First of all, our thoughts and prayers are with those devastated by the hurricanes of the past few weeks. I’ll share some of my thoughts on that next week.
This week, on a lighter note: what comes to mind when you hear the word, “camping”?
Up until recently, for me camping meant packing, getting everything ready, making double sure that nothing is forgotten, then setting off for the neighbor’s woods, spending the evening at a fire, sleeping in a tent and then coming home the next day in a giant mess of blankets, pillows, burnt pans, bits of marshmallow smeared onto every other dish. Everyone feels dog tired from being up late and no one has the inspiration to tackle the mess at hand (except Mom, of course!). In spite of the mess, I loved it.
We Amish go camping with another family or two, simply spending quality time together away from duties and distractions. As a little girl, I loved the special times with friends, siblings and parents. Camping always seemed to strengthen family connections.
On our last camping excursion, I discovered it really doesn’t have to be that complicated when sleeping in tents minus running water and commercial toilets. A couple of weeks ago, my husband, Daniel, came home from work at noon and told me how he and his brother, John, were brainstorming about camping that very night. I was all in. Amazingly it all worked out, and after a couple of hours of planning, we were on our way!
It so happened that my 11-year-old sister, Keturah, was at our house that day and really came in handy with getting stuff together for our camping trip, and we were all delighted to take her along as well.
As always, I consulted my “camping list,” which a friend of ours put together 15 years ago. It has anything on it from fishing tackle to paper towels to mosquito repellent and buckets with water, rags and soap. As I scanned over the list, Julia and Keturah helped stack everything into a large tote. By the way, I am big on totes. Even our clothes go into a tote while camping.
When it came to food, I took Daniel’s advice and kept it simple. I grabbed seasoned deer sausage from the freezer for burgers, a loaf of bread and, of course, our usual barbecue sauce, onions and such.
Would it be camping without s’mores and mountain pies? Of course those ingredients were all important and soon joined the list of others packed into the tote. This time, I decided to just not get stressed out if I forgot something. I decided forgetting something would only ruin our trip if I let it. As I lay in the tent under the star-lit sky, I thought of what I had forgotten: salt and pepper for our scrambled eggs for breakfast!
The next morning I told everyone that I forgotten to bring something along and that they’d have to guess what it was. As I stood beside the fire browning onions, peppers and deer sausage to stir into the scrambled eggs, I added a few spoonfuls of hot dog relish, which definitely added some spice! Plenty of cheese topped it off. As everyone fixed their tortilla wraps with mayo and barbecue sauce and filled them with my scrambled egg mixture minus salt and pepper I wondered what responses I’d get. Daniel laughed with delight when he guessed correctly.
“It’s salt and pepper you forgot!” He did admit that he wouldn’t have given it a thought if I wouldn’t have said anything.
Now here I am planning another camping trip for tomorrow and trust we’ll have a good time together even if I forget something or not everything clicks as planned.
Simplifying is another aspect I have learned from our last round of camping. Using as many disposable paper products as possible is helpful, and although we all like soft bedding, it’s OK to do with less for a night and then have less to deal with when we get home. The less you take along, the more primitive the experience will be, and the aftermath of coming home with a bunch of tired people will be less.
This is one of our favorite camping recipes!
PIZZA MOUNTAIN PIES
2 slices bread, buttered on one side
2 tablespoons pizza sauce
3 tablespoons shredded Mozzarella cheese
Pizza toppings of your choice (mushrooms, beef, pepperoni, peppers, etc.)
Place one slice of the bread, buttered side down, onto an over-the-fire sandwich iron.
Evenly spread the pizza sauce over the bread, then sprinkle the Mozzarella cheese over the sauce. Add additional pizza toppings of your choice.
Apply the other slice of bread, buttered side up, and clamp the sandwich iron closed.
Put the sandwich iron into the campfire and cook for about 2 1/2 minutes on each side or until bread is golden brown.
Carefully remove the mountain pie from the sandwich iron and serve.
Readers can write or visit Gloria at 10437 E. 300th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427.