The Autumn Leaves

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I have three cousins who are amazing singers.  When I was a kid and they would come for the holidays and we would all gather around while they sang.  Autumn Leaves was one of the songs they performed and I was always moved to tears from the beauty of their voices.

Mother Nature has a way of doing that to me with her version of Autumn Leaves.  The beauty of what she gives us in the fall is astounding.  This is one reason the Traveling Supper Club has made a commitment to make the first week of November a sort of annual pilgrimage to Mother Nature.

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The group joining us on this trip are all about nature, so we spent the majority of our time on the water or in the woods.  It was the maiden voyage for our new canoe and we know now it will be a well-used addition to our camping equipment.

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Food wasn’t at the top of the agenda for this particular trip….although we did have some mighty-fine eats.  We always do.  Let’s just say camping without bacon is not camping.

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The hubs and I have had a particularly stressful summer.  Hot, hot weather, not so great health and just an overall blah cloud hanging overhead.  Don’t get me wrong, life always has its redeeming moments throughout the year, but a chance to reconnect with the Mother always does a body good.

The first morning at Lake Lowndes State Park in Columbus, Mississippi started with a quiet meditation with my darling friend Kim followed by a five-mile hike in the woods with all of our dear friends in tow.  It was a shot in the arm we all needed.  Campfires were prohibited due to a statewide burn-ban, so in the evening we all gathered around the picnic table for tall tales and spirited libations.

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Now that we are back to reality and the stresses of life are beginning to once again weigh heavy on the heart; a deep breath and memories of our visit to Lake Lowndes State Park brings us back to where we need to be….at peace.

Until next time campers……

 

 

Northward….

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It’s May in Mississippi….usually the summer heat is creeping up on us ’bout now.  The TSC decided back in February we needed another gathering before the real dog-days are upon us.  We all checked calendars and set the date!

The hubs and I counted down the days.  Sometimes the responsibilities of life weigh us down and make us forget the real joys of life.  Those can be found in spending time with good friends and loved ones, and we were about to get filled to the rim with lots of joy.

Remember what I said about May in Mississippi.  Well, Mother Nature got confused and thought we were still in April.  The weekend outlook called for clear skies and cool temps.   Let’s get rolling.

Two of us couples convoyed up the Natchez Trace and made a couple of stops along the way to take in the sites.  Final destination – Tishomingo State Park in the northeast corner of the state….a first for the group.

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As we pulled into the park, our comrades were waiting for us, and not empty handed!  A couple of shots of tequila later, the weekend had officially started.  I don’t think I have laughed that hard in years….catching up on things that have happened in the last few months and taking a few trips down memory lane.

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Some gathered around the fire and a couple took off in kayaks.  That’s whats great about the group….do whatever strikes ya and everyone loves ya just the same.  After several more shots and a dinner of hot dogs (it is camping after all) AND several apologies to the neighboring campers, we hit the hay.

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The morning came with the smell of etouffee preparations….my mouth was watering already.   We are the “Traveling Supper Club” after all and food is a big part of what we do.  For some reason though, my camera didn’t find it’s way to my hand as much as usual over the weekend.  I guess I was too busy holding a shot glass instead.  We do have plans for a TSC cookbook in the future and all of the outstanding meals that we have served will be featured.  Lots of great recipes to share!

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There were a couple of new adventures facing the group this particular weekend.  We took a canoe trip down Bear Creek….saw some amazing sites and also some interesting local folks if you get my drift.  I also took a spill in the lake in John’s kayak….the first time it had ever been turned over.  Oh well, there is a first time for everything and it wasn’t my fault….blame the tequila!

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We ventured outside the park to the Bolding Farm, my long-time friends place about 20 minutes away and had some great fellowship and fine food.  There is nothing that a good dose of those two things won’t heal.  The weight of everyday life had been lifted and the joy had returned.

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This group of folks are some of the best around and I’m so glad we found each other through our love of food and need for adventure.  The hubs and I were lucky enough to leave the group for a few extra days of camping adventures, but enjoyed reminiscing about the recent days spent with the Traveling Supper Club.

