Sunday, July 26, 2015

How to do Glamping III Or...Making lists is fun to do.

This is my family's 3rd annual back-country glamping trip, and you get a glimpse of what it's like to go camping where there are zero modern comforts, except for what we pack in.  Now mind you, we pack in a LOT of modern comforts.  In fact, it's basically like staying in a luxury hotel...if a luxury hotel involves an OUTHOUSE, cooking for the crew over a fire, lots of mosquitoes, dirt, no shower and bees living in the outhouse along with the spiders.

how to plan a campout
Don't take this the wrong way, I love going on this adventure every year and I'd never pass on this camping trip.  It's an amazing experience for my kids and myself to pull the plug on the electronics and live and play simply.

The tricky thing is, it requires a lot of planning and prep work and if you're like many people, the very idea of trying to plan everything that goes into a large-scale camping trip is daunting, to say the least.  So I am sharing my experiences with you to help you know exactly what you need to bring....or pretty close as I'm sure you won't follow my menu plan to the T.  But it's easily customizable to your own needs.

I've written about how I meal plan for camping plus all kinds of other good stuff, as well.  This is what I do before every camp out to ensure I forget the least possible amount of things.  Forgetting happens and then you just Macgyver whatever you forgot.

Step 1:  Figure out what you want to eat every day for every meal.  I normally start with dinner as it usually involves the most work, and then I figure out breakfast because we have a nice breakfast every morning.  Lunch is always easy so it's a no-brainer, peanut butter, every lunch, every day.  If you are going camping with another family, decide if you are going to meal-share.  This year we decided to be in charge of all our own meals except for one.  Dutch oven potatoes (which my buddy made) to be served with campfire cheese sandwiches and dutch oven dessert (which I was in charge of).  You may want to meal share more meals than we did, but it makes things slightly more complicated. 

Decide what snacks and treats you want to bring.  It's amazing how much food you need to pack in when camping, but it's because there's usually not a store nearby to run to if you forget something or don't buy enough.   So, consider a few snacks a day for every member of your family.  Pre-packaged cheese, yogurt tubes, cookies, fruit and trail mix are all good options for snacks.

Step 2:  Make a list of what you need to buy at the grocery store and what you have already in your pantry.  If you don't need to buy it, don't.   Camping costs a startling amount of money.

camping list
My food list list.  I have everything separated into categories: What I need to buy at the grocery store, What I need to get from my pantry and My menu: every meal for every day.

Wednesday: Hot dogs roasted over the fire, veggies and dip and S'mores.
Thursday: Breakfast burritos.    Peanut butter and honey sandwiches.   Campfire cheese sandwiches and dutch oven bread pudding to go with my buddy's dutch oven potatoes....and S'mores in case bread pudding is a complete flop (it's always good to have a contingency plan).
Friday: Ham steak, biscuits and eggs.  Peanut butter and honey sandwiches.  Tin Foil dinners with diced melon and s'mores for dessert.
Saturday: Pancakes, sausage and eggs.   Peanut butter and honey sandwiches.

Step 3: Figure out what you can pre-make/assemble/freeze at home.  I freeze everything I can.  Remember, all we have are ice chests and food safety is a huge part of camping.  Nobody wants to eat something that's inadvertently spoiled, so the more items you have frozen, the better chance you have of keeping your food safe.

Step 4:  Start prepping, cooking, freezing and packaging and packing everything you can days in advance.  I have three storage boxes that are dedicated for my camping gear.  One for dishes and cookware (which are also exclusively for camping, thanks IKEA), one for food and pantry items that don't require to be kept cold and one for all the miscelaneous camping gear: matches, bug spray, newspaper, lanterns, flashlights, sunscreen, roasting sticks...   I also have two ice chests, one strictly for beverages and the other for the food.  This is because the beverage chest gets opened a lot and I don't want the food chest to be opened except when necessary to preserve coldness.
     * Put in the freezer your yogurt tubes and all candy, especially chocolate.

      * Make the filling for the breakfast burritoes: sausage, eggs and cheese (or whatever your family likes) and wrap them up in tortillas that are buttered to keep from getting soggy from the moisture in the filling and then wrap in two layers of heavy-duty foil.   Freeze.

     * Make your tinfoil dinners.  Cook your protein, par-boil your vegetables, season appropriately.  Wrap in heavy-duty tin foil, twice.    Freeze.

