Sunday, April 28, 2013

Camp Cooking #7: Pineapple Up-side-down Cake on the Grill

Ok, I shouldn't share this one with you.  For the love of clothes you already have that fit, you shouldn't make this one.  It's ridiculously good.  I mean, finger-lickin' good.   "Hey RDB, look at that over there!" (so I can steal your piece) kinda good.

You've been warned.

Gather your ingredients (if you dare):

1 slice of Angel Food Cake per Person
2 pineapples slices
2 Maraschino Cherries
Brown Sugar
Butter (easy to spread stuff - NOT margarine!)
Heavy duty foil, spoon, butter knife, tongs
Start out by tearing off a large sheet of foil - you want this to be big enough that you can wrap it around the finished cake, and seal it before you put it on the grill. So, the larger your slices of cake, the larger your foil needs to be.  You're then going to butter and brown sugar the center, where your cake 'stack' is going to be created.
Next up, lay down two pineapple slices.  Kinda measure out how wide your cake slice is, you want to make sure the pineapples cover, but don't hang over.  In essence, you're building the cake stack up-side-down. 
Um, yeah, isn't that why they call it up-side-down cake?
And then, more brown sugar.  Trust me, you can't go wrong with brown sug-ah.
Then, add two cherries - in the center of each pineapple ring.....

Take a moment here - enjoy that last photo.  In fact, let's get a little closer....
Mmmmmm, I could lick the screen right now.
Oh yes, back to cooking.  Top the very delicious looking cherries-pineapple-brown sugar stack with one slice of your angel food cake - but wait!!  Before you put that piece down, butter both sides.  Not a heavy coating, just enough so that it won't stick when you place the foil over top.
Almost makes me sad to have covered up that beautiful fruit stack.  But, cover we will.  Fold in your foil so that your stack is tucked in nicely for it's trip to the grill.  Use medium heat (again, we use a gas grill - you're on your own if you want to shove these beauties in the fire). We let them grill for about 15 minutes (or until you can hear the sugar starting to bubble out of the foil and onto the grates.  BTW - grill them fruit side down - just like you'd bake them in the oven back home.
Now for the fun part. Remove these from the grill using tongs - they will be HOT! - let them cool for a few moments (until you can touch the foil without burning yourself.  Unwrap them, and the stack is still up-side-down.  Use your mad-ninja skills to invert them onto a waiting plate, and voila!!
Warm, delicious, gooey, sugary, sweet wonderful cake. 
I flipped RDB's over first, then took a moment to flip mine,
reached for my camera to take a photo, and...
Hey SJG, what's that over there?!
I told you they were good.

./` Rain, Rain at La Grange ./`

Go back and read the title again... only this time, sing it to the tune of "Home, Home on the Range."

Go on, do it.. dooooo it!

There, that's how it was intended.  :-)  Now, shall we continue?

./`./`./` Rain, rain at La Grange!          
Where the eggs turn out looking strange.

./`./`./` Where books will be read...

While RDB rests his head, ./`./`./`

./`./`./` And the skies will stay cloudy all day! ./`./`./`

We went camping this weekend with the South East Texas Pop-up Camper's Club at Oak Thicket Park in La Grange, TX.  The park sits on the edge of Lake Fayette, which is the cooling reservoir for the nearby power plant (seen in the photo above).  It was great to meet back up with some of the families we met back at the Brazos Bend camp out at the beginning of the year.  Once again, the food at the potluck was outstanding!  (Whoever made that triple layer German chocolate coconut cake that was light as air - we LOVE you!) Unfortunately, though - it rained.  And rained. And rained. And rained. And no, I did not get a picture of the rain.  I didn't get many pictures at all, since we spent the majority of our trip in the camper.  On a positive note: we finally got to use the deck of cards I packed.  Go-Fish can be quiet a competitive game, thank-you-very-much!  On a negative note: one must remember to put the awning at an angle so the rain can run off, instead of pool on top.... and again, no, I did not get a picture of that, either. Thank-you-very-much.
If you're curious about the strangely pink eggs - no, it's not caused by the after-effects of being near a power plant.  I got beets in my Green Box this week and went searching for a recipe to use them.  I came across a recipe for Pennsylvania Dutch Eggs, and thought, why not? They look odd, but boy, do they taste good!

We did get a few minutes without rain - and enjoyed a bit of time outside.  I'm studying for classes relating to work right now, and so had to devote a bit of the weekend to my 4-inch-thick textbook.  Blah.  But Diesel made sure I wasn't studying too hard.

We caught glimpses of what will probably be the last few bluebonnets of the season going for a walk with Diesel.  The wildflowers this year have just been tremendous - lining the roads on the way out and back on all these trips we're taking.  It's one of the reasons we both love driving as much as we do. Ok, so one of the reasons why I love driving.  Can't speak for RDB on that one!

It rained most of the night - once we got back from the potluck we spent a few minutes on our 'front porch' but quickly turned in.  I guess one of the downsides to camping so much is that eventually you'll have to deal with rain.  Of course, the company you keep, and the attitude you have, make a huge difference on how you'll fare when it does rain.  I sure love having RDB as my camping buddy.

But if you're ever stuck with a day that's gray and lonely, just stick out your chin and grin and say:
*cue music*

./`./`./` The sun'll come out, tomorrow!
Bet your bottom dollar that tomrrow -
There'll be sun!! ./`./`./`
./`./`./` Just thinking about tomorrow
Clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow,
Till there's none!! ./`./`./`

./`./`./` Tomorrow! Tomorrow, I love ya, Tomorrow!
You're only a daaaaaay aaaaaaaa-way! ./`./`./`

For more camping photos, and no singing, I promise, go here.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

./` Moving to the Country.... ./`

...gonna do a lotta campin'!

