minutes or so, until completely black and soft when squeezed with tongs, 25 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile, set peppers on embers and cook, turning every few minutes, until completely charred, about 20 minutes. Transfer vegetables to a board and let cool.

    4. Set cooking grate in place, if using a portable one. Grill zucchini, corn, and tomatoes (in batches, if needed), turning occasionally, until grill marks appear, 5 to 35 minutes, depending on distance from fire.

    5. Pull off blackened outsides from onions and peppers. Cut corn kernels from cobs into large bowl. Cut remaining vegetables into slices or strips, discarding seeds; add to bowl.

    6. Stir remaining 6 tbsp. oil into vinegar with remaining 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper. Toss gently with vegetables, add mint, and more salt and pepper if you like.

    *Or cook all the vegetables over (but not in) a medium (350° to 450°) charcoal fire, adding 8 briquets every 30 minutes.

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