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Peg Cornwell with "wild blues"
Here is one of my favorites summer food experiences. It is a "gathering to table" experience that can only happen in late July to early August. The hunter/gathering in me has always loved to pick blueberries. And over the years I have discovered an amazing spot on the top of a small bald peak in the Adirondacks near our summer camp. If I time it right, the top is covered with a sea of blue. I am happy to share the crop with the local bear and bird population, but not too many others have discover it. To get to the food part, I think one on the most outstanding culinary treats in the summer is wild blueberry whatever (pie, buckle, fresh, on pancakes, crisp). In our case it is a recipe that my mother has written on a piece of scrap paper and taped to the inside of the cabinet door which holds the sugar, flour, salt and baking powder, some essential ingredients for what we call blueberry buckle (though I know by definition a blueberry buckle is blueberries in the dish and this has blueberries on the bottom)
Anyway, a perfect summer outing is to ride our bikes to the bottom of the hill (not to be named to protect all those blueberries from people other than me), hike up the 3/4 mile with berry picking containers in hand, pick like crazy until everyone gets tired of waiting for me, trek back down and ride home (remember to bring lids for your containers or they end up smooshed on the bottom of your backpack, not pretty). Then I sit on the porch in the sun and sift out the chaff from the blues and put them in a prominent place for all to admire. Around 8pm when we are starting to think about dinner after a long day on the lake, the buckle goes in the oven and comes out warm in time for dessert. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. There is rarely any left over but if there is, the first one up in the morning inevitably decides it is prime breakfast material. So here is the recipe, simple, but amazing, made possible by tons of sweet fresh wild blueberries.
- 1 cup flour
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- 2 cups wild blueberries
- 1/3 cup butter
- 2 tbs brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Grease and 8x8 baking pan. Pour 2 cups of blues in the bottom (the more
the better of course).
- Mix the egg and dry ingredients together and add on top of the blues.
- Melt the butter, add in the brown sugar. Pour over the flour mixture, sprinkle on the cinnamon.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with ice cream or not.
Peg Cornwell, Canton NY
One Pan Adironkack Camp Dinner
Long story short - A pair of arts folks fell in love with the Adirodacks. Being terribly impulsive (as arts folks are), we wanted to buy a fixer-upper and we wanted it fast. We ended up with a *real* fixer upper and quickly discovered we had to find meals we could make without the benefit of a working kitchen! (At this point, our house is so primitive, it's a lot like camping.) This is a favorite:
- 4 pork chops
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Healthy dash of salt
- Pepper to taste
- 4 potatoes, slice thin
- 2 small onions, sliced thin
- 3 cubes beef bouillon
- 3/4 cup hot water
- Dash of lemon juice
- Heat the oil in a large skillet, coat the pork chops with flour, and plop in the skillet. Brown about 4 minutes on each side.
- In a bowl, mix the parmesan, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle 1/2 the Parmesan cheese mixture over the pork chops. Layer chops with the potatoes. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan mixture. Top it with the onion slices.
- In another bowl, combine the beef bouillon cubes and hot water. Add a dash of lemon juice and pour over the layered pork chops.
- Cover the pan, and reduce heat to low - simmer 45 minutes, until vegetables are soft. Pork chops should have an internal temperature of 160 degrees F when done. (We found that a meat thermometer is an invaluable tool when cooking under unknown curcumstances.)
- Serve it up and take it out to eat on the front porch!
Phill Greenland, Brighton NY
While easier to make than apple pie but just as proverbially American, blueberry pancakes made with organically grown flour and butter, home grown eggs and bacon, real maple syrup, and wild blueberries are unpatriotically rare. When recently we asked the owner of a famous (and expensive) north country resort why she did not serve real maple syrup, she said it was too expensive. Penny wise, reputation foolish. To experience this gustatory treasure in the middle of a two week canoe trip in August is to taste the universe in a Sierra cup.
Ingredients per person:
- 1 c. flour (makes three 7 pancakes). No more than 50% white flour. We often use multi-grain flour or a never duplicated mix of such flours as whole wheat, oat, buckwheat, corn, rice, and bean.
- 1 t baking powder
- 1 cup powdered milk (add the powder to the dry ingredients)
- 1 egg (one of the few luxuries)
- ½ c. blueberries
- water (however much for the consistency you like)
- Remember, pancakes are idiot proof, merely inflated and dolled up tortillas.
