Saturday, July 26, 2014

Superior: Sun, Sweat, Mosquitos, and Smoke

This post is all about our 4 day North Shore camping adventure, (actually 5 days...but we drove home in the morning) as told through our delicious meals, and Ryan's beer.  To prepare for the trip we grilled 2# of chicken thighs, and packed 1.5# of ground beef in 2 separate ziplock bags with their designated seasonings.  We froze these and bacon, and 4 brats overnight and packed them on-top of frozen water bottles in the cooler.  Some of the chicken was made into chicken salad for lunch on our first day.  Everything else (deli meat, cheese, veggies, wraps, and other random condiments) were placed on top of the frozen meats and stayed nice and chilly. To be safe, we bought a block of ice on Wednesday.

Just to let people know, not everything we ate was Paleo or gluten free or NWW "approved".  We were on vacation!  However, if you wanted/needed to maintain a GF/Paleo diet it can certainly be done, even while car camping and traveling.  What I've discovered is that I notice NO difference when I eat gluten, compared to when I don't.  But I know that it's terrible for my gut and binds minerals needed for healthy bones; so I still try to minimize it.  Ultimately, I do feel better when I avoid a bunch of processed foods and excess carbs of any form.  However, when eating off track I do maintain that I eat the best option available:  homemade pie (lard) vs. mass produced store bought pie (margarine).

Day 1: Journeyed from Minneapolis to Split Rock Lighthouse where we explored the lighthouse and ate lunch on the rocks next to Lake Superior.  Strangely enough, it was the hottest day of the year so far and the lake breeze was very refreshing.  But that would change.  I also forgot to put on "sun lotion" as Ryan calls it.  ooops.
Chicken salad on a Rudi's Wrap
Ryan eating fresh veggies
staying hydrated
That night we enjoyed Cajun beef salads, seasoned with the Penzey's Cajun spice mix and topped with store bought guacamole.  I cooked on our Green Pan,  instead of buying a new cast iron for the trip.  I bought it last year at target for $20, and did just fine.  It only needed a little extra cleaning to get the soot off the bottom.
Love Campfire Cooking! 
Day 2: After a night of slightly wet weather (we stayed dry thanks to some good trenching around our tent) but storms farther norther in Boundary Waters caused trees to fall on 3+ campers.  Luckily everyone lived.  In the morning we were in the midst of frying bacon on the MSR stove when it started to rain.  So we finished our coffee in the tent. The Rain didn't last long, and we were off to go hiking at Cascade River State Park.

mmm... True Stone in our french press
Which Way?
Made it to the top!
Deli sandwich/wrap + veggies by the Lake
After walking around Grand Marais and climbing around Artist Point, we were in need of some pie...obviously. Off to the Pie Place!  It was sooooo good.  Although I thought the whipped cream was a little too sweet.  

