Sunday, August 14, 2011

Camp food, frogs and newts

Got out of town this past weekend up to the wilderness known as Willowemoc Wild Forest and had some needed quiet time just the two of us and a million amphibious creatures. It is a bit crazy how you can end up seemingly in the middle of nowhere with no other humans around within only a short 2 hour drive and 3 hour hike from New York City.

Willowemoc houses a large variety of toads and frogs (though there apparently is no scientific distinction amongst the two - only a popular myth) and given the intermittent rain we've had, they were out in droves, or 'knots' as apparently they are called when in company. The forest itself was otherwise fairly quiet with only a small chipmunk and a few other rustling creatures to be found aside from the newts that dotted the rocks almost everywhere you looked after it rained.

I am so proud of my very pregnant wife. She hoofed it along with a full pack for about 7 miles round trip up and down hills and across a couple of brooks. As an aside, I have been told that brook means 'fart' in Tamil. Just trying to raise the bar of this post apparently. Anyway, being a wilderness, there are no actual campsites so we broke a trail into the woods and found a decent little clearing, set up camp and relaxed for the afternoon. Can barely see the little fellow in the pic below!
The meal we had picked up at a little country type store in Liberty, NY on the way up. To be honest, it was the kind of country store that looks like people from New York City set up after falling in love with the countryside - a little bit forced in places and definitely trying to be country in some ways except with big city prices.

Beautiful little campsite surrounded by ferns, lots of leaves on the ground and plenty of downed timber perfect for a fire. Got the fire going, then the thunder began to start up... Erin suggested we hurry. I wanted to wait for the coals to get a little more established... compromised. The lucky thing about the site we chose was that the trees above were so dense that even after the downpour began, not only did the fire keep going (with a little help), but we stayed dry for the first 15-20 minutes of it. We enjoyed a feast of Andouille sausage, corn on the cob and onion flowers all with that wonderful fire-roasted tint with a bit of scotch to top it off. The Andouille, while made in New York, was the real deal in other respects: smoked but sweet and not too spicy. The best part was eating it with lovely pregnant and beautiful Erin while dry next to a fire in the middle of a thunderstorm in the Catskills. It was our son's first camping experience too... not the last.

Here's a pic from the morning after at our site:

This week, I am going to give a west African inspired meal a go: some sort of peanut-sauce based spicy chicken dish with okra and tomatoes - had a lovely meal at a Senegalese place around the corner and going to try and one up them at home!

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