I'm sitting at the kitchen table and Diesel keeps bumping my leg with his nose.  Bump.  Bump  Bumpbump.  He's still wearing his camping collar from this past weekend... I can't help but wonder if the bumps are his way of saying: Let's go! Let's go! Let'sgo-let'sgo-let'sgo camping again!

Ok, so it's really me saying, Let's go!  But I can't help it - we have just too much fun when we go out to the Country.

Saturday morning started off right - with a big breakfast of blueberry pancakes, sausage, eggs and toast.  I 'cheated' this time an brought along my toaster from home - we learned last time we were up here with Dad and Bunny, that the oven in their camper does *not* do toast very well.  And with four of us (and two more coming) I knew I'd want an easier way to cook.  Diesel enjoyed a little treat from Grandma - as soon as we go there, she handed him a big rawhide bone... I think he was pretty much in Heaven after that!
nom nom nom

Two of Bunny and Dad's long time friends, B&G,  planned to come down this weekend as well.  They arrived late morning on Saturday and set up the Tent-mahal.  No kidding, you could be 6'5" and stand up without hitting your head in this tent (I should've taken a picture.)  They also brought along Churchill and Ivan - two very adorable, and grumpy, English bulldogs.

From left to right: B, G, Ivan, and Churchill

We were curious how Diesel would react to having two other unknown dogs around, but we soon realized we had no reason to worry - he did exceptionally well.  I'm not sure we've ever heard him so vocal, though - he was talking all kinds of smack to Churchill when he would get too close to Bunny.  Kinda neat to see the protective side of Diesel for his extended pack.  And of course, when Churchill decided he wanted to commandeer Diesel's Grandma-given bone....

The weather was absolutely beautiful.  Perfect for hanging up my new hammock and enjoying a lazy afternoon.  In fact, I think we all enjoyed that hammock.

Did I do that?
So, I mentioned our two visiting bulldog boys were grumpy.  And that might have been an understatement.  Ivan was not at all happy to be outside, out of the A/C, with the bugs, in the warmth, with Churchill... so he pretty much growled the entire evening.  And there were a few times that he and Churchill would go at each other (Diesel, of course, circling around the fight, whining, not sure what to do but certain he didn't want to get in the middle of it)  Each time D and G would break up the scuffle, take their respective dog, and things would calm back down.  Unfortunately, the last tussle of the evening did something to damage Ivan's back leg - he refused to walk afterward.  D&G packed up and left early Sunday morning (before any of the rest of us woke up) to take Ivan back home.  We were sad the trip ended that way for them.
The rest of Sunday was again, absolutely beautiful.  RDB and I packed up very lazily over the course of the morning, and he and Diesel took off for home shortly thereafter.  I  had the good fortune of having Monday meetings in Tyler, so I got to stay behind and spend a bit more time with Dad and Bunny.  It's not often that I get uninterrupted one-on-one time with Dad, so I was thrilled to be able to sit at the picnic table and just chat.  All to soon, though, they were packing up too, and I was heading to my home-tel for the night.
It won't be long till we're back camping again, Diesel.  In fact, we're going out again in just 3 more days.  One last quick photo, speaking of Diesel-- ever seen a dog do this?
Yep, that's our random Dobie.
For more camping photos, go here.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Camp Cooking #6: "Homemade" Crockpot Bread

RDB says I can't call this 'homemade.'  He thinks popping open a can of pre-made dough and baking it in a crockpot doesn't count.  Kinda reminds me of the old Rice Krispies Treats commercial:
So, just because it's easy doesn't mean it's not homemade.  Right?
Now that we've cleared that up - here's my recipe for Homemade *wink*wink* Crockpot Bread.
Gather your ingredients:
1 'can' of premade pizza dough
(Yep, that's it.)
crockpot, parchment paper, foil pie plate
Timewise, this can vary - as your model and size of crockpot could be different than mine.  It's best to get this started right after breakfast and then it would certainly be ready for dinner, and potentially for lunch.  And if you're making this a main part of your dinner, bring a back-up meal just in case.  I burned the tar out of my first loaf which made for an interesting breadless-sandwich dinner.
"Pop" open your can of pizza dough and form it into a large donut - in essence, just wrap the ends around on each other and smush them together.  I have a round crockpot, I need a round lump of dough.  Set it off to the side on the parchment paper for a moment.

Prep your crockpot with two things: the foil pie plate and the parchment paper.  I learned on my first attempt at crockpot bread that the bottom will burn to a blackened crisp if you don't get it away from the heat of the element right below the crock.  I couldn't find a pie plate that would fit into my little crockpot so I had to create my own concoction by cutting and bending a larger plate to fit.  In a perfect world, you could take a small pie plate and invert it into your crock to give a false bottom about an inch away from the true bottom.  That inch makes all the difference. 
 Line your new false bottom with a large piece of parchment paper (the one you put the dough on a moment ago) and make sure it goes up the sides of the crock.  This will make clean-up practically a non-issue so long as the dough stays inside your parchment.

Place your doughnut shaped dough ball in to the center of your parchment lined crockpot and cover.
Back to what I said about timing - it's averaged about 2.5-3 hours the three times I've tried this (including the time I turned it into charcoal).  You'll know it's done when the top springs back if you touch it.  It will still look very dough-y on top, and have the texture of a steamed bun, but the bottom will be crunchy (not burned) and delicious.
This brand makes a very dense bread - RDB and I made it into a meal once before with a few herbs and spices in olive oil for dipping.  This weekend we just used plain ole butter.
Mmmmm, butter.
 Ya know, we made disagree over what is or what isn't 'homemade' - but one thing is certain: we both LOVE cooking at camp!