Ansel Adams + Yosemite

A match made in heaven.

 {Half Dome}

{Cathedral Peak}

{Yosemite Valley}

I’m heading out to Yosemite tomorrow for the last of the season’s camping trips. I can’t wait to hike in the crisp Fall air, snuggle into my sleeping bag at night, and wake up outside!

What are you doing this weekend?

Desserts en flambé

Nothing tastes better (to me) than that smoky, woodsy campfire smell. And – strangely enough – that extends to desserts. Last week I found this idea for french s’mores, and I knew I had to incorporate it into our camping expedition.

But having the sweet tooth I have, and living in San Francisco – home of Ghirardelli, TCHO, Recchiuti, Guittard – I knew that one type s’mores just wouldn’t cut it. Heck, one type of dessert wouldn’t cut it, which is why we had to have five different desserts and a whole lotta chocolate.

On the menu:

. French S’mores: two LU cookies + a toasted marshmallow

. San Francisco S’mores: Trader Joe’s cinnamon grahams + a Ghirardelli square + a toasted Miette marshmallow

. Regular S’mores: Regular graham crackers + 1/2 Hershey milk chocolate bar + a toasted grocery store marshmallow

. Bourbon bananas

. Spiced apples

Pick one, pick three, pick them all, but by all means, pick something off this list for your next camping trip. You’ll leave a little happier, a little chocolateier, and you might even have that woodsy campfire smell.

 

DESSERTS EN FLAMBÉ

Ingredients:

. Graham crackers

. Marshmallows

. Hershey’s milk chocolate bars

. LU Petite Ecoliers, in dark chocolate

. Artisan or homemade marshmallows, like these

. Ghirardelli dark chocolate squares with sea salt

. One apple

. One banana

. 1/4 cup spiced rum

. 1/4 cup packed brown sugar

 

Instructions:

1. Core out the apple and insert the packed brown sugar. Wrap the whole shebang in foil and throw it into the fire.

2. Cut a thin slice into a banana peel (leaving the majority of the peel intact) and slice the fruit into small, coin sized increments. Fill the gaps with bourbon and pieces from the Hershey’s bar. Close the peel and wrap that whole shebang in foil and throw it into the fire.

3. While the apple and banana cook, make your own variation on the s’mores listed above. If you feel really crazy (orrrrr a little drunk) you can mix them all together. I was really enjoying an open faced French s’more with a layer of almond butter, but the other campers did everything from Reese’s PB cups to apple/graham sandwiches. The choice is yours!

4. Finish eating your first s’more (let’s get real – you know you started one) and use tongs to gently pull the fruit out of the fire. Unwrap and let cool for a few minutes before you enjoy.

What are your favorite campfire desserts?

 

Foil and Fire

There are so many amazing things to cook while camping: dutch oven stews, peach cobbler, hobo bundles (which desperately need a new name as “hobo” just does not conjur up an image of something I want to put in my mouth) and, of course, classic s’mores. While all of these options have their place, we opted to keep it simple at Del Valle last weekend: fire roasted veggies, corn on the cob, and pesto al Giovanni, of course.

We had the benefit of a camping stove, which helped enormously for cooking pasta, but for the rest of the meal, our most critical ingredients were foil and fire. With these two basic camping tools, we turned raw ingredients into something so wonderous I have already attempted to recreate this meal in my oven at home.

Plus, no hobos were harmed in the cooking of this dinner. Bonus.

 

FIRE ROASTED VEGGIES

Ingredients:

. Asparagus, 1 lb. (regular, not baby)

. Carrots, 1 lb.

. One head of garlic

. New potatoes, 1 lb.

. One medium red onion

. One corn cob for each diner

. Bottle of EVOO

. Salt, pepper,

. Cayenne, lemon pepper seasoning, or any other savory spice or rub you like

. Giant roll of aluminum foil, knives, cutting board, small marinating brush

 

Instructions:

1. On a cutting board, thinly slice the new potatoes and red onion; chop the carrots into smaller sticks; trim up the asparagus if necessary; and disassemble and peel the entire head of garlic. If you are one of those people who is touchy about garlic and thinks you can smell it coming out of your pores (you smell great, I promise!) then only use as much as you like. We likey a lotta garlic.

2. Lay a generous piece of foil – larger than you think you need – down on a flat surface. We used a picnic table, but flat rocks will do! You go, gourmet campfire chef, you!

 

 

3. Drizzle a bottom layer of EVOO on the foil and spread it out using the marinating brush

4. Layer veggies on the foil. We laid asparagus on the bottom and it crisped up a little too quickly, so I’d lay potatoes down first, then carrots and asparagus in a long row together, onions and garlic cloves nestled atop and between.

 

 

5. Drizzle the bed of veggies with more EVOO, coating evening.

6. Top with salt, pepper, and the seasoning of your choice. I used a lemon pepper grinder to coat the entire packet with a fine layer of spice and it turned out to be delicious.

7. Lay a similarly sized sheet of foil over the top and gently fold the edges together. Once the packet is loosely assembled, go back around and tightly crimp the edges. The foil packet is so magical because it acts as a grill and steamer in one, resulting in vegetables that are steamy and crispy, with that smoky flavor that only fire roasting can give.

