I feel a deep and constant pull between the city and the country. Except if I am being honest, I know the truth of those realities. There is likely no way I could withstand living on a farm far from the urban shuffle despite the earthly promise of a large vegetable garden and sedative quiet.
And so perhaps, the best solution for me is camping.
It never ceases to plop me right to the earth and ground my attention to the forces of creation. Those that have sprung the lush, green trees high into the air and carved out the deep lakes which wash the sand ashore. The noises are few – mostly chirping birds, rustling winds and the incessant noisy cicadas – but the gratefulness is deep. The more I am outside in it, the more thankful I am to be alive. To be living and enjoying and witnessing and saying, yep, this is my life. Thank you, thank you, thank you for it.
That’s the best reason I can give to all those non-campers out there for why I do it.
When I am outdoors (with the manfriend in tow, who I must credit for bringing camping back into my life), I don’t feel anxious despite the worsening anxiety and panic attacks I’ve experienced lately. I feel relaxed, fully relaxed with my smoke-infused hair, dirty fingernails and the same clothes I’ve worn for three days straight.
That’s not to say I don’t have my camping standards. A stocked cooler, padded sleeping mats, access to clean water and an escape plan (umm…bears) are all part of the deal for me. And good food. Because it doesn’t matter if you’re in the city or country, good food is a non-negotiable.
While the manfriend demands his tofu hot dogs + toppings for our camping ventures (he is a vegetarian, after all), I worked to cook us up a greater array of campfire options on our trip last week to Rock Island State Park. Most of them I learned in the two summers I spent as a daycamp counselor, which remains to this day, one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.
First, breakfast burritos.
Armed with a pan I nearly donated to the Goodwill until the manfriend + I christened it “our camping pan,” I whipped up these Campfire Breakfast Burritos and by the last day of vacation, had them perfected. They’re rather simple to make but feel super fancy when you’re eating them nestled in the middle of nowhere along with a cup of homemade iced coffee.
And for dessert, banana boats.
Bananas stuffed with dark chocolate chips, peanut butter and walnuts are a great dessert (or breakfast…or lunch…or whatever) and super easy to make. Just stuff a banana with whatever you want, roast it over the fire and eat up the delicious gooey resulting mess.
The whole process of campfire cooking is slow, but that’s exactly the point.
Light your fire. Give it fuel. Prep your food. Drink your iced coffee. Look around you. Assemble your burritos. Pause. Look up. Pause. Pick up your trash. Get dirty. Devour your banana boats. Sit down. Say thank you. And take a breath.
Take a long, fucking I’m-grateful-to-be-alive-today breath.
And enjoy yourself a bit of camping.
CAMPFIRE BREAKFAST BURRITOS
prep + cook time: 15 minutes
other add-ins: chili, precooked bacon, sour cream, avocado
Cook eggs (I suggest 1-2 eggs per burrito) in a pan, whisking occasionally with a fork, directly over campfire until cooked through. Over the heat of a big fire, this should take mere minutes.
To assemble the burritos, place one tortilla on a piece of aluminum foil larger than the tortilla. Top with scrambled eggs, beans, cheese and salsa. Fold the burrito like a pro, and wrap firmly in the foil. Place on a grate over the campfire (or in the burning embers), turning halfway through. Cook until cheese is melted. Over a direct flame, this should take only a minute or so per side while the embers may take up to five minutes per side.
It’s probably smart to bring tongs to take the burrito off the fire when its ready, although you can use two sticks to accomplish that task. And yes, I am speaking from experience here.
CAMPFIRE BANANA BOATS
prep + cook time: 10 minutes
fillings: chocolate chips, peanut butter, almond butter, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, dried fruit, cinnamon (essentially, anything you like)
Cut a small slit in the back of the banana stem, and peel it so just a small 1-inch section of the banana is showing (see picture above). Cut the banana down the middle, and stuff with your choice of toppings*. Wrap in tin foil, and place on a grate directly over the campfire or in the burning embers, turning halfway through. Cook until the chocolate is melted or banana is soft, almost gooey, to the touch. Depending on the strength of the fire, this can take anywhere from two to 10 minutes.
*I like to stuff my banana with meltables first (i.e. chocolate, peanut butter) then add the dry toppings after its done cooking (i.e. walnuts, coconut flakes)