Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Annual camping trip to Blue Lakes

Debbie and I are joining my sister's family for our annual camping trip to Upper Blue Lake in Eldorado National Forest next week. Each year we collaborate on meals at the lake. Elizabeth and I divide responsibility for each breakfast and dinner. Each family prepares their own lunches.

In the past I've prepared a variety of Dutch oven favorites. Sourdough bread stood in for a sweet loaf when I prepared Dutch oven bread pudding three years ago. That year we didn't camp at the lake, but visited them mid-week. I brought the proper bread two years ago. I'm now under orders to replicate the bread pudding each year! (As I write, I realized that I failed to post the recipe last year. Here's Dian Thomas' recipe from 2007.)

Blue Lakes split pea soup with ham shank was ready for dinner two years ago when the family arrived. Midway through our vacation, we moved camp to Upper Blue Lake from South Lake Tahoe. Jim and Elizabeth, a brother and our mother were scheduled to arrive Thursday afternoon. A bowl of hearty soup hit the spot. As one of our mother's favorites, the soup warmed her in the brisk evening air at the 8,000-foot elevation.

Last year my sister "hired" a sous chef for me (a family friend). Ashley, a third-year high school culinary student, chopped and cut her way through the camp kitchen. With impeccable knife skills, she sliced 14 apples for apple crisp in a 14-inch Dutch oven. Ashley then prepared and cut zucchini, yellow squash, red onion and carrot for roasted summer vegetables.

Scrambled eggs with chives and pepper-jack cheese for breakfast, salsa with fire roasted tomatoes for the afternoon snack, and Dutch oven bread in time for dinner filled our Saturday. As a culinary student, I found Ashley hungry for information. Her enthusiasm for cooking and willingness to jump in gave this chef a smile.

Bread pudding for breakfast rounded out the weekend's campground feast. Since the kids (young and old!) enjoyed s'mores Saturday after dinner, we decided bread pudding would fit in our Sunday morning breakfast menu. We essentially had French toast in a pot!

For our 2013 visit to Upper Blue Lake, I'd like to introduce sous chef Ashley to one or two new Dutch oven dishes. We'll also build on the dishes that we prepared last year. Repetition will help solidify the camp cooking skills she learned last year.

I'll have more to say after I finalize the menu.

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