Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanksgiving: Family and Friends

This year try to introduce a new side dish at your Thanksgiving table. I like to introduce an ethnic dish that goes with the normal stuffing, mash potatoes, yams, grandma's cranberry mold and green beans.

I am adding a Middle Eastern dish called hummus. Hummus is made from garbanza beans or as the Italians call them, ceci beans. You may know them as chickpeas. This is the easiest thing to make as a hors d'ouevre. Light and satisfying, it is a nice counterpoint to all the saucey, cheesy stuff on the appetizer table. You can make this from scratch by cooking dry beans or save the trouble, and open up a can of prepared beans. Just remember that prepared beans are already salted, so adjust accordingly. I don't bother straining the seed case; more rustic and roughage in diet is better for you anyway.

clean glass or stainless steel bowl (aluminum reacts to lemon)
garlic cloves (rubbing the bowl)
2 cans garbonza beans
1/4 olive oil
1 med lemon (juice only, save peel for decorative strips)
chili oil (optional)
lemon peel (optional, decorative)
chopped parsley (optional, decorative)
pita bread, crackers (plain crackers are better than flavored)

Take garlic and peel. Cut in half. Rub the cut end all over the bottom of your bowl. Do this liberally. Dump garbonza beans into bowl. On the rafting trips, I take a potato masher and smash all the beans into a pulpy mass. (At home, just do this in a blender or food processor) Add oil, lemon juice, chili oil, paprika, pepper and salt to taste. Stir vigorously until semi-smooth. (Add more oil if it looks dry... the oil seems to be absorbed easily, so add the oil little at a time) Let sit. When ready to serve, take the back of a spoon and form an indentation at the top of the mixture. Pour a small amount of olive oil into the well and sprinkle more paprika on top. Add slivers of lemon peel and chopped parsley as a decorative touch. Serve this with cut pieces of pita bread or just plain crackers. This is also great as a substitute for mayonnaise on a sandwich. You'll be surprised at how much better your sandwich tastes! And your vegetarian and vegan friends will be delighted that you served this on your table this Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to All from the Staff of W.E.T. River Trips

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Stone Soup on the River

Weather in California during November can be a mixed bag of extreme weather. One day it can be pouring rain and another, it can be sunny and warm. I'm looking out the window and all I see is blue skies. Country Mike just did an outdoor rafting trip last Sunday. He said it was warm and sunny and his friends had a blast. River trips in the fall demand a piping hot soup to close the day. Here's a really quick soup to do in the great outdoors.

1 palm-size river rock (check for cracks or fissures; should be round and solid)
water to add if necessary
3 cans of your favorite minestrone soup (Campbells, Wolfgang Puck, etc)
1 can of red kidney beans
1 can of corn
various vegetables; suggest carrots, peas, broccoli, asparagus, etc
leftover pasta

Heat up the grill or camp fire. Place a large pot on the heat. Have your child add the clean rock. Add cans of soup. Add kidney beans and corn. Add carrots and any hard vegetable like small pieces of potato. Cook until boiling. Add broccoli and aspargus, stir until semi-hard. Add peas and pasta before serving. Serve this hot soup with a crusty toasted grilled bread. Or just open up a bunch of hardy whole wheat crackers. This is an ideal soup for a vegan or vegetarian. For those meat eaters, add cooked meat before the broccoli and asparagus. I like adding leftover roasted chicken to this.

Then read the story of Stone Soup to your children. They will be fascinated by the cooking process outdoors.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Chirashizushi - Confetti Rice

This popular Japanese rice salad is served during most holiday celebrations. I remember eating this during New Year's gatherings. Chirashizushi translates into "scattered sushi" because the ingredients are scattered through the sushi rice instead of rolled. Colorful and flavorful, it would look festive on your camp table. This Labor Day weekend, add this side-dish to your table after a long day of whitewater rafting. The sushi lovers will make this dish disappear in a flash.

4-cups cooked small grain Japanese pearl rice
prepared vegetables in mirin and soysauce
(shitaki mushrooms, carrot, gourd, fried tofu, potato, daikon)
sushi rice flavoring; mirin
OR (1) 7.58 oz Chirashizushi no Moto (prepared vegetables)
1/4 cup sweet peas
1 Tblsp sliced red pickled ginger
sliced/shaved dry seaweed (decorative and taste)
sweet egg (optional)

Sweet egg: crack 2 eggs into a bowl and wisk until smooth. Add 4 T white sugar and 2 T of water and mix well. In a large skillet, pour a thin layer and cook slowly until top looks firm. Place into oven at 300 degrees until surface of egg mixture is shiny (approx 2 min). Place onto paper towel and let cool. Cut julienne strips and add to your favorite dish or salad.

Flake rice into a large decorative bowl. Slice vegetables thinly and add to bowl or just add one can of the prepared vegetables. Add ginger & mirin (omit mirin if you are using a canned prepared vegetables). Toss thoroughly. Add peas, seaweed, egg and toss lightly. Serve at cool room temperature. Note: if you refrigerate, bring to room temperature; toss before serving.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Tomato, tomahto... as long as its Fresh!

I had the pleasure of meeting a professional chef recently. One thing that he told me about grilling and cooking is that you always try to cook with fresh regional ingredients. Optimum flavors in its prime. A tomato is best coming from California's valley at the peak of freshness. Just adding that single tomato to greens will turn the simplest salad into a gourmet experience. Try to bring regional fresh produce into your rafting camping menu. Tomatoes, basil, peaches are all in peak freshness. Add them to your next recipe.

10 large fresh tomatoes (heirlooms are recommended)
1 bunch fresh basil (picked fresh if possible)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
cracked fresh pepper to taste
1 large peach (optional)

Rinse tomatoes in fresh water. Set aside. Wash basil. Pick leaves off of stem and set aside to dry in small colander. Take care not to bruise the delicate leaves. Slice tomatoes. If large, cut in half and then slice. Arrange on a platter. Stack leaves of basil; one on top of the other. Roll the stack until it forms a tubular cylindar. Slice thinly cross-wise. This will form strings of basil when you unroll them. Sprinkle the thin basil chiffonade over the tomatoes liberally. Splash on the balsalmic vinegar and olive oil. Pepper to taste. Decorate with thin slices of peaches (optional). This is a perfect salad for a vegan.

