Friday, July 31, 2009

Sysco has arrived

Sysco has arrived
Originally uploaded by SeabeeCook
How do you get food to a wilderness camp? By boat, of course!

Two staff meet the Sysco food truck at the Loon Lake boat ramp and load the 60 cases (or so) onto the camp's boat. After a 10-minute ride across the lake -- all one asks for are calm waters -- the boat is ready to be off-loaded at Ghost Boat Cove, the camp's main cargo point.

From there, the process gets physical. Although campers normally help, staff manually move the food along a 1/4-mile-long trail when campers are on out-trips, as they are today. Once at the lodge building, it's broken down and stowed for the week.

Today, five staff (including the chef) moved the 60 cases in about two hours. It took six loads in our three handcarts. All the frozen and refrigerated food was brought up to the food storeroom first. Dry goods and cleaning chemicals were handled last.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Good to be home

Homecoming was always a time of great joy and many tears me. The tears came with a sense of relief that the seven-month deployment was finally over and I was back home with family. But the next deployment was always in the back of my mind, which would within the year.

GROTON, Conn. (July 22, 2009)-- Culinary Specialist 1st Class Joseph Appold hugs his wife and his 1-year-old son upon the return of the Virginia-class attack submarine USS New Hampshire (SSN 778) to Submarine Base New London. New Hampshire returned from her maiden deployment and was the first Virginia-class submarine to be deployed to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility.

U.S. Navy photo by John Narewski.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Iced tea

You miss the simpler things in life at a wilderness camp, like iced tea. It's not a nice medium-rare steak or juicy hamburger at the local restaurant, but a tall glass of freshly brewed iced tea.

While we enjoy cool water drawn from the depths of Loon Lake, Debbie and I long for an ice cold beverage after a nine-day stretch in the kitchen.

The first thing we did at The Forrester, a pub and grill in Camino, California, was to ask for a glass of iced tea. Filled to the brim with crystal-clear ice cubes that melt into the tea, the first two glasses slipped down easily. Our served left the pitcher after she poured my third glass of iced tea.

Our refreshing beverages (Debbie ordered ice water) were the hit of the evening. Debbie's shepherd's pie and my baby back ribs took second place to our ice cold thirst-quenching drinks.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Oatmeal explosion

I serve Deer Crossing Camp's "oatmeal explosion" meal once each week. The first comes on Friday of the first week, repeated on the following Monday or Wednesday, just before campers leave on their out-trips.

The meal is so named because it explodes in your mouth when topped with a dozen add-ons.

Served plain, often with cream of wheat for non-oatmeal eaters, I supply campers cinnamon, cocoa powder, brown sugar, honey, syrup, raisins, shredded coconut, chocolate chips, butter and milk (or soy milk). Nuts and other toppings are served when available.

Each camper assembles toppings for form a special breakfast. With seven tables currently, I call each table to the front counter of the kitchen in order. Campers then take a ladle of oatmeal or cream of wheat before rummaging through the toppings.

It takes 1-1/2 (42-ounce) boxes of oatmeal and 1/2 (28-ounce) box of cream of wheat to serve a camp of about 65 campers and staff. Campers average a 5- or 6-ounce portion when self-served. This amount is enough for firsts and seconds.

Because I often don't have any water in the system at 6 a.m., I fill a 20-quart pot with water in the evening and leave it covered on the range overnight. I turn the burner on as soon as I walk in the kitchen. It takes about 45 minutes for a large pot of water to boil at the 6,500-foot elevation of Loon Lake.

Once the water boils in the morning, I dip the water into waiting pots for the two cereals. Once I add the cereal to the pot, I simmer it for a minute or two, then cut the heat and let is steep until breakfast. This helps me avoid burnt oatmeal as our pots are rather thin.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

First meal of the session

Deer Crossing Camp menus spaghetti with meat and vegetarian sauces for the first dinner of each session. The meal is universally accepted, easy to prepare and reminds new campers of home.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mark Twain on bacon update

Almost three weeks ago I commented on Mark Twain's quote, "Nothing helps scenery like bacon and eggs." This morsel of culinary wit from America's celebrated writer fascinated me. Any writer who takes the time to comment on two long-standing breakfast staples is worth reading.

