So. We meet again.
Funny. You sure have been hanging around more often lately. I think it is because you LOVE us and you LOVE our food and you LOOOVVVEEEE our salty wit. Jeff thinks you keep coming back because we are certifiably insane and like a good train wreck, you just can’t look away.
Okay, he may be SOMEWHAT correct. But regardless you like us enough to stick around, even if it is to see what the hell happens next. Well look out because somehow we are returning for yet another round of THE GREATEST BLOG ON EARTH! Staring yours truly(s), and about 59 other insanely hungry bloggers. And this time, our lovely host FoodBuzz, is pulling us kicking and screaming from the sanctity of our kitchens and thrusting us out into the cold cruel world to eat SOMEWHERE ELSE. Controlling as they are, we not only had to make and eat ONE course, but THREE. And they were going to make us bring something to drink too. And pack it all in a rather small yet well insulated FoodBuzz Cooler. The horror!
Ok look. We were getting a little tanked here. All we have been doing for the past 5 weeks is cooking up elaborate meals for our friends and family. And before that was summer time. Where we, well, grilled up elaborate meals for our friends and family. Don’t get me wrong. WE LOVE YOU GUYS! But seriously, I am beginning to think we are not a “couple” but a thirteen-sum. We were dying for some quiet time alone to, uhh, sit and get to know one another(?) So Jeff suggested a little day trip. We would bring along our stocked cooler of provisions. Enjoy a simple overnight camping trip at week’s end. He would even take a HALF DAY! Just him and me. Us. And a tent. Meh. Usually I am opposed to tent slumber because of the lack of outlets, but I was THRILLED at the chance for a break from the day-to-day and I JUMPED on
Look! Look how happy I am in this photo. I am squeezing the LIFE out of our sleeping bag!
That big smile. The look of sheer joy. THAT WAS PURE BLISS I TELL YOU!
“Was” being the KEY word in that sentence… because here I am Wednesday.
As Jeff had just informed me that we had the obligations of a family function to attend. BUT not all hope was lost he told me after enduring me whining for
thirty five minutes. We could just go SATURDAY after we got home!
See? Me. Happ happ happy! (WHY YES! Yes you crazy detective you – that IS the same happy photo. Congratulations. You get a cookie…)
Then Friday morning rolled around. And I was all making the bed and making coffee and making plans and then I look at Jeff. Jeff who had this look on his face that includes his “I’m cute please don’t kill me” smile. I glared at him. He said “um hon I forgot that I was on call this week and there is this thing I need to do this weekend (translation SATURDAY NIGHT) because of the fact I am on call but I can probably do it tonight but I’ll have to stay late and…” My eyes must have done a slow burn into his brain as he back peddled out of the room. I yelled after him JUST MAKE IT HAPPEN as he grabbed his coffee and slid out the door professing his ever undying love because lets face it, he had to come home to me.
But HE ACTUALLY PULLED IT OFF! He did what he had to do and we fulfilled our family obligations and YAY we were finally on our way! AND THEN his PHONE rang. My blood ran cold. He answered. Swallowed hard and his eyes became saucers as he turned to me. I mouthed “I kill you” as he pulled into the center lane. And turned around. No WiFi in the woods he said. I have responsibilities he said. You DO understand that right he said? I nodded that I did, showed him that he was my number one and sulked the entire way home. Sigh.
But you know what. He STILL made it happen. We just didn’t go that far from home. And my tent wasn’t a tent but it had outlets. And WiFi. And a view of our house. We “camped” in our back yard. And where I know that we didn’t technically leave home, we DID leave the house. And cooked up a storm with our cooler full of camping goodies at “Camp He Cooks She Cooks.”
First on the menu was Camp Fire Chili. Lucky us we installed that fire pit or we would have had to set fire to the remains of the tomato garden.
