A Simple Walk

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Last evening, Rob and I went for a quick walk.  You can’t really even call it a hike it was so short.  Still, we were so happy that it had quit raining for long enough for us to get out and enjoy a little fresh air.

We went to Cross Park in Gladstone, Oregon.  The girls were in a class nearby, and the days have lengthened enough that we had time for a quick walk while we waited for them. The trail is very short, and runs along the Willamette  River.  There is a bridge that you can cross, if you wish.  The paths are paved and are wheel-chair friendly.

As we walked along, we were able to see several fishermen and women on the opposite bank of the river.  One man in hip waders gave us a bit of excitement when he looked like he had stepped a little too deeply into the frigid waters, causing us to shiver at the thought of the icy river water going into his boots.  No one caught anything while we were watching, but we were able to share their hope of a catch for those few short minutes.

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We enjoyed watching a fat squirrel eat and scamper on a tree right by the bridge.  He didn’t seem too bothered by us, except when we tried to take a picture.  Then, he ran up and down the tree scolding.  Eventually, he decided to tear off across the bridge, easily balancing on the supports, wires and pipes on the outside of the bridge.

All too soon, it became too dark and cold to stay outside and we returned to our car.  Still, it was nice to be able to get out and enjoy nature, even if it was only for a brief time, and gave us hope for spring’s much anticipated return.

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Bacon-Wrapped Steak Cooked Over a Fire

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Rob decided to use one of his new products, Grandpa’s Fire Grill, to make some steak over the fire.  He wanted to see how it worked.

The first thing he did was to build a fire and let it burn down until there were some coals as well as flames.  He could have let it burn down even further, to an entire bed of coals, but he ran out of patience.  That is the kind of thing that often happens on a camping trip when our family is hungry from a day of hiking, fishing, swimming or just hanging around the campsite.  So, he thought he’d give it a real-to-life trial.

He cut a green (not dry) maple stick for a handle and sharpened it slightly on the end with his pocketknife.  He wrapped 2 steaks with bacon and put them both into the grill. He felt it would have been better to use only 1 steak per grill because he felt it was a little too heavy with them both in there.  He was, however, able to get a good result.  Then, he clamped it shut, and inserted the slightly sharpened stick into the handle of the grill and pushed it right in to the steak.

 

He held the steak over the fire, about 4-6 inches above the coals, turning often.  Rob cooked it for about 15 minutes.  If a more rare or well-done product is desired, the time should be adjusted to suit your taste.  It does take a little while for the bacon to cook on the outside before the steak cooks very much.

When he was done, he opened the latch on the end and removed the steak.  He recommends using a potholder to avoid burns.  The steak was done, and enjoyed.  We are already making plans to try the grill on other food items in the near future.  One thing we often do when camping is catch fish and cook them on a grill over the fire.  We are excited to see how fresh trout taste in this grill.  We hope that the ability to turn them over easily without them breaking apart will work well.  I may have to see if I have some frozen ones from last summer and have Rob try it out before our next fishing trip….IMG_5589.JPG

Barbecued Pork Shish-Kabobs

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On Sunday night, we put some pork on to marinate.  The next day, Rob grilled pork shish-kabobs.  They turned out very tasty.  This was some of the pork he had purchased for $1.27/lb recently.  It was a huge piece and was divided and frozen for several meals.  Around here, that is a great price, and it tastes great, so we were delighted to get it.

Marinade:

2 cups gluten-free soy sauce

2 cups water

1/2 cup brown sugar

3 green onions, sliced into small pieces

2 inches of ginger, minced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1-1/2–2 pounds of pork chunks

Mix all ingredients in a large zip-top bag.  Place the bag in a bowl and refrigerate overnight.  The next day, cut assorted vegetables into chunks and thread the marinated pork and vegetables onto skewers.

Vegetables:

1 red bell pepper

1 green bell pepper

1 pound mushrooms, cut in half

2 zucchinis, cut into thick slices

Other vegetables could be used, such as onions, but these are the ones Rob chose to use this week.  He grilled the kabobs for around 45 minutes.  Times may vary according to how hot the barbecue is and so the kabobs should be checked often to make sure they are neither raw, nor overdone.  We thought these tasted great!

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Baked Potatoes in a Dutch Oven

 

Baking potatoes in a Dutch Oven is frugal, easy and fun.  Recently, Rob had one of his 4H outdoor classes make them.  He had them light up some charcoal briquets in a chimney.  The easiest way to get them to light is to squirt them with barbecue lighter fluid and light them with a match.   If you wanted to use a fire instead, you should build one and let it burn down to coals.