Variation: add slices of fresh mozzarella or bufalo cheese. Talk about an awesome meal after rafting all day. Just add a crusty sour dough baguette and it's dinner. In the winter, add a minestrone soup to cap off this meal.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Oyster Sauce

Oh yuck, said the kids.... when I mention Oyster Sauce. Oyster sauce is a common ingredient in many Asian dishes. It is a wonderful condiment to add to stir fries and grilled meats. I especially like it on fresh greens such as spinach, bok choy or even just cabbage. It's almost equivalent to ketchup; an all purpose condiment and cooking ingredient! Pack this bottle of flavor on your next camping trip on the river. Believe me, you will find more ways to cook with this or marinate with than any other sauce out of bottle.

10 baby bok choy (do not separate leaves; keep whole)
2 T olive oil
2-4 cloves of garlic; peeled and sliced
2 tsp sesame oil (optional)
dried chili flakes (to taste)
2 T oyster sauce

Wash baby boy choy heads in cold water and drain upside down. Do not separate leaves. Only peel off older or bruised leaves. Heat pan to medium high. Add olive oil & garlic. Add drained bok choy to oil. Careful as water will cause the oil to spatter. Stir fry quickly and add sesame oil and a pinch of chili flakes. Add oyster sauce to taste. Serve immediately when you see the bok choy translucent and bright green.

Variations: use other greens such as spinach, chard, brussel sprouts, etc. You can also slather a steak with this and grill it. I like to slice a steak into thin strips, stir fry it with veggies and then slather it with a dose of oyster sauce... ok, people, get over the word "oyster." Maybe we can just call it an Azun ketchup...

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Daikon - Japanese Radish

Daikon is a Japanese white radish. Long and pointed, its white flesh is beautifully designed to go with many dishes including decorative ones. The daikon is a spicy radish that can be prepared in many ways. Take this radish on your next camping and rafting trip. My favorite is very plain; just cut and serve. This small bright and tasty salad goes well with grilled meats or as a topping for another green salad. When served, this bright white radish will impress the whitewater rafting paddlers for its exotic crunch.

Daikon Salad
(1) Large Daikon (Japanese white radish)
slice into matchsticks
glass bowl
fresh cold water (or ice)

Take the back of the knife and scrape the daikon clean or just peel with a potato peeler. Cut the top (greenery) and tip off. Cut in half crosswise. Slice lengthwise into 1/16th slices and stack. Slice across into matchsticks. Place into a clean glass bowl. Rinse with cold water. Add ice cubes and cover with fresh cold water. Cover and place into the cooler. Serve when icy cold.

A good accompaniment with grilled steak, pork chops or fish. Tangy, spicy flavor with a clean after taste helps to brighten any grilled meat on a river trip. Top another green salad for a spicy radish kick.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Barbecue Tofu

All you met eaters keep an open mind. BBQ tofu is one of my favorite things to make on an overnight camping and rafting trip. So easy to do that the kids will even enjoy the snack or meal if you let them help prepare it. Tofu is a great source of protein and can help enhance your diet. Besides, our vegan friends love it...

Barbecue Tofu
4 blocks of extra firm tofu (in water)
extra large zip lock bag
sliced green onions include greens/white (scallions)
1 head of garlic crushed/sliced
2 small bottles of your favorite bbq sauce
hot grill w/catcher below

Rinse blocks of tofu in fresh water. Slice into 1/4 thick strips (cut into a grid, then slice). Place into the zip lock bag. Add green onions, garlic, and bbq sauce to cover all the tofu. Marinate for 2 to 4 hours (or overnight). Place on grill and cook slowly over medium/high heat. Cook until edges are browned and starting to curl. Be patient, tofu is mostly water. You want to cook most of the moisture out leaving a tasty meat-like strip.

Variations: Add the strips to a bowl with a favorite dipping sauce as an hors d'ouevres before dinner. Or place them on a toasty bun and add the fixings of a hamburger. I like to eat them with brown rice and veggies. A truly healthy dish... but don't tell the kids that.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Grandma's Kabobs

This is a funny retro kabob that grandma used to make. You can substitute steak, chicken or shrimp instead of the bologna or salami... though, I love the retro flavor of this dish, it is definitely not one for the calorie counters. The kids love this one. Let the kids prep this for the first night camping on the rafting trip.

12 slices of bologna
12 slices of salami
3 dill pickles (cut into strips)
1 medium green pepper (cut into chunks)
cherry tomatoes
tiny pearl onions

Place slices of salami on slices of bologna so that edges slightly overlap. Fold around dill pickle strips. Run skewers through centers of meat & pickle roll and alternate with green pepper, tomatoes and pearl onion. Grill 10 minutes until meats are browned. Makes 4 kabobs.

Remember fried bologna sandwich? This kabob tastes like that sandwich without the bread. The first time I ate this was during a Mother's Day celebration with great-grandma. She put these on the grill. I thought it was weird. But after eating one, I ate another and another. Reminds me of my childhood...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Camping, Rafting and Herbs

Whenever I head out for a multiple day river trip, I always want fresh herbs. Most wilt pretty quickly and start to decompose after a few days. A few herbs that seem to stand up are rosemary, sage, oregano and tyme. I wash them and then let them air dry. Then I wrap them individually in paper towels. Then I place them into a zip lock baggie and use when I need them. The thyme and oregano will go first since they will deteriorate the quickest. But I had rosemary on day 7 on the Grand Canyon and it really flavored the potatoes and meats. Fresh herbs are such a welcoming flavor on long camping or rafting trips. And the number one flavor that will stand up to the end if kept dry? Garlic!

10 eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
4 T milk or water
diced onions
chopped thyme
2 T herb feta cheese (cream feta with herbs)

Break eggs into a bowl and stir with a fork. Add salt and pepper. Add 1/8 cup (1/2 the oil) into the eggs with a splash of milk or water. Mix well. In a large skillet or dutch oven, add the rest of the oil. Heat the diced onions until carmelized (browned and limp). Add eggs. Add thyme. Cook until soft. Add feta cheese and fold over until incorporated. Serve immediately.

