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Camping, Princess Style


Marlene
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Thanks, Shelby and Porthos! Shelby, I'll have to look for that movie. I hadn't heard of it, but Lucy and Desi were a funny couple.

Yesterday we drove up and out of Death Valley, past the sign that says "Sea Level", and up onto the high desert. We drove through Shoshone and Baker, where we fueled up (don't do that again unless desperate) and did not buy a Quiznos sub because they were out of everything that interested us. Instead, we noshed on cheese, crackers, salami, assorted vegetables and citrus as we headed south and past Kelso and the signs that warn to watch out for desert tortoises. We didn't see any tortoises, but joshua trees are a sight unto themselves.

IMG_20150113_172832.jpg

It's rare to see heavy cloud cover over the desert, and I found it refreshing. My darling prefers the monotony of endless sunshine, so only one of us was happy with this view. We'd have liked to stay near Kelso for a day or two, but it was cool and we wanted to find a lower elevation for the night, so we continued on under the clouds.

IMG_20150113_173030.jpg

When we finally settled for the evening, we found ourselves at 2500' anyway, so it was a cool evening. With clear skies however, the star-gazing and planet-watching were good. Our computer's wireless connection has decided to stop working, and after we struggled to the point of ill temper it was late to do much interesting cooking. This is what Farmer John Smoked Louisiana-style (made in California) sausage is for! That, plus my favorite way of doing brussels sprouts, constituted dinner.

IMG_20150113_172146.jpgIMG_20150113_172540.jpgIMG_20150113_172621.jpgIMG_20150113_172449.jpg

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Today we didn't have much breaking of camp to do, since we'd done nothing more than level and stabilize the trailer - and open the glides - for the night. It's a good thing, because the wind was brisk and continues to be so.

Remember all the food I said we didn't need to buy? We needed "only a few things" from the grocery store and stopped at Stater Brothers in 29 Palms for fresh salad vegetables and pet supplies. We also came out with a rack of beef ribs that looked too good to pass up. It's in the oven now, slow-cooking with a rub of cumin and paprika (sweet and smoked). He's a fan of barbecue sauce - I like it sometimes - so in an hour or so I'll paint some on half of the rack.

Our usual lunch is salad, but when we're driving it's more likely to be carrots, radishes, and (as yesterday) cheese and crackers. Today we threw over the traces: Stater Bros' deli had a chicken salad with dill and olives that somehow found its way into our cart, and into the last of my last batch of pita.

Photos to come later.

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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This morning's view:

Morning view.JPG

The ribs before cooking, with their seasoning, looked dreadful in the "before" photo, so I'm saving the pixels. I really have to start paying more attention to lighting; late afternoon sunlight isn't the ticket. After they were cooked, they looked like this:

Ribs in baking dish small.jpg

The roundish things above are the two silicone disks I used to cover instead of foil. I left a couple of ribs uncoated with Jack Daniels barbecue sauce, and instead used some of the leftover sauce from citrus-marinated chicken last week. I think I liked that better, but both flavorings were good.

This oven is new as of January 2, and I'm still learning to use it. (I broke my baking stone last week wtih injudicious heat.) The dial doesn't go below 300F, but by guess and by golly I got the oven to maintain around 200F by positioning the control about halfway between the "300F" mark and the "Pilot Light On" mark. Judging by the texture of the cooked ribs, they may have needed a bit more time. Nonetheless, the meat was nearly perfect: inexpensive prime rib, almost all falling off the bone.

Almost perfect small.jpg

We did have vegetables also: the rest of the brussels sprouts for him and some steamed broccoli with yet more leftover citrus sauce for me. There is leftover meat - not as much as two sensible adults should have left - but some. (I hid my share lest it evaporate overnight.) When it's done, we'll really need to be 'good' about the calories for a while. Oinkeroo.

  • Like 9

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Those ribs look amazing, Smithy. And the morning view incredible. Glad to be along for the ride.

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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They do indeed.

Are you somewhere along the 10 or the 40?

No, we're farther south between the 10 and the 8, enjoying a very rare, clear view of the mountains around Banning Pass: rare because there's not the usual tongue of smog sticking out of the pass from the L.A. Basin.

I'm enjoying a late breakfast: 2 oranges, a mandarin orange, and an avocado sandwich on rosemary bread. I set off the smoke alarm, trying to toast the bread on stovetop. Guess I should have turned on the generator and run the toaster instead. :-)IMG_20150114_124252.jpg

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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This is what I mean by a clear view of the pass from L.A: unfortunately rare out here.

Banning pass clear.jpg

The air right now is quite clear, however, and the view is glorious.

