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Category Archives: camping

Sometimes the Simplest Things Make a Big Difference

It’s deer season in South Texas !  So it’s time to head out for the big hunt!  Getting the all the STUFF to the hunting camp can often be one of the biggest problems for hunters, though, bigger than deciding which rifle to take. If you’ve got an SUV, you’re golden. Everything can be shoved in the back, usually up to the ceiling and packed in tight! I always chuckle when I pass these guys going down the highway.  There’s barely room for the hunters, the beer, and all the stuff.  Ya gotta wonder if a hunter got left behind to make room for the beer!

But if you head out in a pick-up truck, you need something a little more sturdy and weather resistant in which to pack the necessities. The sleeping bags (or bedding if you have that luxury), towels, food, various tools, ammo, etc. will need to  be kept safe from the wind, dust, and possibly rain. Everything can be thrown into the back of the truck, maybe in trash bags.  I’m not going to pretend that we haven’t traveled that way in the past. If you’ve had stuff blow out of the bed, then you throw heavy things on top of “fly-away” things.

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We learned the value of plastic storage containers quite a while ago.  While they are a step up from trash bags, be warned.  There are an endless variety of containers on the market.  Many just won’t hold up to the rigors of the trip.

We’ve discovered that there are certain things to consider when choosing containers for hauling supplies in the bed of a truck:

  • Choose boxes that are reinforced with recessed grids.  They seem to be much stronger for repeated use.
  • Be sure that the boxes fit securely one atop the other when stacked with lids on. Boxes like the one pictured above come in several similar but not identical sizes.  On three trips to Home Depot, we purchased three slightly different boxes with lids that weren’t interchangeable and that didn’t stack.
  • When empty, make sure that the boxes nest one inside the other.  It will make it easier for the return trip.
  • If you have a chance, label each box with the contents so you don’t have to constantly be looking in all the boxes for your socks, or ammo, or cereal.
  • If inclement weather is possible, pack your stuff in plastic garbage bags in the boxes.  While the boxes will go a long way toward keeping your belongings dry, they are not entirely waterproof.
  • We discovered that the lids, (even the “locking” kind) can sometimes pop off, which can cause them to blow out of the truck!

wp-image--2034384424These clips can be purchased at any hardware store.  They secure the lid without affecting the ability to stack the boxes.

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I know that this seems like an awful lot of advice for something that seems pretty insignificant, but carefully choosing the storage containers that you use to haul your stuff can not only  save you money and protect your possessions but, more importantly, it can save a hunting trip!

 

 

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Grocery List for Three Meals at the Hunting Camp

For me, one of the most difficult things to plan for when heading out for a weekend at the hunting camp is what groceries to take.  I don’t want to take so much food that it will end up back in the cooler and brought home again.  Also, we don’t always want to grill for every meal so I figured out a way to get three meals out of one evening at the BBQ grill.

With the list of groceries that I’m going to share, you can prepare grilled chicken and vegetables, huevos rancheros, and grilled chicken tacos; one evening at the grill, three meals.  Of course some of the veggies can vary according to preference.  The veggies needed for the tacos and huevos rancheros will be indicated.

Grocery list:

  • chicken thighs (about 2 for each person plus one extra per person for the tacos)
  • one red bell pepper per person (bell pepper will also be used in the tacos)
  • 1 small onion per person, thinly sliced (can be served with the chicken, will be used in huevos rancheros and tacos)
  • 1 jalapenño per person, stem end, seeds removed (will be used in the huevos rancheros and tacos)
  • other veggie of choice to grill for dinner the first night, suggestions include, asparagus, yellow or zucchini squash (or calabaza if you can get it),  or whatever you prefer
  • olive oil or olive oil cooking spray
  • seasoned salt
  • 2 eggs per person
  • 2 cans of fire roasted tomatoes
  • Flour tortillas, the cook-yourself kind if you can find them in the refrigerated biscuit section of your grocer
  • grated cheddar cheese for tacos

Along with the items on the grocery list, pick up a stack of small aluminum pans.  They make clean up so much easier.