Tips: even if the herb leaves deteriorate, you can pick them off the stem, throw the stem into your cooking ingredients and still pick up the flavor of the herb. Rosemary is number one for this. The leaves last a long time. The stems make a flavorful smoke. Make sure you bring a lot of rosemary and garlic. With the addition of onions, you have the main flavorings for almost any dish.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Wok in Camp

When we cook up stir fry veggies on our California river trips, we like to use a large wok. This is the biggest wok that I have ever seen. We purchased a few from a couple of local Chinese restaurants. They were throwing them out because the woks were old and had tiny little holes in the metal. Cooking over coals and fire, the small holes really didn't matter to us. You might want to go to a restaurant supply house and purchase a smaller one for your own camping needs. Just make sure it is all metal without wooden handles. While you're at the restaurant supply store, grab an extra long pair of tongs, spoons and/or chopsticks for cooking.

vegetable oil
diced onions
vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts, carrots, cabbage, etc.)
1/8 cup of soy sauce
1 Tblsp sesame seed oil
pinch of chili flakes
cooked white rice (or brown)

Use a well-seasoned wok. Add oil and place wok over coals or fire. The oil will get hot very quickly. Add onions and stir fry. Scoot the cooked onions to the upper portion of the wok and it will stay warm without burning. (Tilt the wok towards you, push the onions away from you) Add any of your favorite vegetables cut into similar sized pieces. If you are adding greens such as spinach or cabbage, add these in the last minute of stir frying. When veggies look bright, incorporate the onions back into the mixture. Add soy sauce, sesame seed oil and a bit of chili flakes. Stir fast and eat quick. Very yummy with fried rice or plain white rice.

Variations: add left-over cooked chicken, pork or turkey as the last ingredient and warm thoroughly. Without the meats, this dish will serve any vegan or vegetarian, and I would serve brown rice instead of the white. I also like to splash a bit of mirin (Japanese rice wine vinegar) along with the soy sauce as an enhancer while stir frying. Or you can use an oyster sauce instead of the soy sauce. Asian ingredients are so popular that most grocery stores carry the items in their international aisles.

Caution: use pliers, heavy tongs or metal hooks to lift the wok away from the fire. The metal handles will be very hot, so use caution. To clean your wok, just add salt and scrub with a ball of aluminum foil. (When I was on the Grand Canyon, we just threw sand into the wok and scrubbed it that way. Just don't toss the sand into the river. Throw it away in your garbage to be brought out of any river corridor.) Rinse and oil the wok before storing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


I love toast. And toast in camp is the best. First I want to explain that I'm one of those that likes toast well-done where the butter is scraping across the blackened bread. I just love the crunchiness of toasted bread. The bread just tastes different when it's well done. Toast is not just for breakfast. A hearty bread toasted and schmeared with garlic and butter is a simple accompaniment to a great grilled steak. Save the leftovers, cube it and throw it in a green salad for instant croutons to go with the miner's lettuce you harvested around the river.

1 loaf sliced store-bought bread (or slice your own baguette, wheat bread, etc)
5 - 8 cloves of garlic
1 stick of butter
1/4 cup of herbs (finely chopped; mix rosemary, oregano and thyme together)

Get the grill hot and ready for the toast. Oil the grill well so the bread doesn't stick. Crush the garlic and rub over the bread slices. Mix softened butter and herbs together. Smear this over each slice of bread. Place each slice on grill with smear-side up. Toast until done and then turn. Toast to your liking. Serve hot with grilled vegetables and meat.

Variations: sprinkle parmesan cheese right before you take the toast off the grill. Add chili flakes to the butter-herb mixture for a spicy addition. Add grilled onions and steak on top of the toast for an open-faced sandwich.

Breakfast Variation: omit the garlic and just coat with plain butter. Toast as before. Mix cream cheese and strawberry jam together. Schmear a light coating over the toast and serve with breakfast. A sweet crunchy delight on your next rafting trip!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Fruit Salad

What's more refreshing than a fruit salad made with fresh California produce? Sweet and filling, a fruit salad can be made with just about any fresh fruit. On camping river trips, add a can of peaches in syrup to add a sweet retro flavor from long ago.

3 lbs of fresh fruit
suggestions: melons, apples, peaches, plums, nectarines, bananas, jicama, kiwi, oranges etc.
1/2 lemon (if you add orange slices, you won't need the lemon)
honey to taste
mint leaves
1/4 cup plain vanilla yogurt (optional)
1/4 cup raisins (dried cherries or dried cranberries or dried blueberries)
1/4 cup toasted almonds

Slice all fruit into bite sized pieces. Cut bananas, kiwis a bit larger since they deteriorate quickly into mush when you mix them. I recommend using firm bananas and kiwis. Add honey to taste. Add mint leaves whole or torn. Add yogurt, raisins, and almonds. Toss carefully. Serve immediately. This is a refreshing meal that includes your protein, carbohydrates and iron. Leave out the yogurt for the vegan friends. (Don't store long. The flavors become muddy and unappealing if left in the cooler too long. Best served fresh.)

Variation: add a can of sliced peaches and small marshmallows. This becomes a total dessert. Top plain vanilla cookies or pound cake for a more substantial dessert. Sprinkle toasted coconut on top each serving. I like to top ice cream with this fruitful concoction.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Stuffed Chicken Tenderloins

Most groceries carry frozen chicken tenderloins. These are fast and convenient when camping on an outdoor trip. They thaw quickly so they are always ready for a quick camp meal. Pound them flat and stuff them with your favorite mixtures. You can cook them in a dutch oven very quickly. On a rafting trip, these are a hit at dinner. Serve with a simple green salad dressed lightly with Italian dressing. I like to add a few kalamata olives on top of each serving.

20 chicken tenderloins thawed
round, smooth river rock (palm size)
plastic wrap
1 box frozen spinach (fresh, if you are at home)
1 pt ricotta cheese
2 pinches chili flakes
small jar marinara sauce
20 slices mozarella cheese

Thaw chicken in a large bowl of cold water while you prepare the mixture. Wrap plastic wrap around rock and set aside. Take frozen spinach (or you can saute fresh until cooked; cool, squeeze all moisture out and chop) and mix with ricotta cheese, salt, pepper and chili flakes. Set aside. Place each tenderloin between two pieces of plastic wrap or just place in a zip lock baggie. Throw a dish towel over the covered tenderloin. Pound flat with the covered rock. Take each strip of tenderloin and place a teaspoon or more of the mixture onto the center and roll. Secure with a wooden toothpick or just place seam side down in an oiled dutch oven. Pack the rolled chicken tightly into the dutch oven. Pour marinara sauce over the chicken and smear evenly. Place one slice of mozarella over each rolled chicken piece. Bake covered for 30-40 minutes with evenly distributed coals at the bottom and top of dutch oven. (Cooking time will vary depending on your coals) When chicken is thoroughly cooked, take dutch oven off the heat. Take lid off. Let cool slightly before serving.

