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Simply Entertaining: Roughing it at camp isn't for everyone

Thursday, June 19, 2003

By Mary Miller

I've done it once, and I'm not sure I'd do it again. It's certainly not for everyone. I'm not talking about anything illegal or illicit. I'm talking about camping with my family.

Quite a few years ago, the four of us spent a night at the Ohiopyle State Park. The surroundings were beautiful, and I had an air mattress so I could be comfy. Still, I would rather have spent the night at a hotel. I'm not afraid of dirt; I just like hot showers and comfortable dining.

For those with an adventurous side, camping is a great way to celebrate summer. There's nothing like the power that comes from putting up a tent in the rain or starting a fire with wet matches to pump up the ego of the man in the house. Let your hunter and gatherer do his thing some weekend soon.

What better place to demonstrate skill with barbecue tools than around a campfire? A little planning goes a long way to make the food at your campsite top-notch.

Keep these ideas in mind:

* Put everything in a zip-top plastic bag. Hot dogs, burgers, even plastic silverware should all be stored this way. Keep matches in a waterproof container, too. Then, if something in your cooler or picnic basket springs a leak, everything else stays dry.

* Measure and combine ingredients for recipes ahead of time, too. Save space and time by keeping bags of flour, sugar or pancake mix. Label everything with a permanent marker.

* Cut or chop food before you leave. Sharp utensils should stay at home.

* Use one cooler for drinks and another for the food. Consider using block ice. It lasts longer than ice cubes.

* Bring heavy-duty aluminum foil along. It has many purposes in a pinch.

* Bring a camp stove or a grate in case the grilling area is not up to par.

* Make sure you bring enough supplies to get a fire going. The entree during our camp-out was steak covered with flecks of burnt newspaper from a less-than-average campfire.

* Dispose of your trash before you go to sleep. Our woodland friends just love leftovers. Don't forget to clean up the campsite before you leave, too.

* Include a sponge with a scrubber on one side and a few oven mitts.

Kick-The-Can Ice Cream

My husband and daughters spent many years going to camp-outs as part of the YMCA's Indian Princess program. This recipe was always a part of the fun.

  • 1-pound coffee can with plastic lid

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flavored syrup
  • (such as chocolate or strawberry)
  • 3-pound coffee can with plastic lid
  • Small bag of cubed ice
  • 1/2 cup rock salt, more if needed

In the small can, add milk, cream, sugar and syrup. Do not fill the can more than half full with liquids or the ice cream will not freeze as well. Cover the small can with a plastic lid and put it into the large can. Fill the bottom half of the space between the two cans with ice. Add rock salt. Fill the rest of the space with ice and put on the plastic lid.

Ask two people to roll the can back and forth to each other for 10 minutes. Remove the lids and scrape the ice cream from the sides of the small can. Stir. If the ice cream isn't quite frozen, pour out the water from the large can, and add more ice and rock salt. When the ice cream is ready, there will be about a half inch of frozen mixture on the sides of the can; the rest will still be in near-liquid form. Scrape down the sides of the frozen ice cream and stir into the liquid ice cream until it reaches the right consistency.

Makes about 2 cups.


Mary Miller is a Fox Chapel-based registered dietitian and food writer. Her column appears twice monthly. For questions or comments, she can be reached at marymar333@attbi.com


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