lake water = 40 degrees
apple al'a mode, strawberry rhubarb + whip
Back at camp, we grilled grass fed beef brats, sauerkraut, and made salads.  And Summit Saga for Ryan, he brought a 6 pack, I enjoyed a few sips.  That night we were very happy to have checked the weather before leaving MPLS.  By bed time it was in the 40s.  Sunday before leaving we hurriedly went to REI and purchased new hiking pants (ours were both 2 sizes too big) and made sure to pack an extra jacket; and mittens for me.
"It's a Summit Summer!"
brat + bread + cheese + kraut + mustard = yummy
brat  +  kraut + mustard - bun = delicious
Day 3: A night of fabulous sleep.  "Why is my face wet?  Oh, that's a lot of drool."  We awoke and scrambled egg whites on the stove, only to be chased into the Fit by the Minnesota state bird.  Instead of packing eggs in the cooler and worrying about crack-age, we brought TJ organic liquid egg whites.  Then it was off to Grand Portage where we wondered around the National Monument, hiked at the state park, drove to Judge C. Magney State Park, at lunch then hiked some more.  We forgot our passports, otherwise we had thought about driving up to Thunder Bay.
breakfast in the Fit
Peace Canada
Working up a hunger for turkey wraps and snap peas 
All that hiking left us tired, and happy to leave the cooking up to the talented folks at The Angry Trout. I'm also neither confirming, nor denying that we also bought 2 slices of pie from the Pie Place and ate them around our camp fire.  
Bent Paddle  Venture Pils
Grilled Lake Superior Herring
Day 4: Another amazing night of sleep.  Seriously, why can't I sleep in till 7 when I'm at home?  While making coffee we were again harassed by mosquitos and chased into our tent where we dined on grilled chicken wraps as fuel for our 3 hour Kayak tour later that morning.  Our Guide was Ken, he was awesome!  He's also a super outdoorsman, hiker, canoe paddler, wilderness EMT, and dog sledder.  He's even written a book 'Sled Dogs to Saint Paul' which I plan to read at some point.  We took his suggestion and ate a late lunch at Sydney's,  But on the way stopped and shared a cinnamon sugar donut.
next time we're pitching the tent closer to the lake
don't tell my boss, but I do love a good donut.
"That's my slice."
Bent Paddle, Black.  It was super good
By the afternoon we were beat.  All that hiking and kayaking and walking around had caught up to us.  After some down time and people watching by the lake, we enjoyed a few drinks at the Gun Flint Tavern (Bent Paddle, IPA). Then it was time for the ultimate final campfire supper, CHILI MAC!  I also beat Ryan at another game of cribbage.  I'd call that a successful evening.
1. brown meat with chili spices and diced tomatoes
2. let Ryan cook macaroni on camp stove
3. Assemble and top with remaining guac from Day 1
Day 5: More great sleep. Wake up, tear down camp while swatting skeeters.  Hit the road after grabbing a cup of coffee from Java Moose.  We enjoyed a late breakfast and time outside of the car at The Duluth Grill.  Now that we are home, it's time to get back on track with better balanced meals and a lot less pie.  

Monday, July 7, 2014

Decadent Dessert

Want something delicious, decadent, and crave worthy?  How about berries and cream?  We talk about berries and cream at NWW all the time, but even I forget how delicious this dessert can be.  But right now is the perfect time to incorporate these lower carb fruits into your diet.  
To make whipped cream I've found that pouring the cream into a mason jar and then using only 1 beater attachment on my hand-held egg beater works perfectly.  I get almost no splatters outside the jar, and to store any leftover cream, I just twist on the lid.  Sure I could stand there and shake the jar by hand, but that just leads to leaks and a mess.

Layer fresh sliced berries with homemade whipped cream and top with chopped nuts and a few small pieces of dark chocolate.  Now that's the perfect ending to a hot summer day.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Oh Boy! Bok Choy!

Looking for a new green vegetable to add to your arsenal?  Try Bok Choy.  This member of the cabbage family originated in China and therefore is frequently used in stir-fry.  1 cup is packed with 100% of your daily value for Vitamin A and C.  Just like the darker greens such as kale and collards, BC also contain high amounts of vitamin K and folate.

According to my Flavor Bible, Bok Choy pairs well with ginger, rice, sesame oil, and soy sauce.  But it also goes with other green vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, snow peas, and zucchini; as well as with any meat, fish, poultry, and nuts.

Lucky for me, I just happened to buy bok choy and snow peas at the farmer's market last sunday.  Not because I like it... until now I've only eaten bok choy 2 maybe 3 times.  When I tried stir frying it, it just tasted like watery, tasteless cabbage or celery.  But being the dietitian that I am, I decided to revisit this nutritious vegetable.  Many parents out there know it takes trying a new food 10-20 times before we learn to like it.

Since It cooks so quickly, I save my BC for Thursday night supper: Stir-Fry BC with broiled Tuna Steaks.  I mostly followed the basic stirfry/braise method used by a lot of recipes.  For flavor I used grated ginger and 2 grated garlic cloves, a little soy sauce, sesame oil, fresh sliced basil, and a little sriracha .  I didn't add any extra liquid since they wilted down nicely and I didn't want to dilute the seasonings.  Unfortunately, even with the added herbs, ginger, etc... they still seemed to just be tasteless, or unexciting.  Alas, still not a hit on my list.  Also, I forgot to take a picture before we ate it, sorry.

While Bok Choy might be native to China, I tried to find other flavor profile/recipes for people who aren't so keen on the soy-sauce, ginger, garlic combinations typically seen when cooking this vegetable.  I think I'll try making a salad or a soup with BC in the future, this stir fry business just isn't working for me.