Two Sentinels will always have my heart!

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It’s that time of year again: the yearly ode to camp!

There is something about this place… it gets into your heart and soul and never lets you go, though you wouldn’t want it to anyway. The lake, the trees, the granite, and the Sierra sun… nothing is more soothing to the soul. It is a reunion with my camp family; a recharge; a reset button for life: camp rejuvenates me in more ways than I ever thought possible. I am incredibly grateful for my camp family and the time I get to spend with them every year, be it in hail, rain, sunlight, or moonlight.

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This year was no exception: the lake bonfire once again reminded me how much I refresh my spirit when I visit; how much my {old and new!} camp friends mean to me; and how much camp has become a part of who I am.

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Alpine lake water, warm granite, long walks with friends, bright campfire sparks against a black sky with pinpoints of brilliant stars, tall pines, sun-warmed dirt. Dirty feet, dirty legs, mosquito bites; contagious, uncontrollable laughter, impossible hilarity, simultaneously having a dance party while washing out the enormous oatmeal pot, hanging from the kitchen rafters just because we can. Sense of place, sense of belonging. Camp tradition, heritage, friends, family, love, laughter, starlight. All the things guaranteed to give my soul the happy lift it needs, to escape technology for simple pleasures of singing, reading, laughing, and talking. Nothing is more grounding for me than having my feet in the waters of Lake Kirkwood and the sun on my head, reminding me to be present and mindful of life’s joys.

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Two Sentinels will always be the home of my heart.

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Camp=Love.

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I’m BACK!! And camp was FAB! And I pretty much didn’t want to leave, as per usual. Except then when we were TRYING to leave, Mother Nature had a good laugh and dumped half a ton of hail into the lake and garnished that with some epic lightning and thunder. No big deal, especially when there’s no vehicle access to camp and everything gets rowed across the lake…

Nothing like a good solid Sierra storm to round out an incredible session. No words… just pictures. Camp is where the heart is!

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IMG_6654I mean, this is a food blog after all…. my super awesome campers made two meals al fresco, using three types of cooking! Box oven [cornbread + pineapple upside-down cake], dutch oven [veggie chili+ roasted veggies], and over the coals [quesadillas + banana boats]. So proud!!

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Of COURSE you lick your plate. Or foil, as the case may be… this is camp. Obvs. Leftover meatloaf+roasted veggies + guac all on top of a freshly made quesadilla al fresco. Doesn’t get much better than that.

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And then of course, you have your friendly wilderness ‘helpers’. Not. IMG_6701

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But gunneling is fun!

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And my shoes are ridiculous. This is going on at least three years of those being camp shoes… I’m amazed you can even tell what color they are.

IMG_6696Already missing my camp fam, who I only see twice a year (average).

You have to have at least one place where you laugh till the tears and snot run down your face, your abs hurt and you can’t breathe. Somewhere that the people are there not because they are paid, but because they love it with their soul. A place that gets under your skin in the best possible way. Rejuvenates, refreshes, lightens the soul.

Home.

Camp.

Love.

Two Sentinels.

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IMG_6750And then sometimes you look like this when you’ve just been caught in a two hour hail storm in running shorts and a tee shirt. Thanks Mother Nature, we love you too! Good thing we’re tough camp types, what’s a little hail?!

Baking. Because… camp is imminent!

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Welcome to my ritual.

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I ALWAYS bake before I leave for camp. I’m not sure when this started but… it did (shocking, I know… me? Baking?! Weird) and I have no reason to be breaking this delicious trend.

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And I leave tomorrow! This totally snuck up on me but I am so ready for ten days of mountain fun with my camp fambam. Dirt. Hair that could scrub out a pot (yes, I was told I should do that last summer and immediately decided I would shower; as much as I love having steel wool for hair) (my hair does really interesting things when it isn’t washed for a zillion days) (yes I’m too lazy to shower because I just get dusty again and I’m camping and I’m in the lake soooo who cares?!). Enough with the parenthetical rambles. Moving on.

