Potluck

This post is all about fantastic food! And in our case, for five people, for an entire weekend, without breaking the bank or psyche. We’re talking “hippie chic” potluck. The Spam and beanie-weenies were left behind in favor of a United Colors Of Benetton experience that included crepes, burritos, and Mexican soup with a little Irish Jameson thrown in for some sass. On A Dime touts travel for less but in this post we’ll also be talking up splitting the food logistics as well as expense. And here’s the story.

Gang

 The five of us embarked on a $200 ($40 each) two-night stay in Kings Canyon, a mystical state park astutely referred to as “Little Yosemite”. An article on this easy to access getaway, complete with the cost breakdown, is coming up on Saturday but for now we will focus on delicious and easy food for happy campers. We kept it simple and packed light. The photo is accurate.

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Prior to leaving, a list was created of what we had on hand and then basically just what meals we’d need. The five of us signed up for whatever floated our boat and it seemed to work well. Being respectful of a few dietary preferences, we stayed vegetarian which is also very cost friendly, however, some carnivorous suggestions have been added from a prior, east side of Kings Canyon trip.

 For our weekend, meals were divided as follows, and for some added pizzazz we named them after their creators. Friday evening’s dinner was courtesy of Mother Teresa and despite the fact that I have been “Teri” all my life; Mexican food dictated the use of my birth name. The “Mother” part denotes four rounds of natural childbirth that had me wondering just who came up with the “natural” descriptive.

 We shall avoid the Sunset magazine version of natural – courtesy of a team of designers – and instead be showing you the real deal here. This potluck is the good, the bad, and the ugly – courtesy of the good, the bad, and the ugly. The overloaded picnic table, the exotic fruit in a honey jar which turned out to be egg yolks, and what to do when your tortilla bag has a hole large enough to admit half of the water from the cooler and soak said tortillas, well folks, your potluck for dummies awaits.

 Friday Dinner: Mother Teresa’s Mex Soup

3 cans black beans, 3 cans white kidney beans, 3 cans corn, 1 can Rotelle (mild) *do not drain any of the canned items

1 partial packet Ranch Dip (to taste)

2 cups cheddar cheese (no need to grate, just cut it into chunks and toss it in)

*Bring everything except the cheese to a boil and then add the cheese in until it liquefies. Done. Well almost. One of our campers decided to add raw Kale which had this chef cocking an eyebrow big-time but it turned out amazing. This soup is the bomb if you anticipate arriving at your destination exhausted. You just heat it up and you are finished.

 Saturday Breakfast: Lani’s Sunshine Veggie Crepes

Crepe batter: Two(ish) Cups of Flour, 1(ish) Quart of whole milk, 4 eggs, 1 tsp salt

How to – put the batter in a hot skillet, swirl it around evenly and cross your fingers. *Batter was pre-made and packed into the ice chest, in a glass bottle which made for easy pouring

Veggies: whatever you like, pre-saute up (at home), reheat campside, and enjoy. Ours were: mushrooms, carrots, sweet potato, purple potato, bok choy, zucchini, broccoli, brussels sprouts, tomatoes, red & yellow bell peppers, and spinach

Goat cheese – spread it on. *Cream cheese can be substituted for the anti-goat crowd. Tempeh bacon – fry it up

*Sweet version of these crepes? Yep, skip all the previous ingredients and get down with some Nutella, whipped cream, apples and cinnamon, strawberries, the sky is the limit!

Saturday Dinner: Alexandria’s Forbidden Burritos

Salsa and Avocado

Rice (precooked, reheated) *choose your favorite rice but we used Forbidden black rice from Whole Foods

3 cans beans (different kinds, your choice)

Tortillas (if they cavort with water in your cooler, grill them – it works!) *Pre-washed and chopped kale – add to rice and/or put raw into burrito. Roll and enjoy.

 The division of food and chores seemed to flow with Amanda and Bree washing dishes Friday night, Teri on dish duty Saturday morning and everyone simply looking around and pitching in when elder adventurers (cough, cough) were at a horizontal slant beside the fire after the 8-mile hike.

 Splitting costs also made an impact as the last minute shopping expenditures add up when embarking on a camping weekend. Having one member of the trip bring 2 fuel cans for the stove, another responsible for gallons of water and spirits, and others packing the snacks and power bars made for a smaller outlay of cash then when one person absorbs all of the expenses on their own.

 The final section of this post rounds out with other camping cuisine that we have at one time or another enjoyed.

 Chicken/Beef k-bobs – The beauty of this item, and we covered it before in our food section, is that you can prep these at home or even buy them in the market already skewered. You simply brush them with olive oil, throw on spices, and voila! On the grill they go and the rest is cake or better yet, s’mores!

 Scotty Mac’s Specialties: My guy on the Big Sur trip made two lovely dinners that should not go unmentioned.

Fish Night (he opted for trout). Olive oiled and seasoned it and then slapped it on a sheet of foil over the campfire, done. *I added the easiest of camping sides, Near East garlic and olive oil couscous and steamed broccoli with butter

Burger Night – Hamburgers (Trader Joes, pre-made patties). He simply seasoned them and put them on the grill. Last minute we added cheese and had ours sans buns with our leftover broccoli and couscous. *I’ve also grilled pork chops and if you are ever in the Lee Vining Market (Mono Lake), the 2/ $5 pork chops are flat-out yummy.

 For breakfast, I cannot share enough how pre-cooked potatoes with onions can rock a camp breakfast with practically no elbow grease. Throw the pre-made potatoes and onions in a skillet and then add eggs and whatever else you love for a pan scramble. Pre-cooking bacon and/or sausage is also great. If you are an oatmeal lover, either pre-make steel cut like the photo of ours with bacon and apples or bring the instant packets. And staying within the “pre-made” sermon… cook apples and cinnamon in advance for the oatmeal! Do it or regret it forever.

And finally, I joyfully impart a little something I discovered while making a Big Sur breakfast for my guy and myself. Liberally drop butter into a skillet and place bread in as if you were making a grilled cheese, minus the cheese. When browned, lift the bread and drop more butter in and flip it. Adventurers: this makes toast something out of the stratosphere. It is decadent when you add jelly and I promise that you may just cross over and make toast this way when you get back to civilization.

Carry on civilized campers and please let us know what delectable fare you create so we can try it out and don’t forget to divvy up the shopping list so that you enjoy a life fully in session while remaining blissfully on a dime. Rock on!

 Check out our article on food for tips and peruse it periodically as we are always updating and adding to it.

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