Archive for January, 2014

Cold Weather Camping-How to Stay Warm in a Sleeping Bag

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Ok, I will admit, I am not fond of cold weather camping. The reason is simple. I never seem to get warm but…….through the years I have learned some tricks that make my cold weather camping experience more enjoyable, for this getting the right camping gear is important, and is not difficult to get from sites as Having said that though, my family is divided on how to get a good night’s sleep in cold weather. We do agree on a few things.

First, make sure the sleeping bag you are using is ranked for the temperature you plan to camp in. When my kids were younger, we did not have the luxury of different sleeping bags suited for different temperatures. As they got older, we were able to purchase a few different kinds. To get through the slim times, we made sure that our kids layered up with at least some type of wicking long underwear to aid in insulating factor of the sleeping bag.

The second thing we would do was to make sure they were not sleeping directly on the ground. It is amazing how much wicking power the cold ground has and once you have pushed out the insulating air from your clothes and sleeping bag, the ground just pulls away your body heat. In doing so, we always made sure to follow the guidelines from emsafety and had our sleeping bags were sitting on top of a foam sleeping mat at least.

While most of these strategies are still used, my husband, son, and myself have somewhat detoured our approach to cold weather sleeping.

Completely Naked Approach Cold Weather Sleeper

The first cold weather sleeping my husband and I participated in was a Boy Scout camp outing. As we were getting ready to bed down for the night, my husband looked over at me and said, “What are you doing?” Well, I was getting ready to slide down into my 32 degree Fahrenheit sleep bag with my clothes on. My husband looked at me and explained to me how and why I need to get into that bag in my birthday suit. Well………taking to what he had told me to heart, I did. Ok, it ended up being the worst sleep I have ever had (not including the adjustment period I went through when my husband started using his BiPAP machine). On the other hand, my husband woke up bright-eyed and bushy tailed the next morning. The “sleep in your birthday suit” concept worked for him but not me. As I was talking to someone about it, they said they had heard of sleeping with your first layer on aka long underwear. The next night, I did this with the same results. In conclusion, I understand that your body heat is supposed to heat up the sleeping bag but no thank you on my end.

Half and Half Approach Cold Weather Sleeper

My son, on the other hand, is a hybrid between my husband and me. When he cold weather sleeps, he puts his base layer on, socks, and maybe a hat. The hat is becoming more frequent since he is going bald but like anything else, it depends on the temperature and weather of the day. If it is simply cold, the clothing list is all he uses but if it has rained, snow and/or is just damp then he adds more layers inside the bag. Yes, this is sometimes more clothes but most of the time it is just a blanket. Why? It is easier to remove a blanket if you get hot verses trying to get a bunch of layers off.

Head to Toe Coverage Approach Cold Weather Sleeper

Now there is me. I cannot stand to get cold so I layer up the most. Wool base layers, socks, sweat pants, sweatshirt, and socks along with a hat. If it is really cold, sometimes I will even put a down vest on. While this may sound extreme, I have found that this is the only way I can enjoy cold weather camping but………..with all the layers I am very aware of how my body is feeling. Yes, I may be warm and yes, I may work up a sweat but this latter can be very harmful and can even cause death. In doing so, I am always monitoring my body and remove the layers as I need to, to keep me warm but sweat free at the same time.

Camp Fire Cooking: Dutch Oven Jambalaya

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

Nothing beats a one dish meal and the recipe below is one of my favorites.   The recipe can be adapted to what type of meat and/or vegetables you like or what meat you have caught that day.     

Dutch Oven Jambalaya

Ingredients and supplies

*Please note that the amounts are based on your taste and supplies.  This recipe can also be used with leftovers.



Bell peppers






Andouille sausage

Cajun seasoning

8 quart Dutch ovens with lid lifter

Large spoon

Cutting board and knife

Wood or charcoal



  1. Build fire with wood or charcoal.  Continue to tend until a large amount of coals are created.
  2. Cut bacon into bite size pieces and place in Dutch oven.  Place pot with lid on top of coals and cook for three minutes.
  3. Remove the lid after this time and place chopped onion and garlic in the pot.  Stir often until the onion is clear.
  4. Add chopped bell peppers and jalapenos.  Cook for two minutes.
  5. Place Cajun seasoning in a plastic, zip-like bag or bowl.
  6. Cut chicken up into bite size pieces and place in bag or bowl.  Toss to cover chicken.
  7. Place chicken in Dutch oven.
  8. Cut sausage into bite size pieces and place in Dutch oven and cook for three minutes.
  9.  Add shrimp.
  10. Add water to the pot, making sure to keep track of how much water is used.  This number will help determine how much rice you need to add.  As a rule you need half of the amount of water in rice.  As an example, if you add four cups of water, then you need two cups of rice.
  11. Add rice according to the measurement in step 10.  Stir completely and place lid.
  12. Put coals on top of Dutch oven and allow to sit in the fire for the required time on the rice package.
  13. Turn often to avoid hot spots.
  14. After the required time has passed, remove lid and enjoy.

If you happen to have some leftover, do not waste.  This dish can easily be turned into a Sheppard’s pie the next evening by topping with mashed potatoes and cheese.  Also, you can turn the leftover jambalaya into a breakfast dish by heating the stew up and frying an egg on the side.  Once the egg is done to your liking, take up your heated, leftover stew and top with your cooked egg.  Protein and vegetables all rolled into one and it is good too.

Camp Fire Cooking: Orange Cinnamon Rolls

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

Not long ago, I was going through some family photos that displayed our many camping trips.  One of these pictures showed my family and I around the breakfast table (in this case a large stump with stump chairs), sharing a delightful morning meal of eggs and bacon, juice and sweet rolls.  No, these were not store-bought, hard sweet rolls but instead homemade or at least a camping version of homemade.

When I showed my son this picture, he squealed in delight.  Mom, mom can we make these for our weekend breakfast?  A course I said yes, and as luck would have it we were going camping that weekend.

Below is the simple recipe for these sweet rolls.  Two different cooking methods will be described as part of the recipe, which one you choose will depend on the equipment you have available. 

Orange Cinnamon Rolls


1 container of pop and bake cinnamon rolls

Cream cheese frosting if your roll does not have it

1 bag of oranges



Cutting board

Baking pan (optional)

Aluminum foil



  1. Start campfire or charcoal grill
  2. Wash oranges off and cut in half.  Hint:  Keep the halves together, if making an orange oven.
  3. Remove the pulp from each orange and set aside for later use. 
  4. Pop open the cinnamon roll container and place one roll in each orange half.
  5. If using the orange as an oven, you will need to place the lid on your orange oven with its matching half.  Wrap each orange in foil and twist close.  If not using this method, place each orange half on a baking sheet and cover with aluminum foil.  Place an “x” on the top of each packet.
  6. If using the orange oven method, place the oranges in the coals of the fire.  If using the pan method, place on a grill top over coals or on top of a grill plate above charcoal in a charcoal grill. 
  7.  If using the orange oven, flip packets after 12 minutes and then continue to cook until done.  This is where the “x” comes into play.  If using the pan method, cook according to package directions.
  8. Once done, apply cream cheese frosting and allow to cool before eating.


After you have enjoyed your orange cinnamon rolls, do not just throw out the peels.  Believe it or not, orange peels make great fire starters.  The oil in the peel is flammable and only requires a spark to ignite, which is very important especially if your tinder is wet.