Sunday, May 15, 2011


Everytime I hear this song by Alan Jackson, it takes me back to summers on Tablerock Lake in Missouri when we fished and camped. My Dad loved fishing and hunting and my Mom loved my Dad despite the fact that he loved fishing and hunting! It's almost camping time in the Ozarks and with gas prices so high I expect a lot of families will choose to vacation closer to home this year. We camped a lot when I was kid. Nearly every weekend during the summer, we'd either be on the lake in the boat or camping. The only thing I didn't like about fishing trips was the fact that they started so early! We'd leave the house by 5AM to assure that we'd be on the lake by 6AM. Evidently the fish liked to have breakfast EARLY!

We camped with the necessities... a tent, sleeping bags and a big green Coleman cooler. If it was a quick trip, Daddy would simply make a campfire and cook dinner in a big cast iron skillet. The only other pot they took was to make camp coffee. I think Mom must have made some side dishes at home, but all I remember having was fried potatoes and meat!

Other times Daddy would bring along a grill or the green Coleman cookstove. I see the old Coleman thermos in both of these pictures. We carried everything we needed in a campbox with a lock on keep animals out. We'd spend the day fishing and then come back to camp and have dinner. As the sun would go down and the moon would come up, we'd sit around the campfire. Fireflies would blink and disappear, playing their hide and seek game. The stars seemed close enough to reach up and touch.

There wasn't a Memorial Day or 4th of July or Labor Day that we weren't somewhere fishing or camping. It was just a given that a trip was planned. I never tired of the trips or being around my family. We were a noisy bunch, there was no danger of bears ever wanting to be close to our campsite!

Our whole family would gather at the lake for fish fries in the summer. My Dad and his brothers would trot line to assure that we'd have plenty for a crowd. The rest of the family would bring salads and sides, spreading the food out on the tailgates of trucks. That's Grandma Keeling putting out potato salad and deviled eggs, bread and butter pickles and chow chow.

 If you are new to camping you need some recipes for the meals! Cooking food over a fire can be a lot of fun, even more so when you cook it on a stick. Cooking on skewers means you won't have any pots and pans to clean up! The kind of stick you use is very important. Skewers made from dead wood will simply catch fire. Metal or bamboo skewers can be purchased in any grocery store. They need to be at least two feet long so you can stand far enough away from the fire. If you're going to place the skewers on a metal grate, they can be shorter. Just be sure to use tongs to remove them. Consider using pre-cooked meats to account for uneven cooking temperatures of a fire.

Twist Bread- Make simple bread dough and divide into balls about the size of golf balls. Roll between the hands to form a rope about 8 inches long. Wrap dough around a stick. Hold it over red hot coals, turning frequently to bake evenly.
Shish Kebabs- Cut chicken or beef and vegetables like potatoes, onions, or peppers into bite-sized pieces. You can also add shrimp, cherry tomatoes, pearl onions, or whole mushrooms, anything that sounds good to you! Cook on a metal grate for 15 to 20 minutes, turning at least once. Be sure meat is completely done in the middle. 

Hot Dogs- Even the youngest children can put a pre-cooked hot dog on a stick, though you'll want to help them hold it over the fire. Slip them in a bun and top with condiments. Wrap uncooked biscuit dough around a hot dog and cook until golden brown. For a cheesy dog, wrap a slice of cheese around the dog, then wrap with dough.

S'mores-Toast marshmallows on a skewer until browned, but not black. Place a chocolate bar on a graham cracker. Place the hot marshmallows, still on the skewer, onto the chocolate. Top with another graham cracker and slide out the skewer.

6 Slices of bacon, diced
1 Tbsp of butter or margarine
1/2 Tbsp medium sized green pepper, finely chopped
1 Small onion, chopped
2 Medium potatoes, cooked and chopped
4 Eggs
1 cup of milk
1/2 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
Fry bacon slowly in frying pan. Pour off some of the rendered fat and replace with butter. Add green pepper, parsley and onion. Cook until just starting to brown, then add potatoes (or brown them with onion if you prefer). Stir frequently to prevent burning. Beat the eggs and season with salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture into frying pan, stir just enough to incorporate evenly, then cook over low heat to simmer until set. Cut into wedges and serve hot. Serves 4.

1 1/4 Cups of Oats (or combination of Oats, Bran, and Wheat Germ)
3/4 Cup of powdered milk
1 Tbsp Plain gelatin
1 cup of dates, apricots, or other dried fruit, chopped
1/2 cup of raisins
3/4 cup of chopped nuts and sunflower seeds
6 Tbsp Honey
1/4 tsp Grated orange or lemon peel
4 Tbsp Water
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl mix honey, water and citrus peel. Combine second mixture with the first. Knead with hands until thoroughly mixed. Press into a baking pan to a thickness of 1/2 inch. Bake at 150 degrees for about 6 hours. Don't let it brown! It burns easily. Cut into bars 1" x 2" or larger, wrap in wax paper. Store in a cool place until needed. May be eaten in bar form or crumbled in water or milk as a breakfast cereal.

Happy Camping!


  1. I just love to read your blog. I feel like I am reading about my past! You express it so vividly and make memories just flood back!!! I'm gonna get the boxes of old pictures out...

  2. What a wonderful walk down memory lane and I loved the recipes that you included with your post. This is all so very clever. I, too, love to visit here.

  3. How fun Joycee!

    I love the cool effects you did with the old photos and the breakfast recipe sounds delicious! Mmmm....Yummy!

    Your new teeny blog photo ID is just too cute as well!

    Have a wonderful day.
    ~Melissa :)

  4. Love your old photos in this post and really enjoyed reading about the old days. Although I never went camping, I have been to a few camps when I was a kid or sat around outside roasting marshmallows. In later years it was an RV that I liked and grilling outside. There's nothing like the taste of food outdoors. I still like a hot dog if I'm outside somewhere. Great post Joy!

  5. what a great post! you really have carved yourself a great little blog niche~

    i never grew up camping, just once my parents were going to try a rugged mountain hotel in canada with horses galore. my father pulled up, shook his head no, and drove us staight to the empress hotel in victoria! they were fully booked so we ended up staying in the honeymoon suite as a family of 4. i cried watching the horses out the real car window... BUT i have loved the empress ever since!

    and the follow up is my husband and i stayed at the hotel my father made us leave, we LOVED IT. but is wasn't rugged either...

  6. Interesting.
    I have never been camping in my entire life, however I do remember large family picnics when I was a very young child but that all stopped when my Grandma passed.
    It will be interesting to see what the next generation remembers.

  7. Who knows...we might have been camping together way back then. We also camped at Table Rock, Bennett Springs, Roaring River & on & on. I'll have to do a post of our adventures someday. Thanks for the Missouri Memories!

  8. I miss those days, fishing, boating, fireflies... and my Dad.


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