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good ol’ camping fun {CAMPING TIPS~PART TWO}

Here are a few more tips for camping that I am hopeful will help make your experience more fun! If you missed yesterday’s Camping Tips PART ONE check it out!
::camp cooking::As I mentioned yesterday {but I will say it again}prep for your meals at home {if possible}. Plan out your menu down to the snacks. Plan to cook your most perishable foods the first part of your trip {so if you are having salmon…make it the first night and canned chili…make it the last night}. My goals is that whatever can be done ahead should be done and zip-locked before it goes in to the cooler/food bin. Make sure to write out your menu & your shopping list down to the last detail and be sure to check your lists twice. And remember, you do not have to pack light {unless you have a small car}.

::how i set up my camp kitchen::
I set up the prep area {utensils and cutting board} & stove for my camp kitchen in the same zone. I put it at the end of the picnic table or on a separate table. To make the cooking as easy as possible I hang a trash bag, keep a large bottle of water {with a spout} close by, set my utensils up in a basket & keep my camping bin with all the extras close by. We try to hang paper towel rolls and clothes pins on a rope nearby. There are a bunch of tricks for this kind of thing so do your homework or just do what makes sense to you. Just be sure to make this is set up easy to clean and keep tidy {see my notes below about animals}.

 


::must-have’s for a camp kitchen::
good stove
fuel for stove
pots & pans
salt & pepper
oil/butter
basic pantry items {depending on your menu}
basic utensils {such as wooden spoons & spatula’s}
tongs
a good knife or two
cutting boards
foil
matches/lighter
paper towels
zip-lock bags
tea kettle {for cooking and for heating water to wash dishes}
rags/sponges {for clean-up}
dish soap {biodegradable}
container for washing dishes
dish towels/sponges/rags
rope for hanging towels to dry
citronella candle to keep the bugs at bay

::camping menu ideas::

::Breakfast::
Simple:

  • Cereal, Milk & Fruit
  • Instant Oatmeal {store-bought packs or proportioned at home} & Fruit

More Complicated but Delish:

  • Pancakes, Bacon & Eggs
  • Omelets {with leftover veggies & cheese from the night before} & Hash Browns {store bought}
  • Breakfast Burritos {with leftover cheese, hash browns, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, bacon and large flour tortillas}
  •  Orange Cinnamon Rolls

::Lunch::
Simple:

  • Sandwiches, Chips {individual bags} & Fruit/Veggies
  • Quesadillas with Salsa & Guacamole {Add beans, chicken and or leftover Fajita meet and veggies chopped up} {For basic quesadillas you just need flour or corn tortillas and cheese…large flour tortillas are great for breakfast burritos the next day…add Spanish rice to the menu if you have enough time to make it that night but you will need more time than you think}

More Complicated but Delish:

  • Salads/Sandwiches w/chips & fruit/veggies {bring deli meat or use leftover protein from the night before such as steak, salmon or fajita chicken}
  • *Orzo Pasta Salad {make at home to bring} or Potato Salad {Store Bought or Pre-made at home to bring}

::Dinners::
Simple:

  • Canned Chilli w/ cornbread {store-bought or pre-made at home} or w/ Frito’s/corn chips {great with pre-shredded cheese & onions chopped or sliced plus sour cream}
  • Protein {such as *Flank Steak, Salmon or *Chicken Breasts} w/ Potatoes or Corn on the Cob & Garlic Bread {the Lipton soup dry mix box comes with a great onion potato roasting recipe that we often use and it comes with two packs so we use the other for some onion soup dip…make it in a large foil pack and put on the fire-pit grill…yum. Corn can be cooked in the husks on the grill or boiled in a large stock pot on the camping stove. Also, garlic bread can be bought in a foil bag and put on the grill or make your own and be sure to wrap in foil before putting on the grill}{see pics below for how we made this meal w/ salmon}
  • Pasta w/ pre-made sauce {make *Panfi’s Pasta Sauce or *Katrina’s Spicy Sauce at home or bring your favorite store bought sauce and then you just have to cook noodles and heat all together} & Garlic Bread & Salad {grab a pre-made bag salad such as Ceaser}
  • Hamburgers & Hot Dogs w/ all the fixin’s along with chips and baked beans and/or potatoes

