Real Food Camping: Hobo Packs

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Camping is THE BEST summer activity.

There is nothing like getting outdoors, away from electronics, out exploring the world around you. Whether you tent camp, car camp, or stay in an RV or rustic cabin, camping is just plain fun!

One aspect makes camping fantastic is the food. Planning your camping menu is exciting and challenging at the same time. The excitement comes from the variety of foods and change in cooking method while camping. It needs to be portable, easy to cook, and nourishing (hiking can take a lot out of you!).

The challenge can be in avoiding processed filler foods and sticking to real foods that will keep your energy up. It would be easy to throw in a bag of chips for a snack, but how will that help you succeed on your epic hike? Cut up those carrot sticks and pack the hummus!

Our favorite camping dinner is what we call a Hobo Pack. It’s very easy to prep ahead of time and could be frozen if needed to last a couple days in a cooler. There is a lot of flexibility in the recipe. Be creative!

Before we head out, I chop up a variety of vegetables (onions, carrots, potatoes) and mix it together with some raw ground beef in a foil pack. Add some spices and butter and close up the packs. (I usually put the packs in a plastic bag as well just in case they leak.)

When you are out at the campsite get your fire going before dinner and let it die down just a little bit. Place your Hobo Packs on the coals and let it cook! You’ll want to rotate the packs around every five minutes or so for it to cook through. Your cook time will vary depending on how much food you have in your packs. I’d say 15-20 minutes and check that the beef has no more pink.

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Hobo Packs

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 small onion
  • 4-5 carrots
  • 2-3 small potatoes
  • (other veggies as desired)
  • 2-3 Tbsp butter per pack
  • salt and pepper
  • favorite spices

Instructions

  1. Divide meat evenly onto 2 sheets of foil.
  2. Chop vegetables and distribute on top of the ground beef.
  3. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and desired spices. (I like Thyme or Savory. But any single spice or combination will work!)
  4. Add butter.
  5. Fold up foil to enclose the food. Add an extra sheet of foil around the outside if necessary.
  6. Place packs in a plastic bag for transportation or until ready to cook.
  7. When cooking over an open fire, you can use a grate if one is available or you can let the fire die down a little and place the packs on the coals.
  8. Turn the packs every five minutes until the meat is no longer pink and the veggies are at desired doneness.
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Super simple! You can eat straight out of the packs or divide up onto plates for the kiddos. Remember the foil is HOT so bring tongs and a hot mitt or towel to handle the packs.

Eating real food while camping CAN be done. It takes a little bit of planning and usually a little prep ahead of time. But it is well worth it. If you usually eat real food at home, you don’t want to switch it up just for convenience when camping. Everyone wants to have fun while camping so feed your body well!

What is your favorite camping food?

 

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Chicken Update

Chickens!

Our First Egg!
Our First Egg!

We are finally getting eggs! It seems like forever since we set up our coop and got our chickens. They are now a full six months old and are laying consistently! We get three to four eggs a day. Plenty to keep us fed for breakfast, make mayo, for all sorts of egg-cellent dishes. (Sorry, I had to!)

The ladies are still very skittish. They don’t really like when we walk around the coop or run. I suppose that’s where the phrase “You’re Chicken!” comes from. Hmm. I hope they will get a little more used to us as time goes on. I’m not really wanting to pick them up and carry them around, but I wouldn’t mind if they would stay in one place so I can take pictures of them.

We’ve been letting them free-range around the yard when we are home on the weekends. They really love going out in the woods and finding bugs and grass and things to eat. I love sitting on the porch and watching them wander around the yard, scratching and finding food. Bella got out one time while they were free-ranging and tried to catch them. I looked up and there was a chicken flying across the yard! I did not know they could fly! I finally got Bella back in the house and all but one of the chickens returned to the coop. I was about to leave the house for a while when this happened and thought we had lost a chicken. Fortunately when I got back she had returned to the coop. They were all resting from their scare earlier.

All during the day we also hear our rooster crowing! It’s not just an early morning thing. He makes a lot of noise all during the day and sometimes at night. We don’t mind too much. I think there is still some novelty to it, since we are first time backyard chicken farmers. And we can’t hear him from our bedroom when we are trying to sleep. That might be a problem if we could!

Originally we thought we had six hens. Then one grew tail feathers and a large crown and beard and we had one rooster and five hens. Surprise, surprise another one grew tail feathers, crown, and beard! Two roosters and four hens. Not the best situation. The roosters started fighting. With such a small flock, there is no need to have two roosters. One is almost overkill unless we want to raise chicks. So what kind of solution did we choose?

