Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Snow Bound Camping

Our family does some of our best bonding camping. Our preferred way is as rough as we can make it. The further we are from any signs of humans, the happier we are. We are in the midst of another cold and snowy spell, I wonder if I can recreate any of the joys of camping in my limited time budget.

Ladybug is creative. I set her to work on the tent. With a stepladder, a tarp, an yardstick, and some packing tape, she creates a very credible tent in our front room while I start our Dutch Oven favorites.
Briz gathers the children around and tells them stories from our past camping trips. They then look at pictures and remember the time dad almost went crazy trying to defend us when a truck alarm went off. After recounting an owl sighting, they read a family favorite, Owl Moon.
We light the "fire" (candle) in our tent, eat, then roast marshmallows. My new favorite roasting marshmallows are the ones covered in a coconut. When roasted, they produce a crispy sweet and crunchy crust on the outside and for whatever reason, a much gooier center. We start roasting over the candle, then switch to the flame on our gas stove, because is was quicker. For singing around the campfire, we sang "Rose" in rounds and "I Love the Mountains". Even my reluctant singer took part. Have you ever examined the beauty of a pea pod? Hold it in front of a flame. The veins and peas are visible and it is quite exciting. Full and sticky, the small campers snuggled up in the tent to watch the movie Dash.

After dark, we took out the flashlights and made shadow pictures on the wall.

I missed the smell of pine, so next time I will spray the pine scent I use on our fake Christmas tree around our tent. The food was amazing but like most good camp food, not number one on the Weight Watcher program. Hot dogs only taste good in the mountains. But I discovered that Dutch Oven tastes just as good in the oven.

Dutch Oven Sausage and Vegetables
This is the quickest and tastiest Dutch Oven dish we make. Only the spices, onion, sausage, and potatoes are constant. The other vegetables are as you wish or whatever is at hand.

1/2 pound cooked smoked sausage
1-2 onions in thin wedges
1-2 cloves garlic
1/2 sweet potato or potato per person (I love sweet potatoes in this dish)
Any other vegetables you have. I have used:
green pepper
2 tsp. thyme
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. rosemary
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Saute the onions, garlic and sausage till onions are soft. Add rest of vegetables, stir till mixed and add the spices. Cover at cook at 350 degree heat for 30 minutes.

Apple Soda Dumplings
These tart sweet buttery morsels are as good and easy as it gets. This is a must try.
2 large Granny Smith apples
1 12 oz. can of lemon-lime soda
2 8 ounce cans refrigerated crescent rolls
1 stick real butter - yes a whole stick
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

1. Use a Dutch oven large enough to fit all apples in one layer.
2. Cut each apple into eight pieces. Wrap each piece in one crescent roll
3. Melt butter in the bottom of the Dutch oven and roll each piece in the melted butter before placing them in the bottom of the pan.
4. Mix cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle mixture over all apple pieces. Carefully add the soda so as not to wash away sugar from the dumplings. It will steam and look really cool.
5. Based on oven size, adjust the amount of briquettes on top and bottom and bake until dumplings turn golden brown. (in conventional oven 30 minutes at 350 degree heat)

The best part of this camping experience is that clean up was easy and I get to sleep in my own bed tonight!

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