How to Make No Mess/No Cleanup Camping Meals

Sometimes I like to fuss with camping meals. When it’s raining or the fish aren’t biting and there’s nothing better to do, I’ll work on a new recipe or spend some time preparing a big meal, but mostly, I’m all about the easy stuff. I still want it to taste great, but I want it fast and over so we can move on.

We camped in late winter-almost early spring this year and we needed a fire. But I wanted to enjoy the fire and the warmth without having to stand over the Coleman cook stove making breakfast. This was a perfect time to try the “no clean up” breakfast I’d been pondering.

It started with a couple of oranges. I cut away the top and scooped out all the pulp and juice and saved for the beverage.no clean up breakfast oranges unwrapped

Once the oranges were empty, I opened a can of cinnamon rolls and placed one in each of the oranges. I replaced the top, wrapped each in foil, and put them on the grate over the open fire. Saint had raked hot coals under the grate and the wood outside the grate was still flaming.

no clean up breakfast oranges wrapped

Next, I took an empty tin can (I try to keep a couple of empty BPH free cans in the camper. You will be surprised at how often you can use them…dumping grease, holding water to sprinkle on too hot coals) and filled it 2/3 full of water. I added two eggs and then poured in more water to cover the eggs. I placed them on the grate closer to the flame. They were boiling in no time. In fact, it took less time for Saint’s soft boiled eggs than it does on the stove at home, so these were a little less soft than he likes.

I then put him to work on the bacon. Onto the hot dog roaster fork, I threaded six slices of bacon. Saint held the fork over the fire. I knew this would work because I had done it before, but luck would have it, Saint got it a little close to the flame, so there were no complaints about my overcooked eggs.

no clean up breakfast cooking

father daughter blog bacon

I don’t have a picture of the finished product because, well, it was ugly wasn’t pretty plus a neighboring camper visited all through the cooking process and finally asked what we were doing. I explained we were having a no mess/no clean up breakfast, and he told me his wife just made scrambled eggs in the microwave. Well, sure, but how much fun was that? He had knocked the wind right out of my sails, so I didn’t dare take a picture lest he think it was some big deal or something.

At any rate, breakfast was somewhat successful. The cinnamon rolls were a little doughy as it is hard to judge the doneness over an open fire. The eggs and bacon were a little too done. The meal was much better than a rubbery scrambled egg from the microwave. With a little tweaking, I think it will be perfect. And best of all, there really was zero clean up! I didn’t even need to wipe the table.

Next post, I promise a meal that was a bit more work, but so worth it!

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Made in the Shade

teardrop camper

She’s a bit camera shy and asked not to be in the photos, but this girl’s got it made! We first met at Indian Creek Campground near Beaver Lake when we were all trying to get in a last weekend camping trip before the park closed for the season. She camped alone in the site next to ours, and enjoyed every minute of it. I was so impressed with her set-up and her independence that I went home wishing I’d taken a picture. So what are the odds that, when the spring season started this year, we would end up in a completely different campground camping side by side, again?

The little Teardrop Camper is adorable, and while I would love to show you the interior, I chose to respect her privacy there are some things even I won’t ask. But that adorable rug speaks volumes as to what’s inside.

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And look at the portable grill and the way she organizes everything.

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The compact chair. And did I mention she builds her own fires? And brings her bike?

I’ll bet you’re expecting a red car, aren’t you? Or maybe white? Think Americana. Or nautical.

teardrop car

Uh-huh! She totes, loads, and paddles her own kayak. Her kids are grown, she’s on her own, and she’s taking advantage of every minute of her life…reading, visiting with other campers, sitting by the fire, hiking, biking, and rowing. Are you inspired? Or just plain jealous?

I was so excited to post this that I’m putting my brilliant breakfast post on hold until next time.

Happy camping!

