Last weekend I took a much-needed and much-anticipated camping trip with my dad and brother; we went to one of the most beautiful lakes I’ve seen in quite a while called Edison Lake in Northern California. Though getting there was a pain in the butt (imagine 20 miles of bumpy dirt road while pulling a trailer with a small sailboat…and the whole time being worried that on the one lane road you were going to crash into someone) I cannot imagine a more wonderful camping site. We sailed across the lake and found a gorgeous spot on the lakes edge near the hiking trails. Below is a picture of the sunset on the first night we were there, I was not exaggerating! SO stunning
My wonderful father bought new camping gear just to indulge my baking desires: a dutch oven! I’d never used one of those babies before, but I was determined to spice up our usual camp fare, so I searched the web far and wide for interesting dutch oven recipes that weren’t too complicated for a simple camp meal. Finally, after a week web surfing I decided on beef empanadas and fruit cobbler; simple but delicious.
Because camping is not the most baking friendly activity I used pre-made pie dough for the empanadas and biscuits in a can for the cobbler. However, even though I most definitely prefer the homemade versions the substitutes were perfect for the camp food. The first night out I made beef empanadas; the beef filling for the mini meat pies was out of this world. Steak, potatoes, onions, garlic, cayenne, and cumin: holy moly, delicious. Now comes the bitter end to the story of the dutch oven empanada story…because none of us were familiar with the use and overall temperamental nature of a dutch oven/ open fire situation, the tiny pies became just a little too crispy (more like ridiculously burnt, which is lame because they were only in the fire for 15 mins). Humph, oh well. The non-burnt parts and the filling were still super delicious.
The second night we had delicious lamb kabobs for dinner, and for dessert I made fruit cobbler. At first I was thinking about doing a berry cobbler, but when we stopped by the store before heading up north I couldn’t resist all of the seductive stone fruit just beckoning to eaten. As a result, we had peach-plum cobbler for dessert that night and this dutch oven recipe turned out perfectly!!! The coals were just the right heat level and it was amazing to see how wonderfully golden brown the biscuits turned with such a crude form of heat. To my great surprise and satisfaction the fruit below did not turn into a soupy mess even though I hadn’t added any sort of thickener to the picture. The whole thing was sublime.
Overall, I have to say it was one of the most wonderful camping trips I’ve been on, and believe you me I’ve been on quite a few. We hiked, sailed, cooked, read (and I got to drink copious amounts of hot chocolate while sitting by a warm fire on a cold night): all things I really love to do; and I got to spend some sweet quality time with my dad and brother before we all go back to our lives at school and at work.