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Cut ends off peppers, remove seeds and inner membrane, remove stem from squash and quarter length-wise, quarter onion, coat with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with seasoned salt

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Set hot charcoal on one side.  Place aluminum pan with seasoned chicken on opposite side.

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After chicken has cooked for a while, add veggies and cook until chicken is cooked through and veggies are tender.

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Meal one.

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Meal two:  Take leftover onions, jalapeno pepper, and half can of fire-roasted tomatoes. Heat through. Push off to one side.  Add eggs and cook as desired.  We prefer our eggs over easy.

 

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My favorite canned tomatoes!

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Meal Three:  Chicken Tacos.   Heat up some flour tortillas.

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Chop up leftover chicken.

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Combine and heat chicken, other half of the canned tomatoes, any leftover grilled onion and jalapeno.

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Great chicken tacos

 

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Getting Ready for Deer Season/ Making a List and Checking It Twice

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Like most avid hunters, we’ve been using this time before deer season begins to set up feeder pens and feeders, figure out game cameras (not as easy as one might think) and basically just start getting things ready to roll before opening day.

For the first time ever, we are working on OUR VERY OWN hunting ranch and there’s sooo much to do. We’ve brought our camper out here so it’s acting as our home base for the time being. There is a small cinder block building on the property that had been a hunting cabin in years gone by. It’s going to require much loving care before I’m ready to call it my home away from home, however. The mice love it, though. They’ve set up shop and have called every flat surface their own personal potty spot. Like I said, much work to do.

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One of the problems we’ve experienced as we make the 7 hour journey back and forth from our home in South Texas to our ranch in the Hill Country is remembering what supplies we need to bring and what’s still at the ranch. What non-perishable foods have we left up there, what tools, what clothing?

For the most part, most hunters, whether on a lease or at their own place, are in a position that allows them to leave some provisions in place between trips during the hunting season and during the weeks preceding. However, the problem that we’ve had is that we can’t remember what’s been left at the ranch and what needs to go. How many cans of Ranch Style Beans does a hungry hunter need? Or saws? Or shovels?

Do we have foil at the ranch? We better pick some up.

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I’ve come up with an idea that certainly helps.

Before we leave from the ranch, I snap pictures of the inside of the pantry, the fridge, the tool shed, the linen box. That helps us to remember whether we need to bring garlic powder, flour, sugar, Ranch Style beans, clean bedding and towels, etc. It provides an instant view of what’s still out at the ranch and what we need to bring.

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I’ve even left a few personal items that would get me through in a pinch; hair brush,  toiletries,  lotion, undies, t-shirts, boot socks (to be worn with snake boots), mirror, tweezers for cactus thorns and ticks, and some work pants and jeans in the closet.

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While on our next trip, I’m going to snap pictures of our emergency (and non-emergency) basket.  It includes band-aids of all shapes and sizes, iodine, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, pain relievers, allergy meds, heat pads, etc.

This tip goes a long way toward helping us make our list and pack for our trip to the ranch.

It’s going to take us a while to finish up the aluminum foil, though!

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2017 in camping, Hunting, Hunting property

 

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TexMex Venison and/or Wild Pork Enchiladas

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It’s really hot outside.  And, yet, it’s time to start preparing for deer season.  It’s time to fill feeders and fix feeder pens.  And check on the game cameras.  It’s time to clean out coolers.

For the Deerslayer’s Wife, it’s also time to start thinking about meals that can be packaged up ahead and prepared in a jiffy but still be worthy of the hunter that made them possible.

Enchiladas are great because they can be prepared ahead, frozen, packaged, and served a few at a time depending on how many you need.

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The cookie sheet can be placed directly into the freezer for a few hours until the enchiladas are frozen through.

The trick to having fresh (not soggy) tasting enchiladas is to package up the sauce separately, heat it, and pour over the enchiladas before they are heated in the oven or on a bbq pit and served.

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Sauce can be made and poured up into smaller jars that can be taken, in a cooler, to the hunting camp.  I’ve used canning jars and larger plastic containers with screw-on lids.

