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Camping? Cooking? Yes!!!

Vacation options are lurking over here at the Casa Reynolds, and one of our favorite things to do is camp. We are definitely NOT talking about hiking in, hiking out camping. Car camping is more our style, although I really think (perhaps, hope is a better word), I can eventually convince my better half to try extreme camping at some point. We shall see.

The Boys in the Forest

Dirk and Shadow were born to be wild. In the forest.

Next weekend we are heading north for our first camping trip of the season, to our beloved area of Big Sur. We are going to take Shadow, the trusty wing puppy for his first camping adventure. I have no doubt he will love it. He loves road trips. As soon as we start packing anything, he knows we are going somewhere, longer than a few hours and insists on getting in the back of the car. Unless we relent, he is a pill.  This is regardless whether he comes with, or he goes to his own camp. As long as he is in the car, he knows an adventure awaits.

At this point, we can pack, clean and cook. Hell, we could probably go back to bed for a couple hours, and he would be just fine and dandy in the back of the Volvo. We even leave the back hatch open. He won’t budge. Good boy.

On to our camping needs. Pretty easy too.

Wine and herbs are lovely

You can't pack enough of this.

We are happy to load our gear, and head out. Sounds simple. Pretty much is, but of course it requires food for thought. Or rather, thought for food.

Camping sustanence needs to be easy. You are limited with space, time and cooking equipment. And as much as I love to cook, when enjoying the great outdoors, there are more important things to focus on; like staring at the beautiful ocean, mountainside, camp fire and bottle(s) of wine. Seriously. Priorities, people.

However, since so much energy and thought goes into a trip, you should have some rocking food to go along. You are worth it.

I’ve camped enough to find through trial and error what works wonderfully and what truly is a pain in the butt. Packing enough food items that are ready to serve or need minimal prep, will help you tremendously. A few kitchen tricks can prove to be the difference between a fantastic vacation, or a lesson learned that a camp full of hungry, cold campers is not a happy campground. Indeed. And, it will allow you and your cooking buddies to concentrate on one, incredible dish that will be remembered and discussed around future campfires for a long time.

That said, with proper planning and smart cooking, one can enjoy dishes such as Whole Grilled Fish, Twice Baked Cheese Potatoes, Crispy Baked Chicken, Chile Dry Rubbed Tri Tip and more.

How about Drunkin’ Cheese Dip? Grilled Breakfast Quesadillas? Yogurt with Spring Berries and Homemade Granola?

Oh, and don’t forget the dessert! Brownies, S’More bars and Fruit Cobbler anyone?

Dinner al fresco

Eating by candlelight? I could get used to this.

This week, I will be posting some of my favorite camping food recipes. Hopefully, they will ensure you work less in your outdoor kitchen and eat better than your neighbors, (who are struggling to light their campfire in the dark right now. Maybe you should bring them a few S’more Bars for strength. Oh, and some fire sticks).

You may find yourselves eating so well in fact, that frequent camping and culinary adventures could become a regular part of your schedules, allowing you and your family to come together under the big, open skies and land we are so blessed to have privy to. And that is truly the definition of a real vacation.


A Weekend of Food.

Most of my days are filled with work, obligations, errands, chores and some fun thrown in between. Meals are planned, shopped for, and consumed.

Some are better than others. The weekends are always met with fond anticipation. Plans (or better yet), NO plans are made, and the basis of the next 48 hours revolve around sleep and food.

Yes, I’m pretty easy. Feed me. Give me some lovin’ and put me to bed. I am a happy, happy girl.

Who doesn't love food?

This stuff is awful. Honestly. Just. Walk. Away.

This weekend was no different. Woke up late on Saturday and ventured out for breakfast at one of my favorite bakeries. Croissant, eggs, cheese and strong coffee were consumed. Oh, and an almond bear claw too. Not a bear. Not a claw. Just pure love.

Lunch a few, meager hours later was at Rose’s Cafe, a local mexican joint on the strip of SB Haley St. Our Abuela usually prepares our food, but I think she must have been away, as the lunch while good, lacked the love. Still, the salsa rocked, the chips were warm, the beer was icy cold.

