It was that wonderful time of the year again -- our annual Fall camping trip. This year instead of going to our usual canoe camping by Mineral Wells, Texas we ventured out a little further to Davis, Oklahoma and camped in the wondrous Turner Falls. Venturing out into the wild with no electricity, no running water, no 800 thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets, it just really gets my primal instincts going. I am out here to SURVIVE, to be one with nature, to cook a bunch of food out on an open fire and scale mountains with my bare hands.
I am woman, hear me ROAR. (insert intense muscular flex here)
When we first moved to the States we didn't have much but my dad always made sure we had a good time with the little we did have. We found that camping was a fun and affordable option where we could venture out to different places all over the United States (Yellow Stone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon...) and experience the natural beauty of this magnificent country. We usually went with a couple other families and I'd remember the dads would always set up camp while the moms prepped the food and (we) the kids would head straight for the water (if there were some) or play hide and go seek in the forests.
From as young as I can remember, I loved camping. I love feeling the sun's warmth spreads across my face or how the air smells of earthy aromas of trees, flowers, life. I love being able to see every single star in the night sky or how the babbling stream sings you a lullaby to bed. I love spending time with friends without the distractions of tvs, computers and cell phones and going on adventurous uncharted hikes through the forests. I love camping because it's real, it's pure, it's invigorating.
It's a time where I can clear my mind and soothe all negativity through the splendors of nature and find inspirations in places I never noticed before. Because finding peace within ourselves is not only beneficial to our well-being, but it allows us to flourish in ways we were meant to. So I sound like a hippie with all my "be one with nature" mumbo jumbo but I can't help it, it's like stellar, dude.
I always get excited about planning the camping menu because there's so many obstacles to keep in mind. Here are a few tips that will help you plan your menu on your next camping adventure --
- Many camp sites do not have running water so think of recipes that don't use a lot of pots and pans, preferably one pot meals.
- Pre-cut and pre-wash your ingredients, this not only saves time but keeps waste at a minimum.
- Pre-cook your ingredients as well -- pastas, veggies, sauces.
- Pre-marinated meats like chicken wings, drumsticks and pork and vegetables like zucchini, squash and onions cook fast and go great on the grill.
- Always bring a can opener, foil, tongs, large serving spoon, a knife, and a cutting board (disposable will do), these are your essential tools!
- It's always a good idea to bring at least 2 coolers - one for meats the other for produce (We had 4...)
- If you have a portable gas grill I highly recommend it, it's extremely useful for boiling water or reheating food.
- Avoid picking menu items that may cause flatulence or loose bowels <--- you laugh until you have to first-handedly experience these occurrences it ain't pretty for anybody! (AVOID BEANS and HIGH FAT meals at all costs O_O)
- If this is a multi-day trip plan your menu items accordingly, cook the ingredients that would easily spoil (poultry, seafood, dairy) first.
- Cast iron skillet is also another must for camping, it's heavy duty and heats well.
Here is my camping menu --
Sauteed Green Beans
Grilled Ribe-eye Steaks
3-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese
Garden Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Fire Toasted Garlic Bread
Steak Breakfast Tacos on Corn and Flour Tortillas
Assorted Fruits and Cereals
Collin's Ground Sirloin Chili
Jalapeno Corn Bread
Beer Brats on Baguettes with Spicy Mustard
The only thing I would change on the menu for next time is taking out anything bean related...being stuck in a tent full of farting boys? Not my idea of a good time -_-. We found an awesome campground which we dubbed "the loft" -- we set up all of our food down by the creek where we parked and set up our tent on top of a hill. It was pretty much the most epic camp spot in the entire park -- our very own personal kingdom for the weekend.
We went fishing and the boys "hunted" for crawfish; we went hiking straight into the forest opposed to following the mapped out trails; we climbed to the top of the hill late at night to look at the millions and millions of stars scattered across the night sky, completely mesmerized by the incredible view. I always find it humbling when I realize how small we actually are in this vast universe, we scramble around searching for meaning only to find ourselves left with more questions than we started with.
That's the beauty of life, living it out day by day finding the answers to our questions. My mother always told me "Stay true to yourself, never let others conform you." I think that's why I have such an immense love for nature -always true and free of any human conformity, always unbridled and full of spirit and life. Nature keeps me grounded and reminds me to appreciate the living miracles that are constantly happening around us.