Four years ago, my hubby and I began a farm. We both always knew at our core that normal life just didn’t quite hold enough mystique for us. Adventure, independence, ingenuity and togetherness called our names. We needed something different, a path less taken.
But I’ve learned recently that even the greatest adventure can quickly turn to routine. Crop rotations, soil fertility, marketing, bookkeeping: all together a beautiful, joyful life for one young married couple. Certainly still an adventurous life, but routine nevertheless. The mystique of our farming adventure has given way to procedures and methods, strategies and business growth.
Now routine is not bad. Stability and predictability have their merits, but routine has never stimulated me. Change is my path forward. New, different, challenging, foreign, even unnerving: this is where my soul feels the most joy. I need to break out of the ordinary to be truly satiated.
This break away from the ordinary doesn’t need to be dramatic. A leisurely drive on roads less traveled. Stories that take me out of my world and submerse me in another (Americanah and The Mexcal Makers of Oaxaca are currently doing the trick). A dramatic storm that forces me and my hubby close together as we McGiver a stable, dry campground. Learning to cook campfire style in a new Dutch oven. A chance to see the beauty of somewhere different.
The past couple days have been just that break from the ordinary, just that adventure my soul has been craving. We planned a two day escape from the farm for my Carrot’s birthday (to the same lovely spot as last year) and leading up to the day, I thought this mini vacation was for him. Only when I locked my iPhone away to lose its charge and pulled out a new book,did I realize this trip was just as much for me. It was exactly what I needed. New, different, challenging, foreign, and a storm that was utterly unnerving.
A severe thunderstorm tore through our campsite for three long hours in the middle of the night. Lightning flashed all around, brighter than I’d ever seen. Thunder shook everything: the tent, the lake, the trees, the Earth. The wind pulled stakes loose from the ground. The rain poured in. We strung up rain coats from the ceiling of our tent and a tarp from some nearby trees. I held my man tight. It was unsettling, even scary, but to feel the full force and power of this Earth beating down all around you, that is something I haven’t experienced in far too long. It is powerful and humbling all at the same time.
On this mini vacation, we also experienced food in a new way. We stepped out of our predictable docket of easy, convenient camp food (sausage, foil packets, instant–Organic of course–mac & cheese) and tackled the Dutch oven I’d received for Christmas, cooking dinner with nothing more than coals from the fire. These simple Campfire Enchiladas are easily prepped at home making for a quick campfire dinner that leaves plenty of time for reading, cribbage and beer drinking. If you can find time to freeze the filling the day before leaving, even better! My aunt swears by Dutch oven campfire cooking and freezes everything she can beforehand. It will help your cooler stay cold and ensure safe cold storage of any meats you may choose to use.
I filled my enchiladas with pretty much every vegetable I could find because it’s August and vegetable overload is in full force on the farm, but you could fill yours with whatever you have on hand. I think diced eggplant, potatoes or rice would all be tasty. Ground beef, diced chicken breast, or eggs could all make a great protein addition. The corn and the black beans are essentials in my opinion as is the red enchilada sauce and spicy cheese. I (of course) considered making my own red enchilada sauce but time was limited. If any of you have a good recipe for that, please share!
The One-Skillet Camp Breakfast isn’t really anything new to us, but was far too tasty not to share. Again, we used a bunch of veggies from the field that would have otherwise gone to waste, but feel free to be creative and substitute things you have on hand. Pancakes were a happy accidental addition to our usual one-skillet breakfast of eggs and toast after making too many for my Carrot’s birthday. If you have the time and energy, make some pancakes ahead of time and bring them along! Pre-made goodies are your best friend while camping. Less mess, less clean up, more time for adventure!
Now get outside!
If planning to prepare this meal over a campfire, make sure you have a towel or hot pad for lifting out of the fire as well as some sort of tongs for moving coals around. Aluminum foil is also handy. We always line our Dutch oven with aluminum foil for easy camp clean up.
Takes 25 minutes of prep at home, 10 minutes of prep at campsite + 30 minutes of cooking
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 medium zucchini, diced
2 cups corn, cut off the cob
1 (15 ounce) can black beans
7 large flour tortillas
1 (10 ounce) can mild red enchilada sauce
1 cup shredded cheese of your choosing (we went with Habenero Jack)
Optional toppings: diced tomato, shredded lettuce, sour cream, salsa, avocado, hot sauce (I tend to bring whatever toppings will be multipurpose to save on packing space)
- In a large saute pan, combine onion, peppers, salt and pepper. Saute for 10 minutes over medium heat until onions are translucent and peppers are soft. Add spices and zucchini. Saute 5 minutes longer. Add corn and black beans and stir to combine. Continue cooking for a couple minutes just to bring filling together. Let filling cool and then place in a tupperware or ziplock bag. Freeze until ready to leave for camping and then pack in your cooler so it can thaw during the day. If leaving at night and cooking this meal for dinner, then don’t bother freezing.
- Start your campfire about 90 minutes before you want to eat dinner. You will need a good bed of coals.
- Line your Dutch oven with aluminum foil using two pieces so that the entire interior surface is covered.Lay down one tortilla to cover the bottom. (Even with a ton of sauce, we had a problem with our tortillas sticking to the bottom; this base tortilla is essentially a throw away. It will stick to the aluminum foil so that the enchiladas will easily come lose). Pour half of the enchilada sauce over the base tortilla.
- Pour about a half cup of filling into each tortilla and roll up carefully. Place filled tortillas seamside down in the Dutch oven. Add remaining enchilada sauce over the top followed by cheese. Cover Dutch oven and place on grill grate over direct heat. Using tongs (or two sticks), carefully place 6-8 small coals on top of the Dutch oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Remove coals and put back in fire.
- Carefully life Dutch oven off fire using hot pads or towel. Lid and handle will be very hot! Let cool for 10 minutes and then serve with desired toppings!
Takes 20 minutes
3 pieces bacon, cut into bite-size pieces
1 colored bell pepper, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 pieces whole wheat bread (or camp bread of your choosing)
1/2 cup diced tomatoes
1/4 cup whole milk
- Place a large skillet on a 1-burner propane stove. Add peppers, onion, bacon and spices to skillet. Cook over medium low heat (medium-low heat on our propane burner is closer to what medium-high heat would be on a regular stove-top burner) for 5 minutes until veggies begin to soften.
- Push veggies and bacon to one side of the pan so you have enough room on the other side of the pan for a slice of bread.
- Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter as best you can on empty side of pan. Some butter will inevitably get into the onion, pepper, bacon mixture. Don’t stress about it. Place first piece of bread on melted butter and press down slightly. Toast for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Lift toast, melt another 1/2 tablespoon of butter in its place and flip bread so second side can toast. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove toasted bread to foil and cover with a second piece of foil.
- Continue butter and toasting with second piece of bread. Continue to stir peppers, onions and bacon every couple of minutes. They will likely be getting a bit browned and charred in spots but should not burn. Lift skillet off burner if things are getting too hot. Remove toast to foil packet and seal as best you can to keep warm.
- If you happen to follow my tip and have some pre-made pancakes on hand, continue buttering pan and warming pancakes on empty side of skillet. Remove to secondary foil packet to keep warm.
- Once finished toasting bread and warming pancakes, add tomatoes, eggs and milk to skillet. Stir well to combine. Scramble until cooked through. Serve with toast, jam and/or pancakes.