So today I decided to make a big batch of granola for the next few days of breakfast. I’ve been sick this week and have wanted to do absolutely nothing. Nooothing. The sunshine outside has just been mocking me, begging me to go on a jog or hang in the hammock, but instead I was lying on the couch, wrapped in blankets, wishing someone would bring me some broth. Or DayQuil.
But today I was feeling a touch better, still exhausted and drooping, but at least I am walking around. So, I made a big batch of granola. And I changed it up. And guess what!?
It was bad.
I mean it. It was not good. It was not sweet enough and it was too dry.
So I tried to fix it. I sauteed it with faux butter. This made it less dry for sure, but it actually diluted the sweetness even more. Ew. I mean, no one would eat this. No person or child. I can already imagine my kids literally spitting this out, partially chewed, onto the floor.
So I added more honey. And now it’s…. PERFECT. It’s sweeter than usual, but I still like it (it’s not overly sweet) and since I added the honey afterward, it was much more clumpy which I love!
So for now it’s solved, but I think what we learned is that my recipe is not fool proof. Also, maybe I should not do projects when my brain is still super fuzzy from sickness and cold medicine. I kept accidentally typing the wrong thing yesterday when I was trying to finish some emails – maybe pregnancy brain and cold brain are related? I’m not pregnant, but my brain felt similarly fuzzy.
Now I at least do not have to make breakfast for the next few days! Let’s just hope my taste buds are not also compromised and I find out tomorrow that the granola is actually disgusting. Here’s hoping!
Hopefully I’ll get better soon and then I will See You Outside!
Last weekend we finally went on “Spring Break”, taking the whole family on a road trip to meet my brother-in-law, Daniel, and his wife, Sarah, at Palo Duro Canyon!
We originally planned for this trip to be grown-ups only, but some changes happened and we ended up taking all the kids. We were a little daunted by the task at first, but made the best of it. What’s better than sharing your love for hiking and camping with your children? Almost nothing.
We also realized that our littles have grown up quite a lot! Guess what? No one screamed the whole way there or back! I was honestly worried because we did not have much room in the car for the normal toy bag and snack bag. Usually we load up with toys and snacks to try and make the drive doable. But this time the car was just too full of all the necessities. So we had just a little bit snack-wise, and the world’s smallest toy bag…like under 10 toys/books. It could have all fit in a shoe box. Upside: we had three toys that they had not gotten to use in about a month so the kids were really excited to have those. (They each had a ziploc type bag that had little felt shapes where you can sew around the edges. I feel like this is a horrible explanation haha!)
We had some amazing barbecue at Leeper Creek BBQ outside Decatur, TX. It was such a great place because it has this back patio where you can sit, your kids can run around (praise the Lord for fenced in patios), and there’s a waterfall with some beautiful nature around it for everyone to enjoy! This was a much needed break from all the driving.
We got to Palo Duro around 5pm and set about making camp. Good news, it was much hotter than it was supposed to be and it was incredibly windy! Perfect conditions for pitching a tent. We ended up really needing our little people because they stood on the corners of our footprint while we staked it down. Even after that, the tent kept trying to fly away as we put it together – our smaller tent actually did fly away after we got all the poles attached, but had yet to put on the rain fly/stakes. It’s a good thing Daniel and Sarah were there because they helped catch the tent as it was flying away. How many adults does it take to stake down a two person, backpacking tent? Apparently it takes 4… and 3 small children. Ha. Goodness, it was so windy.
That one in the middle – that’s the one that had an escape plan.
When we got up the next morning, can I tell you how excited I was to realize the kids had slept passed 7am? Even with the sun out! Day one was all about climbing and caves. It turns out Sarah has a deep love for caves, so we could not miss an opportunity to climb up to the one nearby.
Again, the life saving power of an aunt and uncle. Who wants to hike with mommy and daddy when you could have your aunt and uncle? No judgment, they are some of my favorite people too.
We also hiked some smaller paths, and hike/climbed up and down the area near our campsite. The hike up was a little challenging, but really pleasant. The hike down was… let’s just say the husband received some well earned jabs for choosing the most difficult path down the canyon. Louis and Clark (the names of my Chacos) felt right at home as they navigated a new path through the brush and rocks.
