My gratitude towards, and my physical need for the outdoors, for space, for fresh air and all things natural has escalated immensely since moving to this city. Living here has allowed me to see the value in all that is green and spacious, and I am learning how vital nature is to my health.
Before moving to New York, I attempted to arrange an apartment swap with an apartment in the city for my house in Hawaii. At the time, I was wondering who would even consider such a switch; to leave all that the city has to offer and come to a little country house that is surrounded by fruit trees seemed so unattractive to me. Who would want to be here, in the middle of nowhere with nothing but plants and chirping birds? I honestly thought that! Who was I? And what was I thinking? Believe me, I now clearly see the appeal in what our little country house has to offer. Until now, I have always lived either directly in the abundance of nature or within tangible reach of it. I’m realizing, that I had been taking that for granted. I didn’t know how much I value the outdoors and just how important being in nature is for my health and wellbeing.
This city is nothing short of amazing, I am in love with it and all of its craziness and magic, but at times, its towering buildings and perpetual motion can be a bit exhausting and confining. Brief relief is rewarded via early, quiet mornings in Washington Square Park or peaceful evenings on the Williamsburg Waterfront, but weekend escapes really do the trick when I need rejuvenation and a refreshed spirit.
I’ve been working on putting together a camping trip for months now, and schedules finally aligned and allowed for it. A weekend away that consisted of nothing but good friends, good food, and good ‘ole nature was finally upon me! It was just what I needed. It’s amazing how rejuvenating and refreshing it is to remove yourself from your daily environment, from all the noise of the city, and to put down those iPhones and focus on the people and conversations without the distractions of our busy modern life.
Thanks to my friends, we ate like royalty this past weekend. It’s wonderful when you have the time and ability to dedicate an entire afternoon to cooking a beautiful meal with beautiful people. To have everyone participate and contribute is marvelous, and doing so around a campfire just might be the best possible way make this happen. Our menu was quite spectacular if I may say so myself. Fresh snapper and branzino with orange and rosemary, grilled corn with garlic butter, herb and garlic shrimp, balsamic grilled vegetables, potatoes cooked straight in the coals, and a last minute apple cobbler that I decided to throw together in my new cast iron skillet. Yes, it was all as delicious as it looks. Fresh and simple and cooked over an open flame, it doesn’t get much better than that.
These grilled vegetables have been a family camping essential for as long as I can remember. They are quick and easy, and can be prepared at home for easy transport and cleanup while in the woods (or on the beach - hawaii camping style!). Chop ‘em up, throw them in a plastic bag and you’ve got yourself and delicious and nutrient packed side to throw on the grill. Plus, if you do the chopping at home, they are light, and easy to squeeze into a backpack or cooler. I generally pack the dressing separately, and then add it to the bag the morning that we will be grilling them, that way they have the day to soak up all the goodness of the marinade. When the grill gets going, just skewer them up or throw them in a grill basket like the one I used. This recipe is always a hit, and is an easy go-to vegetable side for all of those upcoming summer bbqs.
A lot of my cooking inspiration comes from my dad, especially when it comes to the grill. The grill is his primary cooking appliance, and oh, does he know how to work it. These grilled vegetables were always fired up during camping trips, and were also frequent visitors to the home dinner table, which is always filled with good food and great friends.
- bell peppers, red/orange/yellow
- red onion
- zucchini and summer squash
- baby bella mushrooms
- miso balsamic vinaigrette (recipe below)
This is one of those unrecipes of mine. These are the vegetable that I love to use, especially in the summer, but feel free to add others. For 8 people, I used 2 bell peppers, one large red onion, ½# of mushrooms, one zucchini and 1 summer squash. Cut peppers and onion into roughly 1.5” square-ish pieces, cut squash into ½” thick rounds. Cut mushrooms in half. Store in a container or ziplock bag. Add dressing 4-8 hours before grilling. Skewer or place in a grill basket, and grill over a hot flame, until the vegetables have good char on the outside but are still crisp. After grilling, you can toss the vegetables with a little more dressing if desired.
miso balsamic vinaigrette
- ½ c olive oil
- ½ c balsamic vinegar
- 2 T organic white miso
- 2 t honey
- pinch of pepper
For the dressing, whisk all ingredients together. Ideally you will want to store the dressing in a jar or container that closes tightly and is transportable.
Thank you all for sharing this wonderful weekend with me, and for helping to create such a beautiful meal. Summer is almost here, fire up those grills... happy camping everyone!