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Campfires where I go to bed smelling like woodsmoke… brownies to die for even though they’re made with a mix, I’m obsessed… eating outdoors, every meal… stars so bright you think your eyes are malfunctioning… singing the most ridiculous songs because you can… yoga on the dock… a complete technology detox… beautiful scenery…friends. My indescribable camp family. So much Two Sentinels love!

But anyway, haven’t left yet, and in between last minute packing, I made these!

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Whole wheat buttermilk biscuit peach shortcakes with vegan caramel sauce and ice cream.

Because fruit.

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Peeeeeaaacheeesssss. My favorite part of summer. Actually that would be a tough call since I love berries equally as much… all the fruit. I want ALL of it!! But besides that, we happened to have an excess of peaches this week so instead of eating them all leaning over the sink with juice going everywhere, I made dessert. Of course.

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And happily fulfilled my pre-camp baking ritual! Happy days. See you on the flip side, let’s hope I get all the dirt off this time (unlike last year.. you know it’s good when there’s still dirt on your face *after* your post-camp shower…)!

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Whole Wheat Peach Shortcakes with Vegan Caramel (And ice cream. Obvs)

I like barely sweet shortcakes, since they highlight the super-sweetness of perfectly in-season summer fruit. Mmmm. These are whole wheat, made with buttermilk for a bit of a tang. Perfectly balanced against the sweet peaches and maple caramel.. and ice cream. Because summer dessert = ice cream. Or whipped cream, also fine, I just went with what I had. Shortcake recipe lightly adapted from Food52, here, and caramel borrowed from Blissful Basil, here! Yield: 6 shortcake/biscuits; I made a half batch of caramel for 4 peeps, so those measurements are listed below. Makes about a cup.

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For the shortcakes (whole wheat is good for youuuu! So is a little butter now and then):

  • 1.75 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 4 tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into smallish pieces
  • 3/4 c buttermilk (mine was low fat)

For the filling:

  • An excessive amount of peaches, diced (I leave the skin on mine), tossed in a bit of coconut sugar if yours are less than perfectly ripe
  • ridiculously delicious ice cream of choice

For the caramel (full of healthy fats and good nutrients!! Winning):

  • 1/6 c coconut oil
  • 1/4 c unsalted, creamy almond butter
  • 1/4 c pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 runneth-over tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 450, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a largeish bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and soda, salt, and sugar. Cut in the butter using your fingertips (my preferred method) or a pastry cutter, until things start looking like coarse cornmeal and the butter is distributed evenlyish. Make a well in the center (look! You get to play with your food!), pour in the buttermilk, then use a spoon or spatula to stir it all together, until just combined (do try not to over mix). Divide the dough into six cute little balls, then flatten slightly and place on the baking sheet. Bake for just about 15 minutes, until the tops are firm and lightly browned. Let cool slightly on a rack before serving.

While the shortcakes are baking, make caramel!

In a small saucepan over medium, heat coconut oil, almond butter, maple, and sea salt over medium until all are melted and incorporated. This shouldn’t take more than a minute or two, which is excellent for instant gratification. Turn off the heat and stir in vanilla. Serve warm or cold, and store leftovers in the fridge!

I could tell you how to assemble your shortcakes but that might insult your intelligence… but I would suggest cutting them in half to get maximum cake square footage to soak up excessive amounts of ice cream and caramel and peach juice…

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Camp is where the heart is

Hello!

I’m back from my hiatus, and I have a photo essay for you. No recipes yet since I’ve barely been home… but you know it was a fabulous trip when you still have dirt on your face after your post camp shower!

Two Sentinels love, in photo form:

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Camp is where the heart is!

Pie and my happy place!

Once again, a long hiatus between posts. But this time I have an extremely good reason:

I was here.

happy place.

Among other things, doing some of this:

like a boss.

And a ton of this:

dock yoga!