Beauty in the Ozarks

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Brilliant blue skies enhance the rusty tin roof of this old house that catches my eye every time we near our favorite campgrounds on Beaver Lake. I wonder what memories these weathered walls hold, and I’m saddened to see such a wonderful structure wasting away. But then I think of the beauty it still brings to all who pass this way.

The Ozarks certainly do not lack for beauty this time of the year. Our camping neighbors from Maine were traveling to Jackson Hole WY, planning to make this an overnight stay along the way. After experiencing our little corner of the lake and surrounding area, they extended their stay to four nights. With these sunrises…

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And these views…

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Who wouldn’t want to stay longer?

I, too, love the changing, colorful foliage, but the rocks cry out no matter the season.

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And when you happen to capture a scene like this, how can you not worship the Creator?

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DSC00320And finally, a heavenly recipe that I should have shared with our Maine neighbors, but they had driven to Eureka Springs…for pizza.

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Do you notice that our Coleman Camp Stove is almost as old as the house at the beginning of this post? Well, not really, but we’ve had it since we first got married, and we recently celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary! They don’t make them like they used to, so we keep this one.

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Pair this with a little smoke from your campfire, and you have a quick, easy meal with a gourmet flair lakeside! We loved it, and it tasted…mmmmaybe even better reheated for lunch the next day. I’m sharing this recipe with campers everywhere because it is worthy! And I must give credit to The Midnight Baker blog where I found this recipe and modified only slightly.

Mushroom Asiago Chicken

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (I actually used breast tenders to save cutting them into thirds)

2 cups mushrooms, sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 springs fresh thyme (bruised and torn)

1 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper

2 Tbs butter

2 Tbs olive oil

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup Asiago cheese (use more if you love the flavor)

Directions: Pound chicken breasts in heavy duty zip lock bag until flat and uniform. Dredge…I just pour the seasoned flour right into the gallon sized bag with the flattened chicken and toss it around to coat.

In your iron skillet, heat butter with 1 of the tablespoons of olive oil, reserving the other. Add chicken and saute until brown on each side. (About 5 mins on the first side and 3 or 4 on the other.) Remove from pan and cover with foil. To the hot skillet, add the other tablespoon of olive oil and mushrooms and garlic until they begin to brown. Add wine to the skillet to deglaze, scraping all the brown bits from the bottom of the skillet…that’s where your flavor is hidden.) Add thyme and put the chicken back in. Allow the chicken to simmer until almost done. This didn’t take long when using the tenders. Add cream, cooking and stirring to thicken. I sprinkled the cheese on before I removed the chicken from the skillet because I like mine melted and blended in. You may add it as you plate it if you prefer. With a simple fresh salad, this makes a wonderful campsite dinner.

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So sorry about the quality of this picture, but we were starving! Saint said I should make this even when we are not camping, but you know it just won’t be the same. Enjoy!

And speaking of the Saint, here he is cutting and splitting wood off our lake property. I loved all the textures and crunchy leaves, but that was the stinkiest fire he’s ever built.

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Soon, we hope to be camping here, and I can’t wait to show you our new view of the lake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Colors…and Textures

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Fall is my favorite time of year for camping. It’s my favorite time of year, PERIOD. The leaves were just beginning to turn last week when we spent a few days at Beaver Lake. Much of our time this trip was occupied with doing business, but we managed to snag a few bass and enjoyed a boat ride or two before the rain fell…and fell…and kept falling. The rain was much needed, and predicted, so I made plans for that before we left, and this blog is sort of combining a Thymeless Sage and Random Rants post with a Camping Capers post.

It started with a frozen turkey breast I’d bought on sale this summer. When I rediscovered it in the basement freezer, I realized it would soon be time for turkey to go on sale, again…for Thanksgiving. Yes, that’s what I said. Where has this year gone?

I’ve wanted to try cooking a turkey breast in the crock pot for a long time. I know, right? Who hasn’t already done that? Uh, this girl! So I thawed it in the fridge for a couple of days, placed it cavity side down in the crock pot, slathered butter on top, threw on a few sage leaves, some course salt, and freshly ground pepper. I let it cook for about 8 hours on low, basting it a couple of times, but, looking back, I don’t think that was necessary. It remained very moist.

