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Monthly Archives: July 2013

What It’s All About (Camping for Non-Campers)

camping prep 020There are so many reasons that campers camp.  My first camping experiences were not the greatest.  Nature was not my friend. Nobody said there would be bugs or that I would have to sweat.  Veteran campers never brought up the whole “powder room” issue.  It REALLY should have come up at some point, although I’m not sure when would be an appropriate time.  In retrospect, I should’ve researched, bought a book, or read a blog.  Oh yeah!  There weren’t blogs when I started camping.

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After my first camping trip with my Deerslayer (and a very small junior deerslayer) I was ready to throw in the proverbial towel.  I’d had my brush with nature and was ready to call it a day.  My very handsome Deerslayer was very persuasive, however, and I headed out for a second, and then a third trip.  Each time, I learned a couple of things, wrote down things that I’d forgotten to bring (enough warm clothes, gloves), things that I didn’t know I needed until I was without them (eye drops, allergy meds, tissues, anti-itch spray), and determined which extras it would take to get a non-nature type back into the wilderness (a plastic stemmed wine glass and bottle of Prosecco). Each time I headed out with my tiny junior deerslayer in tow and the ever-increasing admiration of the Love of my Life, I was a bit better prepared, less cranky, and open to all that camping has to offer.

camping prep 029Over the years our camping trips have allowed us to have family time in beautiful laid-back settings.  The ability to sit outside watching the stars, telling stories of camping trips of years past is priceless.  Some of our trips have evolved into precious family reunions.  One of my favorite camping moments now is early in the mornings when those who rise early show up at our camper with (or without) a coffee mug.  camping prep 008After a while, the camper is full of the early-morning-coffee-drinkers talking in hushed voices (My Deerslayer is usually trying to sleep!)  We all head to the community campsite and carry on the coffee drinking and story-telling until mid-morning.  The teens start to stir, so appreciative when they realize that breakfast is underway on one of the propane cookstoves.  

It’s magical when three generations share stories, coffee, food, and enjoy just being together. The senior members of the group look forward to the annual camping get-together as much as the teens.  It’s what camping is all about for me.  It’s a part of my life that I almost missed out on.  If I hadn’t made the effort (and lists) I would’ve missed out!  

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My advice to non-campers who might be thrust into a “nature experience” is to have a sense of humor (I did not!), write down what you need for “next time” (It will give you a subconscious mind set that I didn’t have!)  Following my advise will allow non-campers to skip the cranky phase of of the process.

Trust me,”it’s what it’s all about”.

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2013 in camping, Uncategorized

 

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Now I’m Cookin’!

camping prep 025Some women love jewelry.  Some can’t live without chocolates or perfume.  There are those who live for furs. And don’t forget the flowers. My Deerslayer   knows what tickles my fancy, blows my skirt up, sends me swooning.

For our camping trip to Wyoming this year, he presented me with a Camp Chef propane cookstove, a full-sized griddle, and carrying cases for both.  I’m starting to get light-headed just sharing.  Truly my hubby is the most romantic man on the planet.  Of course, in the same way that some men benefit from the gifts they give their wives, like lingerie, my Deerslayer realized that he would also benefit from the gifts he bestowed upon me.  The pancakes, tortillas, toasted hamburger buns, and don’t forget the bacon!  With my new gifts, there was enough love to go around.

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I’d been coveting the propane cookstove that I’d seen during last year’s trip.  While I knew that the coveted cookstove would again be present, I knew that the group would benefit from an additional source of heat.  (And I really wanted one of my own for the hunting camp.)  I also  realized, then, the need for a full-sized griddle as we struggled to make pancakes using a couple of cast iron skillets and a small stove-top cast iron griddle.  Our feeble substitutions simply were not up to the task.  The new full-sized griddle (ordered from Camp Chef) exceeded my expectations!  Pancakes and tortillas, up to ten at a time kept pace with our hungry clan. The entire surface could be covered with bacon, precooked and just needing a quick crisp-up!  Hurray!
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I couldn’t wait to show off my new stuff, flaunt my wares, if you will.  It was truly a red carpet event that called for something kinda special!  There were those who thought the shoes were a bit over the top.  To them I say, well, I won’t actually share what I said.  It’s how we roll at the Deerslayer Clan camp. (Actually, the shoes filled with sand and spiked me firmly into the ground but I looked amazing and the milestone was given the pomp and circumstance that it deserved.)

