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Category: Menu Planning & Cooking

Wild for Blackberries in the Pacific Northwest!

August 26, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

At long last, the wild blackberries are ripe and ready for picking out here in Seattle. I’ve long loved these plump shiny berries and every August have made a concerted effort to pick and freeze the berries for the winter months. Admittedly, it can be a downright prickly task gathering these berries from the thorny brambles, but the payoff can be decadently delicious in the cold winter months when I turn them into a crisp or a cobbler!  Last week I braved the brambles and gathered my first five pounds for the season. I transformed one pound into a simple blackberry syrup by heating the berries with sugar and a little water until the berries started to break up and thicken. The remaining four pounds went into the freezer. Do you gather wild blackberries when you travel and camp throughout the Pacific Northwest? And, if you aren’t in blackberry territory, do you gather any other type of wild berry when you are out and about camping and hiking? Maybe salmonberries, cranberries,... [Read more...]

Savoring a Local Sweet in Homer, Alaska

July 17, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

Mixed Berry Danish, Two Sisters Bakery, Homer Alaska While traveling throughout Alaska last week, I was fortunate to be able to visit Homer for a mere 36 hours. Located at the end of the Sterling Highway on the Kenai Peninsula, Homer abounds in seaside charm. Known as the Halibut Fishing Capital of the World, Homer boasts an abundance of camping and RV sites. The main drag sits along The Spit, which juts out 4.5 miles into Kachemak Bay.  All of the campsites along The Spit feature seaside views and fabulous breezes. When I was in Homer, I must admit that I did not camp.  This was my first trip to there, and we stayed at The Driftwood Inn, an old-town style inn that is located in the historic section of town. The Driftwood also has a waterfront RV park and very basic amenities. Our room was clean and simple. The bathroom was down the hall. Our beds were bunk beds! Before I checked in, I was told to check out Two Sisters Bakery, which was just a short walk down the road. Only complimentary... [Read more...]

Indulge Mom in Nature on Mothers’ Day

May 8, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Indulge Mom in Nature on Mothers’ Day

Mothers have been revered throughout history, from ancient pagan celebrations to church holidays to present-day Mother’s Day. This year spend a healthier and happier Mother’s Day at a state, provincial, or nationalark. (Credit: tpwd.state.tx.us) Many countries throughout the world devote a day to honor their mothers. The tradition dates back to pagan celebrations in ancient Greece in honor of Rhea, the mother of the gods. In Rome, too, Cybele, a mother of goddesses, was worshipped as early as 250 B.C. In the 17th century, England celebrated a day called “Mothering Sunday” on the fourth Sunday of Lent. The tradition of Mother’s Day began in the United States was first suggested in 1872 by Julia Ward Howe, who wrote the words to the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” as a day dedicated to peace. Although the holiday didn’t catch on at that point, Howe held organized Mother’s Day meetings in Boston, Massachusetts, every year thereafter. It wasn’t... [Read more...]

6 Reasons to Love Texas Food

April 25, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

6 Reasons to Love Texas Food

Texans take their food as seriously as they do their football. Located in a well-worn, roughhewn, two-story establishment, Stingaree stands next to the Intracoastal Canal. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved Many Winter Texans and other visitors to the Lone Star State have the good sense to agree with them—that Texan food is that of the gods. 1. Texas Oysters Texas may be best known for beef, but its bay oysters rank second to none. Texas oysters are impeccably fresh—whether served on the half shell with a kiss of salt air and Texas hot sauce or shucked for a sauté or creamy stew. We love Oysters Jubilee from Stingaree Restaurant at Crystal Beach on Bolivar Peninsula, just a short ferry ride from Historic Galveston. As its name suggests, Oyster Jubilee is a celebration of everything oyster. It’s a colossal dish of over 30 oysters prepared in every conceivable way. 2. Tex-Mex Tex-Mex is the product of both Spanish and Mexican recipes coming together with American foods. Tex-Mex is... [Read more...]

Make Ahead Meals for the Camper

April 18, 2012 by · 10 Comments 

Make Ahead Meals for the Camper

When you camp or travel in your RV or with your travel trailer, do you ever prepare foods in advance at home and then cart them along with you? I have done this many many times. Of course, this involves extra work at home but the dividends pay off when you are traveling and visiting a new destination. I have found it to be deliciously helpful to have my travel trailer freezer stocked with twice-baked potatoes, meatballs, previously grilled and sliced chicken breasts, butter chicken, chicken biryani, taco meat, and even homemade burritos! Without a doubt, that extra effort at home saves me time and brain cells when I am on vacation. Afterall, who really wants to be bothered planning a meal from scratch when you are visiting a fabulous national park or a beautiful beach? And, for that matter, who really wants to endure a mediocre meal at an overpriced tourist trap restaurant after a beautiful day of touring or hiking? (I’ve learned through experience that bad meals at overpriced touristy... [Read more...]