So, then, what do you do with a crock pot full of turkey breast for two people? Being the frugal cook that I am, you don’t let anything go to waste; especially when you can make 5 or 6 easy meals at one time. Here’s how we consumed it:

Meal # 1-Sliced turkey with gravy made with the juices, of course. Served with mashed potatoes and fresh green beans. Nothing fancy!

Meal #2-  Turkey and stuffing Casserole

2 cups chopped turkey

1/2 small onion

1/4 cup chopped celery

T butter

1 c chicken broth

dried sage leaves (optional)

8 oz  Stuffing mix

1 can cream of chicken soup

Chop turkey and set aside. Saute onion and celery in butter until translucent. Add chicken broth, sage, and stuffing mix. If mixture is too dry, you can add more broth, water, or a whisked egg. Pour into a buttered casserole dish. (Use the size smaller than 9X13…I’m not good with numbers.) Top with turkey pieces and then spread the cream of chicken soup over the top. Bake at 350 until heated through…about 25 to 30 minutes.

Meals #3 and 4

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I actually made two of these. This small one we took camping. Boy was it great to heat up in the microwave on that rainy night when we couldn’t have a campfire. I took it out of the foil pan, of course, and heated it on our paper plates, served it with some sliced tomatoes and red bell peppers from the garden.

2 cups diced turkey breast

1 cup pan drippings from the crock pot

1 large can mixed vegetables. (I like Veg-all chunky)

1 cup frozen peas

2 cans chicken broth

1 T cornstarch

1 T flour

1/2 cup water

1 package pie crust (Store brand in dairy case and the box contains two individually wrapped rolls)

This recipe makes two medium or one very large 13 x 9 pot pie.

Directions: Put pan drippings, drained vegetables, and chicken broth in sauce pan. Heat to almost boiling. Mix corn starch, flour, and water until no lumps are noticeable. Add the mixture to the saucepan, stirring until mixture begins to thicken, then remove from heat and add turkey.. Roll out pie crusts and cut or shape to fit bottom and sides of dish or dishes. Pour in the filling. (No more than 3/4 full) Use the remainder of the pie crust to top the pie. You may cut strips and lattice, cut shapes, or just place the pieces randomly across the top. Bake at 375 degrees until crust is golden brown.

We still have the second pie in the freezer to eat at a later date.

Meal #5-Turkey salad

2 cups diced turkey pieces

1/2 cup diced celery

3 green onions, chopped

1 cup grapes, washed, dried, and halved

1/2 cup cashews or toasted pecans

Dressing

1 cup mayonnaise
3/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon tarragon

Toss first 4 ingredients together, Mix dressing ingredients together and add to turkey mixture. Add in cashews and serve on lettuce leaves with a croissant or crusty bread.

Turkey breasts, especially during sale season, may just be your best bang for your grocery buck.

So, what does all this have to do with camping? Not much, really, except that having the pot pie and turkey salad already prepared came in very handy as we made trips to the electric company, planning and zoning, back hoe/excavating guy, and all that business we needed to do to get our lake property ready for our camping trailer and possibly an out building with bathroom facilities. Speaking of which, I am obsessed with galvanized metal. I just want you to look at all these rustic ideas we’re hoping to employ in that out building…eventually.

 

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/160863017916083292/

 

http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/90/8b/45/908b45b306d09c76b9444dd98e7d7b26.jpg

 

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/160863017916083288/

[houzz=http://www.houzz.com/photos/774329/Potting-shed-rustic-garage-and-shed-nashville]

 

If you have rustic design ideas using reclaimed barn wood or old barn tin, please share.

 

 

Camping recipes

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Nope. That foxy lady on the motorcycle is not me. I’m the one in the mirror trying to take a picture of the reason we camped at a different campground last camping trip.

