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Unexpected Camping Trip, and Father's Day - Frances Bea
Unexpected Camping Trip, and Father's Day
My plan for the weekend was to shop, cook, and clean on Saturday with plenty of time for relaxation, in preparation for a father's day get-together on Sunday. I had a wonderful dish that I was planning to make for the group that I hoped would appeal to my father's family, who are not generally adventurous eaters. That plan worked for a while. Saturday morning shopping went well, including the discovery of some gorgeous organic hot house tomatoes at the farmer's market for only $2.50/pound. They were "seconds", but there wasn't much wrong with them. By early afternoon the shopping was done, groceries put away, first load of laundry in the machine, and I was beginning to think about the general organizing and cleaning which needed doing when I answered an unexpected phone call from a cousin.

Of my cousins, I see the least of these three. Sisters, one lives in California, and another in Chicago. Without warning I learned that all three are together, in New York State, staying in a rented mountain cabin two hours away, and still not able to make it to our big family gathering the next day. They suggested that I join them for the night at their camp site. It wasn't part of my plan, but it was such a rare opportunity to see them that I couldn't refuse. The eldest of the three even has an eight-month baby boy I hadn't met yet. Planning to get home in the morning in time to help with the Sunday party preparations and to make the dish I was so eager to present, I packed quickly and jumped in the car for a two hour drive to their camp site.

I met up with my cousins half way, where they had stopped for a brief visit with our grandparents, and continued with them to the camp site. The day was beautiful and the view from the camp was stunning. The group there included a lot of my cousins' family on their mother's side, my eldest cousin's husband and baby, and even her husband's friend who had travelled all the way from Chicago just for the company. They had rented a couple of nice cabins, and had set up some tents for overflow space. We had a nice meal. I didn't eat any of the ribs, but there was a lot of everything else. We went bowling (well, some of us watched bowling), and spent a lot of time in the evening enjoying the camp fires. I took lots of pictures, concentrating on baby pictures to take back and show the rest of the family on Sunday. My camera is a cheapo, but it takes good pictures in bright light, and it's digital so I can make a digital slide-show really quickly. I got a bed in one of the tents that night, got woken up by really noisy birds at five o'clock in the morning and finally gave up and crawled out of bed at six thirty. We had all gotten to bed late, so everyone was slow to rise. I had a slow morning of chatting with early risers and playing with the baby. By the time I left a little after nine thirty every one was up and making plans for the day, I had eaten two Eggo waffles, four eggs over-easy, and two slices of toast. Having had a good time and an whole lot of food, I hurried back home to get ready for the other family gathering.

I got home three and a half hours before company would be arriving. That gave me enough time to prepare a slide show of the previous day's events to show off to the group, help prepare a green salad, and make the dish I had intended to make the day before. It was a lasagna made from the cookbook "Raw Food, Real World". It's a book of recipes that are all made with raw foods. This is the only recipe I've been brave enough to try from the book, but it is good enough to justify the purchase of the book all by itself. The idea of a lasagna made without cooking is strange, but it works wonderfully and it was great to serve a room-temperature lasagna on such a hot day. I probably would have had to give up on serving it for lack of time if it had required an hour of baking. The dish doesn't use pasta, which couldn't work without cooking, but long thin zucchini slices instead. Layered with a sun-dried tomato sauce, a pistacchio-basil pesto, a pine nut "ricotta", and slabs of fresh tomato the dish is wonderful. Comments from my family ranged from "I didn't expect to like it but it was really good," to my grandfather's "it wasn't bad - I even ate the whole piece!"

The party was a success. There were ten of us including my grandparents, my parents, my two aunts on my father's side, and three of my cousins, including one rarely seen who lives in Florida. Also attending was the adorable puppy sitting on my lap in my posted picture. The puppy is still not full size, but it's been a couple of months and he is much much bigger and more energetic. He was teething. We had a chicken barbecue, a potato salad. One of my aunts brought a mango-flavored dish which was probably very good, but I didn't try it because it looked like a bowl of pale pink cool-whip. Well, I suppose I might have tried it but my plate was full and though it might have tasted really good it didn't have enough good looks or good smell for me to make room. My grandmother had made a chocolate cake with coconut frosting and brought butterscotch ice cream to go with it. The baby pictures were well received and we all had a nice time in the very hot sun. By the time the gathering had broken up I was exhausted. I was asleep Sunday night not long after 9:30.

Monday night I made a very unusual salad. The salad itself was just mixed shredded greens, primarily raw swiss chard which I shredded because I knew that heavy greens can be tough when served raw. The dressing was a new recipe called "Thai Dressing" from another raw food cookbook, "The Raw Food Gourmet". It was the strongest flavored salad dressing I've ever tasted - which worked well with the heavy dark salad. It was a blender job, into which went lemon juice, cocunut oil, tons of fresh mint sprigs from the garden, whole raw jalapeño, raisins, and a couple other things. The result was spicy, sour, sweet and minty-bright. I put a couple tablespoons on a big plate of shredded greens and loved it enough to have seconds. My father loaded his salad down with so much of the spicy dressing I was surprised he didn't need much water. My mother used only about a tablespoon mixed with her low-fat thousand island, and still found it too spicy to finish. It was the first thing I've made from this cookbook, which seems to contain much easier recipes than the book with the lasagna, "Raw Food, Real World". I think that these two books will really help me to take good advantage of the season's fresh produce.


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