Morning view across lake.jpg

One of our "time-saving" tricks is to do about a week's worth of salad preparation in advance. With proper timing the batches can be staggered to different days, but yesterday we were out of it all: the salad greens, the salad "crunchy" additions, and the fruit salad. Below is most, but not all of the results: mixed greens (romaine hearts and kale); 2 large containers of mixed chopped radishes, celery, carrots, ripe bell peppers and snap peas; more than 2 large containers of cut pineapple, citrus, strawberriBs, raspberries, grapes and dates.

IMG_5120.JPG

Not shown: hummus, and some of the other containers. By the time I'd finished with all that, I wasn't interested in food prep for dinner, preferring instead to sit outside in the sun with a book. Dinner was a very uninteresting mix of potato salad and bratwurst, not worth photos.

I ran out of mayonnaise, so that's on today's task list. Does anyone have a favorite recipe? I'm doing the 2-minute immersion blender version from Serious Eats, but mine comes out very bland. My darling thinks it needs more sweet (he's a Miracle Whip kinda guy) and I think it needs more...salt? tart? garlic, perhaps? We're considering using Meyer lemon juice this time around but I'm open to suggestions.

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I made some for Kerry Beal when we were on Manitoulin. She is also a Miracle Whip "wimp" and I believe she might have doctored it with a little sugar or perhaps it was honey.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Maybe I'll make a double batch, or triple.  My Miracle Whip Brat has been suggesting white balsamic vinegar.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I use Julia Child's recipe using the balloon whip in my KitchenAid Mixer. I have done it by hand when necessary. I use white vinegar, a squirt of prepared mustard for where she calls for dry mustard and corn oil. No other oil will do.

 

Neither the DW or I can stand the taste of Miracle Whip.

Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

;

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there was a children's show on Phila TV, back when there were only 3 channels, and rabbit ears on top of the black and white TV sets, called Willie the Worm. One of Willie's sponsors was Miracle Whip, and W. the W. used to recommend spreading miracle whip on a slice of bread for a snack.

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"A fool", he said, "would have swallowed it". Samuel Johnson

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When I was a kid I strongly preferred Miracle Whip. Sometime in early adulthood my tastes changed; I can't stand the stuff either. My darling isn't as bull-headed about getting his own preferred condiments as I am, but there's no harm in each of us getting what we want. It just makes for a more crowded refrigerator. :-)

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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... there's no harm in each of us getting what we want ...

 

I agree. When we travel we carry the bread I like (Miltons) and what my DW likes (San Luis Sour Dough). When we can get it my DW gets Bodine's from San Francisco.

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Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

;

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Inspired by recent developments in this topic on Moroccan Tagine Cooking, as well as a need to keep working through last year's stash of fresh dates, I invented a new dish.  The cookware in question is a clay pot from Egypt; it isn't a tagine.  Clay has wonderful cooking properties that I'll be happy to discuss in more detail.

 

Raw ingredients:  chicken thighs, rice, half a valencia orange (for juice), spices, a touch of oil, a bit of chicken broth; not shown: the dates.

 

Clay pot chicken raw ingredients.jpg

 

In layers, into the pot, I set: a little oil, the rice (~3/4c?), drizzled the rice with broth, but not (it turned out) enough.  

Atop the rice went the chicken thighs (patted dry, dabbed with oil, sprinkled with spices).  The dates were tucked in around and between the chicken; the orange juice was poured over the lot; the rest of the spices were spread over the chicken.

 

Clay pot chicken.jpg

 

The pot went into the oven at around 300F (still no oven thermometer) covered, until it was nearly done, then uncovered for a little extra browning of the chicken.  I thought it was done when I pulled it out.  The chicken was fine; the rice needed more time or more liquid.

 

Clay pot chicken cooked 600.jpgClay pot chicken served 1.jpg

Still...where that rice was done, it was deliciously done. Look! It approached the Iranian tahdig: crusty, brown, caramelized.

 

Clay pot chicken look at that tahdig.jpg

 

The beauty of slow cooking in an oven is that we could spend time sitting outside, looking at the stars. I actually found Comet Lovejoy...that is, I didn't discover it, but given clear skies and a clue where to look, I found that fuzzy greenish ball.

 

I still haven't exhausted our supply of dates, but that won't stop me from replenishing. Up soon: dates from a local producer.

  • Like 6

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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If you drive south along California 111, through Coachella and toward Mecca, around Thermal you will begin to see date groves of every size and age, and along the right signs will appear for the Oasis Date Gardens. Lunch, a park, date shakes! Don't miss it! As a little girl I was fascinated by the sight of the place when our family drove past it. "Nope," said my father, "it's a tourist trap"...and at any rate we were on a mission with no time to stop. Times and drivers have changed, and now that we're glamping my darling and I have time and inclination to visit. They don't give tours, but they have a short video about date cultivation and harvesting, off in a little side room presided over by "Raul Medjool", a date-shaped mascot character that looks like a child's costume.