Variation: place a thin slice of prosciutto onto the tenderloin first, before the mixture, and then roll. Cook as before. Very tasty!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Quick Canned Chili

You've been driving for 8 hours and you finally get to the put-in at the river right before dark. No one wants to cook and you're in the middle of no where. Everyone is starving and it's been hours since lunch. You dig out the extra large cans of chili to heat up for a quick meal. I like to add stuff to make it a bit more homemade. Cook a lot as this goes really quick with a hungry rafting crowd.

3 extra large cans of your favorite chili (or as many cans needed)
1/4 cup of chopped red onions
2 cans of corn
1 can of red kidney beans
1 can of black olives (crush them in your hand for a quick chop)
leftover veggies (optional)
leftover meats (optional)
cheddar cheese (grated or sliced; doesn't matter)
corn tortillas

Heat a large pot or dutch oven over the coals or fire. Add chili. Add onions. Saute until wilted and translucent. Add canned chili. Warm and then add corn, kidney beans, olives, and veggies. Heat until bubbling. Place one corn tortilla at the bottom of a bowl with a handful of cheddar cheese. Add chili and serve. Have extra tortillas or corn chips to eat with the rest. Hearty and satisfying... and very quick.

If the coals are hot, throw in a bunch of potatoes for breakfast the next morning. Just wrap in aluminum foil and place near the coals. Bank the coals to stay hot and they will cook the potatoes overnight. You'll be ready to cut them up for a quick breakfast with eggs and leftover chili.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Mexican Lasagna

Tacos are a favorite food and the kids could eat them everyday. Here's a dish that is a taco in a casserole. The ingredients are simple and the kids always want more. Perfect for a dutch oven or large skillet over the grill. Serve with blue corn chips or your favorite corn tortillas and an iceberg lettuce salad.

1-1/2 lbs of ground beef
olive oil
1 small onion (diced)
1 small can of chopped/sliced black olives
1 small can of tomato sauce (or your favorite jarred marinara)
1 pkg taco seasoning mix (add water according to instructions on package)
1/2 pt cottage cheese (or ricotta)
1 pt sour cream
1 bag of tortilla chips
grated cheese
2 T chopped green onions

Heat pan with oil. Add beef and saute until browned. Pour and drain the excess oil. Add onions and cook until wilted. Add black olives, tomato sauce, taco seasoning mix. Stir thoroughly and cook until liquid is gone. Take off heat. In a greased casserole, crush chips and distribute evenly on the bottom. Add a layer of meat mixture. Take the cottage cheese and sour cream and mix thoroughly. Add this layer to the casserole. Repeat the sequence with the 3 layers again. Add chips and grated cheese to the top. Bake at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly.

This is a favorite with the Scouts rafting trips. You can cool it down and cut into wedges and serve with cornbread, more chips or corn tortillas. Omit the chips and substitute layers of corn tortillas for a different texture. Or you can serve it piping hot and use it like a large Mexican dip while everyone's gathered after their day on the river.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Heavenly Hash - Dessert

Desserts are not hard to do when you're camping on a rafting trip. Because you can take practically everything you need, river trips are like car camping but on the water. Of course, baking requires a dutch oven and we have several recipes for brownies and pineapple upside down cake on our website, but here's a tasty treat that requires no cooking or baking at all. A welcome for the harried camp chef.

1 pt heavy cream (well-chilled; stored in the coldest area of the cooler)
wisk (or fork, but it will take longer)
1 T sugar
1 small can crushed pineapple
12 chopped dates
12 marshmallows cut into small pieces
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Whip cream in a clean glass or stainless steel bowl. (Make sure there is no oil residue in the bowl) Wisk the cream to thicken. Add sugar and whip until soft peaks form. Fold in the rest of the ingredients. Chill in the cooler and serve when ready.

Variations: sub dates for figs; omit pineapple and add fruit cocktail (drain first). You can serve the hash over ice cream. Or top a bowl of fruit such as bananas, peaches or figs. When we're camping, I like to place a store bought cookie or pound cake into a small bowl and top it with this mixture. Add fresh berries on top. It's so easy and so tasty. One year, we picked blackberries along the river and added them to the dish. Elegant and it looks like you've been slaving over the camp table all day.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Beef Stew and Camping

Here's a beef stew using all convenience foods. When you're cooking on camping rafting trips, sometimes you just don't have time to whip everything out from homemade ingredients. You can do this one while everyone's fishing in the late afternoon. Get this on the coals around 3pm and you'll have enough time for a nap in the hammock overlooking the river. Grab a book to read while you wait for this to cook. Three hours later, you'll have a hot piping stew. This retro recipe comes from great-grandma's cooking files.

1 lb beef (cut into 1" cubes)
2 T olive oil
1 can mushroom soup
1/2 pkg of Lipton's onion soup
1/2 cup red wine

Add oil into a dutch oven or heavy skillet. Keep coals evenly distributed at the bottom. Temperature should be medium-high. Sear the beef cubes until browned. Then add the rest of the ingredients. Cover. Add coals to top of the dutch oven. Simmer at low heat for 3 hours. (Move the coals off until you reach a simmer) Keep everyone away from the area especially the kids. Check every hour. Serve with crusty baguette or grilled toast and a simple salad.

Variations: add potatoes and carrots the last hour with 1/4 cup of water or stock. Add a variety of veggies (green beans, cauliflower, or chopped greens) the last 10 minutes for a fresh taste.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Olive Nut Bites

When you're camping and rafting, you have to encourage the kids to help with food prep and camp duties. The kids love to make this little appetizer before the dad's come out with the grilled foods. My child used to say that we were serving eyeballs on the river trip. We also used to make these during Halloween. We dyed the cream cheese blue to make the eyeballs look really gross. These are easy to make, so let the kids do this one alone.

