I have an announcement, something that I have been holding in and protecting for some time now. It started with a dream then it moved over to a wish and then it turned into something real, something I have been able to shape, contour and cultivate for months now. Yesterday morning November 12,2018 it all changed for me, that wish connected me ever so slightly to chef’s and cooks I have looked up to and learned from for years.
Julia Child the Master of French cooking, Edna Lewis and her soul feeding food, Ina Garten and her flawless simply elegant meals, Ree Drummond and her lifestyle nourishment. Samin Nosrat and her explosion of the four food flavors. Gordon Ramsay and his Military perfection in the kitchen, Rachael Ray and her ease of preparation, Martha Stewart and her determination of home cooking perfection. Bernard Clayton and his layered pastry, Alice Waters and her dedicated seasonal movement, Americas Test Kitchen and their persistence to find the perfect recipe, Rick Bayless and his flavorful pallet of spice. Ruth Reichel and her passion with food, Jack Gilmore and his dedication to the Texas farmer, Steven Raichlen and his ability to tame smoke and fire. All the above names and countless others have one thing in common they are cookbook authors and as of yesterday I joined that list too. I am a published cook book author!
I give you, The Campground Gourmet, Simple, Delicious Recipes for Dining in the Great Outdoors. Available now on Amazon.
I can not begin to tell you the amount of work that went into this project however, I can tell you about all the amazing and dedicated individuals that have helped me put all the pieces together. Stephanie and Jeremy Puglisi creators of RV Family Travel Atlas, they are my editors, they have spend countless hours editing, creating and guiding me along this adventure. I am truly grateful to the both of you and your belief in me, this cookbook and our friendship, thank you so much.
Steven Dunbar, my love and champion. You have always, always encouraged me to take adventures and just go for it. I can not think of a single time in our 12 years of marriage (13 on Friday 11/16) where you have asked me not to do something, you have never said no. But, I’m certain when I am in the thick of it you wish you had. I love you husband, thank you so much for all your help, encouragement and the strongest shoulder I could ever rest my head on when I was too tired to go any further. Oh, and for cleaning up when that raccoon destroyed my photo set on the patio, you are a saint.
To my children, you were my first true recipe taste testers, I made all your baby food when you could eat solids. I found out by trial and error what all your favorite cookies, meals, smells and tastes are. I have watched all three of you grow up and develop new tastes and favorite food memories. I love when you ask me to make your favorite meals, even if it is a box a macaroni (Paige) or a beurre blanc sauce (Andrew) or a perfect pan seared steak with a fried egg (Sean).
My friends and family who have been in the loop and truly kept my project safe and protected until yesterday when it was out there for everyone to see. Your encouragement, help and cyber cocktail time truly made this experience a magical gift. You helped me choose recipes, look at images and you also told me that when I made it big I owed all of you an Airstream or one heck of a vacation…I love each one of you and I appreciate your loyalty and friendship more than you could ever know.
I have always felt at home or in my comfort place at a campground, sitting in front the fire watching the golden coals smolder and send tiny shooting stars into the sky. The fire at a campground not only warms you up at the end of a long day of hiking or swimming in a lake, it feeds you. You can place a piece of cast iron over the coals and slip a fresh caught trout in that pan with onions, herbs some olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper and you have one of the best over the fire flavor meals anyone can create. It’s the fire, smoke and quiet, the total concentration of keeping the temperature there in just the right zone. It’s the laughter while watching a marshmallow swell with the heat of the fire only to spontaneously catch on fire and smolder away. It’s that crisp morning air and a rich hot cup of coffee in your favorite camp mug- it’s the great outdoors. There is so much my cookbook is about, the recipes are perfect for at home, at a park, sharing with your family at a celebration or sitting in Jackson, Wyoming under the peaks of the Grand Teton and all her beauty.
I’m Kate Dunbar, The Campground Gourmet, I tell stories through food and help individuals create culinary adventures with my recipes.
