Tag Archives: camping

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.

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.

Frittata Over a Fire

Last winter I posted a frittata recipe as a suggestion for a quick, vegetarian meal–either breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Ever since, Bill and I have been making them at least every couple of weeks for dinner. They’re easy, nutritious, and yummy!

But my frittata fetish really began a long time ago during camping vacations because it’s an easy meal to make over a campfire.

If you have veggies to use up after a couple days of camping, just saute them with olive oil and salt in an iron skillet on the fire grate. My friend Sandy and I made this frittata a few weeks ago while camping in Northern Lower Michigan. We started with chopped zucchini and onion.

Mix up some happy eggs, such as the ones we got from Grassfields.

Pour the egg mixture right on top of the vegetables and add some grated parmesan cheese. Then cover with foil.

The frittata is ready to eat when the egg is set. To keep it from burning, remove the skillet from the fire and leave the foil on. The hot iron pan will continue to cook the egg.

Cut into serving pieces.

Enjoy with toast, plus potatoes cooked over the fire the night before. And don’t forget a little Sunset Peach cider from Good Neighbor Organic Vineyard & Winery, or try a Bellini like Bill and I enjoy with our oat cakes!

Not Your Brother’s Campfire Food

I’ve already opined how much I dislike hot dogs, so why would I bring them on a camping trip?

Thankfully, my friend Sandy feels the same way. That’s why–whenever we camp in Northern Lower Michigan–we cook over a fire for most of our meals.

On a recent trip to D.H. Day Campground in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, we brought along a pork steak from Creswick Farms and grilled it similarly to the recipe I make at home. The only difference is we partially cover the meat with foil on a campfire grate because there’s no lid to cover it like on a gas grill. And, because heat control is trickier with coals, it becomes an exercise in trial-and-error. So I’d recommend cutting into the meat to check for doneness before serving, which you might already do with a gas grill anyway.

Along with our pork, we roasted some red-skinned potatoes in a skillet with a little water, olive oil, and salt (covered in foil until tender).

The key with camping is to mix and match your recipes so that you can use several ingredients for other meals. For example, with the potatoes, we cooked more than what we needed for dinner and saved the rest to have for breakfast with a frittata.

We also brought along the last of the local fresh asparagus and cooked it in foil with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, then drizzled it with fresh-squeezed lemon juice before serving. (These latter ingredients are key staples for camping!)

And the bread? It’s baguette from Stone House Bread in Leland, Michigan. We brushed it with some olive oil and grilled that over the fire, too.

We also had a fresh salad to use up some of the vegetables leftover from our Roadtrip Tortas.

With a bottle of Harbor Red wine from Good Harbor Vineyards–one of our favorites in the Leelanau Peninsula–we had a delicious meal that didn’t take much more time than it would at home. And if you use a charcoal grill, it’s probably about the same amount of time: The key to cooking over a fire is to build a good fire and use hot coals.

It just takes a little planning and time. What do you do while you wait for the fire to turn into coals? Open a bottle of wine!