I recently made a big batch of salsa for a camping trip and it was terrible. I was in a rush and instead of seeking out delicious locally grown tomatoes, I bought some from the grocery story. The salsa did not taste bad, it just tasted like nothing. So we did not eat it but for some reason I was reluctant to throw it away. I was curious if I cooked it for hours whether it would magically transform into a wonderful Mexican style-marinara sauce. So I gave it a shot and was pleased with the results.
I was fortunate enough to score another windfall of chanterelle mushrooms this week from our foraging friend and was really excited to try something different. I wanted a simple preparation that would let the natural flavors of this wonderful vegetable shine. A saute of chanterelles, shallots, garlic and white wine was the perfect side dish for a dinner of pan seared chicken, rice and okra.
I have recently been asked by a few friends for camping tips and gear recommendations. Since we have gone camping more weekends this summer than we have stayed home, I have learned quite a few lessons along the way that I am happy to share. My primary suggestion is to prepare and organize at home as best you can, and bring only what you need. That will free you up to enjoy the camping trip and not waste time packing / unpacking / organizing / prepping / searching. I love camping because I appreciate the quiet, beauty and serenity of the wilderness and want to soak up every minute that I can.
A good friend of ours likes to forage for mushrooms in the woods. I have been the very lucky recipient of his hard work a few times, and most recently was gifted a huge bag of chanterelle mushrooms. This is not even the full bag. I had never been in possession of this quantity of gourmet fungi so I wanted to make a dinner to truly honor and highlight this windfall.
If you camp a lot during the summer like I do, a dinner of hot dogs and baked beans becomes boring very quickly. I did a brief stint of gourmet cooking earlier in the season but quickly realized I was spending way too much time prepping meals when I really wanted to be hiking or playing in the river or whatever else we trek out to the middle of nowhere to do. The happy medium for me is to plan recipes that are tasty, easy to prep at home and fast to cook at the campsite.
I have become a huge fan of syrah lately, and that also includes blends with other Rhone grapes (grenache and mourvedre). While many of these wonderful wines come from France, they make some mighty tasting Rhone-style vino in Central California. This past March I visited Los Olivos which is the most adorable little town complete with 35-ish tasting rooms and a few great restaurants. We only had a day to spend there though and that is not enough time to visit even a handful of places. One winery that was added to the list after a recommendation from Larry Shaffer of Tercero Wines was Qupe (the ‘e’ is supposed to have an accent but that is too advanced for my blogging software). Anyway, we ran out of time and never made it to Qupe. I found a bottle of their wine at a local wine shop recently, and suffice it to say, I MUST go back to Los Olivos.
If you are interested in having an awkward conversation with the staff at your local wine store, ask them if they carry any orange wines. I had this experience several times in the past week as I searched high and low for an orange wine in the Atlanta area.
I have searched high and low over the past month for a riesling that will make me love riesling. It seems like this varietal is beloved by many but I have never had a riesling that made me say “wow – I LOVE this wine”. Considering I have had that experience with many other types of wine, I have been on the hunt for a riesling to redeem my perception that all wines from this grape are too sweet for my palette.
I am sure many of you have a similar history with grilled chicken. Too often it is overcooked and so dry that “unpleasant” is a generous description. We got a new grill this summer and my husband has perfected his grilled chicken technique to the point where I am giddy with anticipation on the evenings when he grills up a bird.
I have been camping a lot with my family this summer. Each trip seems to get more adventurous in terms of the challenge level getting to the campsite. This past weekend we hiked along a trail for about a mile to one of the most gorgeous spots I have ever been to. It was along the Chattooga River, and was so private, secluded and quiet that it would be impossible to not feel at peace in a place like this.