1 pkg softened cream cheese
3 T of finely chopped toasted almonds
20 green olives w/ stuffed pimientos

Stir the cream cheese with a fork and mix with almonds. Take out the pimiento out of the olive and reserve. Stuff the olives with the cream cheese mixture and replace the pimiento into the hole. Arrange on a platter and chill for 10 minutes. Or cover with plastic wrap and place at the top of your cooler until ready to serve. They do look like eyeballs...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Grandma's Carrots

Everyone who's ever been to grandma's house will remember this dish from long ago. Something quite comforting about this old-fashion side dish. Sweet and savory carrots go great with bland meats such as pork tenderloin, turkey or chicken breast. I am copying this retro recipe straight from great-grandma's own recipe card. Pack this in an air tight container and place it in the cooler ready for the grilled entree on your next overnight rafting trip.

1 lb carrots (thinly sliced)
1/4 cup raisins (substitute dried currants, cranberry, or cherries)
1/4 margarine (or butter)
3 T honey
1 T lemon juice (fresh is best)
1/4 t ground ginger (or sliced fresh)
1/4 cup sliced almonds (toasted is even better)

Cook carrots covered in 1/2 cup boiling water for about 8 minutes. (Or just saute in a lightly oiled pan with 1/8th cup of water) Drain. Pour carrots into a 1 qt baking dish and stir in the rest of the ingredients. Bake uncovered in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 35 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Fried Rice

Day 2 on the river and you've grilled some chicken. Potatoes are an option, but you decide to cook up a pot of rice. Rice is inexpensive and grilled meats and vegetables go well with white rice, brown rice or wild rice. Add bouillon or herbs to the water to give the rice a great flavor. Make an extra pot while you're at it and get ready for day 3 on the rafting trip. You'll love the flavor of this quick fried rice.

1/4 cup vegetable oil (olive oil preferred)
1/2 cup of diced onion
1/4 cup of diced carrots
4 cups of leftover rice (white, brown, wild rice or a mixture of all)
1/4 cup of leftover veggies (broccoli, cabbage, snap peas etc)
1/4 cup of soy sauce
4 eggs (optional)
1/4 cup of frozen peas (optional)
1/4 cup of sliced green onions (scallions)

In a large dutch oven or skillet, add 1/8th (1/2 of the oil) of a cup of oil. Heat at medium-high heat. Add diced onions and brown. Add diced carrots and cook until limp. Push onion and carrots to the edge of the pan, slightly moving the pan's edge off the burner or coals. Add the rest of the oil (reserve 1 T) to the pan. Heat that oil until hot. Add rice. Stir quickly so the rice doesn't stick. (It will stick no matter what you do, but if you keep stirring, it won't burn) As the rice is coated with the oil, stir pan's ingredients together. Coat until the rice starts to brown. Add left over veggies. Add soy sauce. Cook until rice is brown and dry. Push all ingredients to the edge of the pan again. Push the pan's edge off the burner. Add the rest of the oil to the empty part of the pan. Heat. Add eggs. Scramble. Incorporate the cooked eggs with the rice and stir thoroughly. Cook until steam disappears. Add peas and green onions. Take off burner and stir again. Serve immediately or bring to room temperature.

I used to make this as a college student. Sometimes, all I had to mix in were onions and carrots. Just those two simple ingredients were enough to flavor a leftover pot of rice. Leave out the eggs, and it is a perfect side dish for a vegan. You'll never throw away leftover rice again.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Carmelized Onions

Speaking of condiments... the last post camping recipes was about roasted peppers. Another condiment ingredient for the camper or river trip chef is carmelized onions. Onions contain a lot of sugars and this sweetness becomes the highlight when you roast or carmelize them.

10 onions (red, yellow, hawaiian, valdalia, etc)
1/4 cup olive oil
paper towels

Cut each onion in half (in quarters if they are really large). Oil liberally by drizzling the oil and swabbing with a paper towel. Place on the grill. Rotate them until they are evenly shriveled and cooked.

Another method is to slice the onion into large pieces. Cook in a slightly oiled pan on medium-high heat. Cook slowly and toss. Add oil so the onions don't burn. Keep tossing until the pile becomes completely wilted and browned. Carmelization occurs when the sugars start to burn. That's why the onion becomes dark brown and sweet.

Top a grilled steak with the carmelized onions. That alone will give the steak a great flavor. Add cooled onions to a bowl of soft cream cheese and stir with a bit of salt and pepper. This dip will be gone in a flash or schmear it all onto a bagle with turkey or chicken. The kids like to add carmelized onions onto their burgers. They like it more than the addition of cheese!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Roasted Peppers

The addition of sweet, smokey, red bell peppers enhances many camp recipes. A plain sandwich comes alive with color and taste while a pasta salad becomes a true Italian delight. You've got the coals hot or the grill smokin'... just add a few peppers for a few minutes and you'll be rewarded with a grilled condiment that will surpass any other. This always impresses the rafting clientele on our river trips.

Roasted Peppers
10 red peppers (large or medium)
1/4 cup of olive oil (or less)
paper towels
large paper bag

Wash and dry your peppers. Decide if you want to roast them whole or cut them in half. Cutting them in half makes it easier to handle on the grill and also cuts the cooking time down a bit. You decide on this one. Place all peppers on a large baking sheet or plate. Take a brush or a paper towel and oil the peppers well; both outside and inside (if you have cut them). I just drizzle the oil over all of the peppers and then just take a paper towel and swab the oil over the entire bunch. (at home, just use your hands) Place each pepper cut side down or whole onto the grill. Watch them carefully as they will start to burn very quickly. Just rotate them around until the skins are blackened and shriveled. This should only take about 10 minutes or less.

The home method is to take the peppers and place them onto a large flat baking sheet and roast them or broil them in the oven at a high heat. Wait until one side is blackened and then turn them and bake some more.

Take the blackened peppers and quickly place them into a large paper bag. Wait about 5 - 10 minutes. Take one pepper out and with a paper towel wipe the black skin away. It should slip off the surface very easily. Proceed with the rest. If the skins don't fall off, put the peppers back into the bag and wait a bit more. If the skins still won't fall off, then you didn't roast them enough. Put them back on the grill and do it again. Hint: the skins need to be black and shriveled!