     * Make your own version of GORP:  Good Old Raisins & Peanuts.  My version involves: almonds, roasted peanuts, whatever pistachios I could find in the pantry, Reece's Pieces and raisins.
     * If you are going to make anything from scratch, assemble the dry goods in labeled zipper bags.  I made biscuits and bread pudding this trip from scratch so in one zipper bag I assembled the ingredients for the biscuits: flour, baking soda and powder, sugar and salt and then on the outside of the bag noted what else goes in, ie:  1/2 C melted butter and 1 C buttermilk.  For the bread pudding I assembled the sugar and spices that were required and marked it as bread pudding so it wouldn't get used for anything else.
     * I cut the carrots and celery for our veggies and dip.   I chose NOT to cut my melon as I felt that they could get squished.
     * Start packing all your non-perishable items.  Plates, cups, silverware, bug spray (lots of bug spray), sunscreen, flashlights, pots and pans, paper towels, toilet paper, lanterns, extra dry goods like flour and sugar, creamer and sugar for coffee, instant coffee packets, salt and pepper, vegetable oil, shortening, flour and lemon pepper (as there's a good chance I'll be frying up a batch of fresh-caught lake trout), hot chocolate mix, tea pot for making hot water for cleaning and warm beverages, matches, first aid kit, garbage bags, newspaper for starting fires, dish soap and hand washing soap.

     * Start packing fun things for the family: card games, bow and arrows, bb gun, frisbees, balls, nets to catch tadpoles and fishing gear (haha just kidding, that's the husband's job).

     * Gather up fun things for you: books, magazines and crafty stuff.

This isn't a complete list, you've got to remember your sleeping bags, pillows, blankets, tents, clothes (Make sure to pack appropriate clothes for where you are going.  We are way in the back country at about 10,000 feet above sea level, trust me, it was cold at times.  We brought lots of pants and jackets and even winter coats), tables, dutch ovens, canopies, air mattresses....or bunk bed cots if you've got 'em (best camping purchase EVER!).

Stay tuned, recipes will be coming up in future posts.  Lots of good stuff this camp out, and maybe a happens.

Hope you enjoy my pre-camping process.

Thanks for reading!


Please take a look at my previous posts on glamping:

How to do glamping

How to do glamping II

Image result for pinterest image

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Easy Berry Cream Cheese Danishes

I'm sorry to have to do this to you, but it must be done.   This easier than pie recipe has to be in your life for the bounty that is summer.  I will be making this with all manner of berries as they come into season, then the peaches and plums and after that, well, who knows.

This recipe is so quick and easy and basically no fail.  Sorry finicky pie crust, puff pastry is my new best friend.  If you happen to love cheese cake, this is your easy fix for that, as well.  It is basically the perfect dessert.  Serve it warm from the oven or let it cool, either way it's just right.

Cream Cheese Filling
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 C. Granulated sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
1 egg yolk
Lemon zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Berry Topping
1 TBL. cornstarch
1/4 C Sugar
12 oz. combination of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries

1 Sheet, thawed frozen puff pastry
1 Egg, whisked

Preheat 375 F

In mixer, combine all ingredients for cream cheese filling, mix until blended and smooth.  Scrape sides as necessary.

Combine cornstarch, 1/4 C Sugar in medium mixing bowl and 1 tsp water.  Add berries and gently stir until the cornstarch and sugar have dissolved.   Set aside.

Combine whole egg, whisked and 2 tsp water in small bowl.  Set aside.

Roll puff pastry dough into a 12 inch square (or as close as you get it) on lightly floured counter top.   Cut into 9 even squares, approximately 4" x 4", each and place these onto cookie sheet lined with parchment.

Evenly spoon the cream cheese mixtures diagonally across each puff pastry square, starting and stopping about 1/2" from corner.  There will be a bit of filling left in the bowl.  Spoon berry mixture evenly over cheese.

Pull one corner of each danish into the middle, brush with egg wash and then fold opposite corner over it, sealing by pressing gently in the middle.  Brush remaining egg wash all over dough with pastry brush.

Bake until nicely golden brown and crisp for approximately 30 minutes.  Transfer immediately to cooling racks to avoid danishes sticking to cookie sheet.

Serve a la mode with some Praline's and Cream ice cream and enjoy a sweet taste of summer.

If this happens, don't worry, it'll still taste just as good as the others....just won't be as pretty.

Happy Summer!


Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Beating Hearth is going into business...the Custom Quilt business

I've been thinking about starting a little business.  A collaborative business where I co-design quilts with my customers.  The customer gets all the fun of choosing the fabric (with a little input from myself) and the quilt design.  This is for people who love quilts, but don't have the time or desire to actually make a quilt, make a quilt.

Here's an examples of some quilts that I've been commissioned to make.

Let me know what you think of this idea.

This is a baby quilt for little Echo using the cutest Dr. Seuss fabric.  As soon as my customer and I saw it, we had a fit over how adorable it is and knew it was the fabric for us: the bright blues and reds together, contrasted with the white and black, too much fun for a baby boy.

