Ah yes. The best laid plans…

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!

FoodBuzz Cooler

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 him it.

Look! Look how happy I am in this photo. I am squeezing the LIFE out of our sleeping bag!

Me Happy

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.

Me sad...

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!

Me Happy

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.

Jeff's Number 1

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.

Cast iron dutch oven.

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.

Our 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.

Necessary camping equipment

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.

Bells Beer

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 egg
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.

Corn Bread Batter

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!

Chili and Corn Bread

And while we enjoyed dinner. I tossed the apples in the coals.

Hot Coal Apples

brown sugar
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.

Hot Ember Apples

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.

Cooked up by Jeff & Heather


  1. 36
    January 20

    Seriously you two??? Seriously???? This is how you cook OUT???? Tell the truth. Even if it WAS in your backyard that’s mighty industrious says me who’s in deep admiration of you two. (i bowed my head here in respect and reverance). OH. And Jeff. Chili AND beans! Oh yeah Jeff. That’s right. I said it. BEANS.

  2. 35
    November 18

    Too bad the camping trip has to be postponed till the other weekend:( I can’t wait

  3. 34
    November 15

    I’m going camping this weekend and will try out some of yuor recipes. Kudos for the post.

  4. 33
    November 4

    Wow, you’re kind of funny, but I think you hit too close to home to be hilarious. Seriously, you’re good. I am posting to my blog about you and telling my readers to vote for you. I like it a lot. Keep it up.



  5. 32
    October 28

    Awesome post…again. I love how you guys overcame the obstacles and made do with what you could. Camping out in the back yard actually sounds fun. And I’m glad you two had time to yourselves without all the entertaining. Though that’s fun…it’s good to get back to yourselves too. Great job!

  6. 31
    October 28

    I… just… can’t… look… away… CLICK VOTE.

  7. 30
    October 28

    Bell’s Two Hearted is one of my favorite beers ever in life (and I’m from WI, so I’m a total beer snob). If you had that, things couldn’t possibly have been too bad. ;)

    Loved this post.

  8. 29
    October 28

    I laughed all the way through this post! You have a vote from me!

    For my entry, I wanted to create a road trip and picnic for my boyfriend, who had recently given me a “do over” of one of my childhood memories. I decided to give him his own “do over” — a special birthday picnic with a heart-themed meal. Come see if you’d like :)

  9. 28
    October 27

    Congratulation for making to challenge #6!!! You’ve got my vote again this round! Congrats & Best wishes to making to next round :)

    Have a great week
    jen @ http://www.passion4food.ca

  10. 27
    October 27

    Cookin’ the old school way. I love it. Brings back fun childhood days camping with my family. Thanks for the post.

  11. 26
    October 27

    P.S. – Now, when are you going to do a Halloween post, hmmmm? :-D

  12. 25
    October 27

    Oh, Heather. You didn’t reeeeeally want to go camping, did you? LOL! This sounds like my kind of camping – indoor toilet just steps away. LOL!

  13. 24
    October 27

    felt so good reading this post,..good luck for the nxt challenge

  14. 23
    October 26

    I just love your wit. Love love love this blog, and love the “realness” of your picnic. And you’re right, unless you open a beer, your chili will fail :D

  15. 22
    October 26

    I was reading this and started laughing out loud. You just wrote out my life. Not specifically but my plans always seem to unravel due to my DH’s work or some other random thing. He makes the best of it do you two. Thanks for the smile

  16. 21
    October 26

    You are brilliant. Just sayin.

  17. 20
    October 26

    lovely pictures

  18. 19
    October 26

    MY kinda camping! Got my vote!

  19. 18
    October 26

    Ha! Great post! You got my vote!

  20. 17
    October 25

    This was so funny. I love the jumped on him it. And your almost getting kicked out of the circle of trust…Lol. You guys are troopers – even in the back yard, how fun. Your goodies looked yummy. You did a great job for this challenge – you definitely get a vote from me !

    (from Running On Butter)

  21. 16
    October 25

    I love that you made chili with Bell’s Beer! YUM!

  22. 15
    October 25

    You crack me up. I can relate to it ALL!

  23. 14
    October 25

    Love your humor!

  24. 13
    October 25

    I’d go camping with you, though it sounds like you might rather be alone. GREG

  25. 12
    October 25

    You got my vote once again. Keep up the great food and fun, you two.

    Thanks for the reminder to fabricate a tripod for my fire ring.

  26. 11
    October 25

    You two are just about the cutest couple, ever! Love the backyard camping and how well you guys work/cook together. Keep the fun posts coming. BTW, I stumbled you AND voted for you guys too!!!

  27. 10
    October 25

    I love your writing. You made me laugh and put a big smile on my face, which is not easy to do over a screen. I love the concept and think you did a great job. I also agree with feeling t-i-r-e-d! lol.

  28. 9
    October 25

    Another fabulous (and hilarious!!) post. It actually kinda makes me want to go camping… And if you know me, you know I NEVER want to go camping!

  29. 8
    October 25

    Voted for you guys again… another person who doesn’t like beans in chili!

    I love them, but my kids won’t go near it unless there are no beans.

    Great job once again!!

  30. 7
    October 25

    Oh man, I’m starving and I have to read this? Torture! And, um–definitely have to try those apples!

  31. 6
    October 25

    Very cool and original idea!! It all looks so tasty.

  32. 5
    October 25

    I didn’t know you ride in a dodge uterus? Seriously, look at the ram tough logo. There is your ammunition for payback. The faux camping menu looks terrific.

  33. 4
    October 25

    Ummm that beer looks familiar. Food looks delicious. Can’t wait to sit around your fire pit this weekend and enjoy more of your cooking!

  34. 3
    October 25

    Oh man I thought it was only Matt who had to save the world when we had other plans….

  35. 2
    October 25

    a very fun idea: packing the ingredients rather than the finished meal. Love campfire cooking.

  36. 1
    October 24

    Love how you show Jeff, he’s number one. LOL!

One Trackback

  1. By Crispin "the Saint" Simmered Pears and Mascarpone on August 23, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    […] post that got us eliminated was seen by a new friend and business associate who told us that the Bells Two Hearted Ale Chili was the most amazing recipe he ever saw and he has a few INCREDIBLE ideas for us and OH EM GEE you […]