Category Archives: Food Over a Fire

How to Camp Like a Locavore

Fresh eggs from Good Harbor Farm

When I go camping at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with my friend Sandy, we often have a theme that drives our meal decisions as well as the activities we do. This year we decided to wing it, bringing few staples from home and relying on the local food choices we could find in Leelanau County, Michigan.

Okay, so I’m not a purely authentic locavore. That would mean I would only eat food that is locally produced, excluding olive oil, coffee, chocolate, and lemons, to name a few of my favorite ingredients. But I try my best to eat in season as much as possible and support our local economy here in Michigan. So what are staples for Sandy and me on a camping trip? Popcorn, olive oil, and coffee.

The first step to camping like a locavore is heading to the local winery (or grocery store) to get some sparkling wine. One of our favorites is Moonstruck from Good Harbor Vineyards. After picking up some provisions, such as eggs and asparagus at Good Harbor Farm, we headed back to our campsite to pitch the tent. But first we popped the cork on the Moonstruck.

Moonstruck sparkling wine from Good Harbor Winery

Then we had some cherry pie that we picked up at The Cherry Hut in Beulah, Michigan, on our way to the campground.

Moonstruck and cherry pie

Then we put the tarp down.

Camping step two: Put down tarp

And finally, the tent went up.

Camping step three: Put up tent

The first night we went out for dinner at Good Harbor Grill, which is not our normal practice. But the Cherry Pecan Whitefish on the menu was enticing. (What’s with all the Good Harbor this and Good Harbor that? D.H. Day Campground, a rustic campground within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, resides along Good Harbor Bay, one of the most beautiful harbors in Lake Michigan—with no marinas. It’s a nature lover’s paradise.) After dinner we made popcorn over the campfire.

The next day, we headed to the beach at—you guessed it—Good Harbor Bay to make breakfast, which was an Asparagus Frittata and pressed coffee (and leftover Moonstruck).

Frittata ingredients

Red onion and fresh asparagus for frittata

Asparagus frittata and Moonstruck at Good Harbor Bay

Moonstruck sparkling wine from Good Harbor Winery

Good Harbor Bay, Leelanau County, Michigan

After relaxing at the beach, we toured some wineries, including one of our favorites (L. Mawby), where we shared a flight of sparkling wine with whitefish pate.

Sparkling wine flight at L. Mawby

Then we headed back to camp for some R&R. I had brought a few ingredients from home to make Lavash Pizza Over a Fire. The base for the pizza was Stinging Nettles Pesto that I had made a few weeks earlier and froze. The tomatoes for one pizza were from the Holland Farmers Market and the goat cheese came from Dancing Goat Creamery. We put Manchego sheep’s cheese and parsley from my garden on the other.

Lavash Pizza Over a Fire

And in the morning? Fried egg sandwich paninis with Stinging Nettles Pesto!

Fried egg and pesto panini

The challenge is always to find ways to use up the ingredients that you find locally and bring from home. The only leftovers we had were pieces of cherry pie. But that was easy. They were nicely accompanied by cups of coffee from Gemma’s Coffee House at the beach in Empire, Michigan, on the way home.

Lavash Pizza Over a Fire

One thing I love to do is camp, but that doesn’t mean I have to roast processed hot dogs on a stick over the open fire. Having a one-burner camp stove is handy for rainy days when it’s difficult to start a fire, but when the weather cooperates, why not make pizza over the open fire?

The “pizza” I’ve been make is Bill-friendly, meaning it’s wheat-free, corn-free, and pasteurized-cow-dairy-free. Using Sami’s Bakery Millet & Flax Lavash (flatbread) as a base, all I do is brown the bottom on a griddle or in a skillet. You could do this right on a fire grate, camp stove, or grill.

Then, add toppings. For ingredient inspiration, check out my other lavash pizza recipes. The two I made on a recent camping trip with my friend Sandy are Caprese and Manchego with Parsley.

I brought along some Stinging Nettles Pesto that I made and stashed in the freezer. This became the base for both pizzas, which were placed on a piece of foil to easily move them onto the fire grate.

On one, I added sliced tomatoes from the Holland Farmers Market and dollops of Dancing Goat Creamery goat cheese.

On the other, Sandy added small chunks of Manchego sheep’s cheese and chopped parsley from Sandy’s herb garden. (Grating the cheese would have been nice but who has a cheese grater in their camping supplies?)

I drizzled olive oil over both and sprinkled each pizza with salt and pepper. Then I put them on the fire grate, which had hot coals underneath. The key is to create an oven-like effect by tenting with another piece of foil.

Tented foil over lavash pizza

After a few minutes, the pizzas were warm and crispy, and the cheese was melted.

