Lines from the Pines

by Free Speech on May 8, 2009

Lodi, WI~

Lodi Valley News serving Lodi, WI & the Lake Wisconsin area with local information since Earth Day 2008.

Lodi, WI-5/8/09

Campin’ Chicken
by Peg Zaemisch

It is almost cook out time again. Is there anything that smells better than the whiff of a steak charcoaling on the grill? Even the lowly hotdog has a gourmet flavor when the edges are just a bit blackish from the grill or the campfire. Or, how about that sizzling foil package of thin-sliced, itsy bitsy, red potatoes dripping with butter?
Is there anything worse than sitting down to a supper of left-over goulash only to have the neighbors unleash their grill and the garlic cloves and ground spices? The smell of spring wafting past your window as the scent of pepper steak permeates your house can sure put a damper on a plate of goulash.
When my three boys were little shavers, cooking the evening meal when camping was always a three star production. They liked to have simple foods that just tasted like summer and camping: Hot dogs, hamburgers, brats and chicken and of course sweet corn. When the veggies are coming in hot and heavy the number of foil mystery packages grew exponentially until the grill was so crowded you couldn’t squeeze a brat in around the edge. When the garden is full blown the mystery veggies can be zucchini, mushrooms, onions, thin sliced patty-pan squash and even broccoli or cauliflower (with cheese-yum).

The kids liked what we called “camping beans” which was just good old brown beans, mixed with maple syrup and brown sugar and a couple packages of breakfast sausages. They always appreciated a double batch of brownies (made from a mix) and lots of snacks like chips and dips and even pickles, olives or maraschino cherries.
Once during a recipe collection at my son Kyle’s high school in Chippewa Falls , the music department asked the students to bring in all the family favorites so they could make a nice cook book. Kyle decided to just go ahead and send in his favorite; a bit of simple fare we always called “Campin’ Chicken.” This consisted of boneless chicken breasts sliced into strips and cooked in butter and then drenched in barbeque sauce. Three ingredients. There were all kinds of complicated recipes for beautiful foods, gourmet fare with exotic ingredients and sauces. Things you had to keep warm in a silver chafing dish for cry eye! Campin’ Chicken? That’s what the Zaemisch’s sent in? Chicken, fry in butter, pour on barbeque sauce (just any regular kind from the store). That’s it?
When I asked Kyle why he didn’t ask me for something a little more “presentable” in the eyes of the band and music mothers and fathers, he said ‘It wouldn’t matter, you were supposed to send your favorite.’ So, his favorite it was. Another band mother felt so bad for Kyle (such a sweet young man stuck with a single working mother, obviously left to shift for himself) that this well intentioned mother submittted some recipes for us under our name. One was some kind of chocolate cake that required a food thermometer and a double boiler etc., (of which I have neither) and the other had something to do with a soufflé. It was a bit embarrassing when other parents would comment to me about “our” recipes. I would have to sheepishly admit, actually, that wasn’t really the Zaemisch family favorites, “We submitted the ‘Campin’ Chicken’. Yes, that was the one with chicken,20butter and barbeque sauce.”
Going out to start that grill is a process that will firmly establish in your mind that spring is on the way. Spring and all of its delights are waiting … right over there inside that Weber grill where the smoke is curling around the edges and the aroma beckons. What could possibly be inside? Campin’ Chicken?

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