Glamping - Food Edition

Stopped here for lunch during a hike one day because this rock table was too perfect!

From camping with my husband and in-laws, I have learned that the lack of a kitchen is no reason to eat poorly. Of course it’s nice to have easy snacks like granola, fruit and beef jerky, but coolers can help you transport many of the usual ingredients you have in your fridge, and camper stoves and fires work fine for most of the food you eat. Just remember you don't have an electric dishwasher (but if you do, please tell me where to get one!).

We kept breakfasts and lunches pretty simple. I brought bottles of coffee, one for each morning, and we boiled water to make oatmeal, which I sliced bananas into. We also brought bagels and cream cheese. 😋 For lunch we made peanut butter sandwiches and/or cold cut sandwiches, and threw in some apples and protein bars just in case.

Our dinners were a little more extravagant. The first night we just did mac & cheese, where we boiled the water over the fire! We also roasted sausages over the fire to add a bit of protein to the meal. Our second night, my in-laws prepared caesar salad and pork tenderloin grilled over the fire. The third night we had hangar steak and baked potatoes.

In addition to all this, we had chips, hummus, guacamole, veggies, and LOTS of alcohol. We had beer and boxed wine, and Nathaniel even brought ingredients for one of his favorite cocktails.

For dessert, we made s’mores and had Girl Scout cookies.

This menu actually was quite reasonable, and didn’t require too much work or gear. To prepare warm food, you can pretty much do everything over the campfire with a wire rack, or you can bring a small propane stove. We have a metal kettle, a cast iron pan and a metal pot that we use to cook. It’s also useful to bring a cutting board and knife.

We always bring durable, easy to wash plates, cups and flatware (you can get plastic or metal - we have an assortment). We also like to bring paper plates to put on top of the plastic plates to help with clean up. You also can just put the paper plates in the campfire when you’re done! It’s good to have durable cups for your alcohol, because no one wants to worry about glass shards at the campsite! They actually make wine glasses specifically for camping. We also discovered that Yeti makes beer coozies that keep your beer cold ridiculously well. If you’re into making your specialty cocktails on the go, you can find camping martini kits and shakers, and fun things like hand-powered blenders.

While it would have been fine to bring just easy, no-cooking-necessary foods, there’s something fun about enjoying a nice meal by the fire under the stars. You may be away from your kitchen, but that doesn’t mean you have to rough it too much 😉

One-Handed Adventures

Tomorrow, I hopefully get the pins taken out of my hand, which hopefully means I get to start getting back to my normal self. This whole ordeal has really made me appreciate being able to function at 100%.

So, I thought I’d share a bit about my one-handed adventures, because it’s been a while!

Baking:

I very much enjoy baking and cooking, and I had cookie cravings, and my husband’s birthday was last week, so I didn’t let having broken fingers completely stop me. I kept recipes simple - I needed to be able to use my stand mixer, and nothing could be too crazy large or heavy since anything I carry is with one hand. I did make some pretty sweet little footballs for the Super Bowl, though!

Cleaning:

Don't worry, this sock is clean.

For a while, my “cleaning” consisted of small organizational tasks, trying to keep common areas looking nice, but as I started to feel better, I was able to start sweeping and vacuuming. I know it sounds lame, but after a while you just want your space to be clean, and clean-looking. As much as possible, I’ve tried to only use dishes that can be thrown in the dishwasher, because I still can’t hand-wash things because I can’t get my cast wet. I have been able to fold laundry, but it’s a very slow process, and turning socks right side in is a royal pain in the butt.

Exercise:

With the pins in my hand, I haven’t done yoga, and I miss it. The pressure that could potentially be put on the bones, even in modified poses, isn’t something the doctor wanted me to do, so I (very impatiently) am waiting for the day I can go back. So instead I’ve been walking a lot, and finally, about 3.5 weeks after my surgery, I started running again. Easy runs, slower than I’d like, but I’ll get it back.

Creativity:

All of my usual creative outlets require two hands: crafting, sewing, playing my instruments… I guess at least I can call these activities physical therapy once I’m allowed to start doing them again. I tried making myself an orange bow for the Super Bowl, which ended up looking pretty stupid, but whatever, it was the only orange I could find. I also made a construction paper card for Nathaniel’s birthday, which was ok, but would have been a lot prettier if I’d been fully-functional. My sister, her boyfriend and I all went to a painting class, too, and luckily I got by just fine with one hand.

Going out:

At least my cast matches my favorite dress!

Most times this is fine. Every once in a while I have to have Nathaniel cut my food for me (one time a waitress asked if she could). But the biggest difference is that everyone asks how I hurt myself (and many people joke that I must have punched someone). I don’t mind - it’s nice that, in general, people are extremely friendly, kind-hearted and wish me well. Most people agree, though, that the story is pretty lame, and I should make up a story about saving babies from a burning building. ;)

Here’s hoping that tomorrow goes well, and that I’ll be closer to normal soon!

How to Purée a Pumpkin

We’ve reached that time of year where pumpkins find us around every corner. Whether it be decorations, pies, or lattes, this orange fruit becomes a staple of the season. This year, just before Halloween, we went to Munson Farms here in Boulder and bought four pumpkins. We decided not to carve them this year because we were running short on time, so I quickly painted them with simple designs. However, it seemed like it would be a waste to ONLY use them for decoration, so I decided to purée them.

A glass of wine is nice to have, too!

Puréeing a pumpkin isn’t difficult, but it is pretty time consuming. However, it’s totally worth it in the end to have some fresh pumpkin to cook with.

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Wash your pumpkin. Since ours was from a farm, it had some dirt on it, plus I wanted to get the paint off.

3) Using a serrated knife, cut open the pumpkin and scoop out the insides. You can use a spoon, but a scraper tool from a pumpkin carving kit is a bit easier. Save the seeds! They’re delicious when roasted. Take a peek at my recipe.

What my pumpkin looks like when done.

4) Cut the pumpkin into smaller pieces, roughly 6” by 6”, and discard the stem. I just find them easier to handle later if I can actually hold them in my hands comfortably. Some of mine end up being triangular, too.

5) Place the pieces meat-side down on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. You don’t have to use parchment paper, but I find clean-up much easier when I do.

6) Bake for about an hour. You want the pumpkin to be tender when poked with a fork, or tender enough to eat (which you can do!)

7) Remove the pumpkin from the oven and let cool. You want to be able to easily handle the pumpkin directly with your hands and not burn yourself.

8) Scrape the pumpkin away from the skin and discard the skin.

9) Blend up the pumpkin. I use an immersion blender because of how easy it is to clean, but you can also use a normal blender or a food processor. I also like to do mine in smaller batches in the measuring cup that came with our immersion blender because I can get a more even consistency, but if you don’t mind a little chunkiness, you can just do it in a bowl.

So much moisture!

10) Using a strainer lined with cheesecloth, drain your pumpkin. Depending on how much you have you may have to do it in smaller batches (I do this). If you’ve got a ton of time, you can just let the purée sit and drain, stirring it occasionally, but I usually just want to finish and squeeze the cheesecloth to more quickly remove the excess water. Some people save this pumpkin juice, but I haven’t ever done that. Maybe next year ;) Squeeze/drain the purée until you’ve got your desired consistency.

11) If you’ve got superhuman stamina, go ahead and start baking/cooking! Otherwise store the pumpkin. I like to use freezer-safe bags and put one cup of purée in each. That way I can freeze the pumpkin, and then thaw just what I need when I need it.

You can use this purée in pies, cookies, bread, soups, hummus, and more! Happy holiday cooking!