Oasis Date Gardens building front.jpg

Date production is a big deal in this area, and (according to their video, ©1990) the Coachella Valley accounts for 95% of the USA's date production. Local date production practices are incredibly labor intensive and water intensive. According to the video, dates require manual pollination via one of several various practices. Given that the date was considered a "tree of life" in ancient times, we think some information must have been specific to formal cultivation practices in this country; otherwise, how would the species have developed?

Oasis Date Gardens picnic lawn.jpg

There's a small gift shop with date products, books, and - best of all - a tasting table loaded with different varieties of dates and information about them.

Oasis Date Gardens gift shop.jpgTasting table.jpg

There are bins with dates of each variety for bulk purchase; you load up a bag with the variety of choice and pay at the counter. Prices for most dates are $4.50 or $5.00 per pound, but the ultra-fancy Medjool dates are $7.00/lb. You can buy dates already boxed, but it's more fun to sample and choose.

Oasis Date Garden Medjool gift box.jpgOasis Date Garden bulk bins.jpg

They also have a lunch counter with burgers, sandwiches, salads, wraps, drinks; one can eat inside at a table or outside on the lawn, where there are picnic tables. Almost anything can be gotten with dates in it, but not everything has dates - you can get a club sandwich (Despite this current debate, I didn't take time to ask how they made it :raz: ) or a tuna sandwich. I was leaning toward a spinach salad with nuts and dates, but was persuaded by my darling to take a bacon cheeseburger with dates so he could satisfy his curiosity without the risk. I wouldn't do it again.

Oasis Date Gardens lunch.jpg

Every meal is accompanied by a sample of their date cake - a chewy, dense, lovely concoction of nuts, dates, and probably a bit of batter.

Date cake 1.jpg

If you have a coupon, you can get a free sample of their date shakes also; otherwise you can buy one. I went with the free sample. It was consumed quickly before it could melt. Delicious!

Date shake 1.jpg

  • Like 6

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Love this armchair travelling. Was the burger naff because of the dates or do you not like burgers to begin with? Just curious.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Lunch at the Oasis Date Gardens was huge, and when dinner time rolled around I still wasn't hungry. My darling was, and I left him to his own preference of the remaining bratwurst and potato salad from a couple of nights ago. I made a dinner salad, and topped a slice of toast with the last of some enchilada filling from a few more nights ago, melted onto the bread.

Dinner salad with enchilada bruschetta.jpg

I'll call it "enchilada bruschetta" until someone gives me a better name. It's a linguistic mutt, but well worth eating.

Dinner enchilada bruschetta.jpg

We were both happy with our selections, but that didn't prevent him saying, "Can you cover your green salad while we're eating, so I don't have to feel guilty?"

This is the other reason I didn't want to be inside, fussing over dinner:

Salton Sea Sunset good clarity and colors and pelicans.jpg

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Love this armchair travelling. Was the burger naff because of the dates or do you not like burgers to begin with? Just curious.

 

I like burgers very much, and this had good fixings (except for the dates) although the meat was overcooked for my tastes.  I didn't think the dates complimented the burger.  I prefer tart flavors with my burgers: dill pickles, for instance, instead of sweet pickles. 

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Hey Smithy,

 

I love dates, but not on burgers, or anything else sweeter than raw or caramelized onion in the mix.

 

That definitely includes Miracle Whip. Duke's mayo for me. No sugar/corn syrup and quite tart.

 

Thanks for sharing all of this, but especially the Ansel Adams worthy photo of the sunset on the lake at the end of post 147. Any idea what the waterfowl are? A couple look as graceful as swans. SUCH a BEAUTIFUL capture of a moment in time! 

> ^ . . ^ <

 

 

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Thank you for your kind words, Thanks for the Crepes! gfweb is right: there are pelicans in that picture, and may be a few gulls as well.

I've been hearing lately about Duke's mayonnaise but hadn't known what's special about it. Now that I know it isn't sweet, I'll have to check it out if I ever spot it in a grocery store.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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It's been a lot of maintenance and non-culinary rambling in the last few days.  One day I had to break down and go to the grocery store for "just a few things" (see notes above) and got lost in Indio trying to find the store that we usually go to.  On the plus side, I found the location of the annual Date Festival (and Riverside County Fair) referred to earlier.  The grocery store itself was bewildering - couldn't find things, unusual (to me) layout.  I did, however, come away with some of the most toothsome and flavorful green beans I've ever seen, and the celery was also quite nice.

 

Green beans raw beautiful.jpg

 

The green beans worked their way into a meal last night, as did some oranges and salmon.

Green beans with gremolata.jpgSalmon with citrus vinaigrette over greens.jpg

 

I've posted more information on them in the eG Cook-Off #68: Citrus Fruits topic.

 

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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