- Into a pot empty the plastic bag that contains all the dry ingredients packaged together before the trip, add the eggs, and enough water to make the batter as thick or thin as you prefer, depending on whether you like your pancakes thick or thin.
- Finally add the blueberries you picked a few minutes ago. If you brought dried blueberries, they will already be in the bag of dry ingredients unless you choose to package them separately and reconstitute in water before adding to the batter. How many? Perhaps you could add too many, but that would be a new experience for us.
- Put a few slices of pre-cooked, vacuum packed bacon (requires no refrigeration) and some canola oil on a frying pan or cookie sheet and pour on some batter in your favorite diameter. Ours is often a voyageur sized 7. If you then discover, as once happened to us, that you forgot to pack a spatula, grab a hatchet and knife and madly whittle one from a dead piece of softwood.
- No maple syrup? We still tell the story of a trip in 1963 when we made do with a mix of brandy and brown sugar on a sub-freezing morning.
- With unwavering attention and determination, the last batch, which is reserved for the cook, will finally be perfect--crispy on the outside and cooked all the way through. And if while transferring a pancake from pan to plate, you drop one on the ground, curse not, for it too belongs to the cook in all its enhanced flavor.
- The butter? If careful, it can survive a long summer trip. We dont bring it anymore. But we do provide ½ cup of our own maple syrup per person per pancake meal. Oh, on our trips pancakes are both a breakfast and dinner item depending on how quickly we want to break camp.
John & Liz, Mark & Louise Scarlett Rossie, NY
"Siesta-time camp" Paella
Although paella comes from the region of Valencia, it has now become the national dish of Spain. The ingredients, other than the rice vary greatly from region to region, including seafood, shellfish, rabbit, pork, chicken, and game.
We would never have believed this dish to be a picnic meal, as many recipe books say, if we had not seen it ourselves on a couple of occasions. Imagine a hot summer day (temperatures over 100) in the countryside of Old Castile: wheat fields and pastures ripening under the intense sun, rolling countryside broken by occasional rocky outcroppings, and occasional stream-filled ravines. We happened upon a well-known, but not formally developed, picnic ground off a secondary highway outside Valladolid. We pulled off under the shade of the pine trees for a bit of shade to eat ham and cheese sandwiches with our beer, and to let our four-year old son run a bit in the thick carpet of fallen pine needles. We then watched in amazement as family group after family group arrived and set up "siesta time camp", lawn chairs and picnic baskets. Then out came the cooler chests and tidy grills, or neat campfires in the fire pits. Then the mamas and abuelas (grandmothers) started frying chicken, out in the open! Interesting, we thought, while watching the salads and liters of wine come out. The scent of pine needles on the fires and chicken frying was heavenly enough, but then out came the longaniza sausages and even shrimp from the coolers. Lastly the rice: Paella!! It dawned on us. While the kids played and the men-folk snored or listened to the soccer game, the women took strolls through the woods. Everyone enjoying the day outdoors, and unhurriedly whiling away the time required to produce the most superb meal of the summer, paella al carbón: rice permeated with the pinewood fire smoke and a little crunchy, burned against the side of the paella pan. What we would have given to have been invited to share and eat with all the rest, and to linger, not to have another 5 castles to visit that day! But you can bet we ordered paella at the restaurant that night, albeit a much inferior one.
John F. Schwaller, Potsdam
Paella Campestre (Peasant Paella)
- 2 cups chicken broth with 3 saffron threads
- 1 lb chicken breast, cut into bite sized cubes (or one chicken cut up into 12 pieces "Spanish style" the breast cut into 6 parts)
- 3 Tb. olive oil
- 1 onion, minced
- 1 med. tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1 cup rice
- 8-10 oz shrimp
- 1 cup peas
- 1 sprig parsley, chopped
- 6 oz. pepperoni, sliced (or aged chorizo)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2-3 Tb chopped pimientos or red bell peppers (home made are best)
- 1 tsp turmeric or 3 threads saffron
- 1 tsp. Paprika (Spanish smoked paprika is the best)
- Salt & Pepper
- If using saffron, make an infusion with the saffron threads in the chicken stock.
- Heat the frying pan and add the oil. Quickly sauté the chicken till golden on all sides, remove to a platter.
- Add the onions, garlic, tomato, and sauté until tender. Add the turmeric (if using), and paprika, cook slightly.