Yes. You SHOULD be jealous. Be very, very jealous…

Because this also happened:

the best place to do yoga? I think so! I’m on the left in the ridiculous shorts… 

My tenth year at the best, most beautiful place on earth: a counselor for the best campers; laughing, goofing (can I say we pulled the most amazing prank ever?!), singing, eating pilfered brownies whilst stargazing: a group of the most diverse and amazing women I have ever met.

And I came back with sore ribs from laughing so much. Camp is wonderfully restorative—-being covered in camp dirt for ten days always gives me a refreshed perspective on life back home. Camp = love! So much love. I already can’t wait to go back for my 11th summer next year.

pieeeeee!

Anyway—I got back Wednesday night. And all I wanted was PIE. Blueberry pie, to be exact. Don’t ask, I’m not exactly sure why… I do love pie, but it’s not usually my go to (I’m guessing this has something to do with the somewhat temperamental nature of pie crust and the comparative ease of cake, as well as my laziness). I think it might have been the lack of berries up at camp or something, but sheeesh… pie definitely needed to happen. I decided to get experimental and make a teeny pie, just enough for four people (I bought a new 6″ cake pan, since mine are sadly in storage in another state…I had to break it in somehow, didn’t I?!). I also dispensed with the top crust- I like crust, but a bottom one is enough in a small pie, and I wanted to see what happened when I halved the recipe. Great success! Half the crust recipe fit perfectly into a 6 by 2″ cake pan, and left just enough for a top decoration. I wasn’t sure on bake time either, but it turned out perfectly. I think this might be the best crust I’ve ever made—I credit Carolyn McCuaig and her awesome pies for the recipe! Pie is most assuredly happening with greater frequency in the wait…are those…cookies universe, now that pie crust has decided to be a tad more cooperative.

mmm., antioxidants!

Blueberry Pie

Simple and satisfying, and tastes like summer in a bowl. Do yourself a favor, and eat it a la mode, like any self-respecting pie should be eaten (especially for breakfast). Many thanks to Carolyn McCuaig for her pie recipes :) I’ll include the full recipe here. For a pie like I made, make half the recipe and use a 6″ cake pan.

Double crust:

  • 2.25 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 c vegetable shortening (like Spectrum brand)
  • 1/3 c butter (preferably unsalted, although I used salted and the crust was still really good)
  • 5-6 tbsp ice water

Blueberry filling:

  • enough fresh blueberries to fill your pie dish or tin of choice
  • 1/3 – 1/2 c sugar (depending on sweetness of blueberries)
  • 1/3 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • a squirt of lemon juice (I didn’t have any, if I had, I would have added it…but it’s still fab without)
ahh, pie a la mode. Summer in a bowl.

Listen to some awesome music and get yourself in the pie groove:

Preheat the oven to 425, and (if using a cake/pie tin) grease and flour the pan. In a largish bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut in butter and shortening (the colder the better) until the mixture looks like cold sand. I like to use a pastry cutter for this. Add ice water a tablespoon at a time until the mixture just holds together, then pat into a flatish disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for a bit. You can roll it out right away, but dough that’s been chilling is easier to deal with. Meanwhile, toss blueberries with sugar and flour (and lemon juice, if using) to coat. When the dough has chilled (I left mine in for about 15 minutes), roll it out to 1/8″ thickness between two pieces of plastic wrap. Peel off one layer, invert dough over pie dish/tin, and press out the dough, crimping the edges as you go. Prick the bottom with a fork a few times, then toss in filling. If using a top crust, make sure to cut a few steam vents in the center.

Place the pie tin on a cookie sheet (to protect against spills), and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350, and bake for another 30 minutes (for a 6″ pie), or 40-50 for a normal sized pie, until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Let cool completely before cutting, to give the filling time to set up.

Eat. Love. Taste the summer and reflect on the people and places you love in life!

kind of weird with the sun, but I love how it makes the berries look.