I’m not a motorcycle enthusiast, but if you are, I encourage you to check out Bikes, Blues, and BBQ held in Fayetteville, AR every fall. On our trip from Ozark to Fayetteville, cyclists were EVERYWHERE! Our son-in-law and daughter took us downtown to see the beginning of the festivities, because, even if you’re not a fan, you should experience it just once. I have never seen so many Harleys in one place in all my life! And we were very close to the South Dakota event several years ago.  I didn’t have my camera as we were going to lunch at Hugo’s…my favorite black and bleu burger in the world! (Thanks, guys, for the tour and lunch.)

After all that noise excitement, we were ready for a few quiet days of camping and watching football games. We settled in at Lost Bridges Campground with all the supplies for trying a few new tailgating recipes.

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All settled in, but no signal to watch either the Razorbacks or the Mizzou game…which left us listening to the radio and focusing all our attention on the food.

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The GRILLED NACHOS turned out great.

1 lb. Velveeta (melted in microwave

1 can refried beans

1 can black beans

1/2 package Ranch Dressing seasoning packet

1/2 can Rotel

Sliced jalapeno peppers (to taste)

Shredded cheddar

Tortilla chips

Combine melted Velveeta and next 4 ingredients. Place a row of tortilla chips around the outside of pan. Pour mixture into center of pan. Top with shredded cheese and peppers. invert another pie pan over the top and seal the edges. This recipe made two pans full. If you are preparing for a tailgating crowd, double the recipe and heat it in a larger foil casserole pan. Heat over indirect heat until cheese is bubbly.

This was a no mess/no fuss dish that I will definitely do again.

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Black and Bleu Brisket Sandwiches

1 Package precooked brisket (I used the Jack Daniels kind from WalMart)

1 onion, sliced thin and carmelized

Horseradish sauce (I used the prepared kind)

Bleu cheese crumbles

Hawaiian sub rolls

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I added some grilled peppers to this. I carmelized the onions and peppers at home and all I had to do at the campground was heat everything over the open fire and assemble the sandwiches.

This was another great camping/tailgating recipe that I will make again.

The last thing I tried needs some tweaking, to say the least.  It was a breakfast recipe…cream cheese monkey bread. If any of you have “baked” over the open fire other than in cast iron, I would love to hear about it. I’m not giving up on it because the taste was wonderful. After we peeled the burned scorched blackened bottoms off. 🙂

Another Freecycle (or two) for Your RV

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STOP! DO NOT throw this plastic heap in the trash when there are millions tons so many ways to use them. Especially if you are a camper.

I usually have several of these around the house because I fold wad them up and stash them in the closet to reuse. Yesterday, I found some that were perfect for our camping trailer. One was small, having housed a couple of sheer curtain panels, and it had two inner “flaps” where the cardboard pictures of the curtains had been inserted. It was the perfect size to hold all our important camper papers that were previously strewn stuffed loosely in a cabinet. It had plenty of space for the owner’s manual, cooling/heating unit warranty and replacement part brochure, microwave and stove pamphlet, and all the other magazine type folders containing essential information should anything fall apart break go wrong. One inner flap holds receipts, the other secures extra fuses, batteries, screws, etc.

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Everything you need to know about your RV in one handy-dandy bag, and it’s free! Best of all, look at this! It all fits compactly in the BOTTOM of one of my closet drawers, leaving room for pj’s or underwear on top.

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Yay!

Next, on to bigger and better bags. Comforter and blanket bags are also perfect for your camper. I dislike leaving my pillows uncovered in our trailer when we are not using it. I simply wad fold the pillows into the bag. Two will fit inside most of the bags. Before zipping, I sometimes add another freebie. Remember those annoying, stiff pages in magazines that advertise a fragrance? Rip them out!