- Add rice and sauté briefly to coat well. Pour on the broth, salt & pepper to taste. Add the chicken, peas, shrimp, and stir to mix well.
- Sprinkle parsley on top. Place sliced pepperoni and pimientos in a decorative design on top.
- Cook over medium heat, uncovered, for 15 30 minutes (depending on heat and the pan), until rice is done and liquid absorbed. You can move the pan on the burner, but do not stir.
The paella pan is usually quite large, at least 12 inches in diameter.
North Country Food Book page
Cooking "On the Go", a.k.a. Car Cooking or Manifold Cooking:
When my husband Ron and I drove to Arkansas last spring, we decided to save time and money by cooking all our lunches and suppers on the engine manifold of my Honda Civic. Some aluminum foil, a little wire, an oven mitt, a pair of tongs, and about 200 miles of highway is all you need to create a delicious meal!
Here are instructions for a chicken dinner (Serves 1):
- Slice one medium chicken breast into strips.
- Add a few slices of zucchini, carrot sticks, or ½ potato, sliced thin.
- Salt, pepper and herbs to taste (thyme, rosemary OR basil are my favorites).
- Wrap carefully in foil, being sure to ROLL all seams to prevent leakage. Don't scrimp on the foil!
- Flip the seam side DOWN, and wrap again in foil, rolling all seams to prevent leakage.
- Flip once again, and wrap again in foil, rolling seams carefully.
- At this point, you should either:
a)freeze your entree inside a plastic bag for your upcoming trip (it will keep your drinks cold in the cooler too!), or
b) attach your dinner to the engine block for baking
The best place for baking on your engine is the MANIFOLD. This is where the hottest gases exit the motor: where temperatures can reach 500 degrees. It usually looks like a pipe coming out of the motor. Your mechanic can identify it for you if you're not sure.
Making your oven harness:
- We used an aluminum mesh 'grill topper' (from the dollar store). The size is approx. 10 x 16 inches, so when it's folded in half like a purse, wired along the sides to make a bag, it's the perfect drop-in cooker! It holds TWO foil-wrapped meals.
- Make a wire 'strap' (like the arm strap on a purse) to hang it SECURELY on your engine block. We used our oil cap, hanging the wire around the oil filler cap, and under a bracket to insure that it would not bounce off.
Note: Secure attachment is VERY important! Losing your lunch on the highway is sad, but having your lunch get caught in your fan belt or other engine mechanical could be tragic! Don't scrimp on the wire!
- Now you're ready to cook. Start Driving. Highway speeds for 150-250 miles should do the trick, turning the packets once to cook both sides equally.
- If you use the 'grill-topper cooker', you can just remove your meal packets with tongs, leaving the cooking mesh in place. If you used only wire, carefully unwire your creation from your motor.
- Serve your packet on a paper plate (not plastic - it will melt!), unwrap it carefully, and
- Since your other frozen entrees have kept your drinks cold, you now have a nice picnic, ready to go!
- Don't put too much food in one packet.
- Use vegetables that bake fairly quickly, or else slice them very thin.
- Too much liquid can be very messy. Forego the wine sauce, the marinade, etc. Save that for home.
- Don't leave airspace in the foil packets. Roll tightly, rolling all seams to prevent leakage. Always wrap 3 times.
- Don't worry about engine exhaust polluting your food! That stuff comes out the tailpipe of the car! Road grit will never get through 3 layers of foil. Just ENJOY THE RIDE!
Other good ingredients to try:
Ham, cooked sausages, hamburger patties (no cheese) or other meats sliced thin.
Sliced onions, peppers, cabbage, sweet potatoes, even frozen vegetables work fine.
Let me know how a baked apple stuffed with marshmallows works out!
Barb Heller, Canton NY
My husband, Roger and I, during the past 20 years have canoe camped in the Adirondacks, (and in Ontario), usually for a week in September or October. One of our favorite foods to have in camp was pizza. Using a backpack stove, and a small backpack oven, we could bake things. The pizza was a toasted English muffin with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni baked until melted. Just like delivery! Thanks, Mary and Roger Abramson
Roscoe, Basyl "Tuck", Elva and "Shine", all seeming to want top honors for cooking the meal! Taken circa 1950 at the family Camp in Parishville, on the West Branch of the St. Regis River. The (very primitive) stone barbecue pit is still there, albeit more lopsided and patched. Photo submitted by Laurie Smith.