Thursday, April 9, 2009

Camping Preview

When Jim was younger his family camped quite often. He once told me a story about him and his two younger brothers who bought or brought coon skin caps with them one camp trip. It was a Texas summer and those three boys wore their very hot coon skin caps for three days straight! Jim laughs when he tells the story because he remembers how much he loved that hat and how ridiculous the three of them must have looked.
Last month Jim and I visited Washington on the Brazos, and I just HAD to have a picture of Jim wearing this coon skin hat we found in the gift store. Priceless!

This is a little unusual for me, a post without pictures. It is because I’m going to share my weekend menu plan with you before any of it is even made. Jim and I are camping this Easter, like we have the last two years together. I look forward to this camping trip every year and it seems to come at a time when I really need to get the hell out of dodge. The camping gear has already been pulled out of storage, dog sitter is lined up – the only thing left to do is grocery shop and pack for our meals. This is the really fun part in my opinion. As a planner, I really enjoy mapping out each meal and seeing how I can use the leftovers from one meal as part of the next meal. Tonight when I’m finished grocery shopping (yes, I know it is late) I will come home and clean produce, measure out ingredients, put in baggies and label…oh how I love to label. I will do as much as I can do ahead of time so I’m not searching for things while camping. When we are out there in the middle of nowhere I don’t want any stress. I want it to just be me and my coleman stove. I like to take my time cooking and then sit down with Jim and serve a gourmet meal under the blue sky or stars. So here is my plan, let me know what you think of all this.

Friday Breakfast – Cinnamon Rolls
Store bought cinnamon rolls that I will bake in my oven while we pack the car. Then I package these up in to-go containers and we eat them on the drive up (and hopefully we swing through a starbucks too.)

Friday Lunch – Fried Chicken Salad
Tonight I will marinade chicken in low fat buttermilk and two squirts of hot sauce in a zip top bag and throw in fridge. In the morning this goes into the ice chest. After we get the tent and camp site set up I will take the chicken out of the marinade and season with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and paprika. Dredge in flour, dredge in homemade ranch dressing, dredge in flour again. Heat canola oil to 360 and cook for 10 minutes or until crispy brown. Slice and serve over baby spinach with bacon pieces, shredded cheese and ranch dressing. Tonight I will pre-make the homemade ranch dressing: Mash 1 clove garlic with a little salt. Mix garlic paste with 1 cup mayonnaise 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/4 to 1/2 cup buttermilk or regular milk, to taste. Add 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley, 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, 1 to 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill, more if desired. Store in airtight container in fridge and throw in ice chest in the morning. Ranch is also a great snack with crisp carrots while camping.

Friday Dinner – Standard Steak, Potatoes, Corn on the Cob
I say standard because when we camp this is always one of our dinners. Jim would be terribly disappointed if I left it off the menu. Tonight I will season the steaks with Saltgrass 7 seasoning and put in a zip top bag. I will also clean and butter the corn on the cob, season with salt and pepper and wrap in foil, twisting the ends closed. The potatoes will be prepped the same way. Before the sun goes down Jim will start the fire and I will put the foil wrapped potatoes right on the campfire, followed by the foil wrapped corn and the steaks. Everything is cooked over an open flame! Potatoes are served with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, bacon pieces (which I will fry up here at the house and bring in a zip top bag).

Saturday Breakfast – Bloody Mary’s and Breakfast Tacos
I’m going to bring along a spicy bloody mary mix and serve up a spiked morning beverage along with breakfast tacos. The breakfast tacos will be black beans (from a can) and scrambled eggs with bacon pieces and my homemade vera cruz salsa on a flour tortilla. A hearty breakfast is necessary for the hiking we plan on doing Saturday.

Saturday Lunch – Simple Sandwiches
Super easy sandwiches. I will bring sandwich bread, cold cuts of meat and sliced deli cheese along with condiments like mayo and mustard. We will also have the spinach from Friday’s lunch if either of us want greens on the sandwich. I was thinking that we could even cook these between two pans and make our own Panini press if that sounds good at the time. We will be coming back from our morning hike and starving, so a quick bite is exactly what we need.

Saturday Dinner – Walnut Pesto Chicken and Egg Noodles with Basil Cream Sauce
Tonight I will marinade the chicken in store bought pesto, then throw in the cooler before we leave in the morning. Also in my cuisinart I will blend walnuts with bread crumbs, bring in a zip top bag. Saturday night I will beat eggs in bowl. Dip pesto marinated chicken in walnuts, then eggs, then walnut mixture again. Saute chicken in olive oil over medium heat until brown and crispy. Boil water and add egg noodles, cooking until al dente. Meanwhile, melt 2 tbs butter until bubbling slightly, add 2 tbs flour, and cook until golden brown. Add cream or half and half, stir to incorporate. Add goat cheese, stir until melted. Add spices like onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper (if needed). If the sauce tightens too much, thin with milk. Add chopped basil about 5 minutes before the pasta is al dente, simmer on low. When pasta is finished, add the basil cream sauce. Serve chicken on top of pasta. So this recipe is from three different sources and I made up bits here and there. In my head this meal works because the pesto has basil in it and the creamy sauce will have basil in it. Sounds yummy, right? I feel hopeful that I can pull this off at a camp site.

Sunday Breakfast – French Toast
Combine 1/2 cup whole milk with 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1 and a half eggs, ½ teaspoon vanilla, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and ¼ cup bourbon in pie plate. Heat skillet over medium-low heat for a minute or 2, then grease the pan with a teaspoon or more of butter. When the butter starts to sizzle turn the heat up a touch. Dip the bread into the batter, coating each side for 20 seconds, then gently shake off any excess batter and put the battered bread directly into the preheated pan. Cook the French toast 5 to 6 minutes in total, flipping once or twice, until golden brown. Serve with warmed maple syrup and a side of bacon.

Sunday Lunch - Sandwiches
We will be busy cleaning the camp site and packing everything up so Sunday lunch has got to be an easy grab and go meal. With the tortillas from Saturday’s breakfast I could even to a meat and cheese roll up for lunch. Maybe I should pack some cream cheese too. I love tortillas rolled up with some cream cheese, spinach (Friday’s lunch), deli meat (Saturday’s lunch).

Snacks – Pringles, grapes, carrots, something sweet like cookies that won’t melt in the Texas heat.
Drinks – Red Wine, Bud Select, White Wine, Bloody Mary Mix, Vodka, Hot Chocolate and okay, I will throw in some water.

That is our plan, wish me luck. I hope everyone has a wonderful and happy Easter weekend!


  1. Mandy...

    I am beyond impressed!!! I keep telling my husband that we should go camping (I am actually only thinking of s'mores)...I have never been. Then last week, we went for a family walk in the forest near our house. As I was draggin my heels, batting away bugs, I thought...camping may not be for me. :) But, YOUR kind of camping sounds fabulous!

  2. My goodness..that is one might fine camping menu!!! No hot dogs and baked beans from the can??????

  3. Wow, you are soooo organized! And your meals sound delicous! I hope you had fun. I want to go camping now.


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