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Medicine

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Isn’t it funny that when you think of some of the times in your life that you felt your best overall was when you were happy. On the other hand, when life occasionally gives us a raw deal we felt our worst….physically and mentally! Happiness is the best medicine, along with a huge dose of laughter. This is one of the joys of membership in the TSC.   An abundance of happiness and laughter are almost a guarantee.

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Our most recent trip was no exception. We initiated some new folks on this trip and their membership was passed with flying colors. This was our largest group to date….10 joyful souls ready for a weekend of lots of fun and much-needed medicine.

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Dauphin Island was the destination and the weather, although cool and windy, was just beautiful and clear. The campground was filled with the annual snowbirds from all across the country and we really made our presence known and created lots of interest in our group. Of course we circled the wagons in our favorite spots….sort of off in the back under a huge live oak.  The perfect place for this rowdy, fun-loving group of friends.

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The weekend was a fest of fine food, with a huge side of belly laughs, great stories and more fun than should be legal.  I don’t know about you, but this is how I want to live the rest of my life…with great friends, sharing wonderful eats, great drinks and a huge dose of the best medicine.

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The wagons will be circling again, heading to a new spot in North Mississippi.  Another adventure….another chance to recharge the batteries with some of the best people I know.  Members of the club….our posse……our friends!

Mother Nature

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We recently headed out for the annual fall gathering of the TSC bound for our favorite Autumn spot.  It had been months since we had been able to hook up our little 17 footer and hit the road for another adventure.  Life had sort of taken control as it can do from time to time.  Of course, I’m not complaining as our summer had been spent selling our home of 17 years and moving into the place of our dreams….which ain’t a bad deal!  I gladly put my camping gear on the back burner to settle into the place where I will someday bask in the glow of long-awaited retirement.

The last few months had been quite stressful; moving is awful, even if it is to your dream spot.  On top of that, my career took a much needed turn and I started a new job.  Needless to say, we were long overdue for some campfire time with our much-missed friends.  I planned my portion of the meals and had an ice chest filled with goodies;  I was prepared.

The past four months had seen little or no rain with temperatures nearing 100 more often than not.  The fall had little promise of being anything spectacular either.  As we traveled I-20 East, I noticed many of the pines were actually dead; looking like burned match sticks from lack of moisture during the toasty summer.  The temperatures had not gotten below 60 yet and the gorgeous fall colors were nowhere in site.  I was hesitantly optimistic.

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Of course, our favorite spot is so lovely even without the glorious oranges and yellows of prior years, and the water was at an all-time low.  It did feel really great to back our home-on-wheels onto the lakeside site for some much needed feasting and fellowship.

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One memorable morning I planned to prepare a camp favorite, huevos rancheros (ranch eggs).  I researched some recipes and came across one that sounded particularly delish.  Let the preparations begin….and the bloody mary’s!

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There is something so fundamental to our existence about sitting together and preparing a meal.  Reading the recipe, talking of loved ones, recent travels, and life in general become a valuable ingredient to a tasty camp-side meal.

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What a morning!  The spice of the bloody mary and the heat of the breakfast were the perfect compliment to the strong breezes that were blowing in the impending wet weather.

Rain was not the only thing Mother Nature invited to our gathering on this particular weekend!  She invited ants….and they came from far and wide.  For those who have never camped, ants are truly an unwelcome visitor to the party.  They invade everything in the cabinets, the trash can, the all spots in between.  Even with spray and constant cleaning, the little devils take up residence and aren’t prepared to leave anytime soon.

As we drove away one day earlier than expected with a garbage bag of rain-drenched, ant-covered laundry, we decided that it would be a good time to enjoy the comforts of our new, wonderful home in the burbs.  We bid farewell to our precious friends….promising to gather again soon at our favorite beach spot.  We will see you next fall Roosevelt, and we will be more prepared for the unwelcome party guests!

I hear you!