So I eagerly purchased a copy of reprint of Roughing It (Mark Twain, Dover Publications: Mineola, N.Y., 2003, reprint of 1913 Harper and Brothers ed.) on and had it shipped to Deer Crossing Camp, where I starve for bacon. The tale of Twain's western adventure arrived in the mail Saturday.

Now some 120 pages into Twain's fourth book, I'm certain the editor of The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain: A Book of Quotes (Paul Negri, eds., Dover Publications: Mineola, N.Y., 1999) misquoted Twain. He may've cited an unknown edition of the book.

My research in Dover's reprint of the 1913 edition, along with several on-line copies, indicates the correct quote should be: "Nothing helps scenery line ham and eggs."

Before you get the idea that Twain and his companions sat down to breakfast at a trail-side diner somewhere west of Salt Lake City, where the scenery-enhancing meal took place, understand that he and his traveling companions had laid in a supply of boiled ham and hard-cooked eggs during their recent layover in Salt Lake City. The purpose of this "alteration" in travel meals was to seemingly take the matter of meals into their own hands.

One grotesque breakfast stands out of the three or four meals penned into the 1872 account of "several years of variegated vagabondizing" to this point in the book. Twain and his traveling companions "could not eat the bread or the meat, nor drink the 'slumgullion.'" The stage, carrying Twain, older brother Orion Clements and fellow passenger Bemis, had pulled into a stage stop on the prairie in Nebraska early one morning.

"Our breakfast was before us, but our teeth were idle," complained Twain. Station keepers laid breakfast before the hungry travelers on a table made of a "greasy board on stilts." The bill of fare consisted of condemned army bacon and crusty bread that Twain described as "last week's." The trio was supposed to wash the meal down with a concoction called "Slumgullion" that "really pretended to be tea, but there was too much dish-rag, and sand, and old bacon-rind in it to deceive the intelligent traveler."

"A battered tin platter, a knife and fork, and a tin pint cup, were at each man's place, and the (stage) driver had a queens-ware saucer that had seen better days," said Twain. On these plates, Twain and his companions were subjected to "condemned army bacon which the United States would not feed to its soldiers in the forts, and the stage company had bought it cheap for the sustenance of their passengers and employees."

"We gave up the breakfast, and paid our dollar apiece and went back to our mail-bag bed in the coach, and found comfort in our pipes." With breakfast a lost cause, Twain and his companions returned to the coach.

Twain's best meal of the 20-day journey from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Carson City, Nevada, came at the Green River station in Wyoming. The "simple" breakfast of "hot biscuits, fresh antelope steaks, and coffee" was fresh in Twain's memory a decade later when he wrote Roughing It.

"Think of the monotonous execrableness of the thirty (meals) that went before it," said Twin, "to leave this one simple breakfast looming up in my memory like a shot-tower after all these years have gone by!"

Twain and his traveling companions finally took control of their own destiny and acquired a supply of bread, boiled ham and hard-cooked eggs for the torturous trip through the Nevada desert. The supply was sufficient to "last double the six hundred miles of staging we had still to do" to Carson City.

It's within this context that Twain writes the paragraph that I quoted in my last blog on Mark Twain:
And it was comfort in those succeeding days to sit up and contemplate the majestic panorama of mountains and valleys spread out below us and eat ham and hard boiled eggs while our spiritual natures revelled alternately in rainbows, thunderstorms, and peerless sunsets. Nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs. Ham and eggs, and after these a pipe--an old, rank, delicious pipe--ham and eggs and scenery, a "down grade," a flying coach, a fragrant pipe and a contented heart--these make happiness. It is what all the ages have struggled for.
I'm a little saddened that Mark Twain's original wit didn't include the phrase "bacon and eggs" because it fit so nicely into my story of bacon and butter. But I can equally accustom myself to a steady diet of "ham and eggs" as Twain did during that last push across the desert to his destination.

