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Winter Camping

by Tara

If someone were to ask me, say six months ago, if I would go camping in 20 degree weather, four days in a row, the answer would be a resounding "absolutely not." That is, though, exactly what we have been doing, and I think it was actually my idea…

Every evening we pack up a little pantry of food and spices, bundle up in many layers (well, I do… I don't like being cold, and I somehow get cold easily), bring water, our camp stove, etc, and go settle in for the evening in our outdoor abode. Our tent is all set up, our sleeping bag nicely made, and our things (somewhat) organized around the perimeter of our little home. We've got an alarm clock (before this weekend, we've had to get up early so I can get up and get ready for work—yuck), a little stack of books (I'm reading A Wrinkle In Time out loud, and we've got a Trans-Siberian Railway book to look at), and some assorted extra clothes and blankets.

We spent all day yesterday making camp stoves out of pop-cans, Heineken beer cans, etc, and ended up with one really amazing stove. Tyler will tell you more about our construction process. I can tell you, though, that this stove was wonderful to cook on. I made a Beerless-Cheese Soup with brats, and for breakfast this morning, stewed apples and oats. YUM! Last night's soup, especially, was ridiculously delicious.

Here's a quasi-recipe so you can make it yourself, if you want!

First, cut up a potato, a carrot, and half an onion into small pieces (the smaller the pieces, the faster it will cook!). Once all of the veggies are prepared, you can set them aside in a bowl and make a roux in your pan on the stove. To do that, put some butter (maybe two tablespoons?)and flour (maybe a quarter of a cup?), salt and pepper, into your pan. Mix all together and cook it. It should be thick and pasty. Add some water, and keep stirring your roux so it's not too lumpy. Add more water, a chicken bouillon cube, and whatever spices you want—some onion powder, garlic powder, actual fresh garlic, etc. would be nice. I think I added some Oregano, too. Add your vegetables, and make sure there is enough liquid to mostly cover them. I also cut one and a half brats into chunks and added them as well. Tyler cut up some garlic for me, and added that, too. Let simmer until the veggies are tender. Add maybe a half a cup of roughly cut cheddar cheese (the thinner it is, the faster it will melt). At this point, our soup was still a little watery, so I mixed up some more flour and a little soup in a separate bowl, then added it back into pot. Let simmer a little, cook the new flour-soup roux. And VOILA! Delicious, thick cheese soup. Eat with bread, if you have some. YUM!

Cheddar / Potato Soup @ °25 F

Alrighty, we'll write more later. We're off to check out knives so I can have my own, and we're going to pick up some mugs while we're at it. We made hot chocolate this morning, and mugs would have been really nice to wrap our chilly fingers around.