 

 

8. Cook directly over the flames for about 30 minutes, checking regularly. Your veggies should be crisping, but not burning.

 

9. Once the veggies are cooking, wrap each ear of corn in ample foil, over the husks. Throw them directly into the fire. Once you hear popping, pull them out (carefully!)

10. Pull all the veggies out/off of the fire and enjoy!

 

Tomorrow, desserts!

Last two photos taken by Duncan Ramsay.

Campsite Pasta

Our camping trip this weekend was wonderful: great friends, a beautiful lake, a nice bottle of wine, and sleeping under the stars. The only thing that makes camping even better than all that, in my opinion, is amazing food!

My friend Giovanni is from a small town near Bologna, and in true Italian fashion, he decided his contribution to our fireside feast would be pasta with homemade basil pesto. While his recipe didn’t differ too much from the standard – basil, parmesan, salt, EVOO, and walnuts – he says the trick to pesto is all what happens after you cook:

“Even though you remove the pasta from heat, it still continues to cook. If you put fresh pesto straight on the hot pasta, it will burn the parmesan and won’t taste quite right.”

He transferred the pasta from bowl to pot about 10 times to cool it down before spreading on the pesto. And sure enough – delizioso! And much more sophisticated than hot dogs.

Thanks, Giovanni!

 

Staying Adorable in Nature

Camping with a crush, a new boyfriend, or even just your girlfriends, but you’d rather not be the homeliest (or stankiest) lady friend in the tent? Yeah, been there. But without running water, mirrors, showers, and other daily necessities, camping and remaining your normal, charming self can be an uphill battle. A long battle. A battle where nobody showers, and people are scary looking. Similar to the Civil War, I imagine, actually. You remember, that terrifying time before toothpaste was invented? Yes. That time.

Ahem.

Never fear, compatriots! GourmetStyleGirl brings you…The GSG Guide to Staying Adorable While Camping! In All Caps Because It’s Very Important!

1. Think travel size…for everything

Tiny tissues, travel shine gel, twee bottles of lotion…the list (and those .99 bins at Target) go on and on. If you’re only going to be gone for a quick weekend (two nights or fewer), basic travel size items should be sufficient.

Must haves: travel sized hairbrush, tiny Vaseline, toothpaste (nobody wants to fall asleep with s’more in their grillz), sunscreen, and a few Chapsticks with SPF 15 or higher built in.

2. Keep it clean…

Wet wipes, hand sanitizer, facial towelettes and a quick swipe of travel deodorant can work wonders. While not a replacement for a nice hot shower, these four items will at least keep you from both breaking out and stinking up the tent.

I would: Use these facial towelettes, which work perfectly with a few drops of water from your Nalgene. I’m also going to recommend that you use these wet wipes…liberally. Try not to think about it. Instead, just think how great that shower is going to feel when you get home wheeee!

3. Mulitask

If you have to wear make-up (and you really don’t – I promise!), bring the bare essentials and pick products that do double or triple duty.

My faves: This tinted moisturizer that covers, protects, and soothes all in one. I also love this waterproof, non-flaky mascara, and this tinted lip balm, for extra cover and sunscreen.

4. Don’t forget accessories

Not the “going out on the town” kind, but the kind that will keep you from looking like Bigfoot. A cute hat (both to up your adorable quotient and for sun protection), big sunglasses (same reasons), fun ponytail holders, or a chic headband will keep your hair out of your face, your sunscreen out of your hair, and will also help you look groomed and put together, even when you haven’t showered in a few days.

Fail safe look: Slick your hair back into a simple, straight ponytail (think Kim Kardashian, who has definitely mastered the fine art of the pony), add a headband, a dash of lip balm or lipstick if you brought it, sunscreen all over and put on those shades. And maybe a clean tank top. You’re already cuter than you’re giving yourself credit for, I just know it.

5. Stop worrying about how adorable you look

You’re in nature. Nobody actually cares how you look except for you, and with a few more of those bourbon bananas, you won’t care either. Stoke the fire, read a book, go on a hike, strum your guitar. Tell a good ghost story, sit on a log. Look up into the sky and reacquaint yourself with the stars. Remember how beautiful nature is, and how beautiful you are when you’re in it.

 

Ah, Wilderness

Or, as I used to think privately to myself, “Oh wilderness. Who needs ya?”

Luckily, a combination of summer camp, ski weekends, several breathtaking hikes, and a few international backpacking trips changed all of that, and I am now lucky enough to live inside a National Park, right in the middle of San Francisco. I wake up to the sound of hummingbirds and wild parrots, and trail run while the eucalyptus wafts through the air.

How lucky can a girl get?

This week, we’re discussing camping: the good (most of it), the bad (outhouses, anyone?), and the ugly (generally everybody after the end of a long trip) and I’m so excited to not only share some tips and recipes from my most recent camping adventure, but to hear yours as well.

So break out the tent poles and s’more ingredients people; I can smell the eucalyptus already.