Bath a thick slice of boiled ham in butter, fry it over a hot fire and you've got the makings of a scenery-improving breakfast, as Twain discovered in 1861. A dollop of yellow mustard and some salt and pepper for the eggs will make any scene a spectacular one.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Philly-style Polish sausage sandwiches and inter-session meals

My number-one inter-session food request from staff is for adult food. The instructors (and the small number of campers staying for the next session) want off-menu food items. They welcome any dish that's a change from the standard Deer Crossing Camp two-week cycle menu.

When I started lunch prep at 11 a.m. yesterday, I quickly assembled 2 salsas. My first thought was to offer a trio of salsas to the 14 staff and campers that would eat lunch. Three unique flavor combinations would form the basis for a chip and salsa extravaganza.

The first two salsas quickly came together. The fiery orange and apple salsa contained two dice Valencia oranges and two diced granny smith apples with ground cumin and the juice of two limes.

Red and green bell peppers, roasted and cut into strips, and flavored with a quick spicy vinaigrette (vegetable oil, white vinegar, chili powder, salt and pepper) formed a sweet pepper salsa.

I switched gears by the time I got to make a salsa fresca. When I first posed the idea of serving leftovers from the Friday barbecue, one instructor doubled her request for something other than leftovers. She may have thought I was going to throw a plate of warmed-over hamburger patties and sausages on the table.

Inter-session meals are the perfect time to get rid of the few leftovers in the refrigerator. I rarely have sufficient quantity to feed the whole camp. Inter-session gives me the opportunity to mold the leftovers into something new.

So, ingenuity and the desire to fulfill instructor requests for adult food drive many of my ideas for inter-session meals, which run from Saturday lunch to Sunday lunch. Once campers for the next session arrive on Sunday afternoon, I'm back on the two-week cycle menu.

My original thought was to slice the 22 Polish sausages and saute them with tomatoes, onions and sweet peppers. Leftover Boca burgers would form the basis for the vegetarian option.

With my newly revised menu in my heads, I figured the orange and apple salsa could double as a fruit salad, while the sweet pepper salsa would make a good relish for Polish sausage sandwiches with melted cheese – a quick camp version of the famed Philly cheese steak sandwich.

I slice the tomatoes for the salsa fresca and marinated them in a quick vinaigrette with garlic and basil. It only took a few minutes to slice onions, green bell peppers and tomatoes for the sandwiches.

To complete the sandwiches, I sauteed the onions and sweet peppers in a large cast iron skillet, then added sliced Polish sausages. Once the sausages came to temperature, I spooned the mixture onto toasted hamburger buns, topped with sliced cheese and melted the cheese in a 350-degree oven.

Note: In the last two pictures, the sandwiches with the bell pepper on top of the cheese are vegetarian sandwiches. This helped me identify them from the meat sandwiches.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bread at sea

Back in the my day, aircraft carrier bakeries ran two shifts. One 12-hour shift baked all the bread. The second 12-hour shift baked all the pastries.

PACIFIC OCEAN (July 16, 2009) Culinary Specialist Seaman Samantha Garza butters loaves of fresh baked bread in the bakeshop aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). George Washington is participating in Talisman Saber 09, a biennial joint military exercise between the U.S. and Australia focusing on operational and tactical interoperability.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Adam K. Thomas.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Day off and breakfast with a buddy

June 9, 2009 was the last time I worked on the rail project with friends in the old Southern Pacific rail yard at Diamond Springs.

My summer job at Loon Lake in Eldorado National Forest has kept me far away from the day-to-day action of the El Dorado Western Railway and El Dorado County Historical Museum.

