Camping Roundup Summer 2014

Dan and I made the most of this summer’s beautiful weekends with 5 camping trips between May and September–the most we’ve done in one season so far. We had two goals this year: to host one group camping trip with our friends, and to go to state parks we hadn’t been to before. In addition to Little River and Silver Lake, these are the other adventures: Continue reading

Camp Stove Converts

I’m the default cook in the kitchen, and it’s still the case when we go camping for the weekend. I plan the meals, prep the components and make it happen onsite. For this I’m rewarded with numerous kisses.

We’d been cooking at camp over the open fire, as we did according to our memories growing up—the hot dogs on a stick, the s’mores, the coffee in its blue percolator. Opening the tent up to the warm, fruity aroma of coffee can’t be beat, nor can the burnt crustiness of a scorched hot dog. It’s what gives camping its charm and the enjoyment of nature its naughtiness.

But when the wood is wet, or the fire isn’t lighting, and it takes an hour to boil water, roughing it takes its toll. And since Dan’s in charge of the fire and I’m in charge of the food, it’s a real situation when he can’t make fire because I haven’t made coffee because he hasn’t made fire…

One of the many changes we made to our camping routine this year was to cook by propane stove. It was all Dan’s idea.

DB Cooking at Half Moon 2013

Firing it up for pancakes at Half Moon Pond.

But it’s made camping so much easier for the both of us. It gives both of us agency—Dan can make his coffee when he wants it, and I can make a cooking fire when I need it. The biggest and best changes are that  (a) it has cut down on total prep/cook/clean up time, allowing us to do other stuff, like hiking and (b) it has allowed us to expand our menu to include things like seared salmon with balsamic fig vinaigrette.

Now that we’re no longer “roughing it”, I am taking much more seriously my role as camp cook. I chop, cut, measure and mix before hand as much as I can so that we take only what is necessary. I’ve whittled us down to three essential stovetop pieces: the coffee pot, the 8” cast iron skillet, and the All-Clad double burner griddle.

We’re cleaning up and stowing our gear for next summer. During the offseason, I will still try to plan our menus and perfect the camp kitchen. I asked Dan what recipe I should share with this post, and he suggested goat cheese quesadillas, something we had just about every trip. It’s been our go-to Friday eve dinner, since it’s deliciously filling and doesn’t require much effort.

Quesedillas

Don’t forget the salsa and sour cream!

We got the inspiration from Campfire Cuisine by Robin Donovan (Random House, 2013). But who needs a recipe? It’s just tortillas and some goat cheese. We swear by Vermont Creamery.

Our model was a Coleman Perfectflow Instastart 2 burner stove. Coleman did not pay me to endorse this product. Photos are mine, taken from this summer. 

Related:

Camping Season 2013 FTW

2013 Venture Vermont Challenge

2013 Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge

Whoa—I’ve just found out about this awesome challenge offered by the Vermont State Parks: The 2013 Venture Vermont Challenge. Dan and I have already decided to make more camping trips this year, and so participating in this challenge will add another level of fun for us.

Dan and I are not back-to-nature people. We also have no kids or pets that we travel with. Some of our friends were surprised to know that we enjoy this sort of recreation. Our daily “city” life in Montpelier is absent of forestry, animal tracking or wilderness survival. And perhaps that is what makes weekend camping so necessary for us.

For us the break from technology and immersion into nature is our main benefit. Plus, both of us had enjoyable times in campgrounds growing up, and we have nostalgia for them. Dan used to go camping with his grandparents. My family used to go picnicking on Saturdays during the summer.

Photo of Dan at Ricker Pond. 2012

Dan manages to set the grate of the fire pit at our site at Ricker Pond. 2012.

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