 I particularly like how we used the striped fabric for the name and the binding, and the giant half square triangles have a big visual impact.

The backing!

Baby quilts are approximately 36" by 36".  The perfect size for a new baby.  The best thing about a quilt this size is once the baby is done using it as a quilt, you can hang it on the wall and use it as a wall hanging.  The quilt that keeps giving.  This particular quilt cost $140.  Prices vary depending on fabric and design and I know it can seem steep, especially when you can buy a quilt at a store for significantly less than this.  The thing to remember is, this isn't just a quilt, it's a quilt that you helped design, hand picked the fabric and collaborated on the design, which was then hand-made with love just for your special somebody.   It's not just a quilt you're paying for, it's the whole experience and joy you receive for giving a loved one something truly unique that you had a hand in designing.

The raw materials, fabric, batting, thread, and fusible web for this particular blanket cost just shy of $70.   I will be completely upfront about fabric costs.  You can choose to buy your own fabric at a quilt shop and ship it to me, in which case I will only charge you for labor and misc. supplies, like thread and fusible web and not fabric, or together we can shop the many amazing online fabric stores out there and you can buy the fabric and have it shipped to me, or I can buy the fabric and have you pay me via PayPal.  Lots of options.

Quilt sizes are customizable.

Here's a few more examples of my work.

Tell me what you think and drop me a line if you're interested in getting started! It takes about 3 weeks for me to complete a quilt, depending of course on what we're doing.

Some of my images are pre-iron.  I am sure once this business really gets started I'll take MUCH more professional photos...ha!  Doubt it.  I get too excited once my creations are done that I don't have time to wait for such trivial things as ironing, I just want to show them off!

Aren't the hearts fun?  And I love the rainbow letters.

This one for little Sadie Lyn is so soft and girly.  It makes me want my sister to make me one more baby niece to love.

One of the things I do to keep you in the loop, is send picture updates via text or Email so you really get a sense of what I'm doing.

Again, don't look at the wrinkles.  This is the quilt I am currently working on, it's a twin and I just LOVE the fabrics.  So perfect for a little girl.

I also make custom throw pillows, pillow cases and wall hangings!

I am still working on a web page for Beating Hearth Custom Quilts, but if you are interested before things really get going, leave a comment here and I'll get with you right away.

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, April 9, 2015

De-Mystifying the Rachael/Reuben Pannini Family Supper

You can make a reuben using this technique; if you enjoy corned beef, that is.  I personally prefer the rachael which is made using roast turkey.  A more satisfying and delicious sandwich, you won't find.   This isn't so much a recipe post as it's a how-to post.
step by step rachael sandwich
Here's the problem with making your family a batch of rachaels for supper, you've got to be really ready to move.  There's no time for day-dreaming here.  Remember your 7 P's and you will be fine.

Before you do anything, get your ingredients out and do any prep work you can before you need it.  Drain your kraut, butter one side of all the rye bread you will be using (I like Russian rye), two slices per sandwich (that may be obvious), lay out your turkey in neat piles on a plate, however many slices you want per sandwich, I find that 3/4 pound of turkey makes four nice sandwiches for two parents and two littles.   Have your Swiss cheese sliced and ready.  Open up your Thousand Island dressing, have a knife handy for slathering your sandwiches.

Okay, prep work complete, let's get to it.  While you are cooking, make sure you have any side dishes ready to go and that your kids are setting the table and have your plates out so you can toss a toasty, warm panini down for immediately consumption.

Preheat a frying pan over medium, medium-low until nice and warm.  Have a smaller, heavy frying pan ready to do some sandwich smashing.

Now, go!

Place one slice of buttered bread in hot pan, buttered-side down.  Quickly smear Thousand Island dressing on.

Place on your neatly portioned turkey.

Smother or lightly top the turkey with kraut.  I prefer to smother, my kids prefer not to know kraut is on their sandwiches, but I still put on a light smattering of the pungent stuff for them.

Next comes a slice of Swiss cheese.  Which you will then top with another slice of bread, buttered side up.

Smash the heck out of the sandwich with a heavy frying pan.  You want to toast the sandwich and melt the cheese and make everything warm and gooey. 

Don't burn your sandwiches!!!  You will probably need to turn your burner down the more sandwiches you make.  As soon as one sandwich is toasted on both sides and lovely and golden and melty, don't just stuff your face, give it to a family member and quickly repeat the process until everyone in your family is noshing gleefully.  These cook up so quickly you won't need to wait too long before enjoying one yourself.

Rachael Sandwich how-to
Yum, yum, yum!!!  You might wonder if I want some sandwich with my kraut.  Maybe.

Thanks for reading!


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