The kids wrapped the washed potatoes in tin foil and put them into the kettle.  They did about 10 medium potatoes, so the kettle wasn’t full.  The other kettle is full of a recipe of Western Beans, which also turned out great.

Rob helped them put a layer of coals on the Dutch Oven table, then the Dutch Oven with legs (a spider), and then a bunch of coals on top.  One source said to put 27 coals on top, but they just dumped a bunch on.

The potatoes took about 1 hour to cook, the same as it would in a 350 degree oven.  Rob did remove the lid very carefully and check them a couple of times.   In the meanwhile, the kids made the bean recipe, and grated cheese and chopped green onions for when the potatoes were served to the entire group.

This would be a good skill to know in case of a prolonged power outage.  As I mentioned before, this can be done using wood coals and a fire, if needed.  If you were really desperate due to a natural disaster or such, or way out in the woods camping without your kettle, you could throw the wrapped potatoes into the fire.  We’ve done it many times.  However, the potatoes do come out much more unevenly, and often burn on one side or the other.  This way, they are even, and very much like they were done in a regular oven.  If you had no tin foil, you could still throw the potatoes into a bed of coals, but the outside skins get really burnt when you do that–you would have to eat the insides.

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This photo is blue because of smoke, but it gives you an idea of how the potatoes looked in the pot.

When they were done, Rob washed the kettles with warm water, only, and then coated them with a thin layer of coconut oil.  He then popped one treated kettle into the barbecue to re-warm and continue seasoning for 1/2 hour-1 hour.  The other kettle was washed and oiled as well, but ended up in the kitchen oven because it was not emptied until much later.  The oven was on 350 degrees.  Rob put the pot in and turned the oven off and let it cool.  That did the job as well.

Marinated Pork on the Grill

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Rob got an incredible deal on pork the other day–only $1.27 per pound.  He bought a huge package of it.  He marinated some of it for 24 hours, then grilled it.  It was a huge hit!  We served it with salad and home-frozen cauliflower with mozzarella cheese on top.  Yum!

Marinated Pork

Marinade:

2 cups soy sauce (we buy gluten-free soy sauce by the gallon at Cash and Carry to keep the cost down.  I’m sure you can buy the gluten-filled kind in bulk as well)

2 cups water

Mix soy sauce and water in large zip-top bag and put pork chunks in to marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours.  Rob did about 2 pounds that night.  Right before you barbecue the meat, drain off 1/2 of the liquid and add:

1 cup brown sugar

Rub the outside of the bag with your hands, or shake the bag, until the brown sugar coats the meat and mixes with the liquid.

Heat the grill to 350 degrees F.  Cook for about 25 minutes or until pork is cooked through.  It may take more or less time, depending on how big your chunks are.  If desired, once the pork is cooked, turn the barbecue to “smoke” setting and smoke for 1 hour.  Enjoy.

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Winter Is Here!

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We got back from camping just in time.  The weather turned cold and wintery.  Rob was able to capture this picture of ice crystals early one morning.  A couple of days later, we were hit with a little snow, and then, some freezing rain.  Both of these are somewhat rare in our part of Oregon.  Driving on the snow isn’t bad, but once it turns into freezing rain it’s very dangerous to drive.  So, we had a couple of days at home, cozying up by the fire and getting things done around the house.

Rob spent extra time making sure the pigs’ water wasn’t frozen, and actually got a few eggs.  The chickens had stopped laying entirely for a time, so it was a pleasant, unexpected surprise.

Beverly Beach State Park Camping Trip

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We recently had a great trip to Beverly Beach State Park.  We took the camper, which was a very good thing as the weather ranged from torrential rain, to extreme wind, to cold, clear and sunny.

One morning, between rain showers, we were able to go down to the beach.  It was a short, easy hike from where we were camped to the trail that went under the bridge for Hwy. 101.  Once we followed the trail under the bridge, we were able to pick our way through the debris from recent storms down to the sand.

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We love the beach, rain or shine, so we were not disappointed.  We went down on the sand for a short time and enjoyed watching the seagulls and other birds on the shore.  We took a short walk, and then were chased back to the camper by the cold wind and threatening skies.  We were so glad we were able to steal even a few minutes on the beach–a real treat in December.

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