Updated: Oct 15, 2022
No, my parents never owned a cabin in the woods. God, I wish they did.
But that doesn't mean I don't like getting down and dirty hiking, foraging, or camping in the woods.
No, I didn't go away to Girl Scout Camp. Although I wanted to. I would've loved getting all of my badges for my sash. I wore my sister's proudly and even was a "brownie" for Halloween in 1992, Troop 162A, "Drink a Beer" (check out our merit badges. They are real!!) I would have loved to learn how to make a campfire using the bow drill method. Do they even teach that? But I wasn't even a Girl Scout.
The best I can do is a flint stick fire start: tinder bundle, and good fine kindling in various sizes. If that fails, bring out the fire starter. And if that doesn't work, lighter fluid!!
But I do love to camp.
It was the 22nd year of my Assateague Island beach camping trip. Campfires are normal daily evening chores. I like to help in that chore. Sometimes we make food over the fire, sometimes s'mores, always memories.
I'm nestled between two tree lined ridges that create the hollow in which I live. I like to use my Loretta Lynn impersonation when I say I live in a "Holler". At any point in my day, I can feel like I'm camping. I'm surrounded by trees, trees, and more trees. And a stream whose sounds are so relaxing after a thunderstorm. It's like I'm camping all the time, including critters who come right up to my porch to say hello!
Red Tail because red tail hawks and red tail foxes both claim this holler as their home as well.
My dad would take an annual fishing trip with his buddies to Canada, and he would make his favorite dinner for the men: "camp soup".
He has a friend, Mike Angelo who has a camp north of Pittsburgh where they would always make "camp soup".
They would eat the camp soup with my nephews and sing a song using the melody from "If You're Happy and You Know It (clap your hands)". It goes something like this: (me me me me me me. That's me warming up my vocal cords)
There's a skeeter on my peter, knock it off.
There's a skeeter on my peter, knock it off.
There's a dozen on my cousin; can't you hear those bastards buzzin?
There's a skeeter on my peter knock it off!
My dad would make us camp soup all of the time. This is a very economical and easy recipe. It feeds a lot of people for several days. Add extra water after a few servings are missing and you can stretch it a little bit farther.
Saltines or oyster crackers and you have an extra hearty meal.
Grilled Chibatta bread and compound butter and you have yourself a swanky hip meal.
My dad would use just about anything he could find in our refrigerator, but I believe less is more when it comes to this soup.
Alright campers.... chow time.
Cooking class with carol.
Things to consider.
It's important to do two critical steps when making any soup
Brown the meat well. In small batches is best to insure proper browning. If you crowd the pan the meat will steam and not brown. Work in patches if necessary.
Sweating the vegetables.
To sweat” vegetables is a technique that uses a gentle heat to soften vegetables and gently draw out their flavors. The idea isn't to brown or to caramelize them—instead, the mellow aromas from the vegetables should mingle with the rest of the dish without dominating it.
Ever make vegetable soup and you just drop in frozen vegetables, especially any with freezer burn? All you may taste is the freezer burn and bland vegetables. That is because the vegetables weren't able to release their fragrance through the sweating process.
Beef vegetable soup
1 pound beef stew meat, seasoned with salt and pepper, cubed
2 beef bones with marrow (from butcher)
2 10oz frozen cut mixed vegetables packages (green beans, corn, carrots) or your favorite
1- 10oz frozen diced onions
2T tomato paste
1 - 28oz crushed tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
What To Do
1 Heat a heavy bottom pot on high heat until smoking
2. add 2 Tablespoons EVOO
3. brown meat on both sides. Lower heat to medium-high if the meat burns
4. Remove from pan and place on sheet pan to reserve juices. Work in batches if necessary and repeat #3 and #4.
5. add more oil about 1 T if necessary
6. add onions and garlic stirring until sweated, about 1 minute
7. add veggies and sweat for about 2-3 minutes.
8. add tomato paste. Cook for 1-2 minutes. This will take any of the bitterness away.
9. return meat and all juices into pot.
10. add crushed tomatoes and two cans of water
11. bring to boil and simmer 1 hour. The marrow from the beef bones will leech out of the bone and create an unctuous delightful texture that is so important for restorative broth.
Season with salt and pepper to your liking. I tend not to salt the soup until in the bowl. Evaporation can make a salted soup even saltier.
The pups couldn't help but sit patiently waiting for any scraps to fall. They were patient, but not luck today. Baby Kash was tired and rested in my Andrew Pearce wooden bowl.