Camping, fishing and hunting were never my idea of a good time. I can remember a time when I would have scoffed at the notion of camping as a fun date. No bed, no bathroom, no electricity-this is supposed to be enjoyable? That was until I met my future-husband over 20 years ago. He taught me how to appreciate nature and take in each glorious breath it had to offer, even on damp, cold wintery mornings.
Growing up in the beautiful Ozark Mountains, every fall meant hunting season for many families. Every weekend was spent sleeping on the ground, sometimes lucky enough to also be inside of a tent, getting up before dawn and tracing about in the woods to find what would become dinner. As a girl who did not grow up with a father who hunted, this was a bit foreign to me but intriguing. Although, my heart welled up with tears the first time I saw him bring down a big buck, the memories we shared around the campfire will forever stay with me.
He taught me everything I needed to know about cooking on a campfire. We dined while sitting on logs and talked about the future. Many plans were made for us around those campfires. I never did get quite used to the sport of hunting but I jumped at any opportunity to go camping. Even after our children were born, we’d load them up and head out for a weekend in the woods. They had a ball collecting firewood while their daddy taught them about different the animal tracks they’d find along the paths. And at the end of the day, we gathered around the campfire for something steamy, cooked right on that campfire they had built.
I always cook the traditional recipes that he had shown me that first time camping with him. Each meal was cooked up in the same cast-iron skillet that I still own today. Potato, onion and egg hash with a couple slices of bread on the side was our breakfast. Potatoes, onions, eggs and some type of meat would be fried together for our evening meal. There wasn’t a care in the world when sitting around that campfire in the evening. Everyone would be eating slow and taking in the night sounds. There was no hurry and no worries.
The kids placed marshmallows on sticks and when their bellies got full of the sweet treat, they would have a contest as to who could get their marshmallow burnt more without melting it off the stick. And I can’t forget teaching them to make smores for the first time and then going to the pond to clean our sticky fingers. On the hot steamy nights, one or two kids would “accidently” fall