Fire to Plate: August with the 3Campers
Well………August was supposed to be the month we officially got the camper out an in use. Once again, welcome to 2020!
This is Kay and I am part of the 3 Campers along with Karl and Ann. Last fall, Karl and I scheduled a camping trip to Glacial Lake State Park by Starbuck, Mn. This was our annual camping trip with our children and grandchildren (dog and granddog). We have a 5th wheel camper and the rest of the family uses tents. And, of course in the spirit of 2020, the truck we were using unexpectedly had mechanical issues and ended up in the repair shop for a few days—two days before we were supposed to be camping. Now, who among us has a spare truck with a 5th wheel hitch? Not us!
So, after a day of scrambling and brainstorming, we borrowed a tent, packed our air mattress, loaded as much as we could from the camper into the car, and headed south to the park. The quote of the day was "we have an air mattress and a bottle of wine so we can tent camp." Ha, ha! The air mattress wasn't' ready for the adventure—it lost air the first night and went completely flat the second night. Turns out you might need more than one bottle of wine to tent camp. But we still had a great time with our family enjoying good food, nature and making memories.
Glacial Lakes State Park is located in an area of glacial hills unlike any other area of Minnesota. The park is at a transition between the western Minnesota prairies and the hardwood forests to the East. There were many wildflowers in bloom when we visited. And the scenery was completely different from our Northern Minnesota wooded area. As we hiked the trails, we went from forested areas to prairie to large rolling hills. The park also surrounds Signalness Lake—a small 56-acre clear lake. There was a small swimming area and the lake was perfect for paddleboarding, kayaking, or just floating in a blowup raft.
Our weekend menu was as diverse as the landscape.
Late Friday afternoon a major thunder and windstorm moved through the area, that caused our arrival and set-up to be delayed. But we still enjoyed chicken fajitas prepared on the campfire. Sliced peppers and onions were cooked in a cast onion skillet over the campfire. The marinated chicken breasts were grilled over the fire. Add flour and corn tortillas, homemade guacamole, and shredded cheese and delicious fajitas were created.
Saturday morning breakfast featured Mom’s Buttermilk Pancakes. My mother made homemade buttermilk pancakes for our family growing up and then for her grandchildren as they grew up. Then I started making them for those grandkids (our children) and our grandkids. The tradition goes on. We still use her recipe. (Recipe at bottom of article)
Saturday lunch continued with traditional camp food. Hot dogs over the open flame! What could be better tasting than this?
The afternoon was spent hiking, swimming, and paddleboarding. We are so lucky to have these resources in Minnesota. I am always thankful for our recreational opportunities.
Finally, we reached Saturday night—the big meal. We've done a similar entrée before with tenderloin roast. But this time we had a large sirloin roast which we rubbed with a mixture of chopped garlic, chopped rosemary, and olive oil. Karl then got out his magic Dutch oven and the roast was cooked in the Dutch oven. The Dutch oven acts like a regular oven with this method. Charcoal briquettes were started and once they were hot, 9 are put underneath the Dutch oven and 18 on the top ( 1/3 x 2/3 rule for 350 degrees ). We thought it would take a couple of hours to cook, but it was actually a nice medium in 1 ½ hours. It was tender and flavorful. We served with sweet corn, sourdough buns, and salad. See our previous blog on cast iron cooking for more details on cooking with the Dutch oven.
It was so good to be back out at a campground. We love our State Parks and recreational areas. The US Forest Service and Army Corp of Engineers also have some great campgrounds. If you don’t have a camper and you don’t want to take a chance with an air mattress, check out the camper cabins at the State Parks. Last year we met two women in their mid 70’s who were trying to visit all the state parks in Minnesota. They use camper cabins whenever possible. What an inspiration for all of us!
So long campers and food enthusiasts until our next adventure.
Recipe for Buttermilk Pancakes
2 ½ c. buttermilk
2 c. flour
1 T. baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. vegetable oil
Beat eggs until fluffy, then stir in buttermilk. Sift together next 5 ingredients and add to egg buttermilk mixture and stir until just mixed. Add oil slowly. Drop by spoonful onto hot griddle. Flip when pancakes start to bubble.