Rafting Vacation – Amazing and Efficient Cooking

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My family was lucky enough to take a trip to Oregon this summer.  It was a blast.  There were 3 generations of my family on a 3 day white water rafting and camping trip on the Deschutes River.  My kids and my parents had been planning and preparing for weeks and months before.  We were all so looking forward and we were not disappointed.  Of course we all knew the rafting and rapids would be fun.  But none of us really thought much about the camping and land portion of the trip.  We knew we were going to have fantastic guides at (we’d been on a one day trip before) but we did not know the lengths they would go to keep us happy, safe and well fed.

river kitchenriver kitchen 2

grill

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which brings me to the food.  I sometimes complain to myself that I don’t have access to a piece of kitchen equipment or there is a missing pan.  I won’t again.  The guides on the rafting trip set up amazingly efficient “kitchens” that created wonderful meals.  Also I must remind you we are not an easy group to cook for, given our dietary and health restrictions – everything from my 9 year old being a vegetarian to my sister being vegan to my step dad needing to avoid too much salt and sugar.  Of course there’s lactose intolerance and beef issues sprinkled in the crowd too.

The food was amazing.  Plus they did it all breakfast, lunch and dinner for 3 days.  We offered assistance but they turned down our offer and told us to relax (the wine helped too).  I was thinking typical camping/outdoor fare such as hot dogs and veggie burgers but this wasn’t the case at all.  I was so tired, hungry and wet that I didn’t get a photo of the appetizers of marinated olives, hummus and veggies, that greeted us at the camp when we docked.  Here are photos of the first night’s dinner –  grilled local salmon, spinach salad, ratattouille and quinoa.  Followed by dessert of chocolate fondue.

grilled salmon

saladratattouillechocolate fondue

 

 

 

 

I’m sorry my camera batteries went dead after the first night.  So many beautiful scenes of Orgeon and family.  I could’ve taken more photos of the lovely breakfast offerings of blueberry pancakes, yogurt and fruit and bacon.  Or the lunch of camp made falafel wrapped with veggies in flatbread with homemade yogurt dressing.

What I really learned was how efficient you could be with proper prep and shopping and just the essentials.  If I didn’t know this from cooking demos in other people’s kitchens, and meeting people living in SRO’s (single resident occupants) without kitchens, I know it now.  There was no running water, except the river.  There was no conventional stove (a butane burner and grill did the trick).  There was no refrigerator.  And let’s not forget, all the equipment and food was all packed on a raft that had to go down class 2, 3 and 4 rapids.  And did I mention the crazy wind one night and keeping the food bee free?

Besides being great cooks, the guides were also great diners and slipped quite easily into our family conversations.  We were sad to say goodbye.  My kids both said it was the greatest thing they’ve ever done.  In fact they both wrote on their first back to school assignments, that wanted to become rafting guides.  It was truly an inspirational trip.  Looks like they’ll be lots more rafting, (and cooking) in our family’s future.

Thank you Nan and Poppa!

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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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