I’ve taken several varieties on hunting/camping trips, Venison/Wild Pork Enchiladas with Creamy Poblano Sauce, Cheese Enchiladas with Venison Chili con Carne, and Pheasant (or Duck or Chicken) Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce.

This recipe is kind of a variation of a couple of the others.  It has all the flavor and cheesy appeal of cheese enchiladas with the extra heartiness of a meat filled enchiladas.  Everyone really enjoyed these so I thought I’d share.  I always prepare enough to serve as dinner the night I fix it and freeze the rest for an upcoming hunting/camping trip.

Enchilada Filling 

1 lb. cooked, shredded venison and/or wild pork (see all day cooking method in “Come and Take It”)

1 tsp.chili powder, comino (cumin) and salt  or to taste

enough beef stock and/or drippings from all-day-cooked meat to moisten the mixture

about 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese, divided (the more the better, I always say)

a package of corn tortillas (NOT FLOUR)

Enchilada Sauce

2-3 Tbsp. bacon grease
3 Tbsp. flour
½ green or red bell pepper, diced, seeds removed
½ onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. black pepper
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 10 oz. can tomatoes (with or w/o chilies to taste)
2 tsp. garlic salt
½ cup water

to make enchiladas

In a cast iron skillet, season shredded venison and/or wild pork with chili powder, comino, and salt to taste.  Add enough stock or drippings to moisten the meat a little.

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In a separate small skillet, heat about a 1/2 inch of cooking oil. When oil is just starting to shimmer, coat one corn tortilla, one side at a time, until tortilla is soft, just a couple of seconds.

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I discovered these great rubber-tipped tongs that do not tear the corn tortillas! Priceless!

Lay corn tortilla on a flat surface.  Spread with a line of seasoned meat and cheddar cheese.

Roll enchilada and place, seam side down, in a 9×13 baking dish or on a cookie sheet,

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Continue this process until you have rolled as many enchiladas as you have meat.

If you want, set aside the number of enchiladas you want to cook for a meal right away.

Then place the rest of the enchiladas in the freezer for several hours until frozen through.

For the sauce

Melt the bacon grease in a cast iron skillet,  saute all veggies until translucent.cheese enchiladas 001

 

Add remaining ingredients, stir, and simmer, covered, about 1 hour until tender and cooked down to thick gravy.

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Stir periodically to prevent sticking to the pan.  Using an emersion blender or regular blender,  blend sauce until smooth.

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At this point, you can pour what you need over your enchiladas in an ovenproof dish, sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake at 350º for about 30 minutes until bubbling and cheese is melted.

Pour extra sauce into jars to take on your hunting trip.

Note:

For a hunting/camping trip, preparing a meal that has as little cleanup as possible is almost always my goal.  Multi-packs of small foil pans are readily available at most grocers these days.   I have discovered that enough frozen enchiladas  (thawed) for a meal can be placed in one of these aluminum baking containers, heated sauce poured over the top, and cheese sprinkled on.  Cover and seal the pan with additional foil  and place on a bbq pit off to the side of some medium hot coals for about 20 minutes or so depending on how hot the coals are.  The pan should be turned a couple of times for even heating. Check the progress.  The enchiladas are ready when the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted.

 

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The Annual Camping Trip… Gone Awry

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Everybody who camps has experienced the mishaps and horror stories that make us rethink ever heading out again on the open road.  These are the stories that are told for years with chuckles, shudders, rolling of eyes and gentle cursing.

Here’s my story…. for this year.

Each summer, for as long as I can remember, my family has headed up to Glendo, Wyoming for a convergence of the Deerslayer clan and various assorted friends and kids for a two-week long camping trip that includes boating, swimming, eating, napping and more eating.  I always look forward to this trip with much anticipation.

People come from Nevada, Colorado, Texas, and as far away as Alabama. Families take turns feeding the whole group.  I enjoy this part the most.  I usually prepare meals at home, freeze them and transport them in our Yeti coolers with dry ice.

The preparation for the trip takes weeks.  It requires lots of lists.  I love lists because they are a way to document what I’ve accomplished.  There’s a check-list to get the camper ready to make the long journey from South Texas to Wyoming.  It’s a two-day trip.  The truck has to be checked out, dieseled up, and tires and pressures checked.  The camper has to be packed with food and beverages for the duration, clothing, and magazines for reading in the shade of the cottonwood trees.

