Monthly Archives: June 2013

Too Much Bacon on a Camping Trip?

bacon, lawyer 032 Don’t make me laugh! A vital part of the preparation for the much-anticipated Deerslayer Clan camping trip is deciding how much bacon to take. I have a previous post that explains how I prepare the bacon ahead of time and toss it on the griddle to crisp up once we get to the campsite.  The dilemma comes in the decision of “how much is enough?”.

This is a tricky question when it comes to bacon. Sure, everybody loves bacon and eggs for breakfast.  But let’s not forget BLT sandwiches, topping for burgers and baked potatoes, breakfast tacos!  Then there are the countless varieties available on the market.  Thick or thin cut, center cut, peppered, jalapeno, applewood smoked, cider-infused.

As for me, It’s gotta be thick-cut, maple bacon.  Granted, I’ve become somewhat of a “bacon snob” over the years.  There are PLENTY of wine snobs out there, those who turn up their noses at lower priced choices.  A box!?!?  OMG.  The way I look at it, If it suits your palate, and you’re with friends and family, drink it, damn it.  I love the research where boxed wine is poured into bottles from expensive vintners and is slurped up with gusto by the “experts”.  Bless their little, misguided hearts.  I truly believe that the quality of a wine is directly proportional to the quality of the company with whom it is shared.  Bacon is different.  There’s good bacon and exceptional bacon!

My deerslayer came up with a bacon-cooking idea the other day that I was eager to try.  I’ve been cooking bacon in the oven for several years now.  It allows me to prepare 10-12 slices at a time.  His idea produces perfect bacon.

Preheat the oven to 400°.

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Place a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil on a cookie sheet with a 1 inch edge.  I turn up the edges of the foil to catch the bacon drippings.  Place a cooling rack over the foil and lay 10 to 12 slices of bacon on top.  My deerslayer’s idea was to place an additional cooling rack atop the bacon to prevent it from curling.

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 The process was flawless as was the bacon.  Perfect slices after 20-25 minutes (depending on the oven)!

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Posted by on June 21, 2013 in camping, Recipes


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Camping Preparation Continues and Plain Ol’ Easy Venison/Wild Pork Hamburgers

burger 003As we gear up for the big trip to Wyoming and the date draws near, the mess in the kitchen piles higher and higher.  Every time I think of something that I won’t be able to get along without, it goes on the pile.

Yesterday, I worked on the medicine box. After many years of camping/hunting trips, we have, at different times, needed a variety of medications and/or first aid items.   Our box is clear plastic so that we can easily and quickly identify and put our hands on necessary first aid or meds and includes (for all camping trips):

Band-aids, all sizes (including waterproof and stretchy for knuckles), butterfly sutures, triple antibiotic ointment, tweezers, magnifying glass, a needle for spinters and thorns, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and sterile pads & surgical tape

Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, Naproxen, aspirin

Anti-diarrheal meds, Benadryl, Sudafed, Various sore throat and cough lozenges, sore throat spray

Sun screen, aloe gel

Thermacare heat wraps for backs and necks

Any prescription meds required by various campers in your group

Candied ginger (works wonders for upset stomach and motion sickness)

Benadryl capsules – I have discovered that, not only is this med. effective for allergy symptoms, but it has worked for us as a topical relief for itchy insect bites.  My junior deerslayer and I are particularly susceptible to mosquito bites.  We opened a Benadryl capsule, made a paste with water, and applied it topically to the affected bites.  The paste relieved the itching and reduced the swelling.  While I can’t vouch for others, know that we don’t camp without Benadryl capsules close at hand.

Remember, I’ve traveled with or camped with kids for many years.  “Always be prepared” is the mantra of all parents.  Also, I suffer from allergies so I keep a well-stocked medicine box that I update periodically to ensure that nothing is past its expiration date .While many may say that my first aid list seems a little excessive, keep in mind that everyone’s situation and needs are different.   Also keep in mind, though, that nothing can ruin a good camping/hunting trip more than a pesky intestinal or allergy-related problem or a cactus encounter that might have been remedied with just a little fore-thought.

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I’ve chosen to show some of the items that we always have with us. All items fit into the box with the lid closed except for the Thermacare wraps. Notice the magnifying glass.  It really comes in handy for thorns and splinters.