What’s to Love about Texas Food

April 15, 2012 by · 3 Comments 

What’s to Love about Texas Food

Texans take their food as seriously as they do their football. Black's Barbecue is Texas' oldest and best major barbecue restaurant continuously owned and operated by the same family. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved If you slander their vittles, they’re apt to defend their deep-fried passion as though you personally launched another attack on the Alamo. Necessity has frequently mothered our creations, and early Texans had to make do with meager supplies, which is how they wound up with frugal favorites like chicken-fried steak and fried pies. Such resourcefulness produced foods that bring us endless gratification today. Many Winter Texans and other visitors to the Lone Star State have the good sense to agree with them—that Texan food is that of the gods. Little Known & Great Places to Eat Sure, there are thousands of great places to eat scattered throughout cities and towns all across Texas, and a Main Street Cafe on just about every corner of every berg from Wink to... [Read more...]

Cook Some Naan On Those Cast-Iron Skillets!

April 5, 2012 by · 4 Comments 

A couple years ago, we took a family camping trip to Yellowstone National Park. While camping in the Madison Campground, we decided to do most of our cooking over the campfire. We didn’t have any hookups for our camper, so my little galley kitchen wasn’t working at full capacity. This didn’t bother me, because it was quite warm and sunny while we were there. Naturally, I wanted to be outside with everyone else. In order to crank out family-friendly meals after touring through the park each day, we relied on the campsite picnic table, the fire ring, and our wonderful cast-iron skillets.  The picnic table was dressed with a basic plastic tablecloth and acted as a makeshift kitchen counter for slicing and prepping vegetables. The skillets were priceless for cranking out dinner. The pans are tough and can handle the heat of the open flame! During our stay at Madison, I decided to live on the edge by serving campfire-cooked naan. (Naan is an authentic Indian flatbread.)... [Read more...]

Carnivore Heaven…

March 27, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

Carnivore Heaven…

While we were near Houston recently, we abandon our trailer park kids (let the kids stay home and watch movies) while we went out to dinner to celebrate our anniversary and my hubby passing a course he took in Houston. We had heard from the campground manager that the little BBQ joint just a few miles down the road was a great place to eat, so we decided to venture out for their Friday Night All You Can Eat Shrimp, Catfish, FROG LEGS, and BBQ. 2 buffets for $17 sounded like a good deal, so we left the kids to their ramen noodles (their preferred meal when we are gone since I won’t let them eat it when I’m home ;)), and wondered what we were in for at this little back country eatery. Pulling up, we glanced at each other – Peter’s isn’t the fanciest of joints – but apparently it’s because they are too busy smoking the most fabulous brisket and ribs!  We probably would not have chosen to stop and eat here if it were not for the rave reviews by our... [Read more...]

Silver Dollar City–the Food!

March 25, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Silver Dollar City–the Food!

We have been discussing our family’s favorite theme park, Silver Dollar City, in Branson, MO, in my last several posts. Today I want to focus on the sustenance available in the park. While most of the dining venues are casual and cater to families with children, the food is plentiful and satisfying. I want to highlight just a few of these establishments in this post to give you an idea of what is available. Aunt Polly’s provides a good old southern mix of golden fried chicken, catfish fillets, red beans and rice, corn bread and chicken with noodles. This was one of our children’s favorite places to eat, for obvious reasons. Buckshot Annie’s wins the award for most colorful name. Annie’s offers grilled barbequed half chickens, giant turkey legs, corn grilled in the husk and two five-foot skillets of hearty succotash and harvest potatoes. This was my husband’s favorite. He just couldn’t get enough of those giant skillets! Another kids’ favorite is the Lumber Camp, providing... [Read more...]

Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail

March 11, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail

It’s been over a year now that the Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail has been in existence. Not to say the mom & pop shops along the Boudin Trail didn’t exist until a year ago–in fact, several of the stops along the Boudin Trail have been family owned for generations. What’s great about the trail is that it winds through Calcasieu and Cameron Parishes, so you can see all of Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana along the way, even down to our Gulf beaches! First off, you might wonder what a “Boudin” is. Well, “Boudin” is a tasty finger food that on the service looks like sausage. It is Louisiana’s spiced-up hybrid of pork or beef sausage. It’s a tender, savory mix of pork, rice, liver, parsley and onions, variously seasoned with salt, red pepper, black pepper and garlic powder. Everything’s stirred together, stuffed into casings and sold hot by the pound. There’s mild Boudin and hot Boudin. There’s smoked Boudin, with a crispy... [Read more...]

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