Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Falling for Food: Into the Wilderness


It's Fall!! And for our family that means fall camping in the mountains at our favorite spot near the Jefferson-Washington National Forest, Crabtree Falls Campground. While it is fun to camp in the summer on the banks of the Tye River, I am particularly fond of camping in cooler weather (Molly, right camping last fall!). Sweaters, steaming mugs of coffee, turning leaves and sitting around the fire , warming hands and toes... these are things that make camping in the fall and spring really special.

And then there's the food. Hearty soups, rich stews, hot chocolate with molten marshmallows... sausage gravy with biscuits, the smell of bacon on a campstove, there is just nothing like those smells floating on a cool breeze. So off we go again, leaving on Friday for another mountain adventure. Besides the delicious food, it gets easier to burn off those calories hiking and rock climbing in the cooler weather. We have not yet decided where we are hiking, but we will either hike the falls, or we may double back about 15 minutes to an entry to the Appalachian Trail to be able to say that we hiked at least a portion of this venerable trail. I have been fascinated by the Trail since I read Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods when we went camping last year. We read it aloud in the car and in the tent in the evenings and laughed so hard we had to take a hike to the restrooms. But I digress.

Besides packing the heavy sleeping bags, stocking the chuckwagon,and pulling out sweaters and fleece, setting the menu for fall camping is a challenge, looking for dishes that will stand up to the cooler nights but don't require hours of cooking or a whole pantry full of ingredients. As for my husband, his favorite is a variation of a recipe from Epicurious, Mahogany Bison Stew, which adds hoisin sauce for added richness, and is great steaming in a bowl over rice or noodles., but I like to mix it up in the wilds as well as at home, so this trip has meant spending a couple of hours searching through Epicurious and Food Network virtual recipe boxes to find something that fits the bill. In addition I want to find a recipe that will allow me to use venison, which we have in our freezer from a friend of our son. The result of my searching? I am combining several ideas I saw into a venison stew with goat cheese dumplings (I will post the recipe with pix after the trip since I never post a recipe I haven't made).
On our weekend agenda? This time we are going a more circuitous route in order to accomodate a stop at Fabulous Foods Market in Crozet, a place we heard about last trip when we visited Basic Necessities, a little shop and cafe in the Blue Ridge with big taste (we often go there when we camp for incredible bread (see picture, right) and cheese) Fabulous Foods states as its mission "to provide natural, vital delicious foods; quality healthcare products; and to serve as a community resource for networking and community events. We are committed to sustainable agriculture and dedicated to supporting small farms and local food artisans." We are looking forward to checking out this shop and the surrounding community of Crozet, and then plan to hit Crozet Pizza, where everything is made fresh. Shelly of S'kat and the food has recommended a side venture to DelFosse Vineyards, which we plan to do, time permitting (I have particular plans for reading in my hammock without a tv or phone in sight!)

I have made some bison jerky for the trip. Actually, I've made two batches since the first one got eaten! A friend, Mike, who got us started camping, made this beef jerky that my kids were crazy about and since they don't go as often as they used to(although Mike still sometimes send over a batch of jerky when he makes it!), I had to learn to do it myself. Since everyone had tried bison jerky my husband brought back from Cibola Farms, we decided to make our own try at making bison jerky. Obviously, it turned out well since there is none left for the trip (until I dry tonight's batch!)

So excuse me while I get back to packing and checking and double-checking my list so I don't forget anything, and I will be back with a full report after the weekend! BTW- not me at right, but what I hope to be doing!

Bison Jerky

1 bison flank steak, partially thawed
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
1/4 cup worcestshire sauce
1 tablespoon liquid smoke (more if you like the smoky flavor)
1 tablespoon of hot sauce (if you like spicy)
unseasoned meat tenderizer (optional)

While meat is still partially frozen, slice very thinly with the grain. Spinkle lightly with unseasoned meat tenderizer. Mix all other ingredients except tenderizer and meat in a Ziploc bag and mix. Add meat and let marinate for 6 hours or overnight.
Preheat over to lowest setting (for mine it is about 135 degrees) and if you have convection use it. put rack on top of cookie sheet and spread drained meat in single layer on rack. dry in over for about 6 hours. Jerky should be leathery when done. Cool and then... hide!


2 comments:

kristen & brandon said...

Can I just tell you how excited I am about this swap! I'm having trouble trying choose what to send because there is just so much stuff I love! I also wanted to tell you how jealous I am of where you live, I love Virginia (well pretty much the whole eastern seaboard). I have a brother who lives in Edenton, NC (about a hour south of Norfolk) and some other family in Fairfax, VA and love to come out and visit! Anyway, hope you have fun on your camping trip!
Kristen

Deborah Dowd said...

Kristen- I am having the same problem, but I am narrowing things down and will likely send my package after next weekend when we are going back to Crabtree Falls to stay, for the first time , in a cabin. This area is wonderful, within a day I can be at the oceanon the mountains!