This will be the first of a two part series I’m calling “Cooking with fire” and I’ll start by talking about two different types of camping fires, fire building basics, and burning materials. In the second part of the series I’ll walk you through ways to best maintain a healthy fire to produce delicious and well-cooked food.
Smokey the Bear was an icon when I was a youngin
One of my favorite travel books is Hot Sour Salty Sweet, and while at first glance it may come off as a recipe book, it’s far more than that. The authors’ insatiable curiosity is apparent towards understanding and capturing the essence of the communities, regional flavors and techniques they were exposed to throughout Southeast Asia.
This book really resonates with me and is an inspiration to us for where we would like to take this humble blog; a chronicle of our experiences focusing on the places we visit, the people we encounter and of course, the food we experience along the way.
Kids playing bingo in the streets of Bangkok.
If you haven’t tried it already, grilled asparagus wrapped in prosciutto tastes heavenly, but I also love the fragrance and simplicity of a well-grilled scallion with a hint of salt. So to switch things up a bit, I decided to wrap up a trio of green veggies with paper thin prosciutto before throwing them on the grill. And I mean paper-thin, ask for this the next time you go to your local butcher as you should be able to almost see right through the salumi.
With spring in the air, backyard BBQ sessions are happening all around. To help increase your repertoire, this week we will be posting a series of quick go-to recipes that are designed to please all your guests.
A great burger takes the right combination of ingredients, textures and flavors and a simple approach will go a long way. Even better, the smaller slider is a perfect two-bite snack you can enjoy with a few cold ones in the yard.
Depending on the ingredients I typically strive to achieve a balance of salty, sweet, sour and fat, but I’m also partial to adding some heat as well. For this particular recipe, the sweetness comes from the mixed produce in the meat and the bun, the sour from the pickle brine and mustard, the salty and fat from the cheese and seasoned meat and the ‘heat’ from the radish sprouts and a few dashes of chipotle tabasco.
We’ve all been there at some point, from waking up with hiking battle wounds to a lack of beauty sleep to the inevitable few too many the night before while sharing stories around a camp fire, a hearty breakfast can be exactly what the doctor ordered.
Enter chilaquiles a la Mexicana.
From the eggs to the sauce and veggies, it is a wholesome breakfast meal that you can evolve to make it your own. You can substitute the red sauce with a green sauce (tomatillo salsa verde), add grilled nopales and/or poached shredded chicken and finish it off with a generous dab of freshly made pico de gallo.
On a recent camping trip to Big Basin Redwoods State Park, I was able to pull off a feat I have been hoping to accomplish for quite some time: to cook a paella over wood fire. It’s almost as if this dish was designed with the great outdoors in mind, in fact, tradition in Valencia, Spain, calls for the men to prepare paella feasts over an open fire. In addition to proper fruit wood (orange and apple), pine wood and its cones can also be thrown in the fire to round out the rice with a smokey aroma.
Following up on the last post about barbecue, not long ago I tried my hand at brewing up a camp fire BBQ sauce. Sure, you can bring along a store-bought bottle of some of the finest concoctions, but why not give your own sauce a try and impress your friends. I promise you that once you simmer it down over a good smokey fire, you’re never going to look at barbecue sauce in the same light again.
This year, Zara and I decided to see our families for the holidays. One of our first stops is here at her mom’s in Grants Pass, famous for its world-class rafting on the beautiful Rogue River and the nearby Oregon Caves.
Last night we had a nice dinner with family at the Stephen’s in Merlin, featuring uncle Jerry’s BBQ baby back ribs. I enjoyed chatting with him about his go-to sauce and deep pit techniques as he manned his home-made grill, complete with a hand crank and what resembled a bicycle chain.
The hand crank allows for optimum temperature control by lifting the meat closer or further away from the hot coals. This reminded me of one of my favorite grills, which is similar in principle.
Looking forward to what the next family meal brings.
It wasn’t until recently that I was able to embrace the American Thanksgiving tradition, partly because I grew up in South America and then Canada later on in my teens. But, I’ve now been in the States long enough that my appreciation for the holiday traditions is maturing and to be honest I’m starting to really enjoy it.
The Mayflower at Plymouth Rock
Being an immigrant myself, I am fond of stories written about the first pilgrims at Plymouth (or the Spaniards & the Timucua Indians depending on who you ask) and good harvest celebrations that took place. In particular, what I connect with is the notion of strangers in a new land, bringing with them sacred feasting traditions related to the annual harvest and sharing the bounty amongst friends, family and strangers alike.
There is always a story behind food. Whether it be from the memories a flavor conjures up, or a tale of cultural significance, there is invariably something important behind what we eat and what we cook. And these stories affect the way in which we respond to food, and our openness to it. While thinking about how I wanted to approach this entry about a mackerel pulled out of the Adriatic Sea, I couldn’t ignore all the things that brought me there in the first place. So this story touches on my own personal history, and a particular person that influenced my decision to go to Croatia, and catch a fish at sea.
As I looked back on my distant past, I asked myself what is it that defines a mentor? Are mentors a result of long-term intellectual relationship bonded by trust? Do mentors always teach us life-lessons? Are they generally remarkable people or can they also be categorized as simply ordinary? How does one know when they have found a mentor? Without a doubt the answer is subjective, but I was able to qualify at least three people that I would consider mentors; extraordinary people that made a great impact at different stages of my life by influencing me in positive and meaningful ways.