Appetizers, Cookies and Bars, Desserts, Main Attraction, Vegetarian

Veggies at Keji

Lyss at our Kejimkujik Kitchen

We went camping last week. That’s why I’ve been missing. We left for Kejimkujik National Park on Saturday and didn’t return until Thursday afternoon. That’s a lot of advance food planning, and a long time to keep a cooler cold. Camping at Keji has been a longstanding tradition with my family, my parents taking my sister and I nearly every year when we were kids. As I’ve told you, my mom is an excellent and adventurous cook, and cooking over a campstove in the middle of the woods with no running water is not going to deter her from making exactly what she wants, be it Coconut Curry with Cauliflower and Dhal, or Hodge Podge, or fresh Guacomole. This, after all, is the woman who has made risotto (for the first time!) during a power outage caused by a snow storm raging outside, using the same stove and hoping for the best as far as carbon monoxide goes.

I’m my mother’s daughter, so I had to have a few essentials: Pepper Grinder, Homemade Granola Bars, Lobster, Pesto, Chocolate, Fresh Dates, Blueberries, Raspberries, Kale, Swiss Chard, New Potatoes, many Zucchini, Fresh Basil, Cilantro, Peanut Ginger Baked Tofu, Curry Sauce from the Cafe, Tomatoes, Lemons, Toasted Almonds and Cashews, a Baguette, some Pesto Hummus (my new invention), Roasted Eggplant, Mango Chutney, Bananas, Garlic, and of course, Sweet Thai Chili Sauce. And some hot dogs. I didn’t panic when I discovered that I forgot the Parmagiano and a little cheese grater, because I knew my mother would show up with both.
My cousin Melyssa and my sister Meagan were among my camping companions, along with husbands, children, and an ever-changing roster of dear friends new and old. We did a little advance planning to cooperate on meals and Melyssa and I spent a few hours preparing some of the longer-cooking, more complicated menu items at home. My garden was exploding, so I did my best to hold it at bay by cramming many more vegetables than we could possibly eat into our cooler.

That first night, we enjoyed my Chicken and Vegetable Curry with Melyssa’s Dhal and some Naan bread that she toasted over the flames, along with amazing Samosas my friend Melissa brought along. The meals all week continued in the same way. Every evening at dinner time, we laughed at ourselves for being so ridiculous, but also felt gratitude for being in the company of others who find such pleasure in these small luxuries. After all, we’ve got to eat! Might as well make it good.

Peanut Ginger Baked Tofu

Wrap this up with veggies, basil and cilantro and Thai Chili Sauce for a wonderful wrap, or serve it with steamed vegetables and rice. The tofu keeps for a week or two in the fridge, or forever in the freezer.

2 lb. Tofu (if you live here, use Acadiana!)
2 T. Peanut Butter
3 inch piece of Ginger
8 cloves Garlic
½ C. Soy Sauce
½ C. Canola Oil
½ C. Sugar
1 T. Sesame Oil
Blend everything except the tofu in the food processor. Cut the tofu in 1×2 inch pieces, and place on a baking sheet. Pour marinade over and bake at 350 until crispy…but not burned, about 25 minutes.

Granola Bars that are Good for You

This is a very flexible recipe-the last 7 ingredients can be changed up as you see fit. Try dried apricots, figs, dates, dried cherries or dried blueberries for the fruit. Cashews, peanuts, hazelnuts, really anything goes for the nuts. Just do not omit the chocolate. My daughter insists it is key to the success of this recipe.

1/2 C. Peanut Butter (or half Peanut and half Almond Butter)
1/2 C. Brown Sugar
1/2 C. Milk or Soy Milk
1/2 C. Honey
2 T. Oil
2 t. Vanilla
3/4 C. Whole Wheat Flour
3/4 C. Plain Soy Protein Powder (Look in the health food section or substitute whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 C. Oatmeal
1 t. Baking Soda
1/2 t. Salt
1/2 C. Raisins
1/2 C. Dried Cranberries (Terra Beata uses NS Fruit)
1 C. Chocolate Chips
1/2 C. Chopped Almonds
1/2 C. Ground Flax Seed or Sesame Seeds
1/2 C. Sunflower Seeds
1/2 C. Coconut

Grease a standard size cookie sheet with canola oil. Combine everything in a large bowl and mix well, then pack evenly into the pan. Use wet hands to smooth it down, then bake at 325 for 20 minutes. Cool for about half an hour, then cut into 32 bars. Freeze in an airtight container. These are great straight from the freezer, so hide them well. They will also keep for at least a week on your next camping trip, or in the glove box, or your gym bag.

Pesto Hummus

This is way easy if you have pesto, and really yummy, too!

1 Can Chick Peas, drained
2 T. Lemon Juice
1/4 C. Pesto

Throw this all in the food processor and blend, adding water as necessary, until smooth. Scrape it into a serving dish, or divide into 1 Cup plastic containers and freeze. The top will discolour quickly from the pesto, but stir it up just before serving and you will find it deelish!

PS My Mom and Dad wrote a great song about camping at Kejimkujik with deluxe food and the company of raccoons. They are famously clever at Keji and they always manage to get something, no matter how careful you are! Here are the lyrics, as my special bonus to you. Sing it to any tune you want, or buy a copy of the Lustre Brothers CD Live at the Whittle at the Cafe.

© Anna & Don Osburn 1994

Raccoon raid on our camp last night
Raccoons came, took everything in sight
Took my fresh-made pesto and a cheesecake, too
But they left the avocado, guess they didn’t know what to do

With the avocado, the tequila, and the lime
I think they would’ve figured it out, if they only had the time
Well, the scene bordered on the bizarre
Some might say it was sublime
I saw `em feastin’ in the moonlight
Gettin’ mellow on my wine.

We had a merry little band of masked marauders
Every one one of them a sophisticated robber
Broke into the cooler with skill and ease
Solved a combination lock, and absconded with the cheese….

But they left the avocado…. etc.

Breakfast this morning was kind of lean,
`Cause the raccoons left us with low cuisine
No bagels, no bacon, took the brandied jam
Now guacamole and a shot glass are lookin’ like the plan….

`Cause they left the avocado…. etc