Please Sir, May I Have S’more?

I went camping this year.  I even have witnesses.  It’s not a regular occurrence for me, but occasionally I like it.  To be clear, I like the outdoors – the scenery, most of the smells, trees and stuff.  I’m not an avid camper though, so I have no equipment to make camping easy.  I have a sleeping bag that my brother gave me that he wasn’t using.  If you asked him to go camping, he’ll respond, “Why would you do that when there is a perfectly good hotel not far away?”  He didn’t need his sleeping bag, so I took it.  I own nothing else to help myself to live outdoors even for a night.

Growing up, I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to go camping.  I can count on one hand all of my camping experiences including the one this past year.  My first camping experience was to Camp Happily Appley with my brownie troupe.  There, I was forced to drink water that tasted like dirty armpits, pretty much got bucked off of a horse and was traumatized changing clothes in the outdoors without any doors anywhere, but people everywhere.  (I was a modest 9 year old).  Let’s not talk about the dreaded out houses where there could be a rattle snake waiting for you?  This trip took me out of my comfort zone.

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I’m in the back row, third from the right.

My next camping trip came in high school when my youth group was going to McGrath State Beach.  This beach camping trip sounded great in theory as it was 5 minutes from my house and I really loved the beach.  I used to go really frequently to the beach back then.  For this trip, I had nothing with me except a blanket.  Everything was fine and taken care of by our leader such as food and campfires etc, until it came time to sleep.  Without a tent or a sleeping bag, I slept with my blanket in the youth group van by myself.  You might think this would be alright but I was a frozen popsicle by morning.  I have no recollection of the trip after that but I think I got picked up and defrosted at home?

So after that, I went camping one or two more times and if there was a rock, inevitably my head would find an uncomfortable pillow.  I also managed to position myself sleeping downhill?  I’m not the most coordinated person, so I associated well with Lucy in the movie Forever Darling.

Needless to say, I eagerly signed myself up for camping with friends this past Spring!  I warned them all of my lack of camping knowledge and basically told them to take care of me.  Thankfully, they did.  We also rented an RV, so there was no chance of a rock pillow or downhill sleeping arrangement.  My reference for RV camping was also Lucy in a movie called, The Long Long Trailer.  I’ve obviously watched more movies than camp.

IMG_0706My lack of experience lends itself to romanticizing and associating camping with classic things like…singing around a campfire, lots of flannel, star gazing, and of course S’mores.  My friend Lucas found a recipe on pinterest for home made marshmallows which I was certain would make us the most popular campsite for miles around.  He said he’d make them, so I didn’t argue!  We thought they’d be perfect around the campfire.  He made dozens of fluffy white yummy marshmallows.

Lucas and Vito, Eagle Scouts, were on the trip.  They were more than capable of building a campfire but this Brownie criticized the fire for not being big enough because I compared it to others around us and “movie” campfires where they seem a bit more dramatic than ours?  They assured me our campfire was exactly right and appeased me a little with a few more flames to get that film quality that I envisioned.

IMG_0720Campfire was set, stars were in place and now those homemade marshmallows were going to be roasted.  There were four of us in on this campfire experiment.  We skewered our marshmallows while our salivary glands anticipated the sweet mouthwatering delicacy.  Each person had a different roasting method which pretty much garnered the same outcome.  Marshmallows were melting quickly and falling off the skewer into the fire.  New plans were quickly derived to catch marshmallows in graham crackers before falling.

IMG_0721It was a messy endeavor but when you finally got a marshmallow in your mouth, it was a confectionary delight.  We tried to eat more than one but it wasn’t easy, even for a sweet tooth connoisseur.  They had to have been the best marshmallows that I’ve ever had but a bit more richer than the average store bought brand.

Mere marshmallow handsIngredients for marshmallows:

About 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 1/2 envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water, divided
2 cups granulated sugar (cane sugar worked just fine)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites or reconstituted powdered egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla (alternately: 1/2 of a scraped vanilla bean, 2 teaspoons almond or mint extract or maybe even some food coloring for tinting)

To follow the full recipe for Springy, Fluffy Marshmallows from smittenkitchen.com, click here.

The next encounter with THE marshmallows were at a Palm Springs trip.  As you know we frequently make a visit to Palm Springs as it’s close and relatively inexpensive for a group of us to go.  This time I found a recipe for Skillet S’mores which I thought would be better because it eliminated the game of twirling the skewer to keep your marshmallow on it.  The idea is that the chocolate and the marshmallows are in a skillet where you can dip your graham cracker or spoon the concoction on your graham cracker.

Ingredients for the skillet s’mores:

  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 8 large marshmallows or fill the skillet
  • graham crackers for dipping

To follow the full recipe for Indoor S’mores from dessertfortwo.com, click here.

In the future, I would make an adjustment to this recipe though.   I suggest melting your chocolate and adding some cream and maybe some butter in a double boiler first to make loose viscous texture then pour into a skillet and bake the marshmallows on top.  Nobody found fault in the way that I served this per the recipe but I think it would have made for easier dipping and less chance of burning the chocolate before you put the marshmallows on top to bake.

IMG_1435I’m usually up for most adventures.  I probably would have slept on a rock on a hill as long as there was promise of these treats again but I’m certainly glad there was a moderately comfortable bed for this princess and the pea.  I hope you have sweet dreams if you take this recipe with you on your next camping trip or just at home watching movies.

 

 

 

Glutton for Southernment

I recently traveled to Tennessee to visit extended family for the funeral services of Mary Ann.  On the last day, we wanted to eat brunch before we left our separate ways and tried to determine where to go for a Southern experience.  There was a good  discussion of Midlands vs. Cracker Barrel vs. Waffle House and the general consensus was the need for waffles, so Waffle House seemed the natural choice.

As I have been to several areas of the South, I was familiar with the building but haven’t stepped inside a Waffle House to try the cuisine yet.  The Southerners assured we were in for a true greasy spoon experience.  I wasn’t quite sure if I would appreciate that or be completely disgusted but I was game for trying!

MenuThis small diner wasn’t equipped to handle a group of eight seated together, so we chose two booths and got comfortable for the parade of food that was to come.  It had a counter and several small tables for 2 or four and a jukebox for customizing your personal soundtrack for the meal.

My table of four quickly began negotiating an array of food so we would sample as much as possible and share favorites.  The next table’s approach was to order “smothered” items as they were pros and knew what they liked!  I’m not even sure I’ve seen the word “smothered” in a menu in California?

 

Food began to arrive and I wasn’t sure there would be enough room on the table.  There were cheesy eggs, bacon, raisin toast, grilled biscuits, grits and of course waffles.  We ate and shared, and ate and shared and I think we all enjoyed the cheesy eggs and felt the waffles were a good standard waffle.  No complaints.  My breakfast was pretty much all carbs but I was going to just eat and deal with the consequences of that later.

Table 2The smothered food, well…looked smothered and yummy in a “don’t think about what that is going to do to you” kinda way.

Smothered 2This was a meal that I don’t have to do every time I go to the South but I’m glad we took the time and made this the choice.  The staff didn’t know what hit them when we all walked in, but they did well and we didn’t overwhelm them too much.  There were plenty of locals in the diner which contributed to the ambiance for me.

It was a quick trip to Tennessee and I grow fonder of the area due to the warmness of the people and how different it is from home.  They say I am “Southern” too, as in Southern California.  After the Waffle House, I feel I had a right of passage and am officially a Glutton for Southernment.

When you visit the South, what’s your favorite place?  Leave your suggestions in the comments below!