This trip was planned down to the last detail. We hitched up the camper and headed back in the house for a final cool shower before we headed off. It was over 100 degrees out!  Everyone grabbed their small overnight bags and jumped in the truck for the first leg of our long journey.

Except me.  I was so proud of myself for doing everything on my all my lists.  I was freshly showered and ready to camp like a boss.  About an hour down the road, however, I discovered that I hadn’t grabbed MY overnight bag, the bag that had ALL my toiletries in it, my necessities!  My magazines and laptop! In my haste, I set the bag on the sofa to grab something else and walked out without it.   My eyes welled up.  I stammered, whimpering.  How could I forget my own bag when I spent so much time making sure that everything and everyone else was ready to go?  It threw me for a loop. I knew we couldn’t go back.

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It took a while for me to regain my composure enough to get back in my camping frame of mind.  No sweat, I could swing into a WalMart to pick up whatever I needed to have an enjoyable trip.  And I did.  Bright and early the next morning, I scampered into the store and purchased my bare necessities.  $45 later, I had everything I needed, except for a nice cup of coffee.  I dashed into the conveniently located McDonald’s at the entrance of the WalMart.  Victoriously, I sauntered back to the truck and we headed off… WITHOUT MY CREDIT CARD.  Luckily we weren’t too far down the road when I realized it.  I called the credit card company, put a hold on my card, and called McDonald’s.  Yes, they had my card and would hold it until I got back to retrieve it, which I did.

All was well until we got about 20 miles south of Lubbock, TX.

 

A double blow out!  One rim was shot and the skirting was torn off the side of the camper.  It was 4 o’clock in the afternoon and the next day was Sunday.  Most tire shops would be closed.  We unhitched the camper and Deerslayer headed for town.  He arrived at the tire shop as they were closing.  They stayed open to honor our warranty and sell him two new tires and rims.  He replaced the tires and we were on our way…

until the axle broke.  Deerslayer had to remove the tire (on the other side of the camper) and leave the axle dangling like a severed limb as we located a campground with a pull-thru opening and creep over at 20 mph.  It was difficult finding an RV park that wasn’t full up since it was the 4th of July weekend.  We spent the night in Lubbock until Monday when we were able to find someone who could replace the axle by 4:30 that afternoon.

Eternally grateful to the owner of the axle repair place for making us his last repair before closing for the holiday, we hitched up and prepared to finish the trip…

until I accidentally extended the legs on the camper instead of retracting them once we’d gotten the camper hitched up to the truck.  It appeared that the legs had frozen in place and there might have been damage to the hitch itself.  It became very quiet… except for the prayer that I uttered in sheer desperation.  Junior Deerslayer suggested we try retracting the legs one more time…. and it worked.  God was surely shaking his head and pitying me at that moment.  Many thanks were given.

We arrived at Glendo two days late and pretty haggard.  At least we made it in time to see the fireworks.  Well, as it turned out, the fireworks display had occurred on Sunday.  We missed it.

After four days visiting with friends and family, getting some much needed R & R, and preparing our designated dinners for the group, it was time to pack up and head back to Texas…

after we removed the screw that had lodged itself in the rear passenger-side tire of the truck.

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We made it back to South Texas without any problems.  It was good to be home.  It’s entirely possible that God had a hand in this odyssey.  Perhaps by encountering one delay after another we narrowly  escaped a much worse fate.

It’s the eventful trips that make the longest-lasting memories!  Nobody ever sits around a campfire and talks about the trips when nothing exciting happened.

Next year, we’ll have something to talk about.

Have you ever had a camping trip from Hell?  Share.

 

 

 
6 Comments

Posted by on August 8, 2017 in camping, Uncategorized

 

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Transporting Eggs for Camping

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It’s great fun to be the Deerslayer’s Wife when I get out to the hunting camp with everything I need to rustle up some delicious meals.  However, it all hinges on my ability to get the necessities out there intact! For me, a successful and enjoyable trip requires some planning; groceries, menus, and strategies for getting everything to its destination unscathed.