Chicken for dinner!

Our first chicken slaughter was easier and harder than we anticipated. For one there really isn’t all that much to it. I won’t go into details (and I did NOT take any pictures!), but I will say that youtube was a great help. You can learn all kind of how-tos on there. So we had the knowledge of what to do when we started. The hardest part was of course that we had to kill an animal. I’m all about eating meat and I believe that there is nothing wrong with it when you can take care of your animals and then slaughter them humanely. Once the deed was done, we had to de-feather it, weird feeling wet feathers on your hands. Then, it was a little tricky getting the insides out. There were lots of slimy tubes everywhere, and since it was a small bird I had to do the reaching because Hubby’s hands were too big. Ick!

It seems to be a success! The chicken is soaking in brine in the fridge and will be cooked this week. I don’t know how it will turn out. This chicken is a little older than the recommended age for this breed of chicken, since it is not a meat chicken. And it’s a rooster which doesn’t appear to have as much meat as a hen. We survived our first attempt and I think it could be done again if we decide to raise meat chickens. I like the idea of knowing where my food comes from and working directly to get it on the table.

To sum up, we have one rooster and four hens and chicken for dinner tomorrow.

My Real Food Journey

I’m going to talk about food and health a lot. I may as well introduce that to you now. It is a very important part of my life. Plainly speaking, I like to eat. My husband likes to eat. Eating is a social thing. People love to eat. We also love to eat things that taste good. This seems to be an innate part of us that started from the beginning. And as it is such a big part of my life I feel like sharing it with you.

I eat real food. That statement could be confusing and misunderstood if left without explanation. For me real food is food that is from this earth and processed very little, if at all. Currently my diet consists mostly of veggies, quality meats (such as grass-fed beef, free range chickens), some fruits and good fats. At this point I am not eating grains, legumes and dairy. I also avoid added sugars and excessive alcohol. When I eat this way I feel my best, my head is clear and my mood is positive. Generally speaking I follow the Paleo guidelines that make up the Whole30 created by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. You can find them here. Now to be honest, I don’t strictly follow those guidelines every single day of the year. Every now and then I will go through a strict Whole30 or Whole14 or something short to give my body a reset. Especially after Christmas, when I enjoy holiday treats. And therein lies the key. I keep treats as treats. This helps me with the emotional attachment to food that previously had me on a path to poor health.

The long story short is that after a wake up call about my health, I decided to get back to my roots and refocus on health. The best way I knew to get my health back was to eat real food. Greek physician Hippocrates, the father of natural medicine once said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” To me that makes total sense. The things that I put into my body, must effect how it functions and how I feel. This hasn’t been hard for me to grasp, since I was taught by my mother’s example how to eat good foods. Growing up we were always on the alternative side of things when it comes to health and food. Mom made our bread and cooked most everything from scratch. We were the kids that didn’t drink soda or have normal birthday cakes. (I will never forget about that carrot cake that nearly ruined my princess birthday party.) And although there may have been some horrific incidents times of feeling left out, I think I am better off for it. (Thanks Mom!)

So, now as an adult that has complete control over what I eat, I now have to decide what that is going to be. I journeyed into the Paleo lifestyle sometime last year and am very happy with it. I am preparing to try some “experiments” on myself to see how I react to certain foods like rice or beans. I already know that wheat isn’t the best for me which is no fun because I love pizza. And I’m sure I will be sharing the results with you. (prepare yourselves!) I have learned in the past year to remove myself from the emotional attachment to food that can cause all kinds of problems and I feel so free to eat the foods I love and guiltless when I eat a treat on a special occasion.

My food journey has also been attached to some spiritual growth. Discovering real food as a means to better health is hand-in-hand with my belief that God has a plan for me. He wants me to live a life that glorifies Him and shows others His good name. If I can function at my best when I eat good food, then I can serve God to a greater capacity. In some ways eating real food is an act of worship for me. God gave that food to me and I can honor him by enjoying it and utilize what He has given me to make me healthier. There is also spiritual freedom when food no longer controls my moods. My mind is not focused on the guilt attached to eating  a cookie on a Thursday afternoon and is now free to take the focus off myself. I don’t know if this is how it works for everyone, but there was a stronghold in my life concerning food. Now that I am free from it, and feeling wonderful, I am even more amazed at the path that God has taken me. I never realized before that there could be a connection and now that there is, I am very excited to explore it. I hope to continue to glorify Him through this good food that He has provided and to keep my focus on Him.

Now that you know a little bit more about why I eat what I do, I invite you to share in my adventures, even if it is only reading about them.