Camping Bread Sticks

 

 

 

greenbeansage (13 of 15)

 

greenbeansage (8 of 15)

 

This past weekend we celebrated my mom’s birthday with spice cake and camping.  My mom loves camping. Well maybe I should say, RV’ing. It’s not really camping-camping where you poop in the woods but rather pull up to electric. But it reminds my mom of childhood and she likes hearing the symphony of campfires and children whizzing by on bicycles. Now too it is nostalgic for me, walking the paved circle around the sites to survey the hanging lanterns of neighbors and smell what each family or group of friends is making for dinner.

 

 

 

It is indeed relaxing, even for my dad who is charged with the labor of setting up the camper and fire pits. Usually he will end up napping in a hammock too low to the ground with his hat tipped over his face.

 

greenbeansage (11 of 15)

 

My parents were very sweet and made the trip East so that Kevin and I could more easily join in the fun. And so, recalling all the fun camping cooking traditions that my mom had taught me when I was a kid,  I brought along a new one.

 

greenbeansage (3 of 15)

 

This recipe is very slightly adapted from green kitchen stories, to make it more portable.

This recipe assumes you have the ability to heat some water to slightly warm to activate your yeast. You’ll likely have many of the ingredients in your camping arsenal anyway. Further, this recipe serves a bunch of people and makes use of an entire yeast packet for ease of use, but we had a bunch of waste with 4 people and just having it as a side, so I would recommend cutting the recipe in half if you’re not serving a ton of people.

 

greenbeansage (7 of 15)

 

Packing List:

measuring cup and spoons

a lightweight towel or saran wrap to cover the dough

3 tsp dry active yeast

1 tsp honey (I had a tiny bear of honey that was the perfect travel size.)
1/2 tsp fine sea salt

In a small ziplock or jar:

1 cup shredded carrots and/or apples (optional)

In a large mason jar or ziplock:

4 cups flour of your choice (I used 2 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 cup spelt flour)

In another small ziplock:

1 handful dried fruit (cranberries and chopped dates would be good) (optional)
1 handful seeds or nuts (I used pumpkin seeds ) (optional)

Dump your flour in a large bowl and use your now empty mason jar (with measurements on the side) to warm your water. (Microwave if you’re parents RV, set beside fire if not.) Add yeast, honey and salt and swirl your jar to dissolve. Add the shredded carrots/apple, dried fruit, and seeds to the flour, mix to combine. Once the water has foamed up, add to the flour mixture and gentle knead it into dough. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for an hour or until double in bulk.

Meanwhile prepare the campfire (or grill).

Find a thick stick from a non-pine tree. You don’t want a skinny marshmallow stick, look for something about the diameter of your thumb. Take a handful of the bread dough and form into a log with both hands. Start from the tip of the stick and wrap it tightly around. Bake the bread by holding the wrapped stick over the hot fire and slowly rotate to get it evenly baked and golden brown. It can take from 5 to 15 minutes. To test it, tap the bread. It should sound hollow and be crispy and brown on the outside. Put some olive oil or butter or jam on your warm bread stick and enjoy.

 

greenbeansage (6 of 15)

greenbeansage (10 of 15)

 

Almond Apricot Bars

It is wedding season. Today is my two month anniversary. Last weekend we drove 7.5 hours to see a beloved friend get hitched to her perfect match and today I leave for my hometown to be maid-of-honor for the only girl who would be my friend when I changed schools in second grade.  I am indeed honored. Last weekend I packed snacks and a to-go dinner that served well… until the tofu, which apparently sat too long outside the refrigerator, decided to wake me up at God knows what time a.m. and make me feel like I was going to pass out instead of fall back asleep.

But I still wanted to pack some nutritious options for this weekend’s trip – so I don’t end up ordering a kid’s meal of  chicken (?) nuggets and a jr. frosty. {I may have made some poor decisions last weekend! Don’t judge me!} Preferably one that doesn’t have the opportunity to go bad and force the hubs to play Florence Nightingale. Cliff bars were great for our honeymoon because they needed zero care and allowed us to share a bar when we a little hungry, but were trying to get through a very bumpy dirt/rock road before sundown. Plus we could save a little money by having a big (included with our hotel) breakfast buffet late in the morning, have a bar for lunch, and then have a nice dinner out.