When I left for Deer Crossing Camp the next day, the rail removal project was just getting started. Except for weekly email updates from friend and EDWRF President Keith Berry, I've been out of the loop.

Home for a rare two-day stretch, I emailed Keith earlier in the week and arranged to meet him at the Diamond Springs Hotel for breakfast yesterday.

By chance, Keith and I met up with El Dorado County Fire Battalion Chief Kurt Taylor and EDWRF board member Ed Cuhna at the hotel just after 8 a.m.

Local politics kept the foursome busy as we enjoyed breakfast by Kevin, the hotel's morning cook. With two firefighters at the table (Ed is a retired fire captain), conversation quickly moved to stories of the 1992 Cleveland Fire and Kurt's vintage firetruck that the two are restoring.

Once Kurt and Ed left to work on the fire engine, Keith and I talked on. Our conversation shifted over to railroad happenings in El Dorado County. (Go to the El Dorado Western Railway blog for news of the project.)

I caught up on the happenings of the railway and the proposed El Dorado County Railroad Park at the old El Dorado depot site in El Dorado.

Breakfast gave me a chance to re-connect with rail buddies and get my mind a way from the camp kitchen.

Ever gracious, hotel co-owner Amy Shim (with husband Moon) and Kathy, our server, kept coffee and soda flowing for two and one-half hours.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What do you do with excess stock of cream cheese and mozzarella?

Here's a question that I answered at Growlies Recipe Exchange and Party Planning Board this afternoon. ReBecca, who appears to cook at a homeless shelter somewhere in Canada or the U.S., posed this question recently:
I have a situation here. I have a woman who was so thrilled with the poor man's fettuccine Alfredo (cream cheese recipe) that she now brings me cream cheese and shredded mozzarella almost every week now.

I can't make any more fettuccine because my homeless guys are starting to complain; plus-I would love something other than pasta since we already serve spaghetti every week for the main course.

My meals are the "to-go" meals to sustain our homeless community for the 'next' day when there are no churches making meals. SO ... does anyone have any recipes for copious amounts of sausage, cream cheese and shredded mozzarella? Thanks!
There are many things do do with the mozzarella and cream cheeses. First, you can use the shredded mozzarella in place of most shredded cheeses the shelter acquires.

If mozzarella is too stringy once it melts, try combining it with shredded cheddar. The two flavors will compliment each other.

Cheesy potato soup, rich two- or three-cheese macaroni and cheese or salad topping are just a few of ways to use the shredded mozzarella cheese. Use extra cheese in each recipe as long as your inventory holds.

Consult cookbooks like Food For Fifty or Professional Cooking for ideas. They're too numerous to print on this blog.

You can also make a versatile cream cheese and mozzarella mixture. Use it for any number of dishes, both hot and cold.

Mix cream cheese, shredded mozzarella, garlic powder and hot pepper sauce. Season lightly with salt and pepper while whipping in a mixer bowl. Although you should be careful with the hot sauce, I suspect these guys will appreciate it.

Use the mixture on:
  • Celery sticks in place of peanut butter; this is a good, filling appetizer
  • Dip for crackers or chips
  • Sliced French bread halves, baked under broiler until lightly browned; use any excess hamburger/hot dog buns, French rolls or other donated bread
  • Twice-baked potatoes, baked under broiler until cheese melts and topping browns
You didn't say what kind of sausage the lady donates. Many breakfast and Italian sausages (especially if donated in bulk form) can be used interchangeably. This recipe from Food For Fifty will help you use both cheese and sausage:


40 ounces sliced bread
9 pounds bulk sausage
40 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
72 ounces eggs (about 42 total), beaten
3 quarts milk
1-1/2 tablespoons dry mustard

Cut bread in cubes. Cover bottom of 2 greased 12x20x2-inch baking pans with bread cubes. Pans should be well covered.

