Many apologies to my readers, I haven't done the best job keeping up and have miserably failed to recount our Washington DC trip. That will have to wait, as I cannot presently find our camera. See, we've been a bit busy around here. One weekend it was a jaunt to DC, the next, major home renovation, and we spent this weekend camping. Great blog fodder, yes? It would have been, had I done any kind of photojournalism, whatsoever. Blog FAIL. So I'll start to catch you up in baby steps. Step one, "How I spent the weekend".
Thursday Night-drove back from a tough week in the field, feeling thoroughly depressed. Decided to call Elizabeth, aka The Waspy Redhead while I was an hour south of San Antonio who miraculously was available for dinner. I got to see her delightful new abode and we walked over to the Liberty Bar for good food, wine and conversation.
Friday-Dragged myself to work to round out my 60 hour week. Felt achy and congested, was sure the Swine Flu was eminent. Turned out to be just allergies and post-field work aches and pains. Friday night we had dinner at this little Indian place where I first convinced Darryl to try Indian after a few at home recipes. We went to REI and I got a new sleeping pad for camping (Themarest Basecamp) and a new, brighter headlamp as well as collar lights for the pups.
Saturday-After a bit of sleeping in, we loaded up for camping out at Inks Lake with friends. We didn't do too much trail hiking, but the boys did a little fishing and I was content to watch with Kristen and the dogs. I think camping was probably more relaxing for me than anyone else. It was nice to just sit, relax, not have to lead or lecture or have major responsibility (other than two badly behaved terriers who are now plum tuckered out).
For dinner I used the dutch oven that my parents gave me last Christmas. I made a yummy Guinness Beef Stew, where I tried to interpret something Darryl had on vacation in Whistler last year. It's pretty hard to interpret something that you weren't there to see, but I gave it my best shot. When I first met Darryl, he was more of a "hot dog on a stick" camping food guy. But I take cooking on a campfire as a personal challenge to make a hot, gourmet, satisfying meal. Now that I think about it, the early days of my cooking abilities started on a Coleman gas powered stove on geology field camp. He told me I changed his mind about camping food because I made the point that, you're out there by the campfire, you don't have TV to watch, what else do you have to do but drink beer and cook a delightful meal with your friends?
Here's how I did it and ended up with rave reviews:
-Melt a stick of butter, add chopped onions, carrots, and potatoes to saute.
-Add a pack of stew meat (I was cooking for mostly Darryl and I, so I only used 1.3 lbs stew meat, you could add more meat or veggies depending on how many mouths you need to feed)
-Add 2 packs of dry onion soup mix
-add 8 oz sliced mushrooms
-season with seasoned salt (remember the onion soup mix has salt in it, so don't overdo it), thyme, oregano, and a bay leaf
-add about 1.5 cups Guinness Stout. Just eyeball it, everything should be covered, but remember this is a stew, not a soup. Better to under pour, you can add more later, or add beef stock later if you want to thin the gravy out.
-stir in tomato paste, one of those baby cans is fine, just scoop it in there.
I loaded about 15 coals on the bottom and 10 on top and let it do its thing for about 1.5 hrs. The sauce thickened a bit towards the end, but you could add some cornstarch if you wanted to thicken it up more. It came out nice and meaty and rich, though badly lacking some biscuits as a side. I'll have to figure out how to do that over a campfire for next time.
Finally, for dessert I made my dutch oven peach cobbler, which could have used more peaches. The hubs came home with two 15 oz cans of peaches, but I recommend twice that amount. Or you could use cherries or any other yummy canned fruit in syrup.
After all that food (plus or minus a few s'mores) and a few beers I was more than ready to crash. So tired in fact that I slept through Ginger standing on my back for the first half of the night so she could see out of the tent and bark at everyone walking to the bathroom by our campsite. Needless to say, the hubs finally broke down and locked her in her crate in the car for the rest of the night. At least one of us got a good night's sleep....