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Vandalia Gathering

I borrowed my grandmother’s Canon DS6041, aka the 300D, this past weekend to try and get a feel for DSLRs, shooting in manual, and the button set-ups on Canons.  A cool thing was that I got to compare it to my brother-in-law’s newer canon rebel. While I appreciate my grandmother letting me borrow her camera, comparing it to the newer version was night and day. The 300D has 6.3 mega pixels, less than my old iphone, and for some reason, I could not get photos perfectly in focus. The battery lasted for about ten minutes and the memory card held about ten frames when on the large file setting.  My brother-in-law’s camera could hold a ga-gillion, top notch photos and could take about 3 or 4 picture’s a second. The battery lasted multiple days.

IMG_0737  IMG_0752

IMG_0757

But still, the images are better than my old olympus.  Here are a few from this past weekend’s Vandalia Gathering.

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honeymoon pictures continued

 I realize this has nothing to do with health but humor me…


poisionious caterpillar, Monteverde




Coati or “nose bear,” Monteverde



on suspension bridge over cloud forest, monteverde

cloud forest crab, monteverde

humingbird, monteverde
gecko or salamander on ceiling of resturant in La Fortuna

humingbirds, Monteverde

Falls at La Fortuna

Monkeys near Arenal



more monkeys (can you see them?)



obligatory coconut pictures



beach at Rui





Tamarindo



 
Tamarindo



photography query

I had a photo journalism class in college… and a photography project in 4-H that I’m not entirely sure I ever finished. Really, the only things I remember from the later was the “trick photography” section where I learned how to put my friends Jenny and Megan in a jar. (Jar and hand close-up, friend far away in back ground pretending to squirm.) In short, I am no photographer. But I want to take nice pictures of my food for you and I was kind of disappointed with my pictures from Costa Rica. : / Blargh. I probably won’t be buying a camera anytime soon, but I want to start drooling. I want my next camera to last me. I want it to take pictures of fast movin’ kids and still faces in low light. I’d rather delay the satisfaction of a zoom lens so that I can afford more image quality now in a body that I can build on. It doesn’t need to be top of the line, but it needs to produce images that can be cropped and blown-up to an 8×10 for printing. 

Right now, I’m mostly using my iphone. As you can see from my previous post, most of the pictures are kind of blurry. With the phone, I don’t have any control over exposure or focal length. I have a little camera that I took to Costa Rica that has some ability to change f-stops, but not very many. It would undoubtedly do a better job on the food shots, and now that I’m getting settled in, I’ll start using it. But the controls are so little and the screen so tiny that you can’t really gauge the differences between settings until you download the images onto your computer which is no good for vacays.  

My previously mentioned friend Jenny now lives far away and occasionally graces me with b-e-a-utiful pictures of my flower girl and other subjects. (If you’re reading this, Jen, more please!) She has really practiced- you can tell. Her pictures have gone from good to wow over the past couple of years. So I asked her, “what kind of camera do you have?”

She responded, “this one, but I suggest a Canon Rebel with 50mm 1.8 lens, because it’s cheaper and it takes good pictures.” Due to the quick response, I suspect my friend has fielded this question before. It’s no wonder she’s been asked with pictures like hers. 



Does anyone else have any suggestions? If you upgraded to a fancy shmancy camera, do you feel like it was worth it or are you thinking of selling it on craigslist?

Thai Coconut Curry & Honeymoon

Friends, it’s been awhile! Too long. Since our last encounter I’ve changed my last name and went on a honeymoon to Costa Rica. It was thirteen days and it was lovely. Waterfalls, Howler Monkeys, and Coatis, or “nose bears,” were the highlights and a wicked sunburn was the low. 

I couldn’t fit the whole waterfall in this shot but there’s the hubs  swimming next to it! 

Arenal Volcano… yes, volcano.

Being the longest vacation either of us had ever taken, on day eleven we each confessed that we were ready to go home. Ready to get back to our own bed, anxious to get those thank you cards out, and excited to finally get the house in order . Maybe the last two were just me. I was also ready to get back to cooking. We both were burnt out on too-busy/wedding-prep/vacation food- simple carbs, refined sugars, even pop! gasp!

