Sunday, January 25, 2015

First Camping Trip of 2015!

Although most of my friends and family in Indiana know that I tend to hate the southern heat, there are a few times a year where it proves beneficial that I live 500 miles closer to the equator...such as when Andrew and I can plan a camping trip in mid-January. The forecast was sunny and mid-fifties all weekend so we thought it would be a perfect opportunity to break out the tent for the first camping trip of the year!

We went to Blakeley State Park, which is a small park in near Spanish Fort, Alabama, and used to be the site of a tiny town called Blakeley (you can read more about the park's history here), but it's now a rich delta with over 10 miles of hiking trails and fishing docks. We decided to test out some of the backpacking gear that we have acquired the past few months in preparation for our trip coming up in March and spent two nights in a primitive campsite, braving the elements.

Obviously Andrew is my pyro, so he was in charge of the fire the whole weekend. :)

Between keeping me warm with a fire and tent, I'd say I found a keeper!

For anyone curious, our tent is the Coleman Hooligan 3 and is perfect for the two of us and the pups. It has a "porch" area that can close up and house dirty shoes (or dirty dogs!) without tracking anything into the actual tent. The only downfall is that all four sides are mesh so it can be a bit chilly if you don't have a good sleeping bag, but since we were wanting to test our "20 degree rated" backpacking sleeping bags, we didn't mind the chilly nights!

Of course, my duties while camping included making the meals...I wanted something that would keep us full but use minimal ingredients since we wanted to keep packing light. 

For our dinner the first night, I made walking tacos..unfortunately it was dark by the time we started eating so I didn't get any pics, but what I did was cook taco meat the day before we left and froze it, then brought individual bags of Fritos, cheese, and salsa. We warmed the meat over the fire, spooned it into the bags of Fritos, added cheese and salsa and done! - it was a great first night meal. 

For our breakfast on Saturday, I pre-made protein oatmeal (find that recipe here). Since I use instant oats in my recipe, we just poured boiling water into the oatmeal and it was the perfect hearty breakfast before we headed out on a hike with the pups.

(I didn't get any pics of the pups hiking this weekend, but here is a preview from a couple nights ago...yes, we pack-muled our dogs. It's only fair that they carry their share of food and water! Hehehe)

Ok back to our camping trip...Saturday night was our bigger meal since we had another couple join us, so I thought a "hobo meal" would be a great option. If you have never had a hobo meal, it is only called that because the point is to add random ingredients together and cook them over a fire...I promise it is so much more yummy than it sounds. For my hobo meal, I used five potatoes, one onion, one can of pineapple chunks, and a pack of summer sausage...I'm telling you, it's the easiest camping meal ever and serves a crowd. (If you were feeding more people or wanted a different variation, you can certainly experiment with other ingredients could use veggies such as carrots, mushrooms, green peppers, or cabbage, or you could use a different meat such as shrimp, steak, or chicken!) 

To assemble my hobo meal, I chopped the potatoes into half inch cubes, thinly sliced the onion, and cut the sausage into small slices. I split the ingredients evenly onto two large sheets of aluminum foil (about 2 feet long each) and divided one stick of butter between the two packets, then generously sprinkled with salt and pepper. 

I wrapped the packets tightly together, adding another layer of foil to make sure nothing leaked, then placed them directly over our campfire. They needed to cook for at least an hour, turning over about halfway through to make sure everything cooked evenly, so I figured it was a great time to help gather wood for the fire.....and have a couple beers with friends :)

Unfortunately it was too dark for a good picture once the food came off the fire, but the onions had such a nice caramelization from the butter and sugar from the pineapples, and the summer sausage just added a perfect kick to the dish. This dish easily fed five people and even had a few scraps left for two begging pups! We had a little salsa left from our dinner on Friday so we used that as a dipping sauce. Ketchup would be great with these ingredients too...if I had remembered to bring it! Oops!

Overall it was a super fun weekend for our family that has resulted in two tuckered Aussies and two tired humans...I'm sure we'll be doing it again soon. For now though, I'm going to join my family on the couch for a Sunday nap!