The first night that I was scheduled to prepare a dinner for 40, a huge wind storm erupted, which kept blowing out the flames on my cookstove.  My deerslayer and several other chivalrous gents set up a plywood windbreak around my cooking area.  They really saved the day!

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You may have noticed that my new new Camp Chef cookstove is emblazened with the the “Browning” logo.  True enough.  But made by Camp Chef all the same.  The “Camp Chef” logo is embossed on the right-hand side.  Mine was purchased from Bass Pro Shop.  Camp Chef model: $169.00, Browning model (identical except for logo): $99.00.  Mine works beautifully, does everything that I need done, and with the difference (and a little extra), my Deerslayer ordered the griddle!  I’m loving my new toys.  I’d really suggest ordering the special carrying cases for the cooktop and griddle, as well.  Everything stays together and packs more easily.

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This is what love looks like!

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2013 in camping, Hunting, Recipes

 

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Too Many Coolers on a Camping Trip?

camping prep 004Welllllll… the Deerslayer’s wife would’ve said, “Yup!”  I would’ve drawn the line at the 6 other Igloo coolers that we already own.  But these are Yeti coolers!  And they’re made in TEXAS.  Talk to any hunter about coolers and a distinct reverence is suddenly detected.  Mention Yeti coolers and hunters begin to cast their eyes down and genuflect.

I’d heard the talk, detected the reverence so I knew what my Deerslayer would get for Christmas a couple of years ago.  I gotta tell ya, I really thought it would be just another cooler, a really upper-end cooler, but another cooler just the same.  I hate to admit that even I now share the respect for these coolers.  After years of melted ice, and lukewarm, waterlogged foods I was amazed by what the Yeti coolers can do.  They keep frozen foods frozen for days, all the way to Wyoming from South Texas and several days after that as a matter of fact!  Now, this entry was not intended to provide advertising for the Yeti company. However, when I find an amazing product that can so dramatically improve a hunting/camping experience, I’d be remiss not to share with my readers. While the Yeti coolers are pretty pricey, they really are worth a look at www.yeticoolers.com.

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It’s already been definitively determined that there is no such thing as too much bacon for any camping and/or hunting trip.  And while I haven’t discussed the fact, neither can there be too many enchiladas, gallons of beans or pico de gallo, pounds of fajitas or brisket or potato salad, (or Prosecco or beer)!  Our recent trip to Wyoming was for 40+ people who were extremely appreciative of my cooking, availability and willingness to prepare fresh percolated coffee, and my willingness to make pancakes for the many teenaged family members in the mornings.

While most camping trips won’t need to accommodate this many people, over the years, the Deerslayer and I have honed the art of safe food transport. I have to admit that we used every one of the coolers in the picture. There are several tricks we’ve learned over the years that really make a difference when keeping packed food cold and/or frozen.  Before a camping trip, we fill gallon jugs with water and freeze them.  The frozen jugs are then used to “pre-chill” the coolers prior to packing.  Starting with a pre-chilled cooler is worth the extra time.  The jug can also be placed with refrigerated foods so that they don’t end up sitting in water.  It’s always important to plan which foods will be prepared first.  Those items should be packed together so that coolers aren’t opened unnecessarily.  This year, we tried something new; we labeled the coolers so that we knew what was where, which prevented unnecessary loss of cold while rummaging through coolers.  This worked really well.

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The frozen fajitas and brisket were prepacked and vacuum sealed. They weren’t needed during the first few days of the trip and so were packaged together. Once the dry ice was added, there was no need to open the cooler again except to check the contents once or twice before thawing.

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All of these items except the tortillas were needed for the first meal. Once they came out of the cooler, it could be used for ice (a couple of trips to the ice house were needed for the non-Yeti campers.

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It saved so much time knowing what was in each cooler.

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I’m sure you’re getting the idea by now.

Two of the middle coolers, called “105’s” held all the frozen food we needed for 4 meals for 40 people. In a previous post, I mentioned that I freeze foods like beans and carne guisada flattened in one-gallon zip bags so they stack easily.   I added one block of dry ice, wrapped in a paper sack and kitchen towel to each cooler.  The bottom cooler  (a 125) held a week’s worth of iced beverages for four people.  The others held all of our refrigerated foods.  We used every single one and they performed amazingly.

Just an added note on how strongly the hunters feel about their Yeti coolers:  The Deerslayer’s sister and her spouse were recently on a trip to Italy.  Spouse received a text message (in Italy) that he shared. “Mike got a Yeti!”

Deerslayer’s sister asked, “Who’s Mike Gottayetti?”

It’s just a Deerslayer thang!

 
 

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