I’ve been dreaming of these, my lentil burgers, and maybe another round of cold buckwheat soba noodles. Alas, this past week did not allowed for much cooking. Our tasks to straighten up after the wedding (getting the many something-borrowed items back to the right people, cleaning a very messy home, writing many thank you cards, making a giant goodwill pile out of old muffin pans and the like, taking all the cardboard shipped presents came in to the homeless shelter, etc.) took for-ev-er. All very wonderful problems to have, no?! The hubs had to leave Wednesday morning for work and wasn’t back until Monday night, plus I was traveling over the weekend- so it just didn’t make sense to go stock the fridge with crisp fruits and veggies that would inevitably wilt before we had a chance to enjoy them.

Thus, we did a lot of take-out. The house is finally starting to look like a home and not a war zone, however, recently there’s been much more resturanting than preferred.  The upside is that one of these meals out inspired me to find an at-home-version.

If you haven’t been fortunate to become acquainted with much Thai food, please allow me to introduce Panang curry. The true-blue recipe is complex if you don’t typically use thai ingredients like dehydrated shrimp, but produces an incredibly delicious result. My version of the recipe will be simplified for us beginner home cooks and give you some whole food benefits.

whole cumin

Turmeric and fresh chillies have immune-boosting power. The brown rice instead of white gives the dish a high fiber count and is rich in selenium, which studies claim reduces the risk for developing cancer, heart disease and arthritis. Additionally, one cup of brown rice provides 80% of our daily manganese requirements, which helps the body synthesize fats and benefits our nervous and reproductive systems. Coconut milk will give the dish a wonderful cream, without leaving out your lactose intolerant or paleo friends. Further, while coconut oil/milk does have a lot of saturated fats, it is debatable whether that is a bad thing. The saturated fat in coconut oil/milk is plant-based and breaks down in the body somewhat differently than saturated fat from animals. Many researchers claim that this fat may actually lead to an increase of HDL – or good – cholesterol levels. Coconut oil and milk also contain Lauric acid, which may work as an anti-bacterial agent, helping your body fight off unwanted bacteria, such as staph. That being said, some of the research out there causes me to go at coconut oils and milks in moderation. But really, isn’t that always the key?

I always order Panang with chicken though it is traditionally made with beef and can be prepared with pork too. It usually comes with a side of white rice and a vegetable. The first time I had it the curry was made with some chicken and tons of green beans. Other times it has been served with steamed broccoli but I much prefer the green beans. Of course the green veggies are going to serve up a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. If you have the beans on the side they stay crisp until making it to table, where, if it’s my plate, it will end up mixed into a big bowl of deliciousness. I went ahead and threw mine into the curry sauce to save dirtying up another pot. It’s spicy enough that you’ll stop eating when you run out of water, but not painful. (Unlike the hub’s experience with “authentic thai heat” at noodlehead in Pittsburgh the first night of our honeymoon. A restaurant I highly recommend, btw. I had the Chiang Mai Curry which was some sort of heaven, but a much more complicated dish that I will leave for the professionals at this time… humm when’s the next time I’ll be in Pittsburgh?)

Not-so-traditional Panang Curry

Adapted from http://thaifood.about.com/od/thairecipes/r/penangcurry.htm
Note: Takes about an hour and a half to prepare and cook. There is a good bit of prep work but then it just simmers on the kitchen stove for a long time. I served mine with brown rice. This makes a pretty big recipe, so use a big pan for the curry!

  • 3 chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces or small slices. Can substitute other meats, even shirmp.
  • Every recipe I researched called for kaffir lime leaves, but they aren’t available where I’m from so I substituted bay leaves during the simmer and some lime zest.
  • 1 red bell pepper or sweet red pepper, slice.
  • 1/2 loose cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped or tore up.

