Monday, September 04, 2006

August & the End of Summer

As you can probably tell, we are once again ramping up our food blog posts now that summer is coming to an end. Although we've been cooking plenty all summer long, the hot, late days are not exactly conducive to writing about cooking. We are on our fourth tank of propane for the Weber on the deck for this summer, and we no plans to stop firing up that grill this fall. We'll have lots more pics and posts come football season (go Pats!) and autumn - probably our favorite time of year. A preview of grilled drumsticks from a recent cook-out we had with friends at our house:

After a rainy start to the summer, August was beautiful in New England and we took advantage by spending time outdoors, playing tennis, cooking out, and CAMPING. We went for two long weekends of camping in August, once just the two of us and another time with three other couples - friends of Michael's from high school. Both times we went to New Hampshire - it is easy for us to get up there and they have a wonderful state parks system.

First we camped at Pawtuckaway State Park, just east of Manchester New Hampshire. Pawtuckaway was very nice, the sites were secluded and the terrain was varied, making the sites even more interesting and different from one another. Many of the sites are on an island called Horse Island and most of the sites on that island border right up to the lake. The only problems with Pawtuckaway is that they allow motorcraft on the lake! We could hear motorboats cruising around well into the very late night and during the day there are jetskis cruising around. Not exactly relaxing to be on a canoe with jetskis flying past... Also, the beach area was way overcrowded when we checked it out - people were packed in, it looked like a refugee camp! Luckily, the beach was far away from the camp areas and the campsites are for campers only - so it was much quieter. Here is a map of the camp sites:

Here is the view from Site 19... right on the water:

This area was beautiful and we went on a great hike and cooked some good food - pre-marinated steak tips, pasta salad, sandwiches, even bacon-and-eggs for breakfast. When camping, we bring a carton of egg beaters along for a variety of reasons - no broken eggs, no mixing eggs in a bowl, etc. We start the grill up - we have a little propane grill that we use for breakfast and other quick cooking and a charcoal setup that we use for dinner when we're winding down at the end of the day - and get a pan going on the grill with the bacon. On the other side of the grill, we start grilling up our wheat toast. When the bacon is done, we wipe out the pan and then start with a pat of butter. Melt that and in go the egg beaters and a little salt and pepper. Stirring, we add some american cheese at the end. Voila - bacon and cheesy scrambled eggs with toast - perfect camping breakfast.

Pawtuckaway was a preview of our next camping trip to Bear Brook State Park with our friends. We had a great setup at Bear Brook - a much more remote campsite right on two ponds - Beaver Pond and Spruce Pond. The sites are ok, they are somewhat packed together which is surprising given the 10,000 acres (and 40 miles of hiking trails) in this amazing park. The ponds are beautiful and we got some great canoing and fishing in!

We caught mostly perch and some big sunfish - Stacey caught two big perch (8"+) that we ended up bringing back to the campsite in our 5-gallon bucket and scraficing to the camping gods (quickly cutting off their heads). We then gutted and filleted them as best as possible and immediately sauteed up the results in butter, salt and pepper. They were very good! As they say, perch are the tastiest fish in the lake.

Additionally, we had some great steak tips (a camping staple!), bbq chicken, honey chicken, lots of burgers and hot dogs, a few pounds of bacon, lots of sandwiches and cereal and snacks and many, many beers! We ate very well for being "desolate" in the woods...

Michael getting the charcoal going:

Here is the whole group at our communal site, left to right in the back: Jimmy, Brian, Scott, Mike. The girls: Kylene, Sarah, Traci, and Stacey. And in the front, the very well behaved camping mascot/dog, Roxy.

We had a great time throughout August and while we are sad to see it go, we will hold on to our great memories. Autumn is in the air and we are excited to get back to cooking in our kitchen, trying new things on the grill, and taking lots of pics for posts...

Hope you had a great summer too and see you soon.

~Boston Chef

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