Brown sausage. Drain well. Spread cheese and sausage over bread cubes.

Combine eggs, milk, and mustard. Pour over mixture in pans, 2-1/2 quarts per pan. May be mixed, covered, and refrigerated overnight.

Bake uncovered at 325 degrees F for approximately 1 hour or until set, 180-degree internal end-point temperature. If browning too fast, cover with foil.

Cut each pan 4x6. Recipe yields 2 (12x20x2-inch) hotel pans.


Sausage-Potato Bake. Substitute frozen hashed brown potatoes for bread cubes.

Egg-Potato Bake. Delete sausage. Substitute frozen hashed brown potatoes for bread cubes.

Pickle brine

Tyrone Barton, fellow chef and blogger in the S.F. Bay Area, answeres the timeless question for pickel lovers. His blog at Tyronebcookin offers ideas to use the brine left in the jar after all the pickles are gone.

This is an easy experiment I think you will like. If you have a certain favorite pickle or pickled vegetable that you buy at the store then after eating all the contents inside the jar save the ‘pickling’ juice or liquid (read more...).

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Grilled cheese extravaganza

Campers will surprise you, at least at Deer Crossing Camp. Just when you think that they will only eat chicken nuggets, grilled cheese sandwiches and cold cereal, they surprise you and devour so-called adult food.

When I served Mulligatawny soup two week ago, the campers at Deer Crossing ate a bowl each. And they thanked me after the meal for the wonderful alternative to canned cream of chicken soup.

Saturday night I accompanied the grilled pork chops with caramelized onions. I sliced three large yellow onions and slowly sweated them in a cast iron skillet until they turned golden.

I set the skillet on the kitchen counter, not in bowls for the tables. I figured staff would be the only ones to eat the delectable onion dish, which I consider equal to bacon and butter.

I knew that I was in trouble when the first four tables (of seven that night) decimated the caramelized onions. The teary eyed head of the last table (a second-year instructor) almost sent tears to my eyes when he missed out on the onions.

With this background, I knew that I had to prepare enough "special" sandwiches when I created a grilled cheese extravaganza yesterday. Once again, the campers ate every sandwich that was placed on the table.

I grilled 60 sandwiches for the 37 campers that ate in camp yesterday (a couple dozen campers and staff were out on a whitewater rafting trip). They included:
  • Traditional grilled cheese with two slices of cheese -- 30 sandwiches; we use Sysco sliced cheddar cheese; it comes in 8 (1-1/2-pound) packages per case or 32 slices per package
  • Mozzarella, pesto and sliced tomato -- 10 sandwiches; the number was limited by a small quantity of tomatoes on hand; campers and staff would've eaten more
  • Tuna melt with two slices of cheese -- 14 sandwiches; used tuna salad leftover from Saturday’s lunch
  • Cheese and salami – 6 sandwiches; only made a small quantity for the staff table
One sandwich came back to the kitchen after lunch, and it was a traditional grilled cheese. That’s a good indication that the campers at Deer crossing Camp will explore beyond conventional camper food.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Johnny Nix cooking at Lodge factory store

I normally only post news of Northern California events at 'Round the Chuckbox. Since I enjoyed watching Johnny Nix when he was on RFD TV, I though I'd post this bit of news, which came to me in a promotional email from Lodge.

Enjoy ...

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Cook turned gunner

I always love an opportunity to fire heavier weapons from the ship's fantail.

PACIFIC OCEAN (July 5, 2009) Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Nicholas Zaricor, from Vancouver, Wash., fires a .50 cal machine gun with Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Marcus Gilmore, from Colorado Springs, Colo. during a gun shoot demonstration for Tiger Cruise participants aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). Tiger Cruise gives the family and friends of Sailors and Marines stationed aboard the ship a chance to share the underway experience.