Home for a long, long nap. Dinner out? But of course.

Meal 3 at a new place, Square One. A new chef, some great wine and food later, we were happy folks indeed. Started with a bit of champagne. Foie and a lovely spring beet dish made us hungry all over again. How is that possible?

Our entrees were delightful. Beef cheeks (yes, who knew beef and cheeks could taste so luscious together?) over house made german noodles… Ding! Ding! Ding! A Winnaaa!

Lamb Ragu with sweet potato gnocchi? Bring it. Good thing we had a full bodied Syrah to wash it all down – otherwise we could have made ourselves sick.

Dessert was the only fail of the night. Rhubarb crisp. Not nearly enough sugar, and not crisp. But, the scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and a 10 year old port made up for it.

This is my savior.

If I want to eat like this, I have to run with these... 25 miles a week.

Sunday morning – How can it be I am hungry? Well, I am. So feed me. NOW.

English muffins with fried eggs, ham and cheddar. Salmon Benedict. Hash Browns. Oh, and throw some fruit in there for good measure, toot sweet.

Lunch? Uh, no. Nap? Certainly!

Aged cheeses, Mahon and Wesleydale woke me right up. Oh, and a Mortadella sammie helped the fog clear right out of my head.

Dinner of local Sole, potatoes and greens was a redeeming factor for my dietary journal. Food Journal? Really? Bwahahahaha!! Like I need a written trail of this debauchery to prove I am a food whore. C’mon people.

Fish is lovely.

Sole. With Soul.

Honestly, who do you think you are dealing with?

Okay, off to bed to enjoy a couple of chocolate chunk cookies. I kid. NOT.

The weekends rock.

Where’s Kat?

I will be back. I promise.
Yep. That’s a threat.

Flat Lynlee

Flat Lynlee. She needs to eat. For reals.

The Holidays.

present and past

I love Christmas.

What a lovely weekend we had over here at la casa. With the Christmas holiday closing in, we are making plans for some really great meals.

Even better time spent this week however, has been with Dirk’s Cousin Sebastian, his wife Nana, and their 3 great kiddos Carmen 9, Noah 7 and Hanna 4. Please forgive me guys if I have your ages wrong!

They are visiting from Denmark, and it’s a first trip for most. Sebastian has been to America before, but it’s the first trip for the kiddos and Nana. And a first for all around in California.

They have also been traveling with Nana’s cousin Christian who is a student at SBCC. He is moving on up to Palo Alto for fall session and his father Nils has come with to make it all happen. It was absolutely fantastic to have time spent with all of them. We are hoping when they come down the coast again from their trip up north before heading down south to enjoy the Christmas holidays at Disneyland, we will be able to spend some more time with everyone.

Mixed in with their visit, we are eagerly anticipating our holiday week at home.

Wrap, wrap, wrap

Shai Shai is Christmas ready!

Christmas Eve dinner will no doubt be a wonderful time spent and enjoyed by Dirk, me and Shadow.

Christmas day will be enjoyed by the local family, my Mom included. A luncheon of fresh seafood and produce will prevail.

Our many friends and family members far and away will be cherished and thought of.

Long days hold deep memories.

In our minds and hearts, we will remember days spent with you. Good times. Good times.

May we all experience the joy and love of the holiday tradition. Dog’s speed it continues to feed us through the New Year.

Love and Bless Us All.

It’s almost Christmas!

Yep, it’s that time of year. Most of us are still running around like crazy, and the ones that aren’t are just too organized.

I don’t trust them.

I mean seriously, who recommends shopping for gifts year round? Don’t get me wrong. I shop. For gifts. Year round.

I just don’t shop in February for friends or family members a month after settling into the New Year with the intention of storing away the gift (s) for nearly a calendar year.

I dunno, maybe it’s me and my nature to just sort of roll with the punches for most of my days. Which I think I do fairly well. Hell, I would venture to think we all live our lives pretty much the same way.


I am making another goal.

To live in the moment. I know it sounds vague, so I’m going to say “In the Moment” for me, is a week out. A month if need be. And all the rest, I can sort of plan in the back of my head, but it has to be sort of an after thought.