Curry Sauce: 

  • 4 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 small white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 thumb-size piece ginger, finely minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced 
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce (If you don’t want to experiment with fish sauce, or if you’re allergic, you could try using a few drops of Worcestershire or more soy sauce with an extra squeeze of lime juice.)
  • 1 tsp. shrimp paste  I just substituted 2 Tbsps more of fish sauce to save $ and on the ew factor. Additionally some sites recommend avoiding shrimp paste if you are preggo, get heartburn, or are on a reduced salt diet. Shrimp paste is not a health food.
  • 1 Tbsp. paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder (I used what I had, smoked paprika and smoked chili powder. If you have regular, use it- the smoked flavor made it taste a little more southwest and less thai.)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. whole cumin
  • 1-2 red chili, minced, OR 1/2 to 1 tsp. cayenne pepper or chili flakes to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg (Fresh nutmeg is stronger, more aromatic than the pre-ground stuff- so use less if you wield a trusty micrograter like moi’.)
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 can good-quality coconut milk
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  1. Blend all curry sauce ingredients – except the whole cumin seeds – in a vita-mix or food processor. (I forgot to hold my cumin seeds- darn!)
  2. Start browning chicken (or your meat of choice) and add in cumin seeds and cook until fragrant  Pour curry sauce into pan before meat is cooked through. 
  3. Add in the lime (or lime leaves) mix well 
  4. Cover and stir occasionally until chicken is cooked through. In last 3 minutes add peppers to top of curry and cover, do not stir in. Steam green beans (or broccoli or whatever) on the side(or throw into curry 10 minutes before cooking time is finished)
  5. Season to taste: add more fish sauce if not salty enough; add more coconut milk or a little yogurt if too spicy; add more lime juice if too salty.
  6. Sprinkle with fresh basil leaves and serve with your veggie and brown, whole-grain rice.

sorta-detox day one

Yesterday’s dinner was the first meal on the “sorta-detox” – After a busy Sunday, the four of us went to Sam’s Club to look for what we could (fruits and veggies not on the dirty dozen and some organic greens) and then to Martin’s (our local grocery) for the rest. It was somewhat expensive, (especially organic cheese!) but not as bad as we expected. Looking at every label did make the shopping experience a long one, even with dividing and conquering . okay boys, you go get chicken and steak. We’re going to go get seeds, cheese, and beans!

Then we got to my place and started making dinner and lunches for the next day. One of our sorta-detox cronnies had a bible study the next evening so we assembled the prep for her dinner too. Actually cooking, even a simple meal of a london broil, microwaved sweet potato, and sauteed green beans, takes a long time on a school night! I knew that already, I mean I cook more complicated menus than that for guests, but I guess it just seemed super long because I realized we’d be doing that every night for 10 days. I was pooped after we finally got my kitchen clean.

But the fruit of our labor was something that reminded me of home. I had a colorful plate that had been made with the food groups in mind and was meant to nourish us, not just fill us. It was great, and it made me appreciate my mom. Years and years she had worked full time and came home to cook me a balanced dinner. She rarely picked something up from a fast food resturant and always made sure that there was a meat, a fruit, and a veggie on my plate. That took time, that took sacrifice, and that took love. And it made me want to read this.

Alas, I forgot my prepared steak salad and delicious homemade balsamic vinaigrette in my fridge this morning! Grumble grumble. I guess I have my lunch for tomorrow on deck. So I had to track down a meal in this city an hour from my apartment. It was harder than I thought. I ended up going to a restaurant that toted itself online as being organic, but once I got in there, I didn’t see any mention of organics. I tried to get something safe, I asked for the veggie veggie sandwich but on a salad. I suspect the pepper jack cheese in it was not organic, but I made the best out of what I had available and didn’t veer too far off of the diet plan. It was just frustrating to have to go off the plan before 24 hours had past.

Anywhosal, below I’ve posted my shopping list and menu plan. (Which we’ve already adjusted because the grocery store ran out of broccoli- have you ever heard of such a thing?) The main idea of planning it out was to have a grocery list with minimal waste, limited amounts of sugar, and the other food groups balanced. I highlighted things like wheat, dairy, meat, and sugar to keep a visual of what each day looked like. I wanted to be sure that I didn’t fall into my usual ruts of eating too many carbs, etc. I’ll post some of the recipes as we go.  :)

P.S. Did you know how delicious a baked sweet potato is?! I didn’t! I’d only ever tried to make them as fries and this was wayyyy better! They just came out of the microwave and we sprinkled cinnamon on them and boom. Freakin’ like candy.