In addition to preparing the first aid box, I’ve continued to plan for our meals for the two weeks we’ll be on our trip.  I’ve prepared and frozen food for four dinners for 50 people.  I’ve decided to bake and freeze Cranberry-Rubbish Muffins for several breakfasts.  I made arrangements with my local source for farm fresh eggs and homegrown tomatoes to pick up plenty of both for the trip.  That will take care of several more breakfasts (huevos con chorizo) and BLT sandwiches for lunch. The homegrown tomatoes will also make for some superb pico de gallo. (My last entry.)

An old stand-by for a fast and fabulous camping meal is Plain Ol’ Easy Venison/Wild  Pork Hamburgers.  These burgers are so flavorful due to just a couple of key ingredients. Garlic and Knorr’s Caldo de Tomate con Sabor de Pollo (Tomato Bouillon with Chicken Flavor).  This stuff is worth its weight in gold.  It also adds beautiful flavor and color to Mexican Rice.  Of course, you doctor them up as you desire with things that you can transport easily.

Plain Ol’ Easy Venison/Wild Pork Hamburgers

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1 lb. ground venison and wild pork

1 egg

3 cloves garlic, chopped (or a tbsp. minced garlic to save time)

1½ tbsp. Knorr’s Pollo y Tomate bouillon (Chicken and tomato)

1 tsp, pepper

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This item is usually found down the soup aisle or with the ethnic foods.

4 Hamburger buns

All the trimmings

1.  In a mixing bowl, combine ground meat, egg, garlic, and bouillon.  Shape into four patties and throw on the grill.  Cook to medium.  Add good cheese (Awesome cheddar or blue cheese) and melt.

2.  Toast buns on a cast iron griddle in some butter or on the grill.

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3.  Doctor up as desired.  Easy Peasy!  Perfect for camping!

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I’ve recently discovered Plochman’s Mustard has a variety with Killian’s Beer. Yum! Also, McIlhenny Farms has a great spicy ketchup. I have very strong feelings about burgers.  There are times when one must be a purist and times to branch out, go crazy, enjoy the thrill of new tastes.

For a camping trip, it’s easy to prepare the meat with the seasonings before leaving home. Hamburger patties could also be prepared ahead.


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Camping and Pico de Gallo (and skinning fajitas!)

fajitas, pico, burgers, corn & poblano soup 021This is the time of year that I enjoy the most.  My younger junior deerslayer and I have finished up her homeschool year.  My older junior deerslayer turned 24 today.  With these milestones under our belts, the entire family has switched into camping mode.  We are pulling out camping lists, preparing menus, and beginning to cook and freeze the meals that we will prepare for the annual Deerslayer Clan camping trip to Wyoming.  This year we will be staying for two weeks.

With plenty of planning, the trip should be twice as much fun as in previous years.  The first thing that we did was to have our camper thoroughly checked out by a local RV place.  They did yearly maintenance that included checking seals all around to insure that everything is water-tight in case of heavy rain.  (It’s been an issue in the past.)  They also checked the batteries and electrical system. (It’s been an issue in the past) They checked the bearings and tire pressure.  (Also been an issue!)

We’ll be filling propane tanks and cleaning out coolers this weekend.

I’ve prepared and frozen 9 dozen wild pork enchiladas.  They were frozen in 9 x 13 casserole pans and transferred to gallon freezer bags. I’ll prepare the gallon of creamy poblano sauce a couple of days before we leave.  I’ve also prepared 1 ½ gallons of bean soup and transferred it to gallon bags which I lay flat on a cookie sheet.  I’ll be making Mexican Rice for 50 people this weekend.  I discovered that parboiled rice doesn’t get sticky and can be reheated in batches with a little broth in a large cast iron skillet and transferred to aluminum trays for serving.

Every year, my Deerslayer prepares fajitas for the entire crew.  This is no small feat!  Fajita meat, also called skirt steaks, requires removing skin (usually even the skinless ones).  For this reason, until the last 20 years or so, fajita meat was some of the cheapest you could buy in the South, because of the work involved in preparation.  With the increased popularity of fajitas nationwide, the cost has continued to rise.  Same amount of work, just quadruple the price.  Go figure!

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Fajitas, like I mentioned before, require skinning.  This process is very similar to removing the silver skin or fascia from venison or elk.  The skin can rather easily be lifted and removed using a sharp filleting knife.  I have my favorite that I bought in the fishing area at Academy Sporting Goods.

