The combination of kids getting a little older and this move to California has got our family enjoying the great outdoors a lot more. To go for a good bush walk (or a hike as it is known around here) no longer requires thinking about prams. Our kids generally can walk a fair distance without complaint especially if there is a view to be seen or water to play in.
Camping has become our favourite weekend activity which at the moment is rather tricky with Saturday sporting commitments and Sunday morning commitments at church but we can still work things to get away every now and then. Last weekend we drove up to Lake Tahoe and camped at the stunning Fallen Leaf Lake. This place was a little slice of heaven with so many towering pine trees. There was a fair bit of wind and I didn’t realise how much noise it would generate rushing through the tree tops. All night I kept waking to what sounded like rushing water. Although I was rather sleep deprived it was relaxing.
Apparently, bears are still quite active at the moment. We didn’t see any but another camper had bears come through looking for breakfast. Once I heard that I definitely didn’t want the kids to wander out of my sight!
The temperatures have dropped a fair bit since we were last in Tahoe and it was far too cold to swim but I’d love to return here in the heart of summer next year to make use of the lake.
This trip we kept food fairly simple. Sausages roasted over the fire on sticks for dinner. The kids were in charge of their own sausages and I think this was a highlight for them. For breakfast I had pre-cooked a batch of beans. I used the recipe for the Chorizo and White Bean Braise, from Grub Street Cafe in Brisbane, minus the baked eggs part. I often cook this up without the eggs because the beans are the best bit so I feel it needs a new name – Campfire Beans. I add just a bit more smoked paprika as no campfire food is complete without a bit of smokiness. It made for a brilliant camping breakfast as it was a very chilly morning and it was a hearty start to the day. The added bonus was that the kids loved it! It would work just as well for a dinner and Tilly requested leftovers for school lunch in her thermos on Monday, so it works well for lunch too!
I also like to cook this for a lot longer so the flavour infuses into the beans. After adding the beans I tend to cook for a further 1/2 hour and then cool it down and pop in the fridge overnight. This enhances the flavour and then all you do is reheat when ready to eat.
Adding some coriander leaves at the end is optional but don’t skip the step where you add the coriander stems. It adds so much to the flavour. And don’t skimp on the salt and pepper at the end.
I always like to pack something sweet to have with a cup of tea around the fire. Just lately I have been making a lot of batches of Ginger Slice because it is so easy. Incredibly easy and just perfect with a cup of tea so I took a batch of that with us. Crystallised ginger is not as readily available here as it is back home so I have been making it without. This means that the kids have been devouring it.
The beautiful surroundings, the good company, the good food and the campfire. I wish I could go every weekend.
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 bay leaves
2 brown onions diced
1 knob of ginger, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-2 red chillies, finely chopped
2 tins crushed tomatoes
2 tins white beans, rinsed and drained
3-4 chorizo sausages – cubed, pan-fried and set aside
a strip of lemon peel
3 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
1 bunch of coriander – stems washed and finely sliced and leaves picked
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Grind up the coriander seeds, cumin seeds and bay leaves in a mortar and pestle and set aside.
In a large pan, gently saute the onion, ginger, garlic, chillies and coriander stems until the onion is soft. Add the spice mix and cook for a further minutes. Add the tomatoes, a splash of water, the lemon rind, sugar and season to taste. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and reduced.
Add the paprika, beans and pre-cooked chorizo. Season to taste and simmer for another 30 minutes, adding a little water if necessary to stop it drying out. Adjust seasoning to taste and add a few coriander leaves to serve. Best with some thick slices of bread toasted over the fire and buttered. Yum!