Look at that attractive couple. Wow. We are killin’ it at this point. This is also before we started the descent so…
One of the best parts of all the climbing was discovering that our youngest is a natural Spiderman! We knew he loved to climb, much like every child we have ever met, but he had such a natural gift for climbing up the rocks. He was rarely scared, he took risks, and he found footholds naturally. He may have earned himself a new nickname.
At night we put the kids down to bed in the tents and played games. We brought a ton of games, but one of our favorites is Bang! Although we all played several rounds of Guess Who? with the oldest because she got to stay up a little later. She felt so grown up!
Alas, this is the only picture we got of the two ginormous bags of trail mix we made to bring because we are awesome. Or possibly because we accidentally left the cooler unlocked one night and left our food box out (which we thought was secured shut) the next night and special critters enjoyed our trail mix even more than we did. The night we did get to eat our trail mix, all the dark chocolate covered almonds had melted during the day in my backpack creating huge clumps of trail mix that were connected by the, now cooled, chocolate. This was my best life now.
This was also the squirrels’ best life now.
Trail Mix Recipe: Pretzels (we used the sticks, but they were actually too big to get a good handful of things so I would recommend either the grid shape or the braided circle shape), Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds, Raisins, Dried Cranberries, Dried Strawberries (the husband did not appreciate this addition, but I did), Peanuts, Cashews
The next morning, we had chorizo, potatoes, and scrambled eggs for breakfast. When there are 7 people to cook for and two tiny burners, you have to get creative. We have wanted this cast iron griddle/grill for years, years and we finally had a reason to buy it! Thank you, Palo Duro!
I’m not sponsored by Lodge or anything, but I can tell you that they are the only brand we buy. I have tried other brands, but none of them hold up to Lodge. This thing is not a short term purchase, it is a life purchase. All of our Lodge products look as good as the day we bought them.
A little steel wool, season with oil, and you’re done. It will change your life. But for real this time.
The next day we took on the mother lode of hikes. One of our party decided that we should shoot for the moon and head to the lighthouse. When getting ready for this trip, we were told over and over that a trip to Palo Duro Canyon was almost not worth it if you do not go see the Lighthouse, and, in truth, pictures of it were everywhere. It was about three miles there and three miles back. So, we loaded up a backpack of water and all the snacks any small human could ever desire, put the youngest in the Tula, and set off.
There is a thermometer at the entrance to the trail telling you that if it is 90 degrees or higher, jogging/running is not allowed on the trail. It was already 85 degrees with no shade to be found, this was our warning. A warning we did not take.
On the way there, was one of the more excruciating hikes of my lifetime. It was incredibly hot, sunny, dusty, and rather uninteresting for most of the hike. The first long portion is rather flat too. The kids were not impressed. Nor did they think this hiking thing, which was so fun the day before, was very fun today. All they wanted to do was stop, be carried, and eat snacks. I felt like everyone walking past us looked at us with a little sympathy, but also were secretly thinking YOU WERE WARNED.
We finally made it to the end of the trail and were expecting the magnificence that is the Lighthouse, but guess what…the trail ends BEFOREYOU GET TO THE LIGHTHOUSE. We were warned! Well not about this, but we should have just taken the heat as a warning that everything could and might go wrong.
The youngest was asleep in Tula at this point, so the husband just turned around and walked back to the car. Sarah and Daniel felt good about the trail and mercifully took the middle one back because the oldest and I wanted to summit this rock. We were determined.
It was a difficult hike up, but we really enjoyed it. The oldest said that climbing the rock was the best part! We were coated in red dirt, and we haaated the walk back, but we survived! We have so much character because of this hike.
We were all pretty much done for the day after this hike so we just hung out and tried to rest that afternoon. I found out during this weekend that I love hammocks. It was deeply relaxing to hang out each afternoon and read in the world’s most amazing swatch of blue.
Excuse my legs and the dirt, but I was in a good place here. The breeze was just right and the book was awesome. I read Artemis by Andy Weir and Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham – both excellent. Find me on Goodreads if you want my thoughts on those! (I have since read another book and just started The Golden Compass, the verdict is still out.)
Monday morning we made the long trip home, but not before heading to the look out at the top of the canyon and enjoying the view. We hope we will come back to Palo Duro in the future because there is so much we did not get to do. Until then…
One of the most important things to consider when you’re camping is…food. Whether you’re glamping in an a-frame or primitive backpacking, you still have to eat. The internet is full of ideas for what you should eat on your camp out and they range from camp-gourmet to MREs. So what should you eat?