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  I keep 2 sizes in the camper and also at home.  I really, really like this knife. Its thin blade makes short work of what could become very tedious with a substandard, dull knife.  My deerslayer has instilled in me a real appreciation for good cutlery.

Last year, I skinned all the fajitas (25 lbs.) at home, packaged them up pretty flat in gallon sized bags so they would thaw easily, and froze them, in the bags on cookie sheets in the freezer.  That way they stacked easily with the other food I prepared.

Before the frozen foods are packed into the coolers on the day we leave, I place several flat gallon bags into a 2 gallon zip bag.  One year, the carne guisada began to thaw once we got up there.  The zip bag had split and we had a big mess in the cooler and no carne guisada!

It’s at this time of the summer in South Texas that fajitas begin to go on sale, usually around Memorial Day and again near the 4th of July.  Some are more flavorful than others.  Some require less skinning than others.  The Deerslayer family becomes guinea pigs right about now.  We purchase fajitas from various grocers and grill them up to see which are the best. Once we’ve come to a consensus on the best flavor for the money, we buy up lots, skin them, package them, and freeze them.  The process isn’t really that painful!  There are several weeks of great grilled fajitas in preparation for the trip.

I give my Deerslayer credit for being “grill-gifted”.  He prepares some amazing feasts.  Usually, he uses McCormick’s meat marinade, but just for a very short time, since it has papaine, a meat tenderizer in it that will turn good meat to paste if you’re not careful.

Even the best fajitas need good tortillas.  The packages that are available in the bread section at the local grocer SHOULD NOT be an option.  I DO realize that not everyone has access to fresh, hot corn tortillas.   There’s nothing to compare to the soft, melt-in-your-mouth fresh corn flavor that can only be attained from fresh hand-made corn tortillas.  In Texas, we are lucky enough to have cook-yourself flour tortillas available in local grocers in the refrigerated section, near biscuits and pie crusts.  They’re worth their weight in gold.  Once you’ve had them, you’ll never go back.  They even freeze!!!  My dear Deerslayer surprised me with a professional-sized griddle to take on our Wyoming trip.  It’ll fit on the Camp Chef propane cooktops.  I can cook about 10 tortillas at a time, or toast as many buns, or heat up thick-cut bacon that I cooked at home, or make about 15 pancakes at once.  That man knows what I like!   He also gave me a beautiful string of pearls for those times that I feel like Julia Child!  Guys, learn!  Girls, weep!  He’s mine!

I’ve gotta say that, without sounding irreverent, fajitas are only as good as the tortillas and toppings that you put on them.  When I say toppings, you need to know that there’s really only one acceptable topping for this meat of kings in the Deerslayer domain; and that topping is Pico de Gallo (the beak of the rooster). My deerslayer uses the recipe that he learned from his father.  The bright, fresh veggies, accented with garlic, vinegar, and oil compliment the meat perfectly.  Here it is, but only with permission!  I’m not sure how “authentic” it is, but it is truly from the Deerslayer Clan.

Pico De Gallo

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1 Large Onion, coursely chopped

2 Jalepenos, chopped, seeds and pithy membranes removed

Garlic, 6 cloves, chopped

Apple cider vinegar, enough to cover

6 Roma Tomatoes, chopped

Cilantro, 1 bunch, chopped, stems removed

Salad oil, a splash 

Kosher salt and pepper taste

Avocado, scooped and chopped

1.  Add chopped onion, jalapenos, garlic in a one-gallon zip bag.   Add enough apple-cider vinegar to cover.  Allow to macerate for at least a couple of hours.

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2.  Transfer to a glass serving dish.

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 Add tomatoes, salt & pepper, cilantro, and avocado.

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Toss with a splash of oil and serve with tortilla chips, homemade if at all possible.  There’s nothing like homemade corn tortilla chips!  Soooo worth the effort!

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3.  Start with corn tortillas from the store.  They don’t need to be fresh.  As a matter of fact, I always toss leftover tortillas into the freezer and save for a batch of tortilla chips.

4.  Add about an inch of cooking oil to a deep-sided cast iron dutch oven.  Heat to medium high heat.  

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5.  Be sure that tortillas are dry.  Prepare one tortilla at a time.  Using tongs, add tortilla to hot oil.  Allow to fry for a couple of minutes until crispy.

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6. Set on a cooling rack atop a cookie sheet.  Immediately sprinkle with kosher salt.

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7.  Enjoy!


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