Cut the sticky strip off, open it up, and place it in the bottom of your pillow bag. When you open the bag and take your pillows out on your next trip, you will smile! Makes you want to lie down and take a little nap, right then and there. If I don’t have a freebie, I use a dab of Tea Tree Essential Oil on a cotton ball placed in a corner of the bag. I’m told this keeps the dust mites away, but I have not researched that. I do know that it smells heavenly.

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Perfect! Now all I need is a road trip.

DIY Privacy Curtain for Travel Trailer

Our Work-In-Progress continues, and I’m so excited about this simple update that I could hardly wait to share it.

My quest to replace the country blue decor with a coastal theme has gone well. You can see previous results here:

http://thymelesssageandrandomrants.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/move-that-bus/

Although I had updated the bedroom curtains, I still had the blue pull curtain that divides the bedroom from the living/kitchen area.

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It was not obnoxious, but outdated and too thin to keep light out…probably not for other people, but, I think I might have mentioned that I LIKE DARK sleeping quarters. (I know there are others of you out there who carry clothespins, duct tape, safety pins, etc. when you sleep at a hotel. First, you have to pin the curtains together to keep out the pole lights outside, then you have to tape over the media center lights, the clock, the microwave. I mean, it’s like sleeping in Vegas in most of the motel rooms, even the expensive ones.) Turns out, some campgrounds have the same issues, especially if you have a neighbor who loves the rope decorator lights and leaves them on all night. During one of my wide awake nights, I had a brilliant idea and couldn’t wait to get home and get some rest try this.

WooHoo! This is one of the best tips you are going to get about updating your curtains: A drop cloth from Lowes or Home Depot is the perfect width for a trailer curtain.DSC00247

I just laid it on top of the original curtain, and it fit perfectly. The drop cloth is considerably longer, but I wanted the curtain a bit longer than the original one. I simply held it up to the rail/rod and marked the length I wanted, folded up the excess fabric, as shown, and cut it off. (I’m using that leftover fabric and I’ll show you how later.)

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Now, the drop cloth is hemmed all the way around…until you cut off the bottom. I don’t sew all that much, but I managed to turn under a hem and machine stitch it with no problems only a little help. I think I might have had my machine threaded wrong or something, but I finally got it worked out.

Now for the fun part. I’ve always been scared of grommets. But that was before I knew how simple they really are to work with. My word. If I had known, I’d probably have grommets in everything I own. Purses, lamp shades, the possibilities are endless! All it takes is a package of grommets, a little grommet tool which I got at Walmart for… like …two bucks, and something to punch a hole in your fabric. The canvas type fabric of a drop cloth works great with grommets because it doesn’t ravel or pull. Oh, and it also helps if you have a strong hand. I used Saint’s. It worked perfectly. And, it gave him a chance to show me the antique leather punch that his grandfather and father used and handed down to him.

DSC00250 Oops! Looks like he punched a hole in his sock. 🙂 Didn’t I tell you he never throws anything away? He’s gonna’ read this and never help me again.

When I laid the drop cloth over the original curtain, I marked through the grommet holes onto my fabric so they would be evenly spaced, but I wanted the folds in the fabric to hang better than the original curtain did, so I marked between each one. With this little grommet tool, Saint had these in place in no time!

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And I had it hung in even less time.DSC00251

Isn’t that amazing? And look how well it fits into the grand scheme of things:

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A clean coastal look, privacy, and light blocking all for less than $15.00. Now, tell me, campers, is that not one of the best tips you’ve seen in long time?

Happy sleeping camping!

On the road to Duluth

Before I began blogging, we took our first over the road trip from Missouri to Duluth, Minnesota in our little travel trailer. I guess I should give her a name; I see that most of you seasoned campers do. At any rate, it was quite an experience towing on the interstate for the first time…not always pleasant, but worth the learning curve the very first night.

Midwest Living Magazine has some wonderful features on places to visit in that area, and one that I had torn out and filed in my travel bucket list folder was on Stillwater, MN. The photo of this serene, quaint, little town was exquisite, but up close and personal, it was beyond picturesque.