The first thing you have to consider is – what kind of camping will you be doing?
Is there a fire ring, will you need to bring your own wood, is there a grill, do you need charcoal? What sort of space do you have for bringing supplies? If you’re car camping, you could easily bring a dutch oven, skillet, camp stove, and almost any food you could think of in your cooler. If you’re in a cabin, you might even have the luxury of a refrigerator. However, if you are doing a campsite that you have to hike to, you will not want lots of heavy pans or a cooler. This is probably the most important deciding factor about your food.
Once you’ve decided all that, though, you still have to decide what to eat!
So here is what I am going to do. I am going to give you a list of food that I know works and tastes good here. Second, I am going to start trying more of these foods and posting my reviews for you on this blog!
The most important food to pack if you are doing anything other than primitive backpacking (and even then you may decide it’s worth the weight) is S’mores. I have said it before, but I will say it again – it’s almost not camping if there are no s’mores. What’s the point of even building a fire if there are no marshmallows to roast! (I am partially kidding)
Some other foods that we have found successful:
So this may sound self-explanatory, but hot dogs are such an easy thing to bring with you. You can eat them up over a fire, a camp stove, or pretty much any heating element. You could probably light a match and hold it over a match for a little bit and it would work. I mean these are just so easy. Plus, you can use them in many things. You don’t have to bring buns to use hot dogs. You can put them with beans, packs of ramen, or add them to chili.
This can seem a bit more difficult because some people like to make chili more complicated than necessary. But if you have ever seen a western movie ever, you know that chili is a camping staple! There are many options you could use to make chili on a camp fire (cast iron dutch oven style) or on the camp stove (small pot style).
One option is the “all cans” style, the easiest I think. You add a little oil (those travel shampoo things at Target are perfect for bringing a small amount of oil), a can of…14oz black beans, 14 oz red kidney beans, 14 oz can diced tomatoes (or Rotel for a kick or just tomato sauce for the tomato haters out there like my husband), 1 can chipotle peppers with the seeds removed (or green enchilada peppers or leave out), 1 cup of broth (or a 12 oz lager). If you feel fancy, add salt, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and all spice.
Stir it all together and let it boil until it looks and taste how you like it.
Now maybe you don’t want a more vegetarian style chili and you are willing to put a little more work into it. I suggest using the above method, but here is what I would add to it. Ground Beef, Hot Sausage (Breakfast or regular), and Onions
If you are looking to save time or to avoid carrying raw meat with you, you can always cook these in advance and bring it in ziploc bags or plastic containers. I would also pre-chop the onions, but not cook them until you are ready to make your food. Soggy onions are no one’s friend, but you will never get all that onion juice off your hands if you chop it at your campsite and you will inevitably touch your eyes, causing you to cry buckets. #imnotcryingyourecrying This is definitely not first hand experience…
You could put almost anything inside a foil packet, I am convinced, and it would be delicious. Pick your favorite meat, your favorite vegetables, and a sauce if you’re feeling fancy then put it all in foil and throw it on your coals.
I have done:
Chicken, Asparagus, and BBQ sauce
Chicken, Squash, Zucchini, Bell Peppers, and BBQ sauce
Chicken, Potatoes (slightly pre-cooked at home), Carrots (julienned), and Salsa
Chicken, Tomatoes, Onions, Squash (the tomatoes are juicy enough to become the sauce)
I won’t lie that eating kabobs over the fire when we were at Enchanted Rock felt so fancy. They were delicious and actually much easier than so many things we have made before. Major key to it going well – soak your skewers in water if you’re using disposable skewers. We have metal ones now so this is less of a deal, but we still occasionally bring the other and have to soak them. So what do you put on your skewers?
Chicken, Bell Peppers, Onions, Tomatoes, Mushrooms – anything that strikes your fancy
I looove eating this for breakfast at the campsite. It is so filling that I am all set to go climbing or hiking after its deliciousness. So what is this magic? Potatoes. Eggs. Chorizo. I tend to eat Mexican Chorizo, but there are so many types from Spain, Philippines, Mexico, and many other countries that you could do a taste test of only Chorizo. But bring the water and some crackers or rice because most Chorizo is spicy! If it’s long and narrow there is a chance it is more sweet, but most Chorizo that is sold in the every day grocery store where I am is quite spicy and will stain your hands red.