This does NOT include investments, bills or any money related terms. That can just be trouble.

I want to be a present part of the…


Whether it’s good or bad, sad or mad. I’m going to try and remain aware of what is.

Because honestly? I have not lived nearly these many years to find myself unable to behave in a manner  most people would adhere to as a first grader. If I do… then I fail.


I sound noble now, but it may only be a short amount of time before I succumb to an elementary grade level mentality.

That’s okay. It’s human. And maybe that is the real lesson to be learned here.

Let us live and let live. Don’t judge anyone. Learn from others.

Even the organized ones. Merry Christmas.

Tis The Season

Yep, it’s nearly Christmas. I have been a busy, busy bee. And I’ve also neglected this darn blog.

Mea Culpa.

I will try to do better in 2010. It is one of my goals. I don’t call them resolutions. Resolutions, in my mind infer that one is off the track. I must be doing something wrong, and therefore I need to resolve my current actions.

Yeah, that sucks. I like goals a whole lot more.

Until my new ‘goal’ is met, I leave you with this.

Christmas week is near. I finally got to light a fire in my fireplace. The glow and warm colors are just what I needed. I baked some treats today, and now my whole house smells like butter and burnt sugar.

I am trying not to eat the small plate of fudge, shortbread and mint bark on the counter.

I am leaving for Zihuatanejo in 5 weeks, so therefore I really need to refrain from eating the sweets.

I love Christmas. I am mailing letters to friends and family far and near tomorrow. I wish us all peach, love and harmony for 2010.

I strive to enjoy a simple life, with my beloved husband and puppy.

May we all enjoy the holiday of love. My earnest best to you all.

Dog bless us all xoxox


Someone Needs to Invent Smell-o-Vision on the Internet

You need to be in my house right now, because the aromas coming from my cozy kitchen are divine. I am preparing my Spaghetti Bolognese, in preparation for my half marathon race tomorrow. But even if I wasn’t running 13.1 miles tomorrow, this meal would hit the spot.

The ingredients are easy and basic. The most important part of this sauce is the simmering time, which needs 2 hours. The greatest thing about this dish is that is gets better after a few days in the fridge.

So when you have a few hours to hang around the house (the weekends are perfect for this), give this recipe a try. It freezes beautifully too, so make it now, serve it later.

I doubt however, that you will be able to prepare this sauce without at least serving up a small portion before chilling the rest for a future meal. Because my household is small, I offer this version. Feel free to double the recipe to serve 6 to 8 people.

Spaghetti Mise en place

MIlk in spaghetti sauce? Yes.

As I mentioned in this post, this is not your traditional spaghetti and meat sauce recipe. The tomato ratio is rather small. The addition of beef broth creates a rich, hearty and robust sauce, and the variety of meats lends more richness to the dish.

The traditional recipe calls for 4 types of meat; ground beef, pork, veal and pancetta. It’s lovely for sure, and a real splurge on the calorie/cholesterol charts. I have found that reducing the meats to only 2, either a very lean ground beef or turkey, along with the pancetta in smaller quantities and the elimination of butter for sweating the vegetables still produces a lovely, well rounded sauce. If you want to try the original version (because you just need to have it at least once, I assure you) email me and I will hook you up.

Otherwise, give this a try. Serve it with a lovely red wine of your choice and some crusty bread. A token salad is probably a good idea too. But tonight I’m saying no to the greens. I can’t risk filling up on salad and forgoing my carb loading plan.

I’m smart like that.

Spaghetti Bolognese

Makes about 4 cups of sauce.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 3/4 pound lean ground beef, or ground turkey
  • 2 ounces pancetta, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup milk (you can use whole, skim, half and half; whatever is on hand)
  • 1 – 8 ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/4 cup beef stock
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Shadow and his winning number

Shadow is holding my running number hostage for a taste of the pasta. Smart puppy.



In a 6 to 8 quart saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic and sweat over medium heat until the vegetables are translucent. Add ground meats and pancetta to the vegetables; increase heat to high and brown, stirring to avoid meat from sticking together for about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the milk; reduce heat and simmer over low heat until milk is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer 15 minutes. