Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Camping on Memorial Day

This was a camping weekend for the House of Jack. My sister’s family and my in-laws joined our little trio for an extended weekend of camping and swimming in Branson. Before we go on, it should be explained that the term “camping” is relative. In this case we had a mixture of styles. We were in a campground with electricity, running water, hot showers and lots of RV’s. My sister’s clan and the in-laws both do the camper thing. The House of Jack, on the other hand, camps in a primitive (pre-1860) mountain man lean-to with an open front.

We cooked some, ate out some, and got rained on some. The campground had two pools – a hot indoor pool and a frigid, grape-shrinking outdoor pool. Amazingly, the kids spent time in both. While they would not admit it, they liked the indoor pool better.

It never rained for very long, but one time it rained really hard for about 20 minutes and flooded the entire place. The water was ankle deep in lots of places. Everything was soaked. The kids and I were in the indoor pool at the time and the roof started leaking. So we got out of the pool and headed for camp. We were already wet from the pool so it seemed silly to try to huddle under a porch. Amazingly, folks got out of the pool, covered their heads and ran for cover. Crazy.

We didn’t cook for every meal. We had between 10 and 16 at every meal, so that made cooking hard work. So we cheated some and ate out for a few meals. One morning we decided to go up and eat at a place called Billy Gail’s Restaurant. We were warned before we went and the warnings were well deserved. One pancake at this place does a body fine, considering they are 14-inches in diameter. If you try to order more than that, the waitresses make sure you know what you are getting in to.

Another night we cooked, over the campfire, barbequed chicken and brats for a group of 16. We also had black forest cobbler cooked in my cast iron Dutch oven. Camp cobbler is always a big hit and it is easy to make, assuming you have a Dutch oven.


12-inch Dutch Oven (with convex lid)
2 cans of pie filling (this time I used cherry)
1.5 packages of dry cake mix (this time I used chocolate)
1.5 sticks of butter

Preheat the Dutch oven (lid and base) over the campfire. Pull the base off and put a half stick of butter in the bottom. Dump in the two cans of pie filling. Pour the dry cake mix on top of the pie filling. Cut up one stick of butter and place the pats on the top of the dry cake mix. Put the lid on the Dutch oven. Pull some coals out of the fire and place the Dutch oven on top of them. Place some hot coals on the lid. Cook for 35-45 minutes or so. This recipe fed 16 people.

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