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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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. 🙂

Do this, don’t do that…

As promised, I want to share a couple of things that worked well from our camping trip in the Tennessee/Kentucky. The first is a tip I had read about on a camping website and wanted to try for myself. I apologize up front for the photos. There was no time on our trip for staging, and these pictures don’t look like they came from a Paula Dean cookbook, but the point is…it worked!

With pantry space at a premium, there is no room for a big box (or even a little one) of Bisquick. Also, who wants to get up and mix up things at 6 a.m.? You can still have a lovely plate big ole mess of pancakes without all the fuss!

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How you say? Mix the batter before you leave home, pour it into a ziplock bag, and freeze it! On the day before you plan to make the pancakes, move the bag from the freezer to the fridge. If you’re tent camping and have it in a cooler, it will probably already be thawed and ready to use. My go-to cooking utensil for cooking outside the trailer is an electric skillet. A small table set up by the outside plug on the trailer lets me cook outside, which I prefer when the weather cooperates. I fried up an entire package of bacon. I know, you’re thinking who’s the pig, here, but just do it. Fry the whole pound and drain it on a paper towel. Use what you want for breakfast and save the rest for another breakfast on the road or a great lunch time BLT! Bacon reheats in the microwave easily. After pouring off the bacon grease, I added a tad bit of butter and got the skillet hot. I snipped off the tip of the bag, and drizzled half dollar sized dollops of pancake mix.DSC00009 DSC00008

I had prewashed a bowl of fresh blueberries before I left home. I added a few packets of Splenda, popped the bowl in the microwave for five minutes while I was cooking the pancakes, and BAM! There you have it. Breakfast in a jif! (That means almost instantly in case you’re not from the Ozarks.)We didn’t need syrup; the blueberry sauce was perfect! Yes, I will be doing this again.

The other recipe I tried was from Steamykitchen.com. It also takes advantage of time you have before leaving on your camping trip. I washed all my veggies and bagged them together earlier. I actually wished I had cut them in julienne slices beforehand, also, but that  took only a minute.DSC00024

I also marinated and froze the thin slices of sirloin and made the glaze before we started our trip. The evening I chose to prepare them, I thawed the steak, rolled it around the strips of veggies, and secured with a toothpick.

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In hindsight, I wish I’d followed directions a bit better. I prefer my veggies a little crisp so I did not precook them at all. They were a little crunchier than most people would like. Next time, I will zap them a few minutes in the microwave before wrapping them with the steak.

Just a few minutes on the grill, turning them only once, and they are ready to be glazed. Pretty, huh?

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They looked and smelled heavenly, even at this point, but let me tell you, that glaze was the topper! I seriously think I could just bottle that stuff and drink it. Guess who was in such a hurry to taste these little bundles that we have no picture of the final product? Saint, of course. Well, maybe me, too. So, here’s the recipe, and I highly recommend you trying this whether camping or backyard grilling.

Three each…Carrots, green, yellow, and/or red peppers, green onion. Slice vegetables thinly and precook until slightly cooked but still crisp.

1 lb Sirloin or flank steak sliced thinly, rubbed with Pappy’s (or your favorite premixed rub)

Steak seasoning (We like Dale’s and we get it at Walmart.)

Directions:

Slice vegetables thinly and precook until slightly cooked but still crisp. Place in bag and refrigerate until ready to use. Rub and marinate steak directly in a quart sized zip lock bag. Freeze until ready to cook.

Thaw steak strips. Wrap a bundle of veggies with steak strip and secure with a toothpick.

Cook over medium hot coals until steak is done to your liking. It doesn’t take long!

Glaze:

2 Tbs. butter

2 Tbs finely minced shallots or garlic

1/4 C balsamic vinegar

2 Tbs brown sugar (firmly packed)

1/4 C. beef broth

Directions:

Saute shallots or garlic in the butter. Add other ingredients and cook over medium high heat until mixture thickens and reduces slightly. Cool and place in jar or other glass container if you are not using right away.

I simply reheated the glaze in the trailer’s microwave before slathering it onto the grilled steak bundles.

Fast, easy, and much of the prep can be done ahead. My kind of camping food. It’s a keeper!

What not to do? Well, I left you with that picture of Saint and his tools scattered on a hot parking lot. Be careful when you’re backing a trailer into a tight space such as the one we stopped at in Dexter, MO for cheap gas. Secure your pigtail (wiring between the trailer and vehicle that keeps the fridge and pump running when you are traveling) in a way that it cannot be severed. We were blessed that Saint could wire and tape it back together and our trip was not trashed interrupted.

As for the leftover canvas fabric…I used it to cover the trim around the bunk and spare bed. I am gradually getting rid of that country blue! Pictures later.