PROTEIN
ÿ        Eggs
ÿ        Chickpeas
ÿ        Red Kidney Beans
ÿ        Ground Turkey
ÿ        Chicken
ÿ        3 steaks
VEGGIES
ÿ        Onion
ÿ        Red Onion
ÿ        Carrots
ÿ        Peppers (Red)
ÿ        Tomatoes
ÿ        Avocado
ÿ        Green Beans
ÿ        Salad
ÿ        Garlic
ÿ        Mushrooms
FRUITS
ÿ        Apples
ÿ        Pears
ÿ        Oranges
ÿ        Lemon
DAIRY
ÿ        Feta
ÿ        Parmesan
ÿ        Cheddar
ÿ        Plain yogurt
OTHER FOOD
ÿ        Cilantro
ÿ        Flat leaf parsley
ÿ        Beef broth
ÿ        salsa
OTHER OTHER
ÿ        Disposable dressing containers
ÿ        nut milk bag
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
Snacks or Dessert
Sunday
X
X
Salad, Sweet Potato, Broccoli, Steak
Monday
Yogurt, granola, almond, fruit parfait
Roasted Veggies Tomato Soup w mozz and a side salad with cucumbers, broccoli, red onion, chick peas
Mediterranean veggies and chicken w side of steamed broccoli
Oatmeal and raisin stuffed apples
Tuesday
Oatmeal with nuts, cranberries, and maple syrup
Salad w Grilled Chicken, black beans,  avocado
Red Kidney Bean and Curry over brown rice
Wednesday
2 Soft boiled eggs and a piece of cheese
Brown rice, chicken, black bean, avocado, salsa bowl
Warming lentil and sweet potato salad
Pumpkin granola
Thursday
Green smoothie with protein powder
Peanut butter on  apple slices,
Tomato Soup
Salad, 100% Whole wheat bread (from my 5 minute a day book) Panini’s  (caramelized onion, roasted red peppers, cheese,
Chicken)
Vanilla roasted pears
Friday
Pumpkin spiced oatmeal
Greek chicken salad
Bulgur Salad w Chickpeas, Roasted Red Peppers ,Spiced Cumin Dressing
Almonds and dried cranberries
Saturday
2 Soft boiled eggs and a piece of cheese
Pesto Salad Tomatoes and Mozzarella
Some protein?
Quinoa and lemon chicken
Sunday
Yogurt, granola, almond, cranberry parfait
Curried apple chicken salad over salad
Roasted veggies and turkey meatballs
Peanut butter on whole wheat English muffin
Monday
1 orange 1 egg
Pear, cranberry, feta, balsamic salad w leftover Quinoa
Turkey Chili
Cherry, walnut, cocoa cookie
Tuesday
Apple Chia seeds and yogurt
Curried apple chicken salad over salad
Salad with Pears and Gorz and bals.
Mushroom Bourguignon Sautéed Green beans
Wednesday!
2 Soft boiled eggs and a piece of cheese
Turkey Chili
Chicken m’room marsala  with Green beans

Hike your Butt Off

Saturday was b-e-a-utiful! A good friend (and future guest blogger) came in to visit her cousin, the future hubs, and of course we had to show her some of the local natural beauty. So we decided to try our luck at a nearby hiking destination at Annapolis Rocks in Maryland. We did about 6 miles, took our time, munched on some homemade trailmix along the way, and took in some gorgeous scenery. I had been looking forward to this hike for weeks because I had promised myself that burning that many calories would warrent a delicious and huge orange vanilla cupcake from a nearby bakery. It was good- but not really what I had built up in my mind- which I guess is a good thing! Now I know that a cupcake is tasty, but it’s not all that much of a sacrifice, and that it’s not really worth the calories. (I’m specifically not posting a picture of the cupcake to avoid food porn!) I’m going to start experiementing with recipes to concoct the holy grail of the creamsicle flavor before summer is over. I’ll let you know if I discover a healthy alternative!
The Hike Up.
My Hiking Crew! Big thanks for Coming Out!
    Taking a break to enjoy some rocks.
Walk through the woods and come out to this!
if you look closely you can see two proud fellas posing on the outcropping.

My friend pointing out a copperhead to her cousin from an outcropping of rocks at the top of the trail.

Victory!

Not a bad way to burn some calories!