Eating Our Way a Through Thanksgiving

Camping for Thanksgiving is something The Missus did a lot growing up. Camping at El Capitan for Thanksgiving, was a new experience for The Mister. To make it special we planned all our Thanksgiving favorites. We decided to cook as much as possible in cast iron and to clean up the meals a bit – just make them a little healthier. We can’t figure out why, but the food tasted amazing. We think it had to do with playing all morning at the beach and not spending time at an appetizer table. Because really – the food was epic. Here’s what we had:

Smoked Turkey
Dairy Free Cast Iron Cornbread
Dutch Oven Green Bean Casserole
Clean Cranberry Sauce
Canned Cranberry Sauce (Oh Yeah!  The Mister hates it but I grew up on it and have to have at least a taste every Thanksgiving.)
Campfire Sweet Potatoes
Stovetop Stuffing (a staple The Mister and Grandma could not do without!)
Dairy Free, Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie

Smoked Turkey:  We took a small smoker with us and smoked turkey legs and breasts.  The Mister made the brine using a generic recipe he found online.  We prepped a concentrated mixture at home and stored it in the ice chest.  On Wednesday night, we added water and the turkey and let it sit overnight.  We brought a separate ice chest just for the turkey.  I didn’t want to risk the brine leaking all over our other food and contaminating it with poultry juices. Thursday morning, The Mister put the turkey on the smoker and we cooked them low and slow.  When the turkey reached 165 degrees on an electronic meat thermometer, he took it off to rest.  The turkey was amazing.  Super moist and yummy.

Turkey

Dairy Free Cast Iron Cornbread:  I can’t for the life of me figure out where I found this recipe, but boy was it amazing.  Slightly sweet and crumbly.  I used Bob’s Red Mill Coarse Ground Cornmeal.  We prepped all the ingredients right in camp.  We tried to cook it over the fire but it was too hot.  We ended up throwing it in my mom’s oven in her camper to finish cooking the bread.  I could have eaten a plate of this by itself.  It was that good.  It made great leftovers for breakfast the next day.

Cornbread

Cast Iron Cornbread

Dairy Free Cast Iron Cornbread
2 cups coarsely ground yellow cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 egg at room temperature, beaten
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled (we used Earth Balance)
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt, at room temperature (we used vanilla flavored coconut yogurt)
4 tablespoons honey

Spray your cast iron skillet with non stick spray.  Mix ingredients together in a bowl and poor into prepared skillet.  Cook low on fire for 30 minutes or until bread is cooked through.

Dutch Oven Green Bean Casserole: This is a must have for The Mister.  He loves green bean casserole.  I am not a fan, but I actually really liked this.  I found the Healthy Green Bean Casserole recipe online and modified it a bit.  We cooked it in a dutch oven and had to use leftover Namaste Gluten Free Pancake Mix to fry the onions since I forgot coconut flour.  The onions weren’t super crunchy and they mixed well with the fresh green beans.  I cut all the vegetables at home, so we wouldn’t have to do a ton of prep at camp.  I fried the onions at camp so they would be crunch, although I don’t think they crunched up a whole lot.  As for coals and the dutch oven, we just guessed.  We added what we thought we needed on top and bottom and were pleasantly surprised that it cooked through.  It took about an hour to cook.

GreenBeanCasserole2  GreenBeanCasserole3

Clean Cranberry Sauce:  I am a huge fan of Danielle Walker and her grain free cook books.  Her food is Ah.Maz.Ing.  I used her recipe for the cranberry sauce.  I made it at home before we left and it kept really well in the ice chest.  The cranberry sauce had just the right tartness.  Oh my gosh it was good.

Thanksgiving Cooking

Campfire Sweet Potatoes:  I love sweet potatoes.  The rest of my family – not so much.  We made too many of these and ended up tossing out the leftovers.  I just wrapped the potatoes in foil, poked a few holes in the potatoes, and tossed them on the grill over the fire.  I cooked them until they were fork soft.  And that’s it.  Easy peasy.  I don’t put butter on mine, but you could if you wanted.

Sweet Potatoes

Dairy Free Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie:  I’m not sure why, but I didn’t get a picture of the pie.  I made it at home before our trip, and then my mom kept it in her fridge to keep it from spoiling.  I used Danielle Walker’s pie filling recipe and a generic gluten free crust.  We are a nut free household, I opted not to use her pie crust recipe.  The filling was great.  The crust not so much, but who likes the crust anyway?

 

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Thanksgiving at El Capitan

Everyone in our extended family is having babies. Lots of new cousins. And a lot of changes in how we will spend the holidays this year. We are usually at The Mister’s parents for Thanksgiving, but this year they were flying to Hawaii to see his sister and their newest addition. We were super sad not to spend the holiday with them but excited for the prospect of a long camping trip. We love Santa Barbara and thought that by heading that far south, we might have good weather. The Missus booked reservations at El Capitan State Beach. Her parents were going to meet us there.

Sunset

The Westy was loaded when we took off early Wednesday morning! We put firewood on top, a 9’6″ surfboard inside (we really need racks), two ice chests, beach toys, and hoards of other stuff. It was a bit tight. On our way down we stopped in San Luis Obispo for lunch and Pismo to grab the kids a few wet suit rentals and a boogie board. Both were a good investment. The kids loved the boogie board and the wetsuits kept them warm.  Why stop in Pismo and not rent in Santa Barbara?  Why not?  Just another reason to slow the trip down and enjoy the coast.

Loaded

The West in Pismo

We couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather. It was in the 70’s and we didn’t have any fog until Saturday night. We totally lucked out and missed the huge storm hitting Northern California. We had some rain on Sunday morning but it was more if a slow drizzle. Not a big deal.

Gorgeous

The kids loved playing at the beach. It was a short walk from our campsite, but not too far. Our site was okay. It was pretty close to the freeway and train tracks. Although we would have preferred an ocean view, we realized those sites had their own issues. Who wants to manage a three year old and unfenced coastal bluffs?

The Girl

We spent time at the beach everyday, had down time back at camp, and the kids loved playing with their grandparents. Grandma was actually a lifesaver.  With the sun going down around 4:45 pm, The Boy wanted to go to bed at 5:00 every night!  Grandma kept him up with arts and crafts in her trailer.  The kids had such a blast.  The made place cards for the dinner table and decorations to hang around camp.  They even made the table runner.

NameTags

Thanksgiving was a lot of fun.  We had a leisurely breakfast, spent the late morning at the beach, and came back to camp to make our Thanksgiving feast.  We stuck to simple, classic dishes.  We used a lot of cast iron!  The food was amazing.  We aren’t sure why it was so good this year, but suspect his has something to do with being outside in the fresh air.  You can read about what we ate here.

Dinner

The Mister took a few days off work so we were able to extend the holiday from Wednesday to Sunday. It all made for great family time and an epic Thanksgiving. How did you spend the holiday? Ever camp your way through Thanksgiving?