I grew up in the city. My family never went camping. I decided when I was 15 to take a survival course which involved camping and I loved it. Ten years later I found myself in Norfolk with three children and wanted to find fun things to do without computers. I found some other mothers who also wanted to spend a weekend with their children without electronic devices. Four mothers, including myself, decided to take our children camping on Mother’s Day. It is now a tradition that spanned 18 years. There were four mothers and eleven young children, under the age of eight. What I wanted out of camping was time for me and my children without cell phones, computers or computer games. We had a blast. We are still camping after 18 years. I now go on about five camping trips a summer and either one or all of my children still go. They can be in Richmond, Michigan, or Roanoke and they will still come home to camp for a few days with their Mom. The thing I enjoy most about camping is the spontaneity of the weekend. As we all start to relax, we talk and talk. We start sharing things we may not discuss on the phone or in an e-mail with busy lives. We reconnect.
Cooking has always been an important part of our camping trips. At first we made the traditional meals of hot dogs and hamburgers. Food always tastes better when you’re camping. And the s’mores at the end continue to be the best. When the children were a little older, meals became taxing and we all decided to just bring snacks. Again, food always taste better when your camping. The children could pick out whatever they wanted even if it wasn’t on Mom’s healthy list. Now cooking has become a fun part of camping. Usually my friends and I discuss weeks in advance what we are bringing. We bring chicken arugula pasta, fruit salad, homemade guacomole, breakfast casserole and if the dutch oven could talk it would say yum, yum! On our last camping trip, one of the sons, (who is now 25) had crawdads flown in from New Orleans. Boy what a treat. I have learned that you can be a good cook indoors or out. And I don’t mean in the backyard on the grill.
When the kids were little, by necessity the meals were simple. You needed all eyes on the children to keep them away from the fire or wandering off. As they got older, they were able to participate more and they found they enjoyed cooking on a campfire. I love getting up before anyone else, with my book and trusty coffeepot. I make the coffee, sit and read, knowing as the coffee brews, the smell of fresh coffee will fill the air and my kids will start to stir. It’s time to make breakfast. When we are done, we will share good food, good conversation and a whole lot of love.
THE MENU: Homemade Guacomole, Chicken, Sausage & Arugula Pasta, Crawdads, Fruit Salad, S’Mores
- 3 avocados cubed
- 1/2 c. cut grape tomatoes
- 1/2 c. onions
- 4 tbsp. chopped cilantro
- 1-2 tbsp. taco seasoning
- juice from 1 lime
Place avocados, tomatoes, onions and cilantro in a bowl. Sprinkle taco seasoning on the avocado mixture. Squeeze juice from 1 lime on the mixture. Enjoy with tortilla chips.
CHICKEN, SAUSAGE & ARUGULA PASTA
- 2 lbs. chicken breast cubed salted to taste
- 1 lb. hot sausage sliced 1/2 inch thick
- 2 bunches arugula
- 20 grape tomatoes sliced in half
- 2 c. chicken broth
- juice of one lemon
- 2 lbs. spaghetti or linguini
- sea salt
For camping, I prepped at home and had everything in containers ready to go. Place sausage in large saute pan. Cook until brown. About 10 minutes. Add the chicken and cook another 10 minutes. Add chicken broth and tomatoes, cook until simmering. Add arugula and cook until soft. This takes about 2 minutes. Add lemon juice to taste. Serve over cooked pasta.