Tag Archives: Camping

Super Simple Campfire Cuisine

Memorial Day and the unofficial kickoff to summer is nearly here.  Many of us will be headed to our favorite state park for a weekend of camping fun or a relaxing afternoon picnic.

If you are looking for some easy recipe ideas for your trip, may we suggest…

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MaryAnn’s breakfast sandwich, photo by van-Amos Public Domain

Maryann’s Easy Skillet Breakfast Sandwiches

Ingredients

Bagel or English muffin, 1 per person Bacon, 2 slices per person
Eggs, 1 per person American cheese, 1 slice per person

Equipment

Cast iron skillet Fork
Spatula

Directions

  1. Cook the bacon in the skillet and remove
  2. Remove some of the bacon fat and grill the bagel or muffin
  3. Remove the bagel or muffin and add the eggs
  4. Cook easy over eggs adding cheese went egg is flipped.
  5. Place the egg/cheese on one half bagel or muffin, place two slices of bacon, and top with the other bagel or muffin half.
  6. Season to taste with salt, pepper, hot sauce or other seasoning.
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Jackson’s pita pizza, photo by Jeffrey, accessed from Wikicommons

Pita Pizza, one of Jackson’s favorites:

 

Ingredients

Pitas Tomato sauce (stored in a sealable plastic jar, plastic bags are a no-go)
Shredded cheese Other toppings optional

Equipment

Spoon for spreading sauce Tinfoil is optional but does make a more evenly cooked pizza
Cooking grate optional – you can also use a Y-shaped stick

Directions

  1. Gather all ingredients: pitas, pizza sauce, pizza meat, and toppings and assemble your pizza
  2. Get your campfire hot with low flames
  3. Assemble the pita pizzas and lay them on the grill or Y-shaped stick over the campfire (your Y-shaped stick will not catch on fire as long as it is thick and you are cooking over coals and low flames- do not let the flames touch the stick or pita too much)
  4. Cover the pizzas by tenting some tinfoil
  5. Remove from the fire when the cheese is melted
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Stefanie’s skillet nachos, photo by twopeasandtheirpod

Skillet Nachos are one of Stefanie’s favorites:

Ingredients

1 bag corn tortilla chips 1/4 cup onion ; diced
1/4 cup black olives; sliced 1/2 cup pepperoni; chopped
1 cup cheddar cheese; shredded 1/4 cup tomatoes; diced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup salsa

Equipment

10” cast iron skillet

Directions

Heat oil in a cast iron skillet. Spread evenly in layers the chips, onions, olives, pepperoni, tomatoes then the cheese. Cover and heat until the cheese melts.

Serve in the skillet with sour cream and salsa.

Recipe from BigOven.com

MacCheeseFoodista
MaryAnn’s Mac & Cheese, photo by Foodista

If you have a hankering for macaroni and cheese, Maryann suggests:

Skillet Mac N Cheese

For camping, measure out the ingredients before the trip and pack in smaller containers or Ziploc bags to save time and space.

Ingredients

2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (about 8 ounces) 1-1/2 cups half-and-half cream
2 tablespoons butter 3/4 pound cheese (cheddar and smoked cheddar), shredded
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour Optional toppings: cherry tomatoes

Equipment

10” cast iron skillet Wooden spoon
1-1/2 qt. pot with lid

Directions

  1. Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth; gradually whisk in cream. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat; stir in cheese until melted.
  3. Add macaroni; cook and stir until heated through. Top as desired.
Camping_food_outdoor. PXHERE
Ro’s one-pot stew, photo by PXHERE

Ro recommends this one pot meal:

Campfire Stew

Serves 12 people

Ingredients

3 lbs. 90% ground beef 3 10 oz. cans of concentrated alphabet vegetable soup
1 large onion, peeled and diced Salt and pepper

Equipment

2-qt. pot with lid Knife
Cutting board Wooden spoon

Directions

  1. Brown ground beef
  2. Add onions and fry until soft
  3. Add vegetable soup and just enough water to keep from sticking.
  4. Cover and heat until hot.

Who can forget dessert?

