Your Camp Kitchen–Buttermilk Salad Dressing

three types of buttermilk salad dressiing.
Left to right: Suggestions for buttermilk salad dressing: Avocado, Lemon-Dijon with Cilantro, and in front, Parmesan Feta.

On the last Wednesday of every month, we’ll be introducing recipes, ideas and techniques for the camp kitchen that will elevate your food from ordinary camping fare to food that is out of this world! This month, Your Camp Kitchen would like to introduce Buttermilk Salad Dressing.

The great thing about this recipe is that it’s not only cheaper to make, but it’s tastier, too. You can make it at home and bring it to the site, or make it at camp. And the recipe is spectacularly versatile. Once you have the dressing made, you can add anything you like to it. Blend an avocado into it. Crumble some feta cheese. Add some Dijon mustard and grated Parmesan. Your creamy taste sensation is limited only by the imagination. Try mincing some dill pickle in and add a 1/4 teaspoon of dried dill. Really, anything goes. Your salad–and your camping companions–will thank you.

Buttermilk Salad Dressing
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (we find Balkan yogurt great because of its creaminess and slight tartness)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic (1 clove)
  • salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon each)

Place ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well blended. Pour into a bottle or simply spoon from bowl on to salad. If dressing is too thick for your taste, just dilute with a little more buttermilk.

In addition to the suggestions in the paragraph before the recipe, here are a couple more ideas:

Ranch:  Add 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill, 1 tablespoon minced chives, and 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard.

Creamy Russian:   Add 1/4 cup ketchup, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, 1 teaspoon onion salt.

Roasted Red Pepper:  1/2 cup roasted red pepper, minced; 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar.

Spicy Mexican:  1/4 cup hot chili-garlic sauce (a good substitute is Frank’s Red Hot Sauce), the juice from one lime, 1/4 teaspoon extra salt.

This dressing can be used on other things as well. Keep it thicker for burger toppings or to jazz up your baked potato. Add some to scrambled eggs, or drizzle over a casserole. This dressing is a great basic to add some wow to your camp cooking!

Next Wednesday we’ll be doing another camp comfort food. Stay tuned!

 

Protect Yourself During Hunting Season

Gun set up for hunting season
Are you safe during hunting season?

Something you need to think about right now is how to protect yourself during hunting season. As a hunter, camper, hiker, or adventurer, hunting season is well upon us. With that adventurous time comes great stories around a camp fire, and tales that get taller with the passing years. Each year, though, there are other stories–news stories of accidental shootings, animal attacks, and the consequences of insect bites from problem bugs like ticks, mosquitoes and chiggers. How do we protect ourselves if we are hikers? Campers? Other hunters? Here’s a quick, common-sense run-down on what to do.

protect yourself from hunters.

If you are a hiker or camper that doesn’t hunt, you may be concerned about heading out into the wilderness for a little bush camping or hiking during hunting season. Most hunters are extremely aware of the dangers that accidental encounters can pose. For the most part, they are out to get food for their families, enjoy the great outdoors, and connect with nature in a way that is very unique and personal to each one.

So how do you co-exist in a way that keeps you both safe and happy?

  • Be aware of what hunting season means in the area you will camp or hike in.  This means knowing whether or not hunting is even allowed in that area, what the animals are that are being hunted, and when the hunting season is open and finished for that area. Remember that just because you are in a provincial or national park, it doesn’t automatically make you safe. Some parks allow hunting, some don’t. Check and be sure.
  • Wear a blaze-orange-colored vest or hat (or some other item) to make you very visible to hunters.  Even bright-colored clothes work. Stay away from white and earth tones, and any color that might be confused with the animal in question (such as blue and red during turkey season).
  • Make noise! Like warning off bears, shouting, loud talking and whistling will help alert hunters that you are, in fact, a walking, talking human being, and not this season’s back strap on the  barbie.
  • It’s not just you. If you go hiking or camping with your dog, invest in one of those bright-orange blazers for pup, as well. You can find a selection here.

Protect yourself from moose and deer.