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We planned this as a stopover on the way to Duluth, but I advise you, if you are planning a trip anywhere near there, schedule a few days in the area. We had little time to explore the darling shops and restaurants downtown.

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The big bonus was the campground I had selected sight unseen; Willow River State Park Campground in either Minnesota or Wisconsin, or both. The sites we chose were tucked into the trees, quiet and secluded. That alone would have made it a great place, but, in the morning, we took the hiking path to this beautiful place.

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We traveled on to Duluth where we stayed in Indian River  Campground on the outskirts of the city and near the St Louis River Basin. Mediocre is an adequate word for it, but it gave us time to settle in and check out the attractions. The North Shore area of Lake Superior was gorgeous, with many natural attractions other than the Great Lake, itself. We stayed a couple of nights there, and, even though the campground was not pretty, I could have used a few more nights  to explore the Lake Superior shores and bluffs. Here are a couple of North Shore treats:

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When we left Indian Campgrounds, we moved south to Moose Lake for a night. The site there was relaxing, pretty, and more like the campgrounds we are accustomed to in MO and AR. But don’t expect to catch the big fish, there unless you have a boat. It’s a very small lake.

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Another surprise on the way out of the area was Taylor Falls. Again, we could have spent an entire week seeing all the sights. The first picture is the paddle wheel boat tour, the second is the amazing Pothole trail…we certainly encountered our share of pot holes (from the extreme weather, I’d imagine) on the MN highways, but these were a different sort. Google them and read about them, and then go visit. Amazing!

 

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I highly recommend camping in the MN/WI area. That is a serious lot of beauty in a seven day trip. I suggest stretching it to three weeks!

Cheap Tricks for Campers

 

Storage space is premium in an RV or camping trailer. Life is better when everything has a place and stays in it, especially for those who make RV and camper travel a way of life. Organizing it is one thing; keeping it in place is another. Every time we set up our camper, I had to open the cabinets, find, and rearrange things before we could begin to prepare a meal. DSC00143

 

A trip to the dollar store remedied that situation.  This shower caddy was a perfect fit .DSC00147

 

It holds plastic cups and glasses on one side and microwavable bowls on the other, with a perfect space for a salt and pepper shaker underneath. The best part…they all stay in place when we move. I also purchased a stacking shelf which affords space underneath while keeping all sorts of plates (paper, plastic washable plates, straw charger plates, etc.) organized.

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I can easily lift it out to remove my toaster which I don’t use often and store in the hidden away part of the cabinet.

 

 

Other snap lid plastic containers hold flour, cornmeal, oatmeal, baking soda, baking powder, hot chocolate mixes, and empty ones are always available to hold side dishes and leftovers. A stack of recycled/reused foil pie tins are in-disposable-okay, they are disposable, and that makes them even better. I use them for cooking over the fire grate, serving things that are too messy for paper bowls, and I never feel badly about throwing them away since I’ve already used them multiple times.DSC00149

Another idea that has made life so much more normal easier (I’ve given up on my life ever being normal…I’m not sure we would even like normal) uses freebies and a Dollar Store plastic shoe or storage box.

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We have a lot of these little recyclables around our house, and I’m always looking for a way to use them rather than putting them in the recycle bin. They are perfect for keeping tableware organized in your camper or RV. Before, I used a plastic shoe box inside a drawer and threw all the tableware in it with tongs, can opener, and other accessories in the drawer space surrounding the box.  Now, three of these containers fit perfectly in the shoe box and keep the forks, knives, and spoons separate. You can use Velcro dots and secure them to the box if you wish, but I have had no trouble with them moving around as we travel, and I can easily remove the canister to set a table. Seriously…it’s the little things that make life better, right?

