Camp Chef Shelley

Stop WaitingIt’s Memorial Day Weekend, for many, the first three day weekend since President’s Day. It’s heralded as the start of summer, of camping, of all those things we’ve been waiting for. We’ve got pool parties to attend, new recipes to try out, barbecues are getting fired up. Let’s celebrate!

How do you barbecue? Is it burgers and dogs, is it dutch oven, do you limit what you can do because you are on a grill outside instead of inside in the sanctity of your kitchen? I hope not. Cooking outdoors is one of my greatest pleasures. Of course, that might be because I have no indoor cooking facilities. Seriously!

I cook outdoors on a Camp Chef almost daily. Recently my husband upgraded my Camp Chef, but for the last seven years, that’s been our only cooking apparatus, aside from an electric steamer and a crockpot which are used occasionally.

So let’s talk about what you can cook outdoors. Last month it was my world famous fish tacos, steak with baked potatoes, spaghetti, Jambalaya, Linguine with clam sauce, breakfast – lots of those. I also fixed chicken legs and kabobs, pork chops, couscous, and corn on the cob, among other things. Do you see much difference between what I cook outdoors and what you cook indoors? Probably not. The key for me is fresh and available, rarely do we have anything boxed or packaged, frozen or shelved. There’s no need for that. Does it take preparation? A bit, I have a tiny, tiny kitchen counter in our RV. I do my food prep with awesome knifes and a great cutting board, throw all that in separate bowls and then move it outside to add when needed. The biggest collection I keep in my house is knives and spices.

So as you move it outside this summer, consider the great possibilities you can cook there. Everything tastes better outdoors.

And as we celebrate this holiday weekend, let’s also remember. The purpose of the weekend is to reflect on those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, those who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy. Thank you to all in uniform, present and past, and to your brothers-in-arms who never made it home.

Whole30 – One day left

foodTwenty-nine days in, we have just one day left in our Whole30 program.  Not once have we cheated, either one of us!  I’m really kind of proud of that.  My husband’s addiction to Monster Java Mean Beans is kicked, my craving for carbs has scaled way back.  I really think this is a way that we could continue to eat.

Over the last 29 days, I have dreamed of food more often than ever before, I think in my whole life.  One night, I ate three sandwiches in my dream.  I don’t even remember what was on the sandwich, I just remember slathering it with mayonnaise and two pieces of white bread.  I haven’t eaten plain white bread in years, but that night, that’s what I was eating.  It seemed so real.

Last week, my dream had me having a vodka/sprite…I was half way through it before I remembered I wasn’t supposed to have any alcohol and I went and poured it out.  It is weird to dream like that.  In real life, no sandwiches and no alcohol were consumed.

One of my favorite parts has been the recipes that I have found and fixed.  Pinterest is a God-Send for Whole30.  So many recipes, most need tweaked just a little, but they have been delicious.  I have yet to have a bad meal that I’ve fixed myself.  Some of the restaurant meals have been a challenge, but that’s the choices we’ve made.  Some of the restaurants just don’t get it.

So let’s talk great food…last night it was Herb and Citrus Roasted Chicken from The Comfort of Cooking – so good…I left out the sugar, used mandarin oranges and added sliced zucchini and yellow squash to the dish.  It was great, used the leftover chicken in the eggs this morning.

Last week it was Dairy free Seafood Chowder from Meatified, again, so good.  I added roasted salt pork, fresh clams and shrimp…put everything but the seafood and the coconut milk in the crockpot while we ran off to yoga.  I cooked the clams separately and added the other ingredients to the pot while I finished the clams.  Even my father-in-law, who loves clam chowder loved it.   For more meatiness, add canned clams as well.

My fallback meal is pork tacos.  Pulled pork is super easy, just add a pork roast to a crock pot, a can of green chiles, one of no-salt-added diced tomatoes and sprinkle heavily with cumin.  Done.  To make Whole30 compliant tacos, we dropped the taco shells and used cabbage leaves instead, dropped the cheese and crema.  A little Pico de gallo, green onions, and fresh tomatoes, Delicious!

We still don’t know what or how we are adding back foods, I think it will be subtle, I think it will be meal dependent.  I think it will be based on a restaurant we are in.  The next few days should be interesting…still on the fence about Whole30?  The food is easy, follow my Pinterest page for ideas.

Day -226 – Public fixin’

photoOne of our favorite things is finding local restaurants, sounds easy, but it’s not always.  What you find in most cities is chain restaurants, and lots of them. Now, I know there is a place for chain restaurants, they provide comfort because there are no surprises, you can get the same cheeseburger in Pocatello, Idaho as you can find in Gardendale, Alabama and almost all points in between and beyond.  But, if you want innovation, if you want an experience, you have to find a local place for that.

One such place is Porky’s WagonWheel in Fultundale, Alabama.  It’s a little bit out of the way, just behind the Chevron station, in fact, if you didn’t know better, you might not recognize it.  The first time we went, we drove right past.  The locals had told us about the Wagon Wheel, they hadn’t mentioned Porky’s.  Porky’s is what we found first, it is a bbq place that has been around for awhile, they were closing in 15 minutes when we arrived the first time, “but the steakhouse is open for another hour,” the hostess pointed us through the swinging doors.

The steakhouse and Porky’s belong to Harry, the proprieter of this little gem.  Porky’s has been around for awhile, the steakhouse was added eight months ago, and it is going great.  The menu is simple, there are five kinds of steak…rib eye, tbone, New York, and two others that didn’t appeal to me.  You pick your meat, pick the way you want it cooked and sit back and relax.  Sounds familiar, right?  Maybe not quite when you hear the rest.  The salad bar and potato bar come with the steak, and the price is the same for each cut of beef.  No haggling, no worrying about which is priced better, the weights will be what differentiates the different steaks, that is all.

The boys chose to continue this path and let Harry take care of their steaks, I chose to cook my own.  You see, the grill is 8 foot by 6 foot and is right in the center of the room.  As the patron, you can season it just the way you want and lay it out on the grill and cook your own.  It was pretty awesome, I hung close to Harry, learning the tricks of the trade, obviously he had fixed more meat on that grill than I ever would, so I figured I could learn a thing or two.

Our ribeyes came out perfect, add a salad, an Idaho russet and some sweet-tea and it pretty much was the best meal I’ve had in a very long time.  Good luck finding that experience in a chain restaurant.