There are usually four things that prompt a moose or deer to attack: 1) Mothers protecting fawns, 2)mating season, 3)territorial control, and 4) high population.

  • Cervidae (moose, elk, caribou and deer, among others) can get bat-poop crazy. They have been known to do things that defy logic, such as attacking already dead “rivals” (and if you don’t believe me watch this YouTube video), lawnmowers, gardeners, hikers and the like. Agitation is the key. If they are agitated, for whatever reason, you can rightfully assume they will attack. So–
  • Do not spray your body or anything else near you with elk/deer scent. 
  • If you encounter a deer, moose, elk, caribou or any other cervidae in the wilderness, watch its body language. Stomping and huffing is a clear signal to back away slowly and put something between you and it, such as a tree or large rock or outcropping. Wave your arms and make loud noises (but not for moose; see below) as you back away. Do not turn your back.
  • If it attacks, climb a tree if there’s time. Curl up in a fetal position if there isn’t. If it won’t stop attacking you, an extreme solution is to grab the antlers and wrestling it to the ground, but this is rare and dangerous.
  • For Moose, you need to talk to them softly, not loudly, while slowly backing away. Like you are trying to calm them down. Don’t panic if they make a few bluff charges. Just keep backing away, hands in the air, speaking to them as if they were are suicide bomber who’s not sure they want to kill themselves.

protect yourself from bugs.

The main problem bugs during hunting season are ticks, mosquitoes and chiggers. Some areas don’t have this problem at all; others have a brief storm of them before colder winter sets in and solves the problem, particularly in North America.

  • Treat hunting season like it’s tick season. Avoid tall, grassy areas where you can, wear long-sleeved, long-legged clothing with boots, and treat your gear and clothing with permethrin, which kills ticks.
  • Walk in the center of trails, to avoid ticks on grassy stalks.
  • Be aware that ticks may drop off recently killed animals. If you’re a hunter, when you dress or transport animals, know that ticks are looking for a new host.
  • Chigger bites are most common in the spring and fall months. They are very tiny members of the arachnid family that live in tall weeds and grass. Wear long sleeves, and long pants. Add insect repellent to the tops of your boots, shirt neck, cuffs, and your waistband.

Turkeys hunters?

Yes, turkey hunters. They are a whole ‘nother situation to protect yourself against. These basic rules also work for hunters of other flying creatures and tree-born animals:

  • Make human sounds. Most turkey hunters are focussed on the blue and red colors, and the gobbling and wing sounds turkeys make. But don’t assume they will recognize you, even with bright clothing. Sing a song, yell, shout; make any sound absolutely different from that of a turkey. Play your iPod!
  • A Note About Etiquette: If you find yourself hiking or camping in an area that hunters are allowed to hunt in, and you have identified yourself as a hiker or camper to them, don’t make noise that unnecessarily disturbs wildlife. In that area, they have the right to hunt.

hunters vs. hunters.

These safety tips can keep hunters safe from what they are hunting, and from each other, and from themselves:

  • Take a hunter education course and get certified, no matter where you are. Since these courses have been introduced in the last 50 years or so, hunter-related injuries have decreased dramatically. Even if it’s not mandatory, do the responsible thing and take this course.  It teaches you ways to be responsible in the wild.
  • You need to treat every gun and bow as if it was loaded.
  • Don’t point at anything you don’t intend to shoot, even if you know your weapon isn’t loaded.
  • Wait until the game is in your sights and you are ready to shoot before you put your finger on the trigger.
  • Don’t just focus on the game you are going to shoot–check beyond the game and make sure nothing is there that you don’t want dead.

There are many more rules that make your hunting, hiking or camping trip safe during hunting season, but if you follow the rules outlined above, your time in the wilderness will be a lot safer. Most important of all–you’ll come home safe and sound, with a lot of great, great memories!

