Happy Labor Day… Now get to Work

Sep 5, 2014 by

We were lamenting whether it was worth going out or not.  My wife hemmed and hawed and suggested we just stay home.

I insisted we go and packed up the car with wife, dog, kid and chairs for 6 as we were bringing extras for friends and family we were meeting there.   We pulled out of the drive way as the sun was setting and headed toward the beach.  There was a free movie night at the pier and they were showing the Lego movie, which I had not seen yet and I love Lego’s.

More importantly, I love those fun community events like outdoor movies and how awesome is it that we get to watch movies at the ocean?  So we were packed up and we trudged on.  I was contemplating my wife’s offers of just calling it off and staying home as it was late and by the time we got there our child would be asleep and couldn’t care less about any movie at all, and we also hadn’t had any dinner yet.  I was determined to make it happen.  We threw out suggestions of fast food that didn’t sound appealing, but was close by that we could grab for dinner.  We picked something close by and paid way too much for some crappy food and found our way to park.

At this point we now had to figure out how we were going to get ourselves, a small dog, a small child, 6 chairs, a diaper bag, and our fast food dinner from the parking lot down to the pier.  With 6 chairs strapped to my shoulders, a fast food bag in one hand and the dogs leash in the other I was wishing I had listened to my wife as we began our trek.   Then midway through our journey my oh so cute dog decided to stop mid way and take a giant crap on the sidewalk full of people.  It was at this point that I was cursing me and my good ideas.  I handed my wife the fast food, and dogs leash, put down all 6 chairs and scooped up the poop with haste as to not block all of the foot traffic around us.  We repacked all the equipment onto us and made our way to our destination.

Grumbling and complaining I setup the chairs for the movie which had just started and we sat down.  We met up with our other family and friends who took their seats next to us and all of a sudden all was well.  We settled into our spots and I held my son on my lap as my wife held our dog and had a fantastic evening.

It was all worth it.  It was a pain in the ass in the making, but it made a fantastic moment.

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The epiphany then struck me that we must work to create fun.  You have to put in the effort to plan and coordinate with friends and family to make meaningful events and moments happen.  It’s because of the work that you can truly enjoy the moments you create.   I could have stayed at home and taken it easy, but I would have missed out on the great memories waiting for me.  I could have not done the work and I would have not gotten the rewards.

It’s just that simple.

So Labor Day has come and gone.  It’s now time to get to work.  Go out and create some fun memories for you and your friends and family.  Plan a camping trip.  Invite some friends over for dinner.  Go for a hike.  Plan and do something.  It is so worth it and so much better than just staying home.

Ben…

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Balancing Technology

Aug 5, 2014 by

I received a great email from a beautiful and intelligent (assuming) reader named Valerie.  She was referencing a post about camping and asking about the the balance of technology with her teenage and younger kids and wanted my input.  Here is some of what I responded with:

I love camping with my friends, family and all the kids in that group.  That said, those kids pictured in the Orange Roll Recipe are not mine.  They belong to a close friend of mine, but I have known them their entire life and we’ve been camping many times together.  That said, my first kid is only 10 months old, so we have not yet had to struggle with the proper use and limits of technology in his life yet, but we are already starting to.

I don’t want us to use the TV as a baby sitter or have him be one of those children that can’t go out to eat, or be anywhere without an iPad and be constantly entertained.  That said, he loves his Baby Einstein videos and I don’t want to judge those parents as not having been in their shoes yet.

I love technology.  It’s been my work and hobbies for many years now and I am loving the amazing things it allows us to do.  That said, like any tool it can be abused and misappropriated for unhealthy purposes.  Just this month I’ve given up playing a video game I’ve been realizing I spend a little too much time playing.  It’s about finding a balance.

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I recently found this image on my Facebook feed and it resonated with me.  While I love technology, I am SO grateful to grow up without a lot of it.  I’m so happy I got to run and play in the woods and didn’t spend time staring at a tablet.  Now I did have a Nintendo growing up, and learned how to use a computer from a very young age, which I also love, but I really do cherish the “play time” I had with friends riding bikes and running around the neighborhood until the sun went down.

I hope we set appropriate boundaries with our son with technology.  I hope he has a wonderful curiosity about technology and wants to know how it works and how to make it work instead of just consuming or playing games.  That is the struggle I see ahead of us and the balance I hope to strike.  I’m already suggesting to my wife and mother not to let him play with their iPhones as he will be clamoring for such devices soon enough.