We (Jeff) makes one mean pot of chili. (My chili has beans in it which almost got me kicked out of his circle of trust but since it is just me and him in it he had to make a few concessions.) And chili over an open fire while pseudo-camping would be even better.
Camp Fire Mole Chili with Bells Two Hearted Ale
3 lbs of chuck, cubed and dusted with flour
1/2 lb bacon, diced
1 T paprika
4-6 T whole chili powder (started with 4 TB but added more halfway through to taste)
1 T oregano
1 T mix of cumin and coriander (1 to 1/2 ratio)
2 ounces of Mexican unsweetened chocolate
1 bottle of a high quality ale
3 cups of beef stock
1 onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne powder
1 large can of diced tomatoes
First things first. You need to cook up the magical chili mirepoix.
Cook up the bacon while the dutch oven is getting hot, rendering out all that awesome bacon grease.
Remove the bacon, and brown the beef in the bacon grease. You will probably have to do this in a couple of batches so that you do not over crowd the beef or it will not brown.
Remove the beef and allow to drain.
Cook up the onions for a couple of minutes, till just softened.
It is customary at this point to crack open a beer. If you do not, your chili will fail miserably. Just saying.
Now add the beef and bacon back to the pot along with everything else on the list.
Mix well, cover and relax. Check and stir every 20-30 minutes, tasting each time. We always end up adding more chili powder and sometimes salt as we cook. This is why tasting is important. Cleanse you palate each time with another tasty brew.
And while that chili cooked for a couple of hours, Jeff plugged away on his computer, every so often checking my level of annoy-ity. It was waning. But I wasn’t going to admit that to him. Besides I had a book, my Droid and corn bread pancake-like fritters to attend to.
Sweet Corn Camp Side Cakes
Part 1 – the dry ingredients:
1 cup AP flour
1 cup corn meal
1/4 cup sugar
1 T baking powder
Part 2 – the wet ingredients:
1/4 cup milk
2 T canola oil
Part 3 – the grill side ingredients:
hand full of the bacon reserved from the chili
1/2 cup corn kernels
Add all ingredients together, stir to incorporate.
While Jeff saved the world – I tried not to burn myself cooking over hot coals.
Heat oil (we used extra bacon grease brought from home) in a cast iron skillet. Once the oil is hot, drop spoon fulls of the batter in the skillet. Cover and cook a few minutes. They will get nice and puffy. Flip and cook till golden. NOTE: Over hot coals this all happens pretty fast. Stove top you can control the heat. By the way, these would work great in a cast iron corn bread pan.
Yay! Time to eat. The chili was hot and spicy and the corn bread sweet. Feel free to top your chili with whatever your little ole’ heart desires… We used onion, Serrano and queso fresco cheese. It was the perfect meal while kinda camping the backyard on a dreary, overcast 60° day. So perfect Jeff stopped working to eat. Double yay!
And while we enjoyed dinner. I tossed the apples in the coals.
Hot Coal Apples
whole oat granola
Core and slice the apples.
Place the apple in the center of a sheet of foil.
Throw some brown sugar, granola and cinnamon on the apple.
Wrap up in a ball.
Toss on hot but not flaming coals (or in a 375° oven). Leave for 5-10 minutes.
Flip and leave for a few minutes more.
Serve with a splash of cream.
So obstructions, set-backs, delays and changes in scenery aside, it was an absolutely great time. We did admit however, it felt realllllly weird to not have a yard full of friends eating and drinking and laughing with us. But yea we still didn’t pick up the phone to call any of you. Actually we did text one friend to rub in the roaring fire, the yummy chili and the cold beer but he deserved it. We’ll make it all up to you this weekend. Promise.
Sorry we didn’t invite you either, dear reader, but we hope that you will forgive us and cast a vote in our favor for Most Awesomeist Food Bloggers Evaaah! If you do there is an ice cold beer in it for you.
You can find it in the cooler at the liquor store on the corner of… Oh who am I kidding. You KNOW where it is.