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Natural Education Opportunities

One of the greatest teachers is nature itself. You can take advantage of this by creating a nature journal, gardening, exploring the environmental sciences, and by camping. Camping you faintly whisper while seeing visions of you and your child being carried off by mosquitoes, ticks, centipedes, scorpions, and other nasty little critters! Well, did you know that you could go camping in your own backyard ... or even under your dining room table. You could pretend that you are hiking in a meadow or along the seashore. You could be climbing a mountain or delving into a volcanic crater. Along the way you are going to get hungry and thirsty.

Below are some fun, camp-style cookery that you can add to your camping experience. Let your imagination flow ... your kids will love it. Let them help to prepare both the food and your cooking items and they'll learn a lesson and have memories to cherish.

Solar or Box Oven
1 Brick or flat rock
1 Corrugated cardboard box
3 metal coat hangers
1 box of heavy duty Aluminum foil
1 Metal (or aluminum) pie pan
4 Charcoal briquettes, already lit and gray
1. Cover the inside and outside of the box completely with 3 or 4 layers of heavy duty aluminum foil. Don't forget the flaps.
2. Lay box on level ground so that the front opens oven-style.
3. Straighten the coat hangers, then run them through the sides of the box about 2/3 of the way up from the bottom to form an oven rack.
4. Set brick in bottom of box and then place the live coals into the pie pan.
5. Put the pan on the brick and don't forget that the pan is HOT, so use a hot pad or mitt to move it around.
6. Place the food to be cooked onto coat-hanger rack (usually in its own pan or aluminum packet) and close the box lids. Watch carefully, checking often. Each live coal makes about 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
I've cooked brownies, cookies, cakes, biscuits, pizzas, and several other foods this way. Just be aware that like an oven, the more often you open the door, the longer it will take to cook. And if this is your first foray into camp cooking, be prepared with a snack in case your meal doesn't turn out quite like you expected it to.

Cooking with a Coffee Can
2 Strips bacon
1 Medium potato, sliced
1 Medium onion, sliced
1 Medium tomato, sliced
2 Stalks of celery
1/3 pound of Ground beef or ground turkey
1 Carrot
Salt and pepper to taste
Coffee can and lid made out of aluminum foil to place over the top
1. Cut carrot in half lengthwise.
2. Cut celery and carrot into 2" lengths.
3. Cut bacon in half.
4. Mold 2 meat patties.
5. Place 2 pieces of bacon on bottom of can. Place layers of all ingredients. Repeat.
6. Place closed coffee can on top of glowing coals for 25 min. Open lid and check after 10 minutes, if browning too rapidly, pour 2 tablespoons of water in can.
This is great fun; however, if you can't get a large coffee can, the large, cafeteria style vegetable cans can work also. Another tip is to spray the inside of the can with nonstick spray.

1/2 cup Flour
1 teaspoon Baking powder
1 teaspoon Shortening
a pinch of Salt
1/4 cup Water
1 Hot dog
1. You can also use 3/4 cup of biscuit mix such as Jiffy brand or Bisquick brand. Mix ingredients with shortening and then add water.
2. Put hot dog on green stick and wrap dough around it.
3. Cook holding 6 inches from coals so inside will cook and then brown nearer to the coals.
4. Ensure the dough is not too sticky.
Instead of a green stick, you can use a coat hanger or the same type of holder that you would roast marshmallows on. Just remember that the closer you get to the campfire, or grill coals, the hotter it will get. Consider using an oven mitt or hot pad to hold your stick.

Egg in a Nest
1 Slice of bread
1 Egg
Make a hole in the center of the slice of bread and place in frying pan and break egg in the center of the hole and leave to cook. This simple recipe is also a good variation for breakfasts off the stove top.

1 c Peanut butter
1/2 c Honey
1/2 c Crushed graham crackers
1/4 c Powdered skim milk
3 tb Cinnamon
1 tb Powdered cloves
1. Mix all ingredients thoroughly.
2. Store in plastic container and place in the refrigerator to harden overnight.
3. Store in a plastic squeeze tube for easy carrying or plan to eat with a plastic spoon out of some other kind of (non-breakable) container.
Makes two cups.

chocolate bars
Graham crackers
Green sticks or coat hangers
1. Break 1 large graham cracker in half.
2. Cover 1/2 of the graham cracker with a piece of chocolate bar.
3. Put a marshmallow on the stick and hold it over the fire until roasted.
4. When you have your marshmallow roasted the way you like it, place it on top of the chocolate and put the other graham cracker on top.
There are plenty of variations on this old-time favorite. You can use other types of candy bars or flavored chips (butterscotch, mint-flavored, carob, etc.) in place of the chocolate bar. You could use cookies instead of the graham crackers. Let you imagination, and taste buds, run wild.

Hot Buttered Cow
1 pound Brown sugar
1/4 pound Soft butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Cloves
1/4 teaspoon Mace
1/4 teaspoon Allspice
pinch of salt

1. Cream (beat) sugar and butter together until thoroughly fluffy.
2. Beat in vanilla and spices.
3. Chill.
For each cup to be served, place 1+1/2 teaspoons batter in a preheated mug (Parental units so inclined could also include: 1 1/2 ounces dark rum and 1/2 ounce gold or white rum.) Stir well. Fill with hot milk and serve.
This is a nice and cozy drink and my kids quickly fall to sleep afterwards.


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