Translation hello, welcome, come on in. Our incredible Hawaiian vacation was coming to a close but I still had one destination to take my family to. On the far East side of the island of Oahu is a small town that back in the 1940’s became the focus of a famous song but it all started with tragedy…
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1881 built a beautiful church and social hall. The church was nestled among the coconut trees and taro fields in the small little town of Laie. One day in 1940 that beloved church was engulfed in flames that could be seen for miles, the town of Laie was so small there wasn’t a fire station or a fire truck, just a volunteer fire department. They raced into action along with the other town member, the bucket brigade from the ocean could not save the beloved church. The only structure that survived was the social hall which was not big enough for the congregation to meet. After the flames were put out, the damage was assessed a decision had to be made, rebuild or not.
The decision was simple, rebuilding the church was not only wanted it was necessary for the community. However, the town needed a way to raising money for the construction. The idea of having a Hukilau was meticulously thought out, tickets would be sold to fund all the construction costs. Fishermen threw nets into Laie Bay and pulled pounds and pounds of fish in for the men tending the fires to cook. It was a food feast, little grandmas made two finger poi and poi buns, fresh vegetables, coconut desserts, you could eat for days! The shock was not only did they sell every ticket, they had another thousand guests show up from all over the island! Here is the musical recount and tribute to that community food share.
The Hukilau written and sung by Jack Owens in 1948
What a beautiful day for fishing,
The old Hawaiian way
And the hukilau nets were swishing
Down at old Laie Bay.
Oh, we’re going to a hukilau.
The huki, huki, huki, huki, hukilau.
Everybody loves the hukilau.
Where the laulau is the kaukau
At the big luau.
We throw our nets
Out into the sea
And all the ‘ama’ama
Come swimming to me.
Oh, we’re going, to a hukilau.
A huki, huki, huki
Huki, huki, huki, hukilau.
Right there in Laie, across from the bay where that famous event took place sits the Polynesian Cultural Center. A favorite stop of ours and it should be on your must visit list, here’s an insider tip, your tickets allow you to come in a total of three visits. My children loved going from village to village learning all about the culture, playing traditional games, learning how to use musical instruments and then sampling the cuisine. I watched the time honored tradition of prepping the Imu for kalua pork. Layers of hot volcano rocks, banana leaves, ti leaves and wet burlap sacks were strategically placed in and around the pig for its slow 12 hour underground cook. I might have gone back into an area that said employees only, but they were amazing and said I could stay and watch. Score one for me! For a special treat when you visit PCC make sure to visit the village of Samoa and go find Kap Te’O Tafiti, trust me he will surprise you!!!
Of all the lessons I have learned when I have traveled to the Hawaiian Islands I’ve learned this, food is the staple of the Hawaiian community. Truly, the amount of sharing between families, neighbors and friends always surprises me. The passed down recipes and stories that go with each dish melts my heart, I’m sharing a recipe that’s from the Polynesian Cultural Center. The night we ate at their luau and my daughter about jumped out of her seat with excitement when the basket of bright purple rolls appeared. Purple is her favorite color so how could she not eat it, what she didn’t know was that the rolls were taro rolls. Yes, there is a sneaky way to add that ingredient to bread and honestly I could eat it all day long. Enjoy this recipe from the Polynesian Cultural Center and explore the other websites I have listed for you. In no way am I receiving compensation for providing the websites below. I hope you travel to Hawaii soon to explore the culture, food and magic that is Aloha.
Polynesian Cultural Center Taro Rolls
1 ⅓ cup warm water (90 degrees)
1 cup poi*
½ cup softened butter
1 tsp purple food coloring**
1 cup sugar
¼ tsp salt
2 1/2tsp dry yeast
4 cups flour, added gradually
*Possible substitutions if you do not have access to poi include well cooked and mashed taro root, new potato, parsnips, sweet potatoes or yams
** You can omit the food color if you choose
Using a table mixer, combine all wet ingredients; then gradually add the dry ingredients.