John C. Stennis is en route to San Diego, Ca. to offload Carrier Air Wing 9 before returning to her homeport in Bremerton, Wash. Stennis is returning from a scheduled six-month deployment to the western Pacific Ocean.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Abbate.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Sailors and Marines join efforts in the mess to support BHR crew

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Eva-Marie Ramsaran

PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) (7/4/2009) -- Navy and Marine Corps personnel aboard USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) combined efforts cooking and serving more than 2,400 meals, June 29, while operating at sea off the coast of Southern California.

Bonhomme Richard, the flagship for the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group is at sea conducting its initial integration exercise with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Quick integration of the culinary specialists, Marine cooks, food service attendants, and messmen was crucial to a crew of nearly 3,000 hungry personnel.

"It's an organized chaos," said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Nino Villamor. "The first day of being underway is always a trial and error on how much food to prepare because we don't know how many people are going to eat or be in line."

The crew members and embarked Marines didn't disappoint. Crowds, noise and long chow lines were the norm, keeping the cooks and mess personnel busier than imaginable.

But such scenes will be the norm as the ARG/MEU team participates in three consecutive training evolutions prior to the start of a regularly scheduled deployment later this year.

"It's important to integrate with the ship and crew to learn your way around, get to know people and keep a positive attitude doing this type of work," said Cpl. Joseph Cahoon of the 11th MEU.

"With the planning, the food preparation and the execution of each meal, it is almost impossible to do it all in two hours," said Villamor. "But my guys in the kitchen work efficiently and they add their personal touch and flavors to each meal."

In order to meet mess deck requirements, each FSA and messman must participate in sanitation training, cleaning procedures, and food preparation procedures while underway. During training, both Marines and Sailors bring their unique skills and techniques to the kitchen; therefore the mess operates smoothly and in a timely manner.

Cahoon says, "By working in the mess decks with Navy Sailors, it takes a while to adjust to the new environment of being on the ship but I look to them for advice and I expect to learn from them."

By having the cooks in the kitchen, they give insight as to what kind of meals their fellow Marines would prefer. There are 20 cooks in the galley and 40 messmen and FSAs that take part in servicing the Bonhomme Richard's crew with not just hot meals but with great customer service.

"I take it as an opportunity to always serve and put on a good show because our rate is all about customer service and supporting the overall mission of the Navy," said Villamor.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Banana bread from scratch

I don't get many opportunities to bake from scratch at Deer Crossing Camp. Most quick breads (pancakes, cake and muffins, for instance) at the wilderness camp are made from baking mixes. Bridgford frozen bread dough is also used for dinner.

I enjoyed an opportunity to bake banana bread from scratch yesterday. Faced with four or five over-ripe banana bunches, I used the bread to replace the blueberry muffins that normally run on Monday of the first week in each session.

My assistant cook, Oyu -- she's from Mongolia! -- and I prepared a batch of banana bread during our opening day baking session. It took us two and one-half hours to bake carrot cake with cream cheese icing and French bread for last night’s dinner, along with the banana bread.

The banana bread gave me a chance to show Oyu how to scale ingredients in the bakery. It also shows her how to use over-ripe produce and to adjust the menu to fit a need.


The dry and wet mixtures may be prepared in advance if desired. Once combined, the batter should be baked without delay to avoid loss of volume.

3 pounds all-purpose flour
1 pound 4 ounces sugar
2-1/2 ounces baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 teaspoons salt
12 ounces chopped nuts (optional)
1 pound 4 ounces eggs
3 pounds ripe banana pulp, pureed
1 pound vegetable oil or melted butter

Thoroughly combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nuts in large bowl. Set aside.

Combine eggs, banana pulp and oil or melted butter in separate bowl. Add liquids to dry ingredients and mix just until flour is moistened. The batter will appear lumpy. Don't overmix.

Scale 1 pound 8 ounces batter into each greased 8-1/2 by 4-1/2-inch loaf pan. Bake at 375-degrees F. for 50 minutes, or until done in center. Cool and cut each loaf into approximately 15 (1/2-inch) slices.