Slice the cooled and clean red flesh into long strips. To store, add them into a clean jar and cover with olive oil. It will keep up to a week this way and you can take them out to use on your favorite sandwich or add them to a pasta salad. The kids like to add them on top of homemade pizza or a broiled english muffin. I even like to eat them rolled up in a tortilla with leftover chicken and greens.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Camp Donuts

Mom's generation in the 50's was surrounded by convenience foods. These scientifically developed products made life easier for the homemaker and shortened preparation time. Out of the time-saving convenience of refrigerated dough came the rewards of almost home-baked goods. You could make fresh breads and rolls without the day long process. My mom used to make these donuts for us at least once a month. We could smell the dough cooking and the anticipation of fresh donuts was mouth-watering. You can easily do this one in camp, just be careful when heating the oil.

Camp Donuts
heavy frying pan or dutch oven
2 cups of vegetable oil
1/4 cup powdered sugar (divided in half)
2 T cinnamon
one container of Pillsbury dough for rolls

Heat pan to medium heat with oil. Take the dough container and give it the wack against the edge of your counter or camp table. Peel off each roll and place on a lightly oiled plate. Enlist the kids to poke a hole in each center of the dough. (You might want to help them stretch the hole into uniform sizes). Have the kids take the powdered sugar and divide into two bowls. Add cinnamon to one of the bowls and mix thoroughly. Pinch a tiny piece of dough and place it into the oil. If the dough just sits there, the oil isn't hot enough. If the dough is surrounded by bubbles and starts to rise, the oil is just right. Place donuts into the oil carefully (adults only). They will start to rise and turn brown. With long spatula or tongs, turn them carefully. Experiment with the cooking time depending on how you're heating your oil. They should be done in 3 to 4 minutes. Take donuts out of oil and place on a paper bag or paper towels. Sprinkle half with just powdered sugar. Sprinkle the others with the cinnamon mixture. Serve immediately or freeze for later use... though I doubt there will be any left.

Mom would sometimes take the dough, and instead of making the donut hole, she would leave the dough intact. Then she would pipe in a small amount strawberry jam through the edge of the dough. (In camp, use a sandwich bag and fill with jam. Cut a corner of the bag and then squeeze and use it to pipe the jam.) Another friend of mine likes to pipe in Nutella, the nut and chocolate spread. It's a donut to die for...

Caution: when heating any large quantities of oil on a rafting trip or in camp, be careful that the items you place into the oil do not cause the oil to overflow onto the fire or coals. Otherwise, you will have a fire like no other. Keep a fire extinguisher near any campfire or cooking area... even in your own kitchen at home!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Helper Monkeys

The kids are running wild. You're outdoors and it's time to get them to slow down and get ready for dinner. Enlist their help. You've been rafting all day and everyone's been paddling together. So, include them during the dinner prep. Have them make this hors d'ouevre while you prepare the rest of the dinner after the river trip.

1 pkg softened cream cheese
2 T gorgonzola cheese
tortillas (flour)
thinly sliced salami or mortadella
sliced dill pickles
sliced roasted red peppers
crushed black olives (or kalamata)
chopped Italian parsley

Mix cream cheese and gorgonzola until creamy. Have the rest prepared in advance. Two (2) instructions for the kids: 1) shmear the goo on to the tortillas 2) sprinkle the rest of the ingredients on top. Go do your thing (get the meat ready for dad's grill). Come back after 15 minutes and help them roll up the tortillas. Wrap in plastic and place into cooler for about 10 minutes. Enlist the kids to help pick small branches and wild flowers to make a table bouquet. Wash up. Take roll-ups out of the wrap and cut into 1/4 inch slices. Let the kids serve them on a plastic platter.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Nut Crust

This is a recipe that we modified for our vegan friends. A great staple for pie-making, freeze several so you're ready whenever you have an abundance of any kind of fruit. You can even make this on a multiple-day river trip and add apples for a real American pie.

1-1/3 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup finely chopped nuts
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 T rice or soy milk

Heat oven to 475 degrees. Or heat a large dutch oven (big enough to place a pie pan in) with evenly distributed coals. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix wet ingredients in a cup. Add wet ingredients all at once to dry mix. Mix well. Roll dough out between parchment or wax paper. Roll out to fit a pie pan. Peel paper off one side of dough. Place into pie pan and carefully push dough to fit pan. Peel the second paper off the top. Flute edges with finger or fork. Prick with fork. Bake at 475 for 13 to 15 minutes.

Make several and freeze for later use. Add parchment or wax paper in between each pie crust and you'll be able to stack them in your freezer. This is a great base for ice-cream pies or fruit pies. Add your favorite apple pie filling and serve warm. Try cooked figs mixed with cream cheese and fill this crust. Heavenly!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Beet Salad

Beets are the messy vegetable that kids loved to cook. I remember painting with the juice on butcher block paper in our family's kitchen. We ate beets with everything, so I grew up to love their sweet taste. On your next white water rafting trip, add this as a side dish to that grilled chicken. Here's a savory salad featuring sweet beets.

cleaned, scrubbed beets or roasted beets in olive oil
olive oil
feta or herb flavored feta
arugula leaves
red onion (thinly sliced)
crushed toasted walnuts
cracked black pepper
splash balsamic vinegar

In a small pot, add water and cleaned beets. Cook low heat until tender. (If you cut them in half, you'll decrease the cooking time.) Rinse in cold water and set aside. OR roast your own olive oiled beets for 30-40 min at 420 degrees in the oven. Set aside to cool.

Add sliced beets into a glass bowl. Add feta and mix until beets are coated. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss again. Chill for at least 30 minutes. Serve with grilled meats or top your favorite green salad.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Lemony Green Beans

Fresh green beans used to be a luxury only afforded by the prolific backyard gardener or the affluent foodie. Now, with a farmer's market somewhere in town every day of the week, and high-tech flash frozen beans at the grocery store, you can make this lemony veggie dish any time of the year. I like Trader Joe's frozen green beans. Already prepared and ready to cook.