Adjust the amount of flour depending on the stiffness of the dough. The texture should be smooth. (If your mixer does not have a dough hook, then remove the dough from the mixer before it becomes too stiff and add the remaining flour by kneading on a floured table top.)
Once the dough is smooth, then kneed on a floured surface.
Break off pieces of dough to knead and form into small balls.
Place in a greased 9 x 11 pan. Cover with cloth, place in a warm, dry area and allow to rise until doubled in size. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.
I love popovers, that crisp and crunchy outer shell and that soft hollow center. When I was growing up Christmas would not be complete with out prime rib and Yorkshire pudding popovers. Recently I was looking over my enormous stack of holiday magazines trying to see what recipe needed a bit of a change a new look for the every day cook. There was my answer on one page was a beautiful image of a golden brown mile high popover and on the opposite page was an image of cinnamon donuts- perfect! Sweet popovers, there is my twist.
Not only is this recipe easy to make, it tastes so good! The brown butter and cinnamon are so comforting, I hope you enjoy this recipe it is very simple to make and can be done in about 40 minutes, happy baking.
Brown Butter & Cinnamon Popovers
1 cup whole milk
½ cup half and half
2 whole eggs
2 Tablespoons brown butter, cooled
1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
pinch of Kosher salt
¼ cup browned butter, warm
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Tools; blender, immersion blender or whisk
Preheat oven to 450 degrees, place your muffin pan in the oven at this time to heat thoroughly.
Add the milk, eggs and cooled brown butter together and blend on medium speed for 30 seconds. If using a whisk mix for 1 minute. Now add the flour, cinnamon and salt. Blend for 1 minute on medium high speed or mix by hand for 3 minutes.
When your oven has come to temperature, CAREFULLY remove the hot muffin pan and add ½ Tablespoon of canola oil to each muffin well. If you have a pastry brush, CAREFULLY brush the sides of the muffin well with the oil. Now quickly mix the batter again with your whisk or blender for just a few seconds. CAREFULLY pour batter into the hot muffin pan, only filling each well ½ way full. Place the muffing pan back in the oven and set your timer for 15 minutes. DO NOT OPEN YOUR OVEN DOOR DURING THIS COOKING TIME! After 15 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and set your timer for 12 minutes. Once the popovers are a rich golden brown, they are finished. Remove the pan and turn out the popovers onto a cooling rack, you may have to use a knife to release them from the pan, now pierce the bottom of the popover to release the steam and set on a cooling rack.
After the popovers have cooled to where you can handle them, brush the tops with the brown and press into the cinnamon sugar.
If you would like a filling I have included my Masala Chai Applesauce recipe. Please enjoy them immediately.
Chai Spiced Apple Sauce
8 assorted apples (granny smith, honey crisp and pacific rose are my favorite)
1 cup spiced apple cider
1 Tablespoon honey, local is best
1 teaspoon vanilla, vanilla bean paste or 1 vanilla bean scraped of seeds
1- 1” piece of ginger grated or ¼ teaspoon dried ground ginger
1 teaspoon Masala Chai powder
Peel, core and rough chop the apples, set aside. In a large pot, add the cider and honey, reduce by half. Then add the apples, vanilla and masala chai powder, stir well place lid on the pot and lower heat to medium low. After 30 minutes stir well, turn off heat and mash apples with a potato masher to a chunky consistency. Let cool and keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
October 2nd 2017 was another usual Monday grocery store day. I was driving, listening to Tom Petty Radio on Sirius XM. There’s just something about the winding roads and rolling Central Texas hills sprinkled with live oak, pecan and mesquite trees. Listening to songs like Runnin’ Down a Dream, Good to Be King, Learning to Fly, Time to Move On and my personal favorite Walls (No. 3). There it was, the breakthrough announcement of his passing. My breath quickly left me like a deflated soufflé, my heart felt like it lost a beat and my body just stopped like so many others did in that moment. I thought “this is a joke, this can’t be real, someone has made a huge mistake. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers had just finished their 40th anniversary tour seven days ago. He was on top of his game, resting and relaxing at his home in California.”