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Sarah’s peach cobbler, photo by Okie Boys, accessed from Flicker

Lazy Peach Cobbler from Sarah:

Ingredients

2 (30 ounce) cans sliced peaches, in syrup ½ stick (1/4 cup) butter
1 package white or yellow cake mix 1 can whipped cream, optional
Ground cinnamon to taste

Equipment

12” camp Dutch oven (the ones with feet and a flat top)

Directions

  1. Place a 12-inch camp Dutch oven over 15 hot charcoal briquettes.
  2. Pour contents of peach cans into oven. Spread dry cake mix evenly over peaches. Sprinkle cinnamon over all to taste. Cut butter into equal slices and arrange on top.
  3. Put lid on top of oven and place 10 hot charcoal briquettes in a checkerboard pattern on top. Bake for about 45 minutes or until done.
  4. Spoon into bowls and add cream, ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.

Recipe from Lodgesmfg.com.

Mock Angel Food Cake from Ro:

Serves 12 people

Ingredients

Loaf of white bread 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk (pull top)
3 cups shredded or flaked coconut

Equipment

Cutting board Knife
Three small bowls 3’ long straight sticks or pie irons

Directions

  1. Open the milk pour in one bowl
  2. Open coconut and pour about half into one bowl
  3. Trim off crusts off the bread
  4. Cut into 1 in long strips place in one bowl
  5. Dip the bread into the milk and then roll in coconut
  6. Toast on a stick over embers, or cook in a pie iron or a reflector oven.

From Cooking Out of Door compiled by Alice Sanderson Rivoire published by Girl Scout of USA, 1960

Allison’s helpful hint for making refrigerated items last: fill 1-gallon jugs or large yogurt containers with water and freezing them to put in your cooler. They will last longer than a bag of ice and your food won’t be swimming in water as the ice melts.

Need more ideas? Check out these books and websites.

Books

Bell, Annie, The Camping Cookbook, Kyle Books, 2010.

Hansel, Marie, The Campout Cookbook: Inspired Recipes for Cooking Around the Fire and Under the Stars, Workman Publishing, 2018

Time Books, The Outdoor Adventure Cookbook: The Official Cookbook From The Ultimate Camping Authority, Oxmoor House, 2017

White, Linda, Cooking on a Stick: Campfire Recipes for Kids, Gibbs Smith, 1996

Websites

Reserve America’s Camping Recipes

Dessert Recipes from Utah State Parks

Campfire recipes from Huron County Parks

Camping Recipes from South Carolina State Parks

KOA’s Camping Recipes

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Enjoy your cooking

Camping Chenango Valley State Park

If I were to ask you to name the best state parks in New York just off the top of your head, parks like Letchworth or Watkins Glen are probably what leap to mind. However, there are an abundance of parks that have a lot to offer but never make the list. That’s not to downplay parks like Letchworth, by any means – they stand out for a reason. Still, there are other great parks in New York State, but they don’t make it onto people’s radar because they are overshadowed by these larger or more publicized parks. Chenango Valley is just one of these beautiful but unjustifiably underrated parks.

Outstanding Camping

New York State Parks offer visitors some of the best camping in the state. Our family has camped in many of the parks but have found few campgrounds that can compare with Chenango Valley. Chenango Valley has 182 campsites spread throughout three camping loops – Chipmunk Bluff, Sunrise, and Pine Bluff. We found some incredible wooded and private campsites that really gave the impression of being away from it all. This park is surprisingly uncrowded; we were able to get a great campsite without even having to make a reservation at the peak of summer. However, making a reservation in advance is still the best bet to insuring that you will get the site you want.

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The author’s campsite, photo by Kimberly Crawford.

People often shy away from wooded camping sites because they don’t want to deal with the mosquitoes that usually accompany the shaded sites. That isn’t usually a problem in Chenango Valley State Park. Why you might ask? This park has a large population of brown bats – but don’t let the idea of bats scare you. These little critters are actually quite helpful, eating between 600-1000 mosquitoes per hour which can help make your camping experience that much more comfortable.