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I know you are out there; I can hear you calling.  I wish I could answer right now, but responsibilities won’t let me.  I wish I could climb in and prepare you for a fun get away to anywhere.  We need it; we really do…more than you could know.  The stress of life somehow lessens when sitting next to you late in the afternoon listening to the sounds of Mother Nature.  Your little sleeping nook is such a cozy place to catch a nap or watch a movie before bed.  The thought of you makes me feel peaceful and rested.  I guess that is what makes our time together so special.  You offer us solace…escape….renewal.   Keep calling; hopefully we can answer soon.

Pot Roast

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Me turn vegan? No way! Vegetarian? Not a chance!  I love meat.  Steak for me….still mooing.  So pot roast is one of my favorites.  Sunday dinners of my childhood always included pot roast; cooked in my mom’s famous cast iron dutch oven.  I can vividly remember enjoying the tasty meal, including the delicious veges and gravy, in front of the television as we all watched the Wonderful World of Disney or Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.   I have taken to the tradition in my own home, much to the pleasure of my man, as he is a carnivore too.  I have tweaked mom’s recipe a bit, but haven’t strayed too far from the tried and true goodness.

Recently, as I planned the Saturday night meal for the TSC, I couldn’t stop thinking about pot roast.  Should I do it over the fire in the dutch oven?  That could be delicious, or disaster!  Since we are all rather new at the “cooking over the open fire” concept, I decided to play it safe.  I was talking with a friend (thanks Karen!) and she suggested I do “Mississippi Pot Roast” in a crock pot.  I was intrigued….anything with that name had to be wonderful, since some of the greatest delicacies ever have been dreamed up right here in our state.  Also, the thought of just plugging in a machine that would do the work for me while I enjoyed the view from the hammock sounded alright by me.

Let me just say….it was the most delicious, tasty pot roast, and was a HUGE hit with the TSC members.  My own twist to the recipe…I added some really tasty veges to the gravy and cooked them for about four hours.  It was the perfect meal to share with friends under a tent at a picnic table in the rain!  Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate, but who cares?  It’s the food and fellowship that really matter.   Enjoy!

Mississippi Pot Roast

1 Roast (I cooked two small ones to serve 8)
1 Envelope Ranch Dressing
1 Envelope Au Jus Gravy
1 Stick Butter
5 Pepperoncinis

Put roast in a crock pot. Top with dry Ranch dressing and au jus. Slice the stick of butter in small pieces and put on top and add the 5 peppers. Cook 8 hours (all day or overnight).

As mentioned, I took the meat out and wrapped it in foil and added onion, portobello mushrooms, shitake mushrooms, carrots, and new potatoes to the juice and cooked it about four hours.  I also added fresh tarragon and basil from the garden.   Serve on a platter with rice.

Bacon

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I woke up this morning thinking about bacon…..and salivating.  The only time my man and I cook bacon is when we are camping…unless we have a really good year in the garden, but more on that in another post!

If you have ever spent the night in a campground, you know that the smell of bacon drifts through the park from sun up until about noon.  It drapes itself over the cool morning breeze like a wonderful fuzzy blanket.  The TSC members are usually gathered together mid-morning to share coffee and some early morning conversation about the wonderful time we had the evening prior.  There is some discussion of hangovers and the need for asprin, or a bloody mary if hair of the dog is needed.  The member who is cooking brunch begins to fry the delightful treat and we add our own glorious aroma to the already blanketed campground.

Accompaniments to bacon do matter to our group, even though this delicacy can certainly stand alone.  One fine, cool morning last fall, we had fresh pears covered with crumbled bran muffins, butter and cinnamon.  They were wrapped in foil and cooked directly over the fire.  Add a little fresh goat cheese and some crisp bacon and as we say “that’s got good all over it!”  It was honestly one of the best breakfasts I have ever had.

So, it really isn’t unusual for me to wake up at home thinking of bacon.  It is probably that I’m just ready for the next trip so I can be covered in the warm blanket of bacon.