Monday, August 24, 2009

Huckleberry Fields Forever...

We got back yesterday from our annual huckleberring/camping weekend up near Mt. Adams in Washington (about a three hour trip from Salem) with my best friend and her extended family. We've been doing the trip off and on for about 10 or so years~ except for the 4 years Ron and Shelly were in Malaysia being dorm parents at Dalat School. We always have such a good time, and this year was no exception!

It was interesting to realize this year that camping with young adults/teenagers is a lot different than camping with small kids. Even though I helped cook the entire weekend, the only person's hot drink I had to fix was my own. Ron- the banana boat (or u-boat) captain, ended up only having to show the kids the correct way to slice the banana for this campfire delicacy then was able to sit back and enjoy the fire instead of making a fleet of boats. The kids even helped clean up~ most of the time!

We never go hungry on these trips as we get together and plan at least a week before we go. This year Ron, Shelly and I (along with a little help from Mary) got together to plan the menu and dole out the ingredients to the various folks who would be joining us. This would be no ordinary outdoor fare, but food fit for a group of camping connoisseurs!

We would, of course, start our days with a hearty breakfast of huckleberry pancakes, eggs and breakfast meat- either sausage or bacon. I had brought a variety of hot beverages to share including what proved to be the most popular, Mannheim Steamroller cinnamon hot chocolate. Ron had brought his coffee press, so those of us who were craving a little java could imbibe to our heart's content. Lunch is always an adventure as we eat out by where we spend the day picking huckleberries. Sandwich fixings are taken in coolers along with chips, fruit and, of course, dessert. The cookie variety this year was almost mind-boggling! The Wests had outdone themselves with chocolate-peanut butter chip (made by Shelly), butterscotch sandies (provided by Chris) and brownies (baked by Gregory). There were also delicious monster cookies that Shelly's mom, Linda, had brought. It was hard to decide which were the favorites, but they all got eaten, so I'd say it was a draw!

Dinner is always so much fun to plan. This year we went with some new options than the normal fare. Ron made his chili (recipe to come as soon as I can get him to write it down for me) with which we had hot dogs and hamburgers~ with or (gasp) without chili.

Ron’s Chili

3 lbs Stew meat (chuck preferred)- cut into small chunks

½ lb ground pork

2 Tbl Flour

1 Tbl oil


1/3 cup dried minced onion

½ tsp garlic powder (divided)

1 can (14-15 oz) beef stock

2 cans (14-15 oz) chicken stock

1 8 oz cans tomato sauce

½ tsp cumin

1 4 oz can mild (or hot) green chilies

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, deveined, and minced

1 tsp ground black pepper

3 Tbl chili powder


4 8 oz cans tomato sauce

¼ cup chili powder

2 Tbl New Mexico chili powder

2 Tbl Cumin

1 tsp garlic powder

½ Tbl brown sugar

Brown meat in oil and drain. Place in large pot or dutch oven and add seasoning ingredients. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer, covered for 1 ½ hours (stirring occasionally). Uncover, add the sauce ingredients and simmer, uncovered for another 1 ½ to 2 hours (stirring occasionally).

It was a good thing we made so many as the kids (and the rest of us) were really hungry after a day in the fields! We brought rotisserie chicken for Saturday night to be served with garlic bread, assorted salads and fresh corn on the cob. All the kids (anyone under 20) got to have a "cultural educational experience" by helping to shuck the corn.

My other recipe for the trip that you must try is not really a recipe at all. Ron shared how he always cooks corn, and I had never done it this way before. Just place about 1 1/2 inches of water in a large pan and bring to boil. Add shucked corn, standing it upright in the pot. Cook for 8 minutes. Serve however you like it~ we ate it with butter, salt and pepper. It was simple, yet totally perfect!

I have 6 or so quarts of huckleberries now waiting to be used in future treats. I plan on making scones, huckleberry swirls and buckle. I may even try the margarita/slushie recipe on of my friends sent. For now, it's just good to sit back knowing they will be waiting for me- both the berries in the freezer and the fields up at Mt. Adams.

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