More Complicated but Delish:

  • Fajitas w/ with Salsa, Guacamole, Tortillas & Spanish Rice {chop & marinate the chicken or steak, peppers & onions at home if possible}
  • Veggie & Meat Kabobs over rice {chop/prep & marinate the chicken, shrimp or steak at home if possible} {we like to add peppers, mushrooms, pineapple, zucchini & onions to our kabobs. Some people have each person make their own kabobs and eat their own while others make them family style buy grilling a large batch of skewers and scraping all the cooked meat and veggies onto a large platter of rice}
  • *Mama Morse’s Prize Winning Chili {bring a home-made version like this one} w/ cornbread {if you don’t want buy store-bought or pre-make cornbread from home you can try skillet cornbread with an iron skillet but again you may need a lot of time for this and make sure to bring all the ingredients necessary to make it} {great with pre-shredded cheese & onions chopped or sliced plus sour cream}
  • *Mexican Mountains {one of our family favorites}

::Snacks::
Simple:

  • Store-bought Pretzels
  • Store-bought Pub Mix
  • Store-bought BBQ Potato Chips
  • Chips & Salsa
  • Store-bought Popcorn {or premade at home}
  • Store-bought Cookies {such as Oreos}
  • Trail Mix
  • Fruit/Veggies {pre-washed and chopped if possible}
  • Watermelon
  • S’mores {OF COURSE}

More Complicated but Delish:

  • *Stove-Top Popcorn {a great thing to make when the stove is first on…to curb hungry appetite’s while making the rest of dinner}
  • Homemade cookies or bars such as brownies {pre-made ahead}
  • Onion Dip or Hummus & Veggies
  • *Road Trip Chick Dip or *Roasted Red Pepper & Basil Dip {make at home to bring} w/ chips and veggies for dipping
  • Apples & Peanut/Almond Butter
  • Celery Sticks & Tuna prepared to your liking
***

*don’t forget to grind your coffee at home*

*a few dinner options*
 *s’more set-up*
 
::divide and conquer meals with friends::
If you are going with friends or other families it can really lighten the load to split up meals. We have done this several ways. One family did all breakfasts, one did all lunches and we traded off on the dinners. Or you can have each family do their own breakfasts and lunch {sharing what is left on the last day} and trade off who cooks per night. You can rotate cooking and cleaning too {one family cooks and one cleans up} or something along those lines. However you decide to do it is fine…but I’m telling you it can really make things fun and more simply knowing you don’t have to cook and clean up every meal.::don’t forget about packing-up the food at night::Depending on the kind of animals in the area you are in be sure to clean up your camp kitchen really well at night. Each camping area will give you specifics about what this looks like. In some areas there are special food lockers and trash bins to keep out the animals {like bears} and in other areas putting everything back in the car and just making sure trash is in normal camp dumpsters/bins works. Be sure to check it out when you get there so you don’t learn the hard way by allowing a raccoon party outside your tent while you are asleep!

Hope these tips help…and you come home Happy Campers!

