Archive for October, 2007

Use Disposable Tablecloths While Camping

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

Disposable plastic tablecloths are an inexpensive way to cover a picnic table at the campground and give your campsite a little color. Plus, they make cleanup at the end of the trip a breeze. Instead of having to scrub, dry, fold, and store a heavy duty piece of tablecloth material like I used to do (an especially big pain if it’s raining when packing up because it’s nearly impossible to get dry), head to your local discount or dollar store and stock up on disposable tablecloths in different colors.

Each camping trip I break out a new one using black or orange for Halloween; red or blue or a stars and stripes pattern for July; yellow, pink, or lavendar in the spring; bright green, blue, yellow or hot pink in the summer; and brown or orange if I brave a camping trip in November (it gets cold where I live). If you camp around the Christmas holidays, there are lots of choices of Christmas themed disposable tablecloths.

I know what type of tablecloth you choose isn’t a big thing, but it’s often some of the little things that make camping easier and more fun.

Mushroom and Blue Cheese Stuffed Burger Recipe

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

Burgers are a classic camping food probably because they’re easy to make and are portable. But plain burgers can get boring. And burgers with lots of toppings can be really messy since the first bite results in half those toppings oozing out and landing on your plate (if you’re lucky) or on your clothes.

That’s why I like stuffed burgers, or as I like to call them, “inside out burgers.”

This recipe for portabella mushroom and blue cheese stuffed burgers (juicy lucy burgers) is really good and quick to make. Try them even if you’re not a fan of blue cheese. I don’t usually like blue cheese but found I really liked it when it was stuffed inside a burger.

The traditional stuffed burger recipes I found say to saute the mushrooms before stuffing them in the burger because of the moisture they give off, but I’ve found that little bit of extra moisture they add to the burgers keeps them juicy and even if they are cooked to the well done stage so I don’t bother with that extra step.

Ingredients needed for each burger
1/2 pound 85 percent lean beef (any leaner and the burgers tend to be dry)
1/2 of a portabella mushroom cap, chopped
1-2 tablespoons blue cheese crumbles (1 if you’re not a huge fan of blue cheese and 2 or more if you love blue cheese)
burger bun (a bakery fresh hard roll or semel roll if possible)
freshly ground salt and pepper (I use McCormick sea salt and black pepper grinders)
two quart size resealable plastic bags
Optional toppings:
buttter or Boston bibb lettuce
sauteed onions

Divide the 1/2 pound beef in half. Place one in each plastic bag and press down to make two thin patties. Remove from bag and place on a paper plate to finish the assembly process.

Place chopped mushrooms and blue cheese crumbles in the center of one of the patties, leaving enough room around the edge to seal the patties together.

Cover with the second beef patty and seal the edges.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cook over fire or on grill to desired doneness.

Seve on roll with lettuce, sauteed onions, and ketchup if desired.

To make sauteed onions: slice one yellow onion into thin slices. Place on a generously sized sheet of aluminum foil. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle with olive oil, canola oil, or use a few pats of butter. Seal foil and place on grill, in fire, or on cooking grate until onions are tender – about 5 minutes.

How To Stay Clean While Camping

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

Staying Clean in the Wild

Going camping and cleanliness seems to be almost opposite goals. After all, the very act of camping means going out into nature, living with the animals, subjecting yourself to the elements and cooking, eating and sleeping on the ground. Nonetheless, cleanliness throughout your campout experience is crucial both to the day in, day out life in camp and to your health and mental serenity throughout the time you are “roughing it”.

The actual challenge of camping is finding ways to have a good quality of life without many of he niceties that our modern lifestyle affords us. For the most part, few of us go camping because we have to. We camp for recreation and probably for relatively short periods of time. Nevertheless good hygiene and camp cleanliness is essential for everyone’s well being and to assure that you stay organized and go bed each night knowing you camped well.

As with anything that leads to your success in camping, preparation makes the difference. Part of being prepared for camping and making it possible for you to stay clean over several days in camp comes from knowing what to expect. So check the weather forecast for the area where you will be camping so that if there is rain predicted, you can come prepared to clean up some wet and muddy campers. But even if the forecast is clear and dry, it always pays to be prepared for any sudden change in the weather while camping. So there are some things you should always do for every campout to keep your camp site clean and your campers that way too.

Good camping gear can help you maintain some level of civilized cleanliness during the campout. A well sealed tent can keep water out so even if some dust and dirt gets inside, it won’t turn your tent interior into a mudslide. Also bring plenty of cleaning supplies to ripe down tables, clean up dirty tent floors and to clean up campers as well. Other than that, the best preparation is going to the camp site knowing full well that your camping crew is going to get dirty and being ready to clean them up for meals and bedtime.

During the camp day, your standards of cleanliness can be a bit more relaxed. After all, if the kids come back from the camp playground covered in dust but the next activity is a hike to the lake, just getting them to a basic health level of cleanliness such as clean faces and hands is probably sufficient. You can allow the dirt to become part of their uniforms of a camping family and just relax for a while and let them have fun.

Obviously in the camp site itself, cleanliness means keeping litter and trash picked up and put away in trash sacks. To keep the trash well isolated and secured, tie your trash sack to an elevated object such as a tent upright or a tree limb so everybody can find the current working trash bag and continue to add to it throughout the camping day and evening. But also stage periodic “policing” events to get the litter up from the camp site during the time when everybody is back in base camp. By the time you are ready to bed the crew down, the camp site should be clean and the trash taken away to discourage animals from investigating it in the night.

There is no reason to abandon basic hygiene while camping. Some camp grounds have bathrooms which may even have showers. But even if there are no showers available, each camper can go to the restroom area and take a hand towel, soak it in clean water and give themselves a sponge bath before changing into clean clothes before bed.

Cleaning up in this manner is crucial to the ongoing health and cleanliness of the camping experience. Be sure you pack plenty of clean changes of clothes for each camper. Everybody should sleep after washing off and changing into completely clean clothing. Wearing soiled clothing to bed, even if it is only soiled with sweat and body fluids makes those clothes less able to keep the camper warm in the night, can cause rashes as they sleep and can be a draw for insects or animals who smell those dirty things and know that they can find sleeping humans and where sleeping humans are they can often find food. So make sure everyone changes clothes before bed and that dirty clothes are bagged and stored away from the sleeping campers.

The essentials of changes of clothes and of shoes will make all the difference in maintaining a happy camp site over several days. Campers should know never to bring dirty or wet boots or shoes into their tents. Bring two or more changes of shoes so if they find the shoes they were wearing during the day are unacceptably filthy, they can have fresh shoes for the morning while their old shoes are cleaned and dried.

An ample supply of large trash bags will be your best defense in isolating and securing dirty items to be returned home for cleaning. Each camper should be supplied with a trash bag to dump their dirty clothes into. Then after camp is over, all bags of dirty items can be tied off and taken home to be cleaned properly in the laundry.

These basic cleanliness steps that you can think through before you ever pull out to go camping will make keeping a clean camp site organized and moving forward each day so much easier. It is a strategy that does not try to deny that camping brings people in contact with dirt. But it recognizes that getting dirty is part of the fun of camping and puts routines and resources in place that everyone can return to a base level of cleanliness each day at least sufficient to stay healthy and happy for the next day’s camping fun.