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Well, I’ve shared a few “tricks” that worked. Now, let me tell you about an epic failure. First of all, never trust an old rope…even if the person recommending it is knowledgeable is completely trustworthy swears it is fine. Thankfully, I have no pictures to support this text, however, I assure you I could have won the Funniest Home Video prize, hands down…bottoms down. And Saint almost lost his status. He tied the hammock between two trees and said, “There. That isn’t going anywhere. Try it out and see if it’s high enough off the ground for you.” Thank goodness it wasn’t any higher off the ground, because that trip to the pile of rocks underneath it, while short, resulted in a cracked or severely bruised tail bone! Yep, the rope broke. The best tip I can give campers is DO NOT TEST YOUR HAMMOCK IN A SEATED POSITION. If I had been lying on my back with weight distributed evenly, it would have made me mad, but that’s about all. When the rope snapped without warning, my behind hit the ground and there was no running. No walking. No sitting. No fishing the next day. No, I didn’t interrupt Saint’s fishing by going to the emergency room. After googling symptoms and treatments, I self diagnosed, finding that there is little that doctors can do for a cracked or severely bruised tail bone other than ice packs, heat, pain relief and rest. It is getting better, but not as quickly as I’d like!

I hope all these little details (no pun intended) make your camping experiences more enjoyable. Do you have tips to share? What works for you? Please comment and share your ideas; we love hearing from you.

Happy tails trails!

Some Failures, Some Successes, and Some Do-Overs

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Trees are budding, grass is greening, the white bass are running, and this is the view from our little camping trailer. We had a few perfect days on Beaver Lake in Arkansas this week, as we enjoyed our work in progress trailer makeover. You can see the results atthymelesssageandrandomrants.wordpress.com.

It’s a challenge, sometimes, to plan meals when your main focus is on fishing. There’s nothing better than a skillet of bacon and some potatoes frying on the 40 year old Coleman Camp Stove we are still using.  But, that’s probably just not gonna’ happen when the bass are hot. We want to be on the water ASAP, and we might not come in until afternoon, starving ravished and too impatient to wait on food to cook.

A little preparation ahead of time makes life on the water much easier.I’m always looking for new camping tips, and in this post, I’m sharing the things that worked, and didn’t, on this camping trip.

Keeping the breakfast issue in mind, I saw these make ahead breakfast sandwiches here.

I made several of these, using ham instead of bacon…a sort of homemade Egg McMuffin. I followed directions for wrapping them in a paper towel, freezing them, and taking them directly from the freezer to the microwave; no dishes, no mess. I considered this a FAILURE. The English muffin heated to toughness while the eggs inside were still cold. This might work better in a different microwave or thawed before cooking, but we just didn’t care for the taste. It was filling, however, and served its purpose well. After that first morning, however, we were good to grab a protein bar and a cup of coffee and go.

Before leaving home, I made a big pot of chili and put half of it in the freezer. The plan was to use it in a variety of ways that would not seem like we were eating leftover chili five days in a row! Frito Pie, of course, was the first on the menu. A staple for our camping trips, this simple recipe calls for a cup of chili, a handful of Fritoes, shredded cheese and sour cream on top. If you have the small, individual sized bags, you can mix the chili and fixins right in the bag and eat it with a spoon.
The second chili menu item I planned was chili mac. I had precooked elbow macaroni, drained it, dumped in a jar of Ragu, and poured the mixture into a gallon sized baggie. When lunch time rolled around, I mixed it with, you guessed it, chili, and topped it with some grated Parmesan cheese. And here’s another camping tip: Save all the little trays from WW and other frozen microwave meals. They are perfect for the camping trailer, and a good way to reuse trash recyclables. I spooned one tray full of chili mac and topped it with another tray to avoid the mess in the microwave. Another SUCCESS. Still, we were tired of chili after that, so I ditched the idea of the baked potato topped with chili and onions and the chili dogs.

Dinner is another subject. Sometimes, we are too tired for the ordeal and others, we enjoy the process. The weather is also a factor. Even though we have a very cute little four burner stove complete with oven, we like to cook outside whenever possible. Kabobs can be quick and quite delightful if prior prep has been done. I had washed and cut up chunks of yellow squash, red peppers, and mushrooms. Into the baggie they went. I parboiled the potato and onion chunks since they take longer to cook on the grill. They, too, went into a bag with chunks of Polish sausage. Each bag was doused with Italian dressing to marinate.