Easy and delicious, but perhaps not the best choice if you’re cooking outside on a windy day!

Asparagus Frittata

Asparagus Frittata Recipe

Memorial Day is the traditional segue to summer. And in the Great Lakes, it’s the start of weekend gatherings–at home, at the cottage, and at the campsite. What’s a quick and easy way to enjoy breakfast together? A simple frittata with seasonal vegetables. And right now, it’s asparagus season.

Most people in Michigan can’t wait for the first asparagus to show up at farmers markets and roadside stands. I’m one of them. As soon as the Holland Farmers Market opened in May, I was there with my basket, loading up on this spring vegetable that can be prepared so many ways. Putting it in a frittata is one of my favorites. In addition to the asparagus, I buy the rest of the ingredients from our local farmers at the Holland Farmers Market: pastured eggs from Grassfields, red onions from Visser Farms, and goat cheese from Country Winds Creamery. (Another reason why I love this recipe? You can cook it over a campfire, too!)

Asparagus Frittata

Serves 4.

3 T. olive oil

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed and chopped into 1-inch pieces

8 eggs, beaten

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup Pecorino cheese,  or dollops of goat cheese

Optional: chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, tarragon, or parsley

Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil and vegetables into a large oven-proof skillet. Saute onions with asparagus on medium heat until nearly tender, about three minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove vegetables from pan. (Note: You can also leave the veggies in and pour the eggs right over them but I remove them and do the next steps first so the frittata doesn’t stick to the pan.)

Add salt and pepper to eggs, then stir. (If using herbs, add them now.) Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in skillet on medium-high heat until bubbly. When oil is very hot, pour egg mixture into pan. As edges cook, lift up with a spatula and tilt pan so uncooked egg mixture runs underneath. Continue until eggs are no longer runny. (It will still be slightly soft.)

Preheat broiler on high. Spoon vegetables evenly over egg. Sprinkle cheese or place dollops over entire pan. Put pan in oven under broiler flame and immediately reduce to low. Broil about 3 minutes, checking occasionally. Frittata is done when the edges are brown and the cheese is bubbly (or soft for goat cheese).

Remove from oven and let set about a minute. Cut into eight slices and serve.

Asparagus Frittata Recipe

Cooking over a campfire? Just place foil on over the pan to cook the top of the frittata.

Grilled Pork Steaks with Lemon Butter

If you think Bill and I eat a lot of pork because I post so many recipes with pork as the main ingredient, you’re right. That’s because we still have some cuts from last fall in our freezer and our order for this year has already arrived. So I’m always looking for new ways to cook it.

We love grilling, and this recipe is so easy and flavorful that it’s become a favorite. Plus, since we learned Bill can eat butter if it’s made from raw milk, a plethora of recipes (and not just pork) await for us to try!

I found Grilled Pork Steaks with Lemon Butter at Instead of steaks, I used chops and cooked them as little as possible because our pastured pork is very lean.

For the butter sauce, you just melt the butter, add chopped garlic, and cook it until tender. Then add the lemon juice.

Since I make unsalted butter, I sprinkled salt and pepper on the chops before basting them with the sauce.

All you do is put the basted side down on a very hot grill to sear for one minute.

Then baste the other side, flip them over and sear for one minute.

Turn of the direct flame (center burner on our Weber grill) and cook each side for three minutes, basting again each time the meat is flipped. Remove from the grill and cover with foil to rest about three minutes.

We served them with a summer veggie medley: sautéed onions, carrots, and green beans fresh from the Holland Farmers Market!

Why Roast Pork When You Can Grill It?

I don’t know about where you live but in the Midwest it’s been one helluva hot summer. The last thing I want to think about is firing up the oven. But what if you have large cuts of meat in the freezer taking up the space you need for freezing this summer’s produce?

Some cuts don’t fare well cooked with dry heat, but let me tell you about the roast pork we had last night. I found this online recipe called Rubbed and Grilled Pork LoinBill and I are big fans of a rub when it comes to grilling because many barbecue sauces contain corn syrup. Besides, I think sauces are messy. We use similar rubs to the one in this recipe for our grilled pork steaks and ribeyes. What they all have in common is paprika, salt, and pepper. For pork, it’s nice to throw in some cumin, sugar, and spice, such as chili powder. But the main thing about all these recipes is that they’re easy.

Here’s our 4-pound pork loin that we got in our meat order from Lubbers Farm.

The recipe calls for a boneless roast but I couldn’t tell if there was a bone in this when I pulled it out of the freezer, so I just followed the standard rule to cook it longer with a bone in, and used my trusty digital meat thermometer to check the temperature.

The rub consists of sugar, paprika, onion salt, garlic salt, ground black pepper, chili powder, cumin, and coriander.