 

We Have A Brand-New Facebook Page!

camp site
This is the photo we chose to feature on our new page. It’s from our camp site in Hope, BC

If you visit here regularly, you may have noticed a Facebook widget added to the right of the page recently.  That’s our new Facebook page link, and it’s a great way to keep up with Camping and Hiking Ideas posts, pages, announcements and everyone who loves camping that visits this website! You don’t even have to go to the Facebook page to keep up with any new posts there, either–just scroll down on the FB display on the right of this page.

I was pretty intimidated at first about getting a page up and running. But–

I’m delighted to have figured out how to create that page; it turns out that it was easier than I thought it would be.  Drop in and tell us about your outdoor life. Going camping? Fill us in on the details! Found a great new hiking trail? Let us know! Post your camping, hiking, fishing, wilderness photos! The sky is the limit. Literally; if you have photos or videos about the sky, include it on our Facebook page.

Got a question or request? That’s wonderful–post it anywhere here on this website or on the Facebook page, or both! Our page is on it’s way; it’s a brand-new baby, and as we grow, so will the page. I can hardly wait to see what all of you have to say about your outdoor lives.  It will be a pleasure to interact with you on a more personal level.

It’s going to be great. How could it not be? It will be filled with you people, who like to spend time outside. You’re the best! And do you know why? You’re the best because your door is always open.

Fall Weather’s Coming–Comfort Food Is Here

 

cast iron mac and cheese
Camping Mac n’ Cheese–this is the easiest recipe you will ever find. Plus–delicious!

Camping in the fall is wonderful! You have fewer annoying insects, night comes sooner so you can stargaze, fire bans are off, and people are scarce. You can see all the reasons for fall camping here, but one of the best ones is comfort food.

Welcome to our newest monthly post, Camping Comfort Food. The first week of each month we’ll be posting a new comfort food recipe you can make at the camp site.

Our First Camping Comfort Food recipe is a personal favorite no matter where we are–Macaroni and Cheese. We chose it because it’s not only one of the most popular dishes ever made, but also because of its versatility, both in preparation and in serving.

This recipe can be made in one pot, from beginning to end–no cooking the macaroni separately! You can certainly try it in a Dutch oven, but if you’re unused to cooking over a fire or coals, this does beautifully in a pot on the camp stove (We use a Coleman Instastart; lighting it is just one less thing to worry about. No matches? No problem). Ultra-simple, satisfying, and a favorite of adult and kid alike, this Camping Macaroni and Cheese is sure to become a camping go-to.

Camping macaroni and cheese

  • 4 cups milk (any; 2% or skim is great)
  • 3 cups macaroni, uncooked
  • 4  cups cheddar cheese (you can use pre-grated or grate about 1 pound)
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered mustard
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Pour milk into a medium saucepan and heat until it is simmering, stirring regularly to prevent scorching on the bottom. Add the macaroni and continue to stir every minute or so, for about 10 minutes. When macaroni is done but still a little firm (it may take a little longer but mine takes ten minutes, stir in the mustard, salt and pepper, then add the cheese. Remove from the heat and stir until cheese is melted and blended into the sauce. The sauce should be nice and thick, if not, add a little more cheese. If it’s too thick, add a little more milk. Serves four.

Notes:

If you have a large crowd, extend your camping macaroni. Steam broccoli and fry some sausages and serve the macaroni on the side.  You can make burgers to go with it.  It can also be a great side to our Pot Ribs recipe.

If there are leftovers, spread the remainder in a rectangular pan or plastic container to set for a couple of hours or overnight. Then, once they’re set, cut them into rectangles about 1 1/2″ x 3″.  Roll them in flour, then dip them into a beaten egg, then roll them in bread crumbs (I use 1 cup panko bread crumbs with 1/3 cup grated parmesan), and deep fry for an amazing lunch or snack! The macaroni and cheese sticks also go great with tomato soup.

deep fried macaroni and cheese sticks
deep-fried mac n’ cheese sticks. Serve them with soup or a dip

If you’re going to serve them without soup, put a tangy dip like ketchup or our fabulous lemony tartar sauce on the side; the sticks are mild and need some livening up.

So that’s our first Camping Comfort Food Recipe! What do you think? Is there any recipe you would especially like to see? Let us know in the comment section below.