One bag of Trader Joe's frozen french green beans
large colander
running water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced onions
3 cloves garlic sliced
1/2 lemon's juice
lemon zest
salt (to taste)
cracked black pepper (to taste)
1/4 cup toasted almonds (whole, halves, sliced...)
lemon peel (decorative)

Empty bag of green beans into colander. Rinse thoroughly in cold water. Let dry for 5 minutes. Rinse again in cold water. Set aside. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add sliced garlic and onions. Toss and cook until onions are partially browned. Add green beans. Add a drizzle of olive oil on top of beans and toss in pan. Add 1/2 lemon's juice. Add lemon zest. Add salt and cracked black pepper. Toss thoroughly. As soon as the beans turn bright green and shiny, take off the heat (about 4 min). Add almonds. Place onto a large platter. For a decorative touch, add a sprinkle of lemon peel on top.

You can take this dish on a camping or a rafting trip. Just put the whole thing in a ziplock baggie and put in the cooler. I love this dish cold or at room temperature. Add cooked leftover chicken to the dish and create a low-carb, one bowl meal.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Japanese Eggplant

Camping and grilling in the summer provides many of us with roasting delicacies that are hard to duplicate in the kitchen. One of my favorite side dishes goes great with roasted fish, sandwiches or just a bit of rice. Japanese eggplant is tender and less bitter than its Mediterranean counterpart. This is so easy and anyone can do it.

8 Japanese eggplants (slender, not round)
olive oil
sesame oil
grated ginger
soy sauce

Slice each eggplant lengthwise into 16 pieces. Drizzle olive oil onto the skins. Add sesame oil, ginger, garlic to the interior. Wrap in aluminum foil or place skin-side down into a dutch oven or heavy covered skillet. Place aluminum covered eggplant onto the grill until fork tender about 10-15 minutes. Or place dutch oven over the coals with a few coals on top for about 20 minutes on medium heat. When done serve as a side dish with soy sauce.

Another variation is to just wipe the whole eggplant with olive oil and roast directly over the coals. You will see them shrink and shrivel. When fork tender, open them up and add the rest of the ingredients. Add slices to a sandwich. Roasty, toasty, creamy good!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Man-Size Sandwiches

Sometimes a great sandwich is all you need after whitewater rafting. If you are on an extended rafting trip, this is a sandwich for day 4 on the river. Use all the leftovers still in the cooler in this one!

(2) day old baguette or slipper bread
1/4 cup olive oil
4 crushed garlic
4 T feta cheese (French or Greek)
1/2 lb provolone cheese
sliced leftover roasted meats or seafood
leftover roasted veggies ie, asparagus, brocolli, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, etc)
2 roasted red peppers (sliced thinly; or use jarred sliced peppers)
2 carmelized onions (sliced and cooked over low flame with olive oil until carmelized)
crushed kalamata olives (to taste)
shredded cabbage
Italian dressing (or your favorite)

Take baguette and slice lengthwise into (2) halves. Smear all (4) halves with crushed raw garlic. You should hear a scraping noise! Drizzle olive oil over each half of the bread. Add sliced provolone liberally over halves. Add crumbled feta cheese. Close both halves and wrap with aluminum foil and grill over a low heat for 6 minutes. Meanwhile, slice all ingredients for sandwich. Open bread. Smear the provolone and feta together making a thick gooey spread. Add leftover meats. Add roasted veggies. Add sliced roasted red peppers generously over the mounds. Add sliced carmelized onions. Crush kalamata olives over the whole thing. Add shredded cabbage. Drizzle left over olive oil or your favorite Italian dressing. Close both halves of sandwich and slice into large pieces. Serve immediately. Or hold off on the cabbage and wrap sandwich up again in aluminum foil and place on the lowest heat of the grill. Add cabbage and dressing before serving.

Suggestions: if you are camping or rafting, cook more than you need each day and save leftovers for this sandwich. If you are at home, roast veggies once a week in a large quantity and save leftovers to be added to sandwiches and other dishes during the week. Same concept, just different location!

Friday, June 1, 2007

Ham Salad Dip

Kids are hungry and the hubbie is getting the grill ready. You're camping on the river and the chants of "I'm hungry... where's the food?" is getting a little old. Here's a quickie retro recipe spread to go with crackers and vegetable crudites. It'll keep them happy until the grilling is done.

1 container of ham salad spread
1 pkg cream cheese (softened to room temp)
3 T mustard (prepared)
2 tsp horseradish
1/4 tsp tabasco sauce

Blend all ingredients using an electric mixer or hand wisk. Chill and serve with plain crackers and/or cut carrots, cauliflower and/or jicama.

I like to have all the veggies cut and stored into a ziplock baggie. Add a wet paper towel in the baggie and the veggies will stay nice and crisp. Store in the cooler. Prepare the dip in advance for a time saver. Or have the kids whip it up with a fork in a small bowl. Enlist the kids to place the crackers and veggies onto a platter. Tell them they are in charge of the "presentation." By the time the kids are done, your dip will be done, too. You can change this dip by adding any of your favorites such as minced roasted red peppers, a bit of minced red onion or crushed black olives.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Grandma's Molded Cranberry Salad

Retro recipes bring back a lot of camping memories. Here's one that grandma always made for us during the holiday season. I love this tangy dish with roasted chicken or pork. Easy to pack or freeze, this is great on a sandwich, too. Makes me think of Thanksgiving and the holidays!

