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Let’s go camping!

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The weather is heating up and it’s time for me to get the ladder out and climb up in to the rafters in the garage and get out my camping gear.

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The old trusty fishing pole, bait bucket, backpack, hair blower and Coleman stove. Time to air out the old sleeping bag and tent, buy a couple of new tarps because I can’t find the old ones and stock up on bug spray. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Camping is an outdoor recreational activity, a time to be one with nature and leave all the urban and suburban woes and tension in the rear-view mirror. Whether it be a primitive lean-to, a tent or a motorhome, spending the day fishing or hiking and sleeping under the stars is a stress reliever for me. Ursula and I both love camping, something about roasting marshmallows naked in the great outdoors.

Camping is intense. Last year we were up at Camp Crystal Lake, relaxing, doing some fishing and I heard screams coming from a cabin in the distance along with rustling in the bushes. It unnerved me so we went up the road and spent a couple of nights at the Bed, Bass & Beyond fishing resort. Not my idea of exactly roughing it. The bed had one of those “Magic Fingers” machines attached to it and by 9:00 that night I was out of quarters. A couple of years ago we were up at Veronica Lake, enjoying the quiet and solitude of the forest when a custom tour bus pulled on to the site next to me and a whole s**t load of Kardashians piled out and ruined my whole week. Stupid Kardashians.

Anyway, camping doesn’t have to be so complicated. The only thing that drives many people away from the experience is the fact that it only takes one careless match to start a wildfire but it takes a whole box of matches to light a campfire. I hate when that happens. But the whole roughing it experience can be comfortable, especially the food. As you know, I am a semi-professional cook and campground food is just another challenge that can be overcome. So let’s take a peek in the cooler and see what we have brought.

First, there’s a couple of bottles of Blaye Cotes de Bordeaux 2002 that need to be decanted. I don’t drink Blatz beer on a camping trip, I save that for at home. No, this red wine has the perfect nose for these dishes.

Next, I see a beef tenderloin with some pearl onions, baby crimini mushrooms and some Yukon gold new potatoes. Let’s see what we can come up with.

Camping Beef Tenderloin Hobo Packs

Sea Salt/Freshly Ground Black Pepper

2 Tbs. Olive Oil

4- 8 Oz. Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignons

1 1/2 Lb. Baby Yukon Gold Potatoes, Halved Lengthwise

1/2 Lb. Pearl Onions, Blanched, Drained, and Peeled

12 Garlic Cloves, Smashed

1/4 Cup Olive Oil

1/2 Cup Sour Cream

6 Bacon Slices, Cooked and Crumbled

1/4 cup Fresh Chives, Sliced

12x12 Foil Sheets

Divide potatoes, onions and garlic, between stacks, arranging in 1 layer in center of foil, then drizzle each with 2 tablespoons oil and season with salt and pepper. Working with top sheet of foil, fold each side over potato mixture to enclose, then turn package a quarter turn and repeat folding and turning package with each piece of remaining foil. Make second hobo pack in same manner.

Lay packs on campfire coals and rotate and turn every fifteen minutes. Packs should be done in 45 minutes.

While hobo packs are cooking, sear beef on lightly oiled grill rack directly over hottest part of coals, uncovered, turning occasionally and, if necessary, moving around grill to avoid flare-ups, until well browned, 12 to 15 minutes total. Move beef to coolest part of grill, then cover with inverted roasting pan and grill, turning occasionally, until thermometer inserted diagonally into center registers 120°F for medium-rare, about 10 minutes. Transfer beef to a cutting board and let stand, loosely covered with foil, 15 minutes.

Thinly slice beef, then remove potato mixture from packages and serve with sour cream, bacon, and chives.

What to go with this chic campfire entrée?

Elotes con Cotjia Queso, Lime y Cinnamon Chile

6 Ears Sweet Corn, Take the Silks off, Leave the husks on and Soak

1/4 Lb. Butter 2 teaspoons chili powder

1/4 Tsp. Cayenne Pepper

Zest of 1 Lime

Juice of 1/2 Lime

2 Tbs. Mayo

Sea Salt/Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1/3 Cup Cotjia Queso

Cinnamon

Lime Wedges for Serving

In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 pound of the butter, chili powder, cayenne pepper, lime zest, and lime juice until thoroughly combined Set aside.

Lightly butter the corn with the remaining butter, then slather mayo and season with salt and pepper to taste. Wrap ears individually in aluminum foil and place on the fire, turning frequently. Corn should be done in about 20 minutes.

Open the foil, slather each ear in the chili-lime butter, sprinkle with cheese and dust with cinnamon. Serve with the lime wedges.

Camp on everybody, and don’t forget to check out the slideshow.

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