Monday, July 21, 2014

Not Like When I Was a Kid: Gourmet Camping Part 1

Camping! For some people the very thought of it send chills up their body. Bugs. Things that make sounds in the night. Only a thin layer of fabric separating you from the elements – and from the world.

But for me camping has pretty much always had positive memories.  I remember going camping with my mother when I was a preteen.  Something about that camp stove and the special camp cooking set that mom always lugged around was magic. Oh, that and the fact that she would bring the individual box cereals for breakfast. That was the only time I got sugared cereals!  A special treat.

I always loved camping and being outdoors. You seemed to always sleep so soundly with the sounds of nature. I also love the smell and feel a roaring campfire. It's so nice to sit around a hot fire and feel so cozy. Also s'mores, I love toasting marshmallows. I remember my Grandfather teaching me the proper way to perfectly brown the marshmallow so that the inside was gooey and the outside lightly crisp.

So I still love camping.  But I have to say, my approach to camping has changed. It’s now what I might label as gourmet camping. Yes, that all the down and dirty get your tent put up, sleep on the ground (OK, it’s a luxurious air mattress now).

BUT with fantastic food.

One of the things I have learned on a camping trip is that you must not expect too much from the first meal.  If you’re like me, you always leave later than expected. And it always takes longer than anticipated to construct the camp site.

So on my latest camping trip, I quickly jettisoned the planned meal and went with something simpler . . . yet ever so tasty.

Part of the food was prepared.  My mother had made the day before some fresh gazpacho and brought it along.

So after we had erected tent, cooking canopy, located wood and washrooms, and locked up our bikes, we were tired and hungry. So gazpacho was a great start to a simple meal.

The gazpacho, one of my favorite dishes that mom makes, comes with an avocado and red onion garnish!  And, we just happened to have a few tortilla chips along, so these went along well.

And, we had some leftover spicy sangria with grilled fruit, from my appearance on WCIU’s "You and Me This Morning".  Ahhh. Perfect combo.

Still hungry but not wanting to cook too much, we warmed a couple of baguettes—a gluten-free one for mom, over the fire. And then “baked” brie.

Eating baked brie with bread and fruit was always a favorite simple meal for my mom and me. I just put the brie wheel in a baking pan (best to use an old one that you don't mind putting on the fire), wrapped tin foil of the top and put it on the grate over the fire to cook/melt. It's best to keep turning the pan to make sure the heat gets all around. Cook till the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Hot bread. Baked brie. And freshly sliced fruit.  Simple. Satisfying.  What I hadn’t expected was what a wonderful smoky flavor the Brie would take on in this process.

By this time it was dark.  There weren't that many dishes to do since we hadn’t cooked much. So soon we could crawl into sleeping bags for the night.  Tomorrow the real cooking would begin.

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