Wildlife and Nature at Chenango Valley

My favorite part of getting out into nature is the opportunity to see animals, or at least evidence of their presence. This park is home to a large variety of animals. One night, as we sat around our campfire, we had the spine-tingling experience of hearing a pack of coyotes howling in the distance. Everything from the rarely seen black bears to more common white-tail deer roam the woods, in and around the park. Visitors might catch a glimpse of animals such as flying squirrels, gray squirrel, rabbits, chipmunks, skunks, red fox, beaver, raccoon, rabbits, and woodchucks. Although we didn’t see many animals during our time in the park, we did see evidence of beavers and met one spunky chipmunk who wanted to pose for a picture for us. Chenango Valley is also known for being an excellent park to bird watch as the trails run through a variety of habitats from woods, lakes, marsh and the river.

Things to do at Chenango Valley

Chenango Valley has a unique geological feature within the park, in the form of two kettle lakes. These lakes were formed by chunks of ice that broke away from a receding glacier. The chunks of ice sat in one place for a long time creating depressions in the earth, thus creating these small lakes. Lily Lake and Chenango Lake are both really quite lovely, with crystal clear water that is excellent for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. Visitors can rent canoes and kayaks or bring their own and really enjoy the peacefulness of these pristine lakes.

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Kayaks and boats ready for a ride, photo by Kimberly Crawford.

Chenango Valley has one of the nicest swimming areas that I have found among the New York State Parks. Although the park calls it a beach, I’m not sure that title is really applicable. It is more like a pool cut into the end of the lake. The “pool” is divided into 4 sections of varying depth. This is excellent because there is a significant separation between the wading pool, perfect for the little ones, and the deep water of the diving area.

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Swimming area, photo by Kimberly Crawford

The park is full of hiking trails too. Our favorites are the trails that circumnavigate the lakes as well as a truly unique section of the park, the bog. If you camp in the Sunrise Loop, you can very easily hike to this area. When I heard bog, I immediately thought of some dark, uninviting place, but this wetland area was spectacular. I’m quite serious when I say that the bog looks like you have stepped back in time to the Jurassic period and at any moment a brachiosaur is going to come walking past. This unusual natural community seemed completely out of place, but my kids loved it and had fun “dinosaur hunting.” Of course, for your own safety and for the protection of the bog environment, you will want to make sure to stay on the trail and not go wandering off into the bog.

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Lily bog, photo by NY Natural Heritage Program

Chenango Valley also has a world-class golf course for those looking to play a round within the beautiful and idyllic scenery of the park. Some of the hiking trails do take hikers pretty close to the golf course, so beware of flying golf balls.

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Chenango Valley State Park Golf Course, photo by Kimberly Crawford

The New York State Parks offer visitors the chance to experience the most breathtaking and beautiful parts of our state. This gorgeous park is one of New York State’s hidden gems. Chenango Valley is a place where you can truly get away from it all and appreciate all the beauty that nature has to offer. A trip to this tranquil retreat is something everyone should experience.

Post written by Kimberly Crawford

Adventure Awaits At Allegany

What’s your idea of adventure? Is it something exotic like scuba diving, mountain climbing or bungee jumping? Perhaps something quieter, such as camping under the stars or exploring a stream in search for brook trout? Adventures can be big or small, but they all push us out of our comfort zones as we learn about new activities and exciting areas of our world.

Allegany State Park, known as the “Wilderness Playground of Western New York” is one such place where adventure abounds. With 65,000 acres of pristine forests, miles of trails, serene lakes and natural beauty everywhere, it’s hard not to find an activity to enjoy.

The Outdoor Adventure Series hosted by the Environmental Education and Recreation Department offers informative, hands-on, free clinics for all those want to be adventurous souls. Each program is led by an outdoor enthusiast who shares their knowledge and passion of their favorite activity. They bring their gear, suggest what you may need to get started and then let you try your hand at fly fishing, paddle boarding or geocaching.

Allegany State Park hosts several unique events throughout the year, such as Geobash, one of the biggest geocaching events around;  Raccoon Rally, a bike festival featuring both  road and mountain bike races  and the Art Roscoe Loppet cross country ski race. The Adventure series promotes these events by hosting a program about the sport or activity in the same month as the event to give people the chance to try a new sport or volunteer at the event. Remember it’s about getting people out, trying something new.