The recipe yields 9 pounds batter. Six loaf loaves will give you approximately 90 slices of banana bread.

This recipe comes from the 4th edition of Professional Cooking (Wayne Gisslen, John Wiley & Sons: N.Y., 1999), page 711.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Mark Twain on bacon

Debbie and I visited the Taylor Creek Visitor Center before dinner last Thursday. It was our day off and we were looking to relax and take in a few sights in the Lake Tahoe Basin. I always enjoy visiting the U.S. Forest Service centers because they carry a wide selection of historical books, wildlife guides and maps.

I picked up The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain: A Book of Quotes (Paul Negri, ed., Dover Publications: Mineola, N.Y., 1999), a collection of Twain’s sayings. Many were taken from his books, speeches and letters written over a writing career that spanned some five decades.

One quote that caught my attention was borrowed from Twain’s 1872 publication of Roughing It. Twain said, "Nothing helps scenery like bacon and eggs."

The full quote from Roughing It contains a bit more information. Although the line from this later version used "ham," I suspect he spoke of bacon, a common staple in the west.
And it was comfort in those succeeding days to sit up and contemplate the majestic panorama of mountains and valleys spread out below us and eat ham and hard boiled eggs while our spiritual natures revelled alternately in rainbows, thunderstorms, and peerless sunsets. Nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs (page 63).
Bacon and eggs are among my favorite breakfast foods in camp. Twain is right--the salty goodness of bacon helps any setting.

Bacon is one of those foods that go with most anything. The smoky goodness of cured pork belly compliments a wide range of foods, even butter.

Yes, I said butter. As Debbie and I approached Loon Lake last Thursday, she asked me if I wanted to split the remaining piece of bacon from our breakfast at Ernie’s Coffee Shop. Never one to refuse bacon, I accepted.

My palette received a pleasant surprise when I bit into my half. It seems that Debbie had also saved the cup of whipped butter from her French toast. The bacon marinated in the butter as it melted in the afternoon sun.

If you agree that bacon and eggs improve your surroundings as Twain proposed, bacon and butter make the wilderness seem like the Garden of Eden.

The combination of two prized culinary fats made for a pleasurable end to a day of rest and relaxation. Here we were driving up to the boat landing for our ride back to camp, enjoying the lodgepole forest in the setting sun, munching on bacon and butter.

It’s a near perfect combination in the culinary scheme of things. I’m sure Twain would agree, bacon and butter make everything better, even scenery.

Friday, July 03, 2009

BBQ tonight

Barbecue tonight ... too tired to blog ... going to bed!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Day off ...

As at most summer camps across the United States, staff get one 24-hour period off each week. The day off at Deer Crossing runs from 7 a.m. to 7 a.m. the next day.

We have chosen to leave camp on each of our days off. It lets us "get aways from it all" and enjoy a relaxing day out of the kitchen. After a five-minute boat ride across Loon Lake, we're free to relax, catch up on laundry and take care of business (banking, for instance) that can't be done at camp.

Debbie and I left the camp at 8:30 this morning and arrived in South Lake Tahoe in time for a late breakfast at Ernie's Coffee Shop. Laundry was next on the agenda, then a visit to an art and craft fair at the "Y" and coffee and Internet at Alpina Coffee Cafe.

Coffee gave us a chance to dodge the rain and catch up on the whereabouts of our 17-year-old son, who's staying with his sister. The rain was a pleasant relief from the heat and dry conditions at camp.

In the photo, I was about to stuff my special peanut butter, dill pickle and mayonnaise sandwich into my mouth at camp. I plan to demonstrate the sandwich to each new group of campers, every two weeks. Four staff and about eight campers accepted my challenge to try the sandwich last week.

I've been eating the sandwich, named "The Jonathon" after a Florida College employee who ate them by the dozen after camp in 2003, since childhood.