You just rub olive oil all over the meat, then rub in the spice mixture on all sides.

After preheating the gas grill to around 400 degrees F, we browned the meat on both sides for about 5 minutes each (shorter time than the recipe calls for since pastured pork is leaner and requires less cooking time than factory farmed meat).

Then we turned off the center burner and kept the temperature around 350F, grilling the meat for about 60 minutes.

In retrospect, I would probably lower the temperature to about 300 and cook it slightly longer so you don’t risk drying out the meat.

After taking the meat off the grill we let it rest (covered in foil) for about ten minutes.

Sticking with the easy theme, I sautéed some onions, carrots, and green beans from the Holland Farmers Market in olive oil to serve with the meat, along with what we call a “melange:” white rice cooked with chopped onion and celery.

As the meat cooked we enjoyed some wine on the patio—a fabulous way to spend a Sunday evening.

Local Fish Tacos

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is one of my favorite places in the world, and I’m lucky to live so close to it.

That’s why it’s become an annual camping destination for my friend Sandy and me. We don’t really “rough it” too much, although three days without a shower may be pushing it. Our focus is on eating–and drinking–well, which is why Day 1 of our camping excursion always includes stops at Good Harbor Vineyards, Stone House Bread, and now Good Harbor Farm.

We used to come up with a cooking theme for each camping trip but the last few years we decided to make it easy on ourselves and just focus on either bringing or procuring locally raised foods. This year, our first dinner was fish tacos with Lake Michigan whitefish from Carlson’s of Fishtown in Leland. (For our previous take on fish tacos, check out the blog post from our 2009 trip when we used shrimp.)

Although I have a one-burner camp stove, which works great for brewing coffee quickly in the morning or making popcorn at night, we generally cook our dinner over a fire.

For the tacos, we cut our one-pound-ish whitefish filet into big chunks so we could marinate them in lime juice, olive oil, onion, and cumin.

Then we sprinkled them with cayenne pepper and put them on foil on the fire grate to cook, flipping them once, for a total cook time of about ten minutes. (You know fish is done when it starts to flake.)

For the vegetables, we used chopped cabbage (which we brought with us from the Holland Farmers Market) and a garnish of fresh cilantro from my garden.

And we made a sauce from my homemade yogurt by mixing it with fresh-squeezed lime juice and a dash of cayenne.

While the fish was cooking we wrapped flour tortillas in foil to heat them on the fire. We made a simple pico de gallo garnish with tomatoes, onion, and jalapeno pepper. And we made a side of organic bok choy (from CJ Veggies at the Holland Farmers Market) steamed with olive oil, salt, and pepper in foil over the fire.

For assembly, you just pull the fish apart with a fork, place it in the middle of the warm tortilla, then top with cabbage, yogurt sauce, pico de gallo, and cilantro.

It’s a quick and easy meal for camping. And it goes great with local wine!

Eating Local Over a Fire

Last week I went camping with my friend Sandy in Northern Lower Michigan. One of our favorite things to do on these annual meccas to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is cook over a fire. And I don’t mean hot dogs. Even while camping, we aim to follow the locavore philosophy as much as possible.

Here’s an easy meal we made with vegetables in season: Grilled Steak with Chimichurri Sauce, Asparagus, Garlic Scapes and Potatoes. The produce came from our local farmers market or the garden, and the meat came from my mixed quarter of beef in the freezer. We even found the prosciutto at the Cedar City Market, known for natural foods.

Lots of people who camp know that one of the best ways to cook potatoes is to wrap them up in foil and let them roast over coals. That’s exactly what Sandy and I did. You just have to get them going first because they need at least half an hour to be tender (for 1-2-inch pieces).

Meanwhile, we made the Chimichurri sauce, which also needs to sit for about 30 minutes, and marinated the grassfed t-bone steak from Lubbers Farm in olive oil, salt and pepper. I brought fresh parsley and oregano from my garden for the Chimichurri!

Then we roasted asparagus and garlic scapes–fresh from the Holland Farmers Market–over the coals. This is easiest to do with a vegetable grate. (The National Park Service provides fire pits with standard grill grates at their campgrounds. Our tax dollars at work, and worth every penny!)

After wrapping the asparagus and garlic in prosciutto, we put it back on the grill to get crispy.

Then we grilled the steak about three minutes per side (it was only 3/4 of a pound and–yes–Sandy and I shared one steak) and let it rest a couple minutes under foil after cooking. As with other grassfed meat grilling recipes, it’s important not to overcook the meat because it is so lean.

This is how the potatoes turned out after roasting.

The whole meal from preparation to serving took about an hour. One of our favorite things to do during the process? Drink local wine. Just like at home.