August 30, 2008

Camper chili

One of the things we got to do while in Seattle recently was go camping. We went to the northern tip of Whidbey Island to Deception Pass State ParkBecause our travel plans came together late, we were unable to get a camp site next to our son and family, and had to be in a different area of the park, about four miles away. This was a little irritating because the site right next to theirs, although technically reserved, remained empty the entire time we were there. Oh well.

Although our summer vacations usually involved camping when the kids were growing up, it's been years since we've slept in a tent. I love the sensation of waking up in a tent—breathing in the cool, fresh early-morning air. On this little camping excursion, the (grown-up plus baby) kids had a rather luxurious tent with a queen-size air mattress, and the old parents had their kids' old backpacking tent. To say my husband had some difficulty getting in and out of this tent is an understatement, and he seemed quite disturbed by the extreme coziness of the interior. I, on the other hand, considered the fact that the small size meant we would sleep warmer in the tent, and since I had forgotten my p.j.s, and was basically wearing all the layers I'd brought on the trip in an effort to be warm, that seemed like a plus to me.

The park is quite scenic and we had a great time hiking and just hanging out enjoying the fresh air. We hiked up to a summit for a great view, and then down to a beautiful, log-strewn beach. The only downside to this lovely park, and I have to mention it just in case someone reads this and decides to go there, is that there's a military base on Whidbey Island, and lots (LOTS) of planes fly overhead, disturbing the quiet. I didn't hear them during the night, but the kids said they were disturbed by loud and long-lasting plane noise at midnight. This is a very popular state park, and filled with campers, all of whom seemed to have three dogs, but it was amazingly quiet in the campgrounds and on the trails. (Except for the *#$@% planes.) I'm not kidding about the dogs, but I never heard any barking and didn't see any poop. Weird.

Our son cooked dinner on a single-burner backpacker stove, and for supper he made chili, based on the recipe found on a box of Fantastic Foods instant chili! Nothing fancy — very easy but great tasting camp food. First he chopped and sauteed a large onion. He added the chili mix, following the box directions for water quantity.

He added a can of drained pinto beans and a can of undrained crushed tomatoes. He served it over leftover rice brought from home in the cooler, and topped it with avocado and tortilla chips. You could also serve carrot sticks for an almost instant meal. 6 servings. (He added an extra can of black beans to stretch the chili and we had it for lunch the next day.)

Although we brought cooked rice from home, my other son recently introduced me to a product that would be very handy for camping or lunch at work. It's fully-cooked brown rice sold at Trader Joe's. It's something I would never have even thought to look for, but he brought me some and it actually tastes really good. (It costs $1.69 for 10.5 ounces.) When we used to go camping with the kids we had a two burner Coleman stove, and we would cook a big pot of brown rice as part of dinner, then save the leftovers to warm up with raisins, cashews and soymilk for breakfast the next morning.

So what the heck are these? They were growing along one of the trails.


  1. The white "flower" is Indian Pipe, which lives on the roots of other plants and trees.

  2. That's so funny! We also brought the chili mix and cooked it, with additions, on our Minnesota camping trip!


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