The kabob plan is coming together perfectly…except that we forgot that we had taken the skewers and hot dog roasters out of the trailer. No failure here, though. Have foil will cook. (Most of you are probably too young to get that play on words; Have gun will travel, old TV show…oh, well.) I wrapped it hobo style and threw it on the fire grate. It would have been better had I used heavy duty foil. The trip from the grate to the plate was messy a near disaster, but we rescued plenty before the rest slid into the fire.

I consider this a DO-OVER. It was delicious, but would have been so much prettier on the skewers.

So, the next night, I wanted to try some new with the old. The old is a time tested Boy Scout recipe and my favorite way of making potatoes.A sheet of foil, enough to wrap everything and pinch the ends together, slices of bacon on the bottom, slices of potato and onion on top, salt and pepper. That’s it. A no-fail technique. I like it best when the bacon on bottom gets perfectly charred crisp.

And we wanted to try something new I’d seen on Pinterest. Again, hampered, but not to be thwarted by the lack of roasting sticks, my husband, aka Saint, as in Garage Sale Saint because he is great to take my mom and me to garage sales and load and unload our stash purchase, sharpened a forked stick so we could try this. We slid frozen slightly thawed, precooked link sausages onto the stick and wrapped them with canned biscuits. We roasted them like hot dogs until the biscuit was browned and the sausage was heated through.

We smeared a little butter (I know, I know, but fishing is really hard work and we found some great hiking paths I’ll show you later) and these little bundles were quite tasty. Next time I think I will use crescent rolls. Hint, do not use the thick biscuits as they burn before getting done.Mostly SUCCESS but will be even better with proper sticks and crescent roll DO-OVER.
And finally, an old reliable with some hints and a new “original” recipe. In MO we do tri tips. These cuts of meat may be between a sirloin roast and a brisket, I’m not sure. Some roast it in the oven, but most of us smoke or grill it. It’s a big hunk of meat and takes longer to cook than we usually have when camping, so I asked the butcher to cut it into inch/inch and a half steaks. I rubbed each steak with Pappy’s rubbing spice mixture and put them all into a zip lock bag, adding a splash of Dale’s seasoning (from Wal-Mart) and froze them. The seasoning and marinade infiltrated the meat, enhancing the flavor, tenderizing, and reducing cooking time. I moved these from the freezer to the fridge to thaw a day ahead. We cooked these over charcoal on a little grill we carry with us. Washing, drying, and tearing all salad ingredients ahead of time and placing them in a baggie with a paper towel saves time and precious water at the campsite. A bag of washed and sliced strawberries, a tub of sugar free glaze, and cool whip provided a great dessert. I even pre baked the potato so that I could simply scoop out the inside, add butter, cheese, and sour cream, wrap in foil and throw back on the grill for heating. Voila! Twice-baked potatoes in a matter of minutes.

 But now, on to the original recipe. We had a few several Peeps left from Easter. We had angel food cake leftover from the strawberry shortcake. I feel pretty sure certain that these would have been even better with the proper roasting sticks, but, oh my, if they were any better…
Saint popped those little peeps on the stick and roasted the little chicks to a golden brown while I cut the cake into very thin slices. We slid the gooey goodness between two slices of cake. Yum. SUCCESS!

And our efforts were rewarded. We caught a lot of fish. Saint cleaned and cooked these few. Me…I’m a catch and release girl.

And here are some pictures from our hikes. If you are anywhere near Eureka Springs or Rogers, Arkansas, this is a wonderful campground. Dam Site camping on Beaver Lake. Enjoy. And please feel free to add any tips or recipes you use when camping. I’ll have more posts on the continued camper update and organizing tips later. Thanks for stopping by.

Pict