Monday, September 25, 2006

Patrick's Point

Part two of our vacation.

Here's where the relaxation really started! This was our fourth Patrick's Point campout with the fun folks from HomeSchoolers of California. It's a community we've lived with, a week at a time, and it's been interesting to see the kids grow up, and the adults evolve and change. We went to our first Patrick's Point campout in 2000, a year of foment for us--we were just on the brink of change ourselves, and I think HSC has been a part of that change.

So, days at Patrick's Point go something like this: wake up (at a later hour as the week progresses...) and fix coffee on the campstove. Sit by the fire with others and drink. Then make breakfast (I was sick of cold cereal by the time we got there, as we'd eaten it every morning during the first week, so I made oatmeal, french toast, bread pudding, etc.) Clean up, and the day's activities begin. The kids go to games in the meadow: british bulldog, capture the flag, foam swordplay, and the adults read, knit, cook, hike. I never made it to the beach or even to an ocean view while we were camping....I was more in a mood for relaxing and camp cooking.

My one big accomplishment this year was learning how to use the dutch oven by the campfire to make yeasted bread! I did this early in the week, and it came out so good that I tried it again later in the week. It burned the second time. Oh, well! I still have some of the burned stuff--even though I cut off the burned part, the burned flavor went all the way through it. It was fun to experiment, though.

I expanded on my tradition of making a dutch oven apple pie. You can find a recipe here for the Campfire "Spicy" Apple Huckleberry Pie I made this year. I'll be posting some of my other dutch oven recipes on Elizabeth's Vegetarian Kitchen, as well, hopefully soon.

On with a typical day at Patrick's Point: everyone comes and goes and gets lunch whenever they're ready for it. More reading, discussions by the fire (one really nice thing about Patrick's Point is that it's always a bit cool to downright cold--which may not seem like a good thing, but it keeps lots of people sitting by the fire, so there's always someone to chat with or just read companionably with) and then around 3 or 4 the dinner cookers start getting busy. On any given night there might be up to 6 dutch ovens in the campfire at the same time! I first got inspired to cook this way at Patrick's Point and I saw a few weeks ago that there was a dutch oven event in the Portland area. Maybe next year I'll make it to that. I think I used my dutch oven every single day at Patrick's Point, except the day we got there and the day we left.

Dinner at the campout is an optional potluck, and most people do potluck it. There's an amazing variety of tasty dishes, and enough people are vegetarian that there's plenty for us to eat. This year we instituted a "vegetarian side" of the food table, and there were just as many veg dishes as non-veg, maybe even more. Dinner is really an event at Patrick's Point!

When dinner is over it's time for the dish washers to spar for room at the sink. Oh, there's a nice kitchen at the group campsite, though they took out our stove. There used to be a big, four burner stove and they said it was too much maintenance and too costly for the propane. But at least there's hot water!

After that everyone gathers at the campfire for making s'mores, singing, chatting, and staying up way too late. Thus ends a perfect day at Patrick's Point!

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