Maybe you’d like to have an adventure without many people around. Quiet water activities such as kayaking, fly fishing and paddle boarding are things anyone can do at any age.  Local shops such as Sportsman Outlet in Bradford, PA provide kayaks to try. Not only will they help you decide what kind of kayak you might like, they also advise you what gear you should take with you to be safe on the water, such as a life vest.  Adventure Bound on the Fly in Ellicottville, NY, introduces one of the newest sports – paddle boarding, and one of the most graceful – fly fishing to young and old giving all a chance to paddle on Quaker Lake or cast with finesse.

If it’s the woods that calls your name, programs such as mountain biking, cross country skiing, backpacking or camping might be more to your taste. Just Riding Along out of Bradford, PA, offers all kinds of mountain bikes – fat bikes, fast bikes and bikes with all the bells and whistles.  Find dirt on the Art Roscoe trails which become tracked cross country ski trails when the snow flies in December. The Allegany Nordic Patrol not only keeps skiers safe during the winter, but they help educate winter enthusiasts about the joys of gliding and sliding on skis through a winter wonderland of snow cover trees.

Camping has always been a favorite activity since the park was first founded in 1921. The first adventurous souls camped in old WWI tents on platforms. Today the education staff pulls out tents, hammocks, and backpacks of all shapes and sizes for even the youngest of explorers to get out in the woods. Staff also answers questions such as what to take, how to pack, and what to do if you see a bear – all important things to know when going out in the woods of Allegany.

The Outdoor Adventure Series covers a wide range of interesting activities for every season, from photographing fall colors, to snowshoeing under a full moon, to fishing for native trout, and paddling on a warm summer night watching the sun set across a lake.

No matter what you try, I agree with Amelia Earhart: “Adventure is worthwhile in itself”.

Be sure to check out the last two programs this year:

Wednesday, November 1, 2017 – 5:00- 7:00 – Summit Warming Hut – Night Hike- What’s in your Pack? Night hike on Bear Paw trail following a short program on the 10 essentials we should carry in our packs. Bring a flashlight or head lamp.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017 -5:00- 6:30 – Summit Warming Hut – Prepare for Cross Country Ski Season – Allegany Nordic will discuss everything you need to know about cross country skiing, from equipment selection to proper clothing.

These programs are open to the public and weather dependent. For more information, visit the Allegany State Park Facebook page or contact the Environmental Education Department at 716-354- 9101 ext. 236.

Post by Adele Wellman, State Parks

Fall in Love with Autumn Camping

If you think camping in a state park campground is enjoyable in the summer, wait until you experience an overnight getaway in September or early October, when New York’s outdoors is awash in enough colors and sounds of the season to overwhelm the senses.

The autumn mist rising from the water’s surface on a brisk morning, paddling along a tree-lined shore edged in spectacular reds, oranges and golds, the crunch of leaves underfoot on a hike, the aroma of coffee over a crackling fire — these are just a few of the experiences awaiting those campers who prefer to camp once the crowds thin, schools are back in session, and Labor Day is in the rearview mirror.

Benefits to fall camping include fewer neighbors, fewer bugs, and a greater selection of sites from the peak summer season.  With the right clothes and gear, the slightly cooler temperatures make fall camping more comfortable than in the commonly muggy dog days of summer.

Plan to extend a leaf-peeping day trip and sleep under the autumn stars. You can book ahead to reserve a spot or opt for a spontaneous adventure and just grab your gear and go. Many state park campgrounds throughout New York are still open with availability for tent and trailer sites, yurts, cabins, and cottages.

Here are just a few of our fall favorites:

Red House CG, Fall Camping
Listen to the rustling leaves while you camp at Allegany State Park, photo by State Parks.

At 65,000 acres, Allegany State Park is the perfect setting for embracing nature’s colorful palette in the fall months.  Lakes, ponds, and miles of trails, beckon outdoor lovers for hiking, biking, nature walks, fishing, paddling, and more.  Choose from tent and trailer sites, cabins, and cottages.

The Middle Falls At Letchworth State Park
Ballooning at Letchworth State Park, photo by Jim Vallee.

In the Genesee Valley, the sweeping views at Letchworth State Park are jaw-dropping in every season, but add vibrant foliage to the mix and prepare to be amazed by the sheer grandeur.  For campers, the park offers tent and trailer sites and cabins.  Visit the new Humphrey Nature Center or explore the gorge trail on your own — views from Inspiration Point and Middle Falls are a must-see.