Secondary option that I have started eating with everything – Kimchi. Our youngest is Korean and as we make every attempt to incorporate his country and his culture into our lives, Kimchi has become a standard food for us. If you’re going to bring it, though, make sure you keep it in plenty of its juice because you do not want it to dry out.
Feeling nervous that the potatoes will take forever to cook? A good trick is to cook them in advance. Now do not go and cook them all the way then try to cook them again, they will be mush. Not that mashed potatoes aren’t good for breakfast, but it’s not the point here. Cook them until they al dente, or just a little crunch in the center. That way, it’ll be much faster during the real deal.
This is another amazing food we have gotten to try because of many amazing people who are teaching us about South Korea. Omurice came to Korea from Japan, but can now be found in many places! I have cooked it myself several times, but also had it at a little place in Seoul and let’s just say it changed my life. Now I do not have my own recipe. You are going to have to head over to Maangchi’s website to get it. (I’ll give you the link here in a minute) But here’s my advice on how to make it camping friendly.
Chop all the vegetables in advance and bring minute rice. You can definitely bring traditional rice, it will taste better, but if you are worried about time or trying to bring less pots/pans, minute rice is easier. Combine them together with the cooked meat in a bowl. Traditionally, you would use a bow to make a dome for the egg pancake to go on top of or you would make it look sort of like a burrito; however, you’re camping and you do not want to use a 1000 dishes. So cook the meat and vegetables in the pan, and put in on the plate/bowl. Cook the rice at the same time if you can, if not cook it first. Then combine it on the plate/bowl. Then use the very same pan to make scrambled eggs and put them on top. It is ok if you do not want to make a pancake. It would be better with an egg pancake, but there will be no police here. https://www.maangchi.com/recipe/omeu-raiseu
This dish is a bit complex for camping, but it is so so good, highly filling, and contains so many nutrient dense foods that will last you until lunch no matter what you are doing. This is definitely a food for car camping or glamping.
Pre-made trail bars/trail mix So trail mix is pretty self explanatory about how to make it and take it. Buy what you like, mix it up. I like to use these snack bags instead of a ziploc bag because they are really durable and will not rip in my day pack. Plus, if I finish the trail mix, I can use the bag for other things because it does not become crinkly and useless after one use.
As far as trail bars, I make my own version of a LaraBar that my kids have started calling “mommy bars”. They are legitimately delicious and easy to pack with you to take on a hike. No afternoon slump here! Make these in advance.
2 cups (roughly 1.5 packages at my local Randall’s)
1 cup slivered almonds (I have also done half and half almonds and walnuts)
1/2 cup dried fruit (I use cranberries and raisins)
2-3Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
Grab your food processor! Please do not do this in a mixer or blender, it just does not do as well. I have heard one person having success with a Vitamix, but the risk is yours!
Put the dates, nuts, and dried fruit in the mixer and get to it! As your mixing, add 1 Tbsp cocoa at a time and taste it to make sure you get the right flavor. Too little and it will not taste at all like brownies, too much and it will taste like powder. Gross. You want it to be sticking together pretty well. You can add a little water if needed, but no more than 2T or it won’t blend together. Pat everything onto a parchment paper lined casserole dish and refrigerate. Cut them into squares, wrap them up, and they are ready to go!
These can be frozen if you’re really trying to make them far in advance.
Quick tip: If you have trouble with your dates or are nervous because you are trying them in a blender, blend up just the water and dates first to make a paste, then add in everything else.
Pancakes! Deliciousness! Please please please do not bring all the ingredients to make pancakes from scratch when you go camping. Please make the batter in advance, store it in a milk carton or something like that, and bring it ready to pour. You’ll love the pancakes and you’ll appreciate the lack of hassle. Are you wishing you could have pancakes and kabobs? You totally can! Make small pancakes, put them on kabobs with strawberries, other fruits, small sausages, or bacon. Then drizzle the whole thing with syrup from your trust travel sized squeeze bottle. Boom. Pancake Kabobs. Enjoy.
Because you definitely hadn’t thought of making eggs already…
My only tip here is that if you do not have room or are worried about breaking eggs, you can prescramble some eggs and put them in a container to bring with you. You could use a mason jar if you’re feeling fancy, but you could also keep the container from some heavy whipping cream or something else small that has a twist cap and store them there.
Let me know if you have any good meals to add in and send me an recipes you’ve seen and would like to see someone try out!