Posted July 10th, 2012
by Jim, Working Owner
Please excuse my absence from the enews last week. My wife and I joined some friends camping out in the Wallowa Mountains in Eastern Oregon. Have you ever been out there? It is incredible. Granite peaks jet out of the high plain and our campsite, just north of the town of Enterprise, had a prefect view. I highly recommend the trip.
It’s been a long time since I’ve roughed it and I was a bit un-prepared. Fortunately, our friends were “Glamping” which is “glamour camping”! While this new word has yet to be precisely defined, in general it means camping where some comforts are provided. This campsite had big canvas tents permanently mounted on platforms with beds and furniture. This was really nice when we had some thunderstorms roll through on Saturday evening. We could all hang out together (instead of everyone huddling in their own tent) and we opened the flaps and watched the lightning illuminate the drama of the storm making it’s way north of the peaks. Wow.
We also took a couple great hikes up into the mountains. This was an opportunity to practice some primal exercise. In the primal system we keep our workouts irregular and spontaneous, trying to reproduce how Grok, our hunting and gathering alter ego would have exercised. Of course to him it was just living life; miles and miles of somewhat slow walking (or hiking) in search of fertile gathering grounds, then more intense running and chasing of prey and hunting. Then, of course, super high intensity running, and climbing to get away from predators.
We hiked a couple miles in and a few thousand feet up. It was really beautiful, which kept us going even after we got to about 6500 feet or so, where there was snow on the trail. Eventually we had to turn back. Most of us were hiking in sneakers, but a couple folks in our party were trying out some hiking sandals, which makes for some cold feet when your leg slides into a the mountain snow.
But it was really nice get the heart pumping, and I followed the youngest member of our group, who, at just ten years old, could scamper over the rocks hand-over-hand to bypass the switchbacks, where the snow was the deepest. Trying to keep up with a kid having fun in the out of doors gives an old guy like me a pretty intense workout!
I was responsible for dinner Sunday night, and I brought my chili. I made an all beef version beforehand and froze it. Since freezing often decreases the spice, I brought along a fresh hot pepper for those who like it spicy. I like to serve it with lots of accoutrements like fresh cilantro, chopped tomato, chopped fresh onion and for those who do dairy, cheese and sour cream. If you remember the recipe from the newsletter, we don’t put in any beans, and to stay primal we don’t serve it on rice. Actually, this time, to make it a meal for the group, I served it on a bed of sautéed chard.
While the chard has been pretty nice at the AGC, we have a friend with a garden that’s just taking off who gave me two giant bunches. I chopped it up before we left and stored it next to the frozen chili in the cooler so it was still nice and fresh when I cooked it up. First I chopped a couple slices of bacon in 1/4″ pieces and rendered the fat in a Dutch oven on the camp stove. When the bacon was crispy I pulled it out of the fat, (these bits make another great topping) then I tossed both bunches of chard in that hot fat. I chop the stems of the chard about 1/4″ as well, making bigger pieces as I move towards the greens because the greens shrink up a bit.
When the chili got hot I served everybody a big scoop on top of the greens and let them dress it as they liked. Since we had done so much exercise we indulged a couple growlers of beer from the nearby Terminal Gravity brewery that completed a really satisfying meal to top off an awesome weekend.