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Enjoy the waterfalls at Taughannock Falls State Park, photo by State Parks.

The Finger Lakes gorge parks also provide a stunning backdrop for camping this time of year.  Take a break from campfire cooking and enjoy the bounty of farm-to-table restaurants or the premier wineries in the area. Home to 19 waterfalls, Watkins Glen State Park on Seneca Lake welcomes campers to an array of wooded campsites (many with electric hookups) and rustic cabins.  Walk along the winding paths of the gorge or take a bike ride on the nearby Catharine Valley TrailTaughannock Falls State Park on Cayuga Lake leaves visitors spellbound with its namesake waterfall and rocky cliffs that perch high above the gorge.

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Fall camping with a furry friend at Green Lakes State Park, photo by State Parks.

The only thing more colorful than the fall foliage at Green Lakes State Park is the actual Caribbean-like hues of the glacial lakes themselves.  With campsites nearby including many full-service sites and renovated cabins, campers also have easy access to the park’s 20 miles of hiking trails and championship golf course.

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If you camp at Moreau Lake State Park, take a hike around the lake, photo by State Parks.

Moreau Lake State Park is situated in the foothills of the Adirondacks with tent and trailer sites, cabins and cottages. Hike or bike on the 27 miles of trails and enjoy paddling and fishing on the scenic waters of the park’s beautiful lake or the Hudson River.  Wildlife viewing is a favorite!

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Autumn campers at Taconic State Park, photo by State Parks

Taconic State Park offers autumn campers incredible sites for tents or trailers, cabins and cottages, and plenty to see and do including biking, hiking, fishing, paddling, and more.  As part of the adventure, be sure to check out the Harlem Valley Trail, the South Taconic Trail, Bash Bish Falls, and the Copake Iron Works Museum.

 

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Fall colors at Bennington Battlefield State Historic Site, photo by State Parks

Tip:  Whether planning a fall camping adventure or taking a leaf-peeping day-trip, a good resource to determine peak color location is the I Love NY Fall Foliage Report issued weekly.

Celebrate Your Freedom In a State Park!

Fourth of July weekend is a great weekend to spend in a State Park or Historic Site.  You can build sand castles at Hither Hills State Park to camp on the banks of Lake Erie at Evangola State Park, fish in the St. Lawrence River at Wellesley Island State Park, listen to a reading of the Declaration of Independence at Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site, take a hike, enjoy the forest and more.  Find out all that State Parks has to offer this weekend at nysparks.com.

Thacher Indian Laddler Trail near Falls
Take a hike on the Indian Ladder Trail at Thacher State Park, Photo by OPRHP
Stony Point-3002
Hear the cannons firing at Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site, photo by OPRHP
Spider Fishing
Try your hand at fishing at Wellesley Island State Park, photo by OPRHP
schuyler
Play one of George Washington’s favorite games at Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site, photo by Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site
Lorenzo
Tour the gardens at Lorenzo State Historic House, photo by OPRHP
John Jay kids in pen with Rabbits and Chickens
Check out the Farm Market at John Jay Homestead State Historic Site, photo by OPRHP
Gorge
Enjoy a cool gorge in the Finger Lakes Parks or at Whetstone Gulf State Park – photo by OPRHP
John Williams
Build a sand castle at Hither Hills State Park, photo by John Williams, OPRHP
Glimmerglass State Park summer 2008
Picnic by the lake, Glimmerglass State Park, photo by OPRHP
Boy Salamander
Get to know the residents, salamander program at Allegany State Park, photo by Tom LeBlanc OPRHP
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Try your hand at golfing at Rockland Lake State Park, photo by OPRHP
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Go biking at Grafton Lakes State Park, photo by OPRHP
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Camp at Cherry Plain State Park, photo by OPRHP
Finger Lakes Boating
Go boating in the Finger Lakes, Allan H. Treman State Park, photo by OPRHP
Trees
Marvel at old-growth trees in Allegany State Park along the Conservation or Eastwood Meadows Trails – photo of old-growth ash tree in Allegany State Park by J Lundgren, NYNHP
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See the fireworks at many parks across the state, photo by OPRHP
Sunset, Golden Hill
Or enjoy a quiet evening sunset, Golden Hill State Park, photo by OPRHP