I don’t enjoy seeing families with all their kids head’s buried in their devices all the time.  I hope we don’t become one of those families, yet I must acknowledge we are living in a different time.  I can’t even imagine how pervasive and cheap such devices will be when my son enters school.  I’m all for using technology to empower our lives.  I hope they find a way to use it in the classroom to help the children learn more and more efficiently, but I hope it doesn’t come at the cost of robbing their childhood of real playtime outdoors with friends and just their imaginations.  I foresee us setting strict limits on screen time vs outdoor play time.  I hope to take my son camping often and all over so he can learn to appreciate the great outdoors and all it offers.  I hope we can find the right balance of using technology to empower our lives and not wasting it away consuming nonsense.

So what is your balance with technology?  Do you take a technology Sabbath and put the phones away for a while?  Do you limit your own or your kids screen time?  I would love to hear what ideas and solutions you’ve implemented in your house.

Ben…

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Backpacking S’mores Pizza

Sep 14, 2013 by

Here’s something fun I can say now.  TrulySimple has been featured in Outside magazine.  They reached out to me and wanted a new simple backpacking recipe and here is the result of that request plus some inspiration from a pizza party.

We were invited over to a friends house for a pizz-off the other night.  This is a pizza cook-off where everyone brings their own favorite toppings and creates imaginative pizzas that were cooked to perfection in their outdoor pizza oven.  In an unrelated note, I now have an intense need for a pizza oven in my backyard. We all ate WAY too much pizza, but it was so hard not to want to try them all.  Pizza after pizza kept coming out of this oven and each one was so tasty. The competition was stiff, but my Truly Memorial Buffalo Chicken Pizza was a huge hit and won the top prize.  Everyone loved it and I forgot how good it was. That said, one of my favorite pizzas of the night was the S’more pizza.  This one was made later in the evening as a dessert and it was a big hit with everyone.   That same night I got an email from Outside Magazine asking to feature me in their magazine and wanted a backpacking/camping dessert recipe, so I thought I’d take a swing at taking the S’more pizza from the big pizza oven to a backpacking campfire recipe and the results were delicious. This recipe is perfect for camping as its only a few ingredients and all can fit nicely within a backpack without the worry of things getting smushed. What you’ll need:

  • Crescent roll dough
  • Chocolate sauce – you can never go wrong with Nutella
  • baby marshmallows
  • graham crackers

To make this recipe easy to pack in the backpack take some of the Nutella and put it in a zip lock back.  You’ll snip the corner and squeeze it out like frosting when you are ready to use it.  Also throw the graham cracker and marshmallows into a separate bag.  Don’t worry if the graham crackers gets crushed, that is part of the recipe. IMG_2527 The other reason I wanted to try this recipe was to get to use my new grill accessory I got for my Bio-lite stove.  I picked this up at the REI garage sale as it had a broken leg and I fixed it. IMG_2538 Take the crescent roll dough out and throw it on the grill. IMG_2544 Flip it over after a minute and spread on the chocolate from the snipped corner of the zip lock bag. IMG_2560 Next crumble the graham cracker in your hands and sprinkle it over the chocolate sauce.  Finally top it all of with several mini marshmallows. IMG_2570 Now we want to brown the marshmallows so we’ll cover the stove top with some tin foil.  Be careful as fire is hot. IMG_2585 Cook for another 30 seconds to a minute and voila, you end up with these magical slices of S’more heaven.  The gooey marshmallows mix with the warm chocolate sauce and the graham cracker brings in a nice crunch texture. I will be packing these in my backpack for the next several hiking trips.

Ben…

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Dutch oven cobbler over a campfire

Jul 17, 2013 by

Camping food just tastes better.  It’s a fact.

Some of my best and favorite recipes are camping food recipes.  On the heels of our yearly camping adventure where all my friends from all over get together and go camping I am relishing in the great times and awesome food we ate.

We may be getting a little overboard with the food though.  Our camping meals are getting to the beyond epic proportions and we may need to dial it back, but I’ve never dined on such amazing food as this last trip.  We had crepes, we had amazing breakfast sandwiches grilled over the fire, we had amazing street tacos, and chicken and dumplings in the dutch oven.  It got a little nuts for camping, but this year’s camping was a bit more luxurious as we actually camped in an RV as my wife is 8 months pregnant.