Tears started to trickle down my face and I knew I was not the only one. There were many others in the parking lot with me, just sitting in their cars in shock. I was watching their mouths “What? Tom Petty, NO!” I could not believe the sadness that just washed over me, there was never going to be another Tom Petty or Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers new music album ever again. Just like the Traveling Wilburys, when “Lefty Wilbury”- Roy Orbison passed suddenly after a heart attack their music was never the same. The magic was gone.
That’s Tom to me, pure musical magic. Maybe because Gainesville, Florida is not too far from where my Grandfather spent time becoming a man. Working hard at learning under water plumbing and welding that one day would lead him to a career in the Navy and a Bronze Medal for his underwater demolition skills in WWII. I loved his stories about being that master plumbers apprentice the hot thick air, the Southern sound of music from the early 1930’s and how Florida was a place all on its own. But he also said once you have lived there you needed to move on from there if you wanted to become someone. Tom Petty said the same thing to Warren Zane, his friend and autobiographer many years later.
I entered the grocery store, found my cart and slowly pushed it through the aisles, not a single thing was calling to me. I had wandered to about the middle of the store then turned down an isle and there was the display of White Lily Flour. Suddenly Miss Edna Lewis and her buttermilk biscuit recipe came bursting through my sad heart. If you don’t know who Edna Lewis is, please keep reading, if by chance you do know then enjoy a brief recap of her many accomplishments. Edna Lewis, born in 1916 was the Granddaughter of a Virginia emancipated slave who helped start the community of Freetown, Virginia. She may be known to some as the African-American Chef who was graced by the USPS with her own well-deserved stamp in the Forever Stamp Culinary Professionals Issue. To others she was an award winning culinary artist, the Mother of Southern Food. In 1995 the James Beard Foundation created an award for her, the distinguished Living Legend Award.
Kitchen Aid Cookbook Hall of Fame inducted her in 2003, Les Dames d’Escoffier named her Grande Dame in 1999. She grew up cooking food, simple food, real food with layers of rich flavor and love that translated into some of this world’s best and loved comfort food recipes. She became the Chef at Café Nicholson and there she erupted the culinary world with refined Southern Cooking! Tragedy happened, Edith broke her leg and for a bit of time she was sidelined from cooking. Then a meeting happened with Judith Jones, yes that Judith Jones the one who discovered Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Julia Child. Miss Edna was encouraged to turn over her hand-written pages of stories and recipes to create The Taste of Country Cooking, which in 1976 was published by Knopf publishing house.
So many of today’s Chefs have this very book on their shelves and refer to it often. Some culinary schools require their students to read it. Don’t believe me? Go find that book at your local library or bookstore then after reading the pages and working the recipes start looking at today’s comfort food recipes. There you will see the imprint she has made on cooks and chefs for over the past 40 years. She brought pan fried chicken and its simplicity to home cooks, light and flavorful buttermilk biscuits, fresh garden preserves and hands down her corn pudding recipe is the only one you will ever need. If you search the internet, please do yourself a favor skip all the “adapted from” recipes and stick to hers, the original. They are simply the best and so is her technique in my honest opinion.
White Lily Flour has been in production since 1883 with the company tag line of “When you bake with White Lily, you’re baking with history, tradition, and love.” If you have not baked with White Lily Flour you are in for a treat, it simply creates the lightest textured baked goods because it’s a soft red winter wheat. White Lily is the Southern staple for making biscuits, pie doughs and cakes. Well there it was, buttermilk biscuits the comfort food I needed and craved. Once I was home I gathered all the simple ingredients, salt, homemade leavening (* see recipe at the bottom of this post), Tenderflake Pure Bakers lard and real buttermilk. Now this is where I am a stickler, in no way can you make buttermilk from milk and lemon juice or vinegar, that simply is soured milk and not the same. Don’t do it! The powdered buttermilk, don’t use that either it’s considered a sin for this recipe. Your oven will be set at a very high temperature, please make sure your oven is clean or the smoke alarm will go off. That intense heat will create the perfect crisp golden outer layer, there’s a slight crunch when your teeth break through that buttered top biscuit only to be rewarded with the melt in your mouth tender leaf layers of the softest biscuit you will ever make if you don’t overwork the dough. I had my ingredients, my music playlist was queued, Tom Petty of course and I knew this Southern comfort food would set my sad musical heart on the path of healing.
