It's a fun thing for most Americans (and lots of international peoples) to leave their homes and "rough it" for a small time (or not-so-small time) during parts of the year. We take ourselves, our families or our friends out to sport-camp, recreation-camp
or just relax-camp (as I call the types, though I am sure there are more reasons people go out camping). Sometimes we take an RV, with all of the amenities of home, to a remote location and camp for a weekend, week or longer. Sometimes we take our cars and
take the basics to a state park and tent-camp under the stars or the limbs and boughs of a forest canopy. Sometimes we might even hike it out with our backpacks, carrying only the most essential necessities while we attempt to truly become "one" with the nature
I, personally, prefer running water, hot showers and some kind of electrical hookup. I'm sorry to disappoint anyone - there are just different types of different people in this world with their own preferences, and I like to "Car-Camp," as we call it.
We leave our foodstuffs, which is often BETTER than the food we would buy at home, in our trunk to be protected, along with other comforts like our clothes and our phone chargers and everything we need to remain connected to the world. We still sleep in sleeping
bags in tents, though they are made by coleman or some other mega-brand. In fact, I don't even sleep on the ground anymore! I prefer to set up my cot and place some bedding there with my two fat pillows.
But I guarantee you that, even though I am not in the middle of a human-less nature setting that I had to find and hike to, I am much more relaxed, at ease and pretty much feeling great. It's not true-roughing, but it's not living at home either, and it's
cheaper than staying in a hotel for a week!
I live for the week (or couple of weeks) I get each year to camp. The relaxation, the sea air (yes, always a camp by the ocean), the sound of wind in the trees and the fresh air. The smell of wood-smoke, the warmth of fire, and.......The camp food!
Probably the number one reason I camp is to cook camp food. Camp food isn't much different than home-food sometimes, but the setting and atmosphere changes the way we view the food we are eating. Somehow, food smells and tastes better and, oddly enough,
gets people into the camping spirit. Even coffee, made in my percolator, tastes better, especially in the early morning when the air is cold and still, the dew clinging to the blades of grass and the pine's needles, and the sky gently, but fervently, lighting
to a grey or gold with the dawning light...
Going camping is the perfect excuse for me to get out my favorite implement...The Dutch Oven! My giant, sixty pound dutch oven is made from cast iron. It has been used enough times now to have a patina and a glaze, both inside and out. I have never washed
it with soap, so to prevent the permeable iron surface from absorbing the chemicals. It has been self-cured about ten times over the years, now, to protect it from the elements and to provide superior cooking.
What I cook in the dutch oven, especially for our annual family pot-luck, is a coveted treat for most people. I have made everything from soups to baked beans, pot-roasts and pork-roasts to corn breads and fritters, puddings and cakes. All one needs are
some hot embers from the fire or, for a more controlled cooking experience, charcoal briquettes. The base is large and generally has three or four feet to hold it above the ground. You need only place a number of briquettes under the oven to heat the bottom.
The lid is usually in the shape of a sided-plate or bowl, to conveniently place more charcoal up top in order to heat the lid and provide additional top-level heat (or broiling).
To me, the dutch oven is a symbol of camping. When I walk into the shed where my appliances and extra pots and pans are stored, I see my dutch oven and it elicits a wave of nostalgia and sentimentality. I then see my lantern, my camp stove and all my camping
equipment and all of the wonderful memories of watching my family grow are remembered, and causes me to look forward to the next event in which I will get to utilize this self-same equipment to craft new memories again.
I have a tight-knit family. Not everyone in the world can say the same thing. Some people have no family at all, and will, unfortunately, feel alone. There isn't much that I can do about that for them, other than hope for the best for them. This world
is full of goodness, and it is full of sadness. There are joys and sorrows, as well as love and hate. I am thankful for the goodness, the joy and the love, but also thankful for the sadness, sorrow and the hate. Without the bad, there is nothing to measure
the good by, and nothing would be good: It would only "be." I can only hope that others in this world find the goodness of life, and I can only hope for them that there is more good than bad in their lives. It is a childish thought, but it is what I hope for
So if I could, I would cook a meal in my dutch oven for everyone having a bad day. When one's belly is warmed by a good meal, most cannot but help be made happy...or at least content. When I cook while I am camping, it is a situation that causes me to
weigh the impact of what I am doing. It causes me to be thankful, thoughtful and, perhaps, enlightened to the situation of our world. When I cook, I can feel, deeply, the blessing of food and all it does for me, my family, my friends and even the strangers
I am happy to prepare meals for.
So while I am camping this year, I will remember this website and all of you: the people from around the world it has brought together, all of the recipes it has taught people to craft, all of the people who contributed those recipes, and all of the people
who, in the end, benefited from this huge collaboration with the wondrous gift of food and food prep and, above all, the sharing.
Go camping! Get out there, become one with the earth. Or just go to a camp ground with the food from your pantry. Find a recipe on AllRecipes. Invite your family, your friends, your neighbors and strangers. Prepare it and share it! And find ultimate satisfaction
within yourself and your ability to put together a meal that can only elicit good feelings!