How can I make breakfast tacos or cornbread or huevos rancheros if the huevos don’t make the journey intact? Because we always pack up all of our perishables in our Yeti coolers, I know that our perishables will not perish.  Those coolers work better than anything else we’ve ever used. I know I can count on them to do the job.  Eggs are tricky, though.  Just keeping them cold is not the only issue.

The camping aisles of most sporting goods stores offer a few options for egg armor; rigid, hinged contraptions that, in theory, protect the eggs from breaking.  Mine was yellow.  I was so excited as I closed it over my beautiful blue, green, and brown farm fresh eggs.  They cracked as I secured the clasp!  My beautiful eggs were various sizes as farm fresh eggs often are.  Most of them were too big for the camping egg carrier.  I made an emergency omelette!

Strolling around the grocery store recently, I came across some egg packaging that I thought was pure genius.  The eggs were nestled in a clear plastic carton that was more rigid than the usual styrofoam and mroe water-resistant than cardboard that would dissolve in a cooler.  I was intrigued.

I purchased the eggs just so I could sample the travel-worthiness of the carton.

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Here’s a picture of the 6 eggs that Deerslayer and I needed for the trip, arriving after the journey, unscathed!

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Tah Duh!

The carton was rigid enough to protect the eggs, pliable enough to accommodate various sizes, and could withstand getting wet.  I bought two dozen eggs in those containers so that I could reuse the cartons.  Since it was just Deerslayer and me on our weekend camping trip to the ranch, I staggered the six eggs that I planned on using for balance and additional protection.

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In a pinch, I’ve improvised.  A container such as this also works if you need just a few of eggs, packaged up with paper towels in between.

The next time you stroll through the egg department of the grocer, see if you can find a brand packaged in these clever carrying containers. You can use the eggs and get a free “special camping travel receptacle” for them, as well.

Camp on and have an eggsellent trip!

 
4 Comments

Posted by on March 6, 2017 in camping, Hunting, Uncategorized

 

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Cool and Spicy Coleslaw

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Recently, during our annual camping trip to Wyoming, I offered to make a side dish for one of the dinners for the 44 campers in our group.  I brought all the ingredients to make a coleslaw recipe that’s pretty popular in the Deerslayer household.  The feedback from the camping crew was positive.  All the coleslaw was gobbled up and I was asked if the recipe was on my blog.  So I was happy to oblige.

There are soooo many varieties of coleslaw.  Some are quite sweet and others lean heavily on a mayo base.  Still others have an almost sauerkraut vibe.  My recipe is creamy, without relying on too much mayo.  There are layers of flavor that come from rice vinegar, greek yogurt, a tiny bit of sugar and some cayenne pepper.

This has become my go-to side dish for BBQ sandwiches and pulled pork, too.  It’s actually pretty good plopped right on the sandwiches  I always have to prepare more than I think I’ll need because it really disappears.  The cool, creamy sauce plays well with the main course. The rice vinegar adds a pleasing tartness and the cayenne brings a subtle, yet surprising, heat.

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½ cup Greek Yogurt

2 tbs. Ranch or Caesar dressing

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 tbsp. milk

1 tbs. sugar

3/4 tsp. ground  black pepper

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

16 oz. shredded cabbage (Add carrot, slivered fresh jalepeño, radish, jicama, or something else crunchy and delicious if you like.)

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Combine all ingredients (except cabbage) in a bowl.

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Whisk ingredients together.

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Notice the delicious spices!  That’s what makes this coleslaw special.

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Add cabbage and toss together. Set in the fridge or in a cooler (if you’re camping) to allow the flavors to combine.

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Done! Enjoy!

Feel free to add fresh, sliced jalapeño, jicama, or radish to change things up.  Make it your own.

The dressing could be prepared in advance, poured into a jar, and taken on a camping trip.  I wouldn’t advise tossing the coleslaw up ahead of time, though, unless it’s gonna be eaten within a few hours.  You  want the cabbage to stay nice and crisp.  Camp on!

 

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