While the biscuits baked away in the oven I thought about all “my Tom moments,” Tom Petty was there for my first kiss, my first heart break, my first swim team win and my first solo drive after earning my driver’s license. He was there in the hospital NICU while I sang “Learning to Fly” to my little preemie twins. Tom helped me through long baking days and nights at my café, he was there with us in our car as we drove to our new home in Texas. He is there with me every time I hook up my vintage trailer and hit the open road to find my adventures. He is there with me when I cook in our new home. Tom’s there when my kids sing out of tune and help sort laundry. He will also be there again with me as I dance at my son’s wedding in a few weeks. Tom Petty will forever be a story teller to me, his song writing has truly been that famous Dick Clark quote “Music is the soundtrack of our life.” My personal soundtrack happens to have Tom Petty, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Mudcrutch sprinkled through it more than any other musician I know and for that I am damn lucky and proud.
Miss Edna will be there too, to comfort my heart with her time-honored recipes, stories and accomplishments. Maybe I will share her delicious corn pudding recipe with my new neighbors, it is almost Thanksgiving time. Next year I will get over to Fredericksburg, Texas and gather a few pounds of fresh picked peaches to make her mind-blowing peach cobbler. Hopefully I have sparked an interest for you to discover her amazing talents. There is no other Chef I would be able to recommend for Southern Comfort food; Miss Edna Lewis is the Grande Dame.
Those two amazing legends have helped carve memories, traditions and launched dreams for so many. I absolutely urge you to buy these publications. The first, Petty: The Biography by Warren Zanes. The second, The Taste of Country Cooking by Edna Lewis. The third, The Gift of Southern Cooking by Edna Lewis & Scott Peacock. You will love them all, trust me.
RIP Tom Petty, you lived sir, you truly lived.
Edna Lewis’ Hot Crusty Buttermilk Biscuits
This recipe is from the book The Gift of Southern Cooking, it is simply the best and in no way, could anyone improve it. All credit goes to the Author and Creator Edna Lewis with thanks and praise!
5 cups White Lily Flour, sifted then measured
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, aluminum free or homemade
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1/4 pound) packed lard, chilled
1¼ cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 450°F
Put the flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl, and whisk well to blend thoroughly. Add the lard, and, working quickly, coat it in flour and rub between your fingertips until approximately half the lard is finely blended and the other half remains in large pieces, about 1/2 inch in size. Pour in the buttermilk, and stir quickly just until the dough is blended and begins to mass.
Turn the dough immediately out onto a floured surface, and with floured hands knead briskly eight to ten times, until it becomes cohesive.
Gently flatten the dough with your hands into a disk of even thinness; then, using a floured rolling pin, roll it out to a uniform thickness of 1/2 inch. With a dinner fork dipped in flour, pierce the dough completely through at 1/2-inch intervals. Lightly flour a 2½ or 3-inch biscuit cutter and stamp out rounds, without twisting the cutter in the dough. Cut the biscuits from the dough as close together as you can, for maximum yield. Transfer them to a parchment-lined baking sheet, placing them so that they just barely kiss. Don’t re-roll the scraps. Just arrange them around the edge of the sheet, and bake them – cook’s treat.
Put the baking sheet immediately on the center rack of the preheated oven.
Bake 10-12 minutes, checking after 6 minutes or so, and turning the pan if needed for even baking. When the biscuits are golden brown, remove from the oven and brush the tops with the melted butter.
* Homemade baking powder recipe by Edna Lewis
¼ cup cream of tarter
2 tablespoons baking soda
Mix well and keep in an air tight container for up to 6 months.