Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving with the Whooping Cranes

Before my husband and I had kids we would sometimes go camping down at the Texas coast during the long Thanksgiving weekend. We would spend some time enjoying a bit of bird watching at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge . The Whooping Cranes make Texas their home during the fall and it is a beautiful time to visit. We would usually split our time between Mustang Island and Corpus Christi and make Thanksgiving dinner over a campfire.

The first year we did this we were planning on making foil packed veggies along with some fish for dinner. Somehow we left half our groceries at the store and didn't relize it until we had already set up our campsite. We ended up with just the vegetables for dinner and since the potatoes were still at the store with our fish... it was a bit heavy on the carrots... I was a bit angry about our meager meal at first... but after I had a glass or two of warming port in my belly I was feeling alright.

Here is the recipe that we used that year for dinner

Foil Packed Veggies

I make this dish almost every time we camp or cook out. This recipe never comes out the same… but it always tasted great. Use whatever veggie or seasonings you have on hand the following is just a suggestion. If you have basil and oregano you can make the veggies Italian style…or throw in a little taco seasoning for Tex-Mex veggies. Use you imagination! If it happens to be thanksgiving and you forgot the groceries... just marinate the guests with a generous amount of port and hope for the best.

2 Potatoes
2 Carrots
1 red onion
2 zucchini
3-4 mushrooms
1 bell pepper
garlic-a mix of whole cloves and minced (to taste)
salt, pepper, and other spices to taste
beer or other liquid

Place two pieces of foil across each other in the shape of a cross. Cut all veggies according to your preference. Layer them according to cooking time. Start with the hardest to cook veggies (potatoes and carrots) and top it off with the quickest cooking (mushrooms and tomatoes). Pour a little beer to keep moist or for crisper (and more fattening) veggies use butter. Fold the foil over and place on a hot grill. Cook until the veggies are soft adding beer as necessary to keep them from sticking. If you are short on time you can boil the potatoes and carrots until they are almost cooked before adding them to the foil pack.

Another year Paul and I camped out on the beach on Thanksgiving weekend. We bought some fresh shrimp in Aransas Pass and drove down the beach to a spot near Corpus Christi. We set up camp and began prepping dinner. The shrimp we bought had the heads still attached and I began the messy job of peeling the shrimp and preparing the marinade. Paul was going to collect kindling and build the fire while I started preparing dinner… it seemed like a good idea to me… All that changed, however, when I popped the head off the first shrimp and greenish goo got all over me. I got a bit squeamish and I asked Paul to help me finish the job…OK I’m rewriting history a little…what actually happened was this: After I got green goo on my shirt I whined like a baby. Then after a minor tiff Paul begrudgingly helped me with the icky shrimp heads. After our petty quarrel we had a wonderful evening and had one of the best damn dinners ever…so here is the recipe.

1 ½ lbs. Shrimp peeled and decapitated
6 key limes
1 small onion, sliced
6-8 mushrooms, sliced
Butter or olive oil
Cherry tomatoes
Peppers (we found small sweet peppers at the store)
Green sauce (canned or homemade)
2 heads garlic
Aluminum foil and skewers for kabobs

Begin by marinating the shrimp in the juice from the key limes for several hours.
Mix mushrooms and onions with oil or butter and wrap in foil. If you are using bell peppers you’ll want to include them in the foil wrap…
Cut off the tip of the head of garlic and remove as much of the outer paper as you can before smearing it with butter and wrapping it in foil as well.
The garlic and onion foil packs can be placed on the fire at any time. Just place them directly in the coals keeping an eye on them so that they don’t burn. When the onions and garlic are almost done you’ll want the put the shrimp and remaining veggies on the skewers. The shrimp doesn’t take long to cook so you’ll also want to wrap tortillas in foil and begin warming them while the shrimp cooks. To serve place the foil packs and kabobs on top of an ice chest or other flat surface and chow down. To eat the garlic…take a clove and squeeze the “meat” out of the outer paper. Throw all the ingredients into a tortilla, top with green sauce and enjoy!!!!

Happy Thanksgiving,

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