3 pkg Knox gelatin
3 T sugar
2 pints cranberry juice cocktail
1/2 cup water
3 T lemon juice
1 ripe avocado
2 cups diced apple
2 cups finely diced celery
1/2 cup walnuts
1 tsp salt

Mix gelatin, sugar and one cup cranberry juice. Dissolve over a low heat. Stir in the rest of the cranberry juice and lemon juice. Chill until syrupy. Then stir in rest of ingredients. Pour into molds or bowl. Store chilled until ready to serve. Great sweet tang with roasted chicken, pork tenderloin or turkey.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Cold Pasta

Salads are great when you're camping. Easy, quick and cool, a salad can help balance out a grilled entree. This cold pasta dish goes with everything. It can be prepared ahead or semi-prepared for optimum freshness.

cooked, rinsed, drained pasta (rotelle or other shape)
1/4 cup olive oil
cracked black pepper
roasted red peppers
blanched asparagus (cut into 2-inch slices)
blanched carrots (cut into thin circles)
2 Tblsp dried tomatoes in olive oil (preserve 2-Tblsp of this oil)
2-Tblsp balsamic vinegar
sliced pepperocini (diced & minced)
pinch chili pepper flakes
fresh cherry tomatoes (cut in half & drained)
thin sliced red onion
crushed kalamata olives (pitted & crushed by hand)
1/4 cup sliced Italian parsley (flat leaf)

sub brocolli for asparagus
add cubed mozarella
sub jicama for carrot
add roasted sliced chicken
add roasted shrimp

Drain pasta well until dry. Rub crushed garlic over the entire interior of a large shallow bowl. Add half of the olive oil to the bowl. Add salt and pepper. Mix well. Add chopped roasted red peppers, asparagus and carrots. Take two folks and shred the dried tomatoes into small pieces in another small bowl. Add to main bowl. Add pepperocini. Add pasta. Add rest of olive oil along with the tomato olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Toss with chili flakes. Add cherry tomatoes, kalamata olive, red onion and Italian parsley. Let stand refrigerated for at least one hour.

You can pack this entire dish into a zip lock baggie and serve when you're ready. Or have all ingredients ready to add to your pasta if you are cooking pasta outdoors. Just give the pasta enough time to cool down and drain well. You want the flavors to penetrate the pasta for optimum flavor. (Here's how I prepare for the dish. I pack my cold pasta in a large tupperware bowl. Then I have the oils, spices and dried tomatoes in one small ziplock baggie. Then I have another baggie filled with the red peppers, asparagus and carrots. I keep the cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, sliced red onion and parsley ready to cut up. Then I assemble right before serving.)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

7-UP Grill Marinade

Camping and grilling go together. This summer make it easy with smaller cuts of meat. They cook faster! Grilled meats are easy to do if you follow some basic rules. Keep the meats small and uniform and you'll never have to guess if they're done.

Slice all meats into the same size and thickness (2 - 3 lbs)
tons of garlic (as much as you can stand)
bunch green onions (scallions)
7-up (or orange juice)
bay leaf
cracked black pepper
chili flakes
soy sauce

Pat dry all the meat. Place into a large ziplock baggie. Add as much crushed/sliced garlic as you can tolerate. (I like to put in about 20 cloves or 3 large heads) Add chopped green onions including the greens. Pour a can of 7-up or 1 cup of orange juice over everything. Add sprigs of rosemary, tyme, oregano and bay leaf. Add pepper to your liking along with a pinch of chili flakes. Pour enough soy sauce to cover the meats. (I know, I never measure... you'll have to base it on your own personal taste). Let marinate overnight.

Next day, fire up the grill. When smoking hot, sear each piece of meat. Then place all meats towards a lower heat to slowly cook. If your meats were pounded thin, this won't take long to cook. Make sure the chicken is cooked throughly. The beef can be cooked to each person's personal liking, though, I like all my meat cooked throughly. And a reminder... don't add salt. The soy sauce is salty enough.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Cucumber Salad

The Japanese have a lot of recipes with cucumbers. A cooling and refreshing vegetable that will take some of the bite out of hot summer days, here's one of our favorite recipes. This salad is best after marinating for at least 30 minutes.

cucumbers (armenian or regular american)
Japanese mirin (sweet sake vinegar)
seaweed (dry sheet for making sushi)
toasted sesame
carrot (optional)

add these variations for an Italian influence
omit the seaweed for these variations
tomato (optional)
red onion (optional)
cracked black pepper (optional)

Wash and dry cucumbers. Use a mandoline or a very sharp knife and slice as thin as possible creating circles. (A decorative touch for slicing cucumbers: peel the cucumber leaving strips of green skin; slice as instructed.) Toss into a small colander to drain excess moisture. Take (1) seaweed sheet and gently toast it over a low flame. Careful, it will burn and curl very quickly. Just hold it above the flame and quickly turn it over using a rapid motion. Do this for 10 to 20 seconds. Put aside. Heat a small frying pan using a low heat. Toss sesame seeds into pan without any oil and heat them until you see a slight darkening to the seeds. Take out of pan and put to the side to cool. Toss the drained cucumbers into a decorative bowl. Add the Japanese mirin until cucumbers are thoroughly covered. Let stand until ready to eat. Take seaweed sheet and fold in half and then in quarters. Using kitchen shears, cut the seaweed into thin slices. Before serving the cucumber, add toasted seaweed strips and toasted sesame.

A decorative addition to this cooling salad is to cut carrots into thin matchsticks and add for a crunch. Another modification towards a more Mediterranean diet is to add small wedges of tomato and sliced red onion. Yum, and it becomes more like an Italian salad with an Asian kick. If you add the tomato and onion, omit the seaweed and don't forget to add some cracked black pepper.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Camp Chef

Memorial Day weekend is here and many of you are on our rafting trips this week. Our food buyers and chefs are busy preparing the meals for this holiday. Yum! So many people have asked us for our river rafting recipes, that we posted them on our website a few years ago. I also came across a collection of recipes from great-grandma who passed away and left me her entire collection of recipes from the 40's and 50's. Aye caramba... and there are some really great ones... love the jell-o molds and funny salads from the past... it's a history lesson in modern food.

Don't get too caught up with cooking this holiday weekend. Keep it simple and you'll enjoy the camping and partying much more if you're not slaving over the grill. Here's a great addition to the grilled meats and tofu that you might be having this Memorial Day weekend.

olive oil
crumbled blue cheese
diced red peppers
minced red onion
Italian or Blue Cheese dressing
cracked black pepper

Take the whole head of the romaine and wash gently without pulling the leaves off the core. Let dry (turn upside down so the water drains out of the leaves). Slice in half leaving the core. If the head of romaine is large, you should be able to slice each half again creating 4 quarter wedges. Crush a garlic clove and rub it over the leaves and core. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on the sliced romaine wedge. Add blue cheese liberally over each wedge. Sprinkle capers, red peppers and minced red onion. Drizzle your favorite Italian dressing or blue cheese dressing over the wedge right before you serve. Cracked black pepper to taste.

Sometimes, we add sliced asparagus to the wedge or fried calamari... and I like to add lemon zest to mine!