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Happy-Gourmand

Simple joys of camping

We visited friends who were "camping" this week in Penticton. I use the quotation marks because their version of camping now includes the RV with DVDs, air conditioning and microwave. I guess I must be getting old; I thought the best stories of the evening were about the good old days when we roughed it.

Maybe having fewer responsibilities because of a simpler existence is what makes camping such a joyful thing. I always feel a bit like a kid when I camp, and not just from the memories of breakfast cereal eaten out of the box or being able to count swimming in the lake as a shower.

You see, for us, getting away to camp is not about bringing everything from home; we want camp life to be different. My days of sleeping on the ground are done, but I like the fire outside on the ground (in the propane ring, to be safe); air conditioning is when the wind blows. The double bed and hard rain-proof roof our 13-foot vintage camper offers are plenty of luxury for this camp girl.

Some of my other favourite things about camping are:

• Starting the day with a cup of camp coffee. Not only is it nice to be able to sit and sip it as you do nothing but watch the sun climb in the sky, but I love the sound of the old percolator singing its song… “Doo’ ba doo, ba doo-doo’!”

Are you old enough to remember the commercials with the bee-bopping sound of the bubbling metal coffee pot with the window cap on the top?! My Gramps swore that percolated coffee was the best; sitting in my camp chair I can wholeheartedly agree.

• You can also have all kinds of wonderful snacks camping that don’t seem appropriate anywhere else, too. When I was a kid, we pretty much only had store-bought cookies when we camped. I learned to master the art of pulling apart an Oreo one summer in the Rockies. Dad’s Cookies are great for camping too, especially if you can get the Variety Pack – then everyone gets to pick their favourites.

When I was a kid, one evening at camp we would always have Jiffy Pop popcorn – it was a real art to get those kernels to pop just right in that space-age container that you shook over the fire. My mom was the good sport who said she liked the few dark ones at the bottom of the pan.

• The quintessential camping experience is food on a stick. We don’t just do hot dogs of course; here is where my hubbie’s chef expertise comes in. He always likes to cook something on a spit when we camp – I think part of the attraction is to see the looks on people’s faces as they pass by.

It is a great tasting meal to have a leg of lamb slowly turned over a charcoal fire, matched with some freshly chopped Greek salad and grilled flatbread. Then for the perfect dessert, keeping with the “food on a stick” theme, we roast marshmallows over the coals.

I bet you’re thinking, “Wait! She didn’t even mention s’mores. How can that be?”

I was never a big fan of the usual s’more, where the chocolate doesn’t melt and so it’s hard to bite through, so then you lose some of your marshmallow in the dirt.

Again, my chef hubbie came to the rescue – but the details of his innovation are for a blog post I am preparing. Follow my blog if you’d like the inside scoop. I will give you one tip to up your store-bought marshmallow experience: if you lick out the filling in the Oreo and replace it with a toasted marshmallow, it is blissful.

I have been on camping trips where we got soaking wet, and had my runners melt by the fire while trying to dry them out (I’ve never bought vinyl runners since.) I have gotten marshmallow in my hair (beware of cousins who have a propensity for waving things around).

But on a clear night under the stars, with fingers sticky from the treats, there is a nothing like sharing that special show Mother Nature puts on with someone close to you. It’s simple, but perfect.



More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."

 

E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com

 



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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