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{STOVE-TOP POPCORN}

favoriteTHINGS Friday
I love popcorn. Love it. While I love the convenience of microwave popcorn…I do not always love the flavors, the calories or the chemicals used in those delicious smelling bags. And I don’t really like to share my popcorn {who does really?}! For some reason everyone always wants it when they hear that pop…but microwave bags only make a small batch! So, a few years ago, in search of a solution I finally figured out how to make a big batch of it on the stove. It’s kind of intimidating at first. I don’t know why but I was totally freaked out by even trying it! And to be honest I have burnt a few pans {one of which is still living with the burn scars} and felt a few flying kernels singe my arms in the process. BUT IT IS SO WORTH IT! It tastes great, you can control the ingredients and you don’t have to stand by the microwave waiting for another batch!
Here is a basic recipe for popping popcorn and how I adapt it to any size pan that I have on hand:
::Stove-Top Popcorn::
What you will need:
Popcorn Kernels
Oil {I like to use Canola or Coconut Oil}
Deep Sauce Pan or Large-Wide Sauce Pan
{If possible I like one with a glass lid that is easy to shake…this is not the time for cast iron}
Large Bowl
Seasoning of Choice
Directions:
1. Pour oil into the saucepan and place on medium high heat. Some recipes call for 2 tablespoons of oil to 2/3 cup of popcorn. I like to just pour a thin layer of oil on the bottom of the pan so that I can make the right amount for whatever pan I have on hand {if you learn to do it this way you can make it at anyone’s house or cabin}!
 2. Set out a bowl…a large bowl…right away so you are ready to dump when the popcorn is ready! This step is important!
3. Pour popcorn into pan. Again, you can use the ratio above {2 tbsp oil to 2/3 cup popcorn} but I like to just pour the popcorn in the pan without measuring…I add enough to cover one thin layer on the bottom of the pan. Some recipes will say to put a few kernels in the pan and wait for them to pop…then add the rest. You can do this but I find it is just as effective to start with them all in the oil at once and it saves a step. Again, this is up to you. DON’T WALK AWAY AFTER THIS STEP! Be sure to babysit your pan until the kernels start to pop.
4. Once they start to pop…cover the pan and start shaking. Gently shake the kernels so they get covered in the oil {the higher the heat, the better the popcorn, but you have to keep shaking or the kernels will burn}. This step will not take very long.
5. When the popping finally slows down and stops {or the popped corn has reached the top of your pan} it is ready to pour into a bowl. This is why I like to use a glass-top pan if possible. Be sure to put the pan back on a different burner with the lid back on or you may get burnt from hot oil flying out of the pan. I have learned this one the hard way!
6. Add your seasonings of choice. You drizzle on melted butter, salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese, lemon pepper, taco seasoning or garlic salt {or any combo of the above}.  I like to keep it simple with no butter. I sprinkle it with sea salt for the kids and set our their portions. Then for my bowl I add a little more sea salt, fresh cracked pepper and garlic salt {and sometimes I add a dash of something spicy like taco seasoning}! If we are having movie night I add a few M&M’s to the bottom of the kids bowls before adding the popcorn for a sweet and salty treat {my sweet friend Amber taught us this trick}!
ENJOY!
Now stop, breath, read the directions again and go for it!
You {and your next movie night at home} won’t be sorry!
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the loveliest tea party birthday for {ALISHA}

About a year and a half ago I got to help my sweet friend Alisha celebrate her birthday with a grown-up tea party.We went to San Francisco for a lovely afternoon at Crown & Crumpet. It has recently moved locations, but let me tell you that I cannot wait to check out the new spot when I get the chance. The decor and atmosphere were lovely and the food & tea were even better!
This creative girl made us little tea box favors…even though it was for her birthday…how cute is that?
These home-made crumpets were so good that I went on a crumpet kick for a while after I had them. Trader Joe makes some that you can toast up and drizzle with butter and honey…YUM! I’m licking my lips just thinking about it!
Pretty Lady…Love this Girl!
I love Alisha! Let me count the ways! I love her parents & siblings {they have been dear family friends for years} and I love her hubby and kids. We went to high school together and church youth group. She moved back to the Bay Area around the same time as us and it was such a treat to get to know her again after years of living apart. Our kids are pretty close in age and love playing together! I trust her so much that she is the person I called to pick up Paige the day my dad died. She took her and kept her busy and happy and fed her…I was so comforted in knowing that Paige was in good hands while we were at the hospital. She loves her family so well, loves God, is a loyal friend and always makes me laugh! Lets just say I adore this sweet, creative, funny, loving girl!
Alisha with her mom and sister…it was a sunny & beautiful day in the City!
And then it was time to go.
look at these cute girls…they have been friends since high school…i love it!
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paigey’s {PINEAPPLE} present drink

Paigey & I invented this little drink recently.  It’s so tasty & very refreshing & simply lovely!
She named it “Pineapple Present Drink” so that is what we call it! Enjoy!
I used a sweetened lime juice because that is what I had but freshly squeezed lime would be great as well!  If you wanted to make it a grown up drink add a shot of vodka, some tequila or even a light ginger beer would be delish!
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