We had planned to hike through Zion in Utah, but for some reason my wife didn’t want to hike through 115 degree canyons.  Go figure.  So we went the other way and rented an RV so she would be comfortable and headed back to one of our favorite spots, Pismo Beach.

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In addition to all the aforementioned food I set out to make a cobbler for dessert one night and it was awesome.  And if you’ve read any of this site, or even just the name of the site you know I like to keep it simple and it doesn’t get much more simple than this.

For this recipe, all you’ll need is fruit, sprite, a cake mix and a little butter.

I cooked this in our dutch oven over a fire, but you can do this in the oven at home too if you’d like.

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I threw a couple pats of butter in the crock pot and rubbed it around to get it all good and buttery

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Throw in your fruit of choice.  Peaches and blueberries are in season and were available at the local fruit stand.  You can use any fruit you like.

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For the cobbler part all you need is a cake mix and a sprite.  I made a huge batch so I used the whole cake mix and a 12 fl oz sprite.  You may want to use half of each if you are making a normal amount.  We had 11 hungry campers so I made a big batch.

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Add the sprite to the cake mix.  Stir, stir, stir, and spoon over the fruit.  Add a few pats of butter on top.

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Throw the dutch oven on the fire and put the coals on top of the lid.  Ideally You’d like more coals on top than on bottom at a 2:1 ratio.

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Cook the cobbler in the dutch oven until the top is cooked through and smells awesome.  The time to cook will depend on your fire, but its about 10-15 minutes.  Keep checking it as you go.

As usual I don’t have a good picture of the final product out of the dutch oven as it was devoured by the hungry campers around the fire.

 

 

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But here’s a picture of the gang with the dogs enjoying running around the sand dunes.  And yes my wife kicks ass and hiked the very steep sand dunes at 8 months pregnant.

As always, we had a great time camping and can’t wait to do it again next year with our kid.

If you haven’t planned a camping trip in a while, take a minute and plan one now.  Find a weekend, or even a day and get out and go have fun.

Plus nothing tastes as good as camping food.  Here are some other great camping recipes for you:

Happy camping

Ben…

P.S. if you’ve got a favorite camping recipe, let me know in the comments.  I’m always looking for some good new ones.

 

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Dutch Oven Monkey Bread

Oct 27, 2012 by

OK, I’m a slacker and have been meaning to post this recipe for way too long now, so apologies, and here it is.

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I’ve received a ton of amazing feedback on this camping recipe and thought I’d add another fun recipe to the camping list.

This one is monkey bread cooked in the dutch oven and it could not be any easier.

Here is what you will need:

  • 2 containers of biscuits
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 stick of butter

That’s it.  Very simple and oh so tasty for a camping breakfast with the family.

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Here is how you make them, and its a great recipe to have the kids help with.

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Grab your biscuits and open them up.

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Separate and slice them into quarters.  Yes it is OK for children to use knives.  Just teach them how to do it safely and help them if needed.

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Put all the cut up pieces onto a plate

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on a separate plate pour out your sugar and brown sugar and cinnamon.   I mixed mine together in a zip lock before so its just easy to pour out.

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Take a fork and mash out any clumps

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Simple dip the biscuits into the mix and coat on all sides

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Kids love helping when there is sugar involved.

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In a separate pot, melt your stick of butter.

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Get the dutch oven out and line it with aluminum foil

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Should look like this.  This will make clean up SOOOO much easier.

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Spray it with non stick cooking spray

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and throw all the biscuits in there.

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When all the biscuit pieces have been coated with the sugars and cinnamon, pour the butter over the whole thing.

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Then throw the dutch oven onto the coals and let it cook

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Cook for about 10-15 minutes over the coals.  Check it so it doesn’t burn.

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Open the lid and sprinkle on a little more of the leftover sugars and cinnamon mix and let cook for another few minutes.

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and voila.  You will smell this amazing concoction from across the campgrounds and everyone will want to come over and join you.

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And the kids love it

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And why wouldn’t they, it is awesome!!

This is a very easy recipe to make that only requires a few ingredients and not much prep time, which is always nice when camping.

Try it out next time you go camping and let me know how the family likes it.

Ben…

 

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