Saturday, June 23, 2012


A few weekends ago (and ambitiously early in terms of my tolerance for outdoorsy activities), we packed up our world and trekked it out to Spray Lakes. For someone with a near-complete disinterest in the discomfort of the outdoors, I needed a beautiful setting, good company, and really good food in order to get to the point of suspended disbelief and settle into enjoying the escape. 

Our first trip to Spray Lakes was last year and while there was a general state of preparedness, there was one tremendous misstep, which led to one tremendous meltdown. We each thought that the other had put the bag full of blankets in the car..... it was cold..... there was one sleeping bag between the two of us..... there was ugly crying..... need I say more?

Well, we made it through (without driving back home in the middle of the night) and in true Christine fashion, we laid everything out upon arriving home and now have itemized Excel packing lists, prepacked tubs of gear, and dedicated camping blankets whose sole purpose is to get us through the camping cold snaps. 

So, obviously, the first thing that made it to the car this year was a tub full of blankets (haha!) and we got on the road and out to our little hideout in Spray Lakes. We even managed to procure our same campsite, which just made everything so familiar and lovely. It really is the perfect site. And because I was packed up and felt prepared (basically since last summer), I had the time and energy to focus on the part that I really love... the food!

Our Friday supper to Monday breakfast featured:
Friday Supper - Hamburgers with Corn and Black Bean Salad

Saturday Breakfast - Sourdough Toast with Farm Eggs and Bacon
Saturday Lunch - Grilled Pizza
Saturday Dinner - Chicken Mole Tacos and Corn Salad
Saturday Dessert - Grilled Pineapple with Bailey's Chocolate Dipping Sauce
Sunday Breakfast - Steak and Eggs with Sourdough Toast
Sunday Lunch - Was supposed to be leftover tacos and salad but breakfast was hearty!
Sunday Dinner - Grilled Chicken, Corn, and Asparagus (by Chris and Beth)
Sunday Dessert - Greek Yogurt Tiramisu and Des's Fancy Smores
Monday Breakfast - Chocolate Croissants and Coffee, Spinach Frittata and Toast (by Cary and Des)
With lots of smores, fruit, and other snacks strewn throughout...

It really was a simple shopping list that could combine into some really fantastic meals. 

With the help of Momma R, who happened to be in town, I made a few things in advance - corn and black bean salad, a loaf of sourdough bread, pizza dough, and my greek yogurt tiramisu.

Corn and Black Bean Salad, Sourdough, and Pizza Dough
Loosely based on a recipe like this Giada one (there is no jicama in our version... and a few other tweaks because we're poor at measuring in recipes like this), the corn and black bean salad just gets better and better as it sits and the flavours mingle together. The sourdough was my new mainstay loaf and the pizza dough was a spin on the same recipe. I made a half recipe for the pizza and added a bit more flour to yield a bit of a stiffer dough. I baked the sourdough and the pizza dough was put into plastic bags and frozen. Last, the greek yogurt tiramisu was made. 

Greek Yogurt Tiramisu

I've wanted to adapt a more classic tiramisu for a while now and this seemed like a perfect opportunity since the dessert would only benefit from being made in advance and the flavours combining more and more. There are so many tiramisu "recipes" out there (like Anna Olson's here), so don't be afraid to take a bit from column A and a bit from column B as you create your own signature tiramisu. I combined equal parts of softened cream cheese with honey greek yogurt (one cup to one cup), added one tablespoon of agave syrup to each 2 cup cream cheese-yogurt mixture, and some cold coffee to loosen the mixture and add extra flavour. Then I combined equal parts cold coffee and bailey's to make the 'dredge' for my lady fingers (I use those pretty sugared ones from the Italian market). So, start layering! Smear some of your coffee cream on the bottom of your container. Dip your lady finger in your spiked coffee (I let them get a nice soak but not so much that they are falling apart), then layer them on the cream base. Once you have a complete layer of dipped lady fingers, add another layer of cream, then repeat until your container is full. The final layer should be the coffee cream. On that top layer, grate a nice amount of dark chocolate. Seal. (Depending on which night you are planning to eat this, you can just refrigerate it or if it is later in the trip, you can freeze it. We were eating it on Sunday, so it went into the freezer and, once camping, it thawed nicely in the cooler by then.)

The yogurt added a great zing to the tiramisu and the omission of the eggs was reassuring given the less than dependable chilling situation of camp coolers. I'd definitely make this again. 


Who doesn't love a little Saturday morning camp Scrabble??

Starting the day with a great breakfast is something that I really look forward to on our camping trips. I find that the fresh air not only tires you out early (I never managed to stay awake too late) but it also wakes you up early... with a big appetite to satiate. We really enjoyed crawling out of the tent, starting that first fire, then putting on the coffee while we readied the rest of the meal. You're going to be packing bread regardless, so why not pack a beautiful flavourful loaf (whether homemade or made with love by someone else)? 

Vibrant yellow yolks of fresh farm eggs were another plus. Bacon speaks for itself. 

Doug's Breakfast Sandwich

And on that Sunday morning, the quick grilled steak, still nicely rare but kissed by the fire, was such a luxurious start that you can't help but be excited about the day ahead. 

Grilled Pizza
The grilled pizza was a highlight of our camping weekend. As I mentioned, I made a stiffer version of my sourdough for a lovely flavourful crust. 

So, to grill pizza, you can cook right on the campfire grill or on a cast iron (pan or griddle). After forming your dough into a pizza disc and letting it rest for a few minutes, flip or toss the dough onto the grill. Let the bottom cook and crisp up. 

When the dough looks as though it has cooked halfway through or achieved the colour that you like (this only took about two minutes with that hot grill), flip the pizza over. Now you sauce and top the cooked side accordingly. We used a tomato sauce that we amended with some fresh basil, salt and pepper, and balsamic vinegar, then layered Italian salami and cheese. 

Once the cheese was melted and bubbling, we knew we were set. We transferred the pizza to the cutting board and everyone dug right in. I had designs on a dessert pizza too but it didn't quite happen... next time. 

Mole Mole Mole.
The mole wasn't my favourite meal of the day but it was a really fun attempt and something that I had wanted to try for some time (enter: Rick Bayless's Oaxacan Black Mole). 

I think that stews or chili or something like a mole is a great enterprise for a full day of camp-side cooking. Why not try out a lengthy recipe that you haven't been able to find time for at home? As long as you can manage the cooking using whatever implements and techniques that are transferrable to the camp, it is a great way to spend a day! Stoke the fire, stir your dinner, and make all of your camp-neighbours exceedingly jealous with your gourmet creation. 

Grilled Pineapple, Strawberries, and Bailey's Chocolate Fondue
The grilled pineapple with chocolate fondue was amazing. I first encountered the grilled pineapple in  Nigella's Forever Summer. It's one of my favourite summer desserts. Well, it might now become one of my favourite camping desserts. I chopped up my pineapple and skewered each piece with a bamboo skewer. Each piece of pineapple was given a light sprinkling of sugar, then set in a bowl. I then chopped some beautiful ripe strawberries and added them to the bowl as well. 

No fussing required for this chocolate fondue either. I poured one cup of bailey's into my little saucepan (which happens to be a Le Creuset thrift store find... absolutely perfect and was a mere $5). Once the bailey's was warm, I melted about three squares of baking chocolate (I think I had two squares of semi-sweet and one of the dark chocolate) into it. That's it! Clearly, this isn't fondue for kids but that is just fine because you won't want to share anyway.

Caramelize your pineapple on the grill, dip, slurp, and enjoy. Dip those fresh strawberries or warm them too. They're tasty regardless. 

Grilled Chicken, Corn, and Asparagus
Another highlight was the grilled chicken, corn, and asparagus. 

The chicken was rubbed by a slightly tweaked version of Martha Stewart spice rub made by Beth (apparently this spice rub makes frequent appearances in their home cooking). The asparagus wasn't given too much fuss... salt and pepper and fresh lemon. The corn was grilled like this wrapped and flavoured corn of past summers using more of the spice rub and some beautiful olive oil. 

There was hardly a piece of chicken left as we all gorged ourselves on this meal.

Classic and Fancy Smores

Let's not forget about one of my favourite camping treats, whether completely basic or elevated, I absolutely love campfire smores. We bought the little smores kit from Superstore, which is a great pack. You get all of the marshmallows, graham crackers, and (actually decent) chocolate that you could possibly need. And it's good value - it would be much more to buy all of the components separately. But we were also treated to Des's fancy smores, which featured jumbo marshmallows, hazelnut chocolate, and Italian pizzelle cookies (which are the prettiest waffle like cookie). Now those were truly a treat. 

Final Breakfast
Our last meal of the trip started with hot coffee and luxurious chocolate croissants. Following that (as though we even needed more) was a beautiful spinach frittata cooked on the camp stove while the bacon and focaccia was cooked on the fire. 

So, if you are so inclined, I would whole-heartedly recommend giving your typical camping menu a bit of a shake-up. Every meal felt like such a treat and it made the whole experience just that much better.

1 thought(s):

Calantha said...

I am so impressed with care and preparation you took to have great meals while on an outdoor vacation. I dream of doing the same, and always picture myself making delicious stews over the fire, roasted tortillas and tomatoes, and with a pack of prepared foods tucked away somewhere too. But in the end I always give into laziness. I survived on raw vegetables and bread when I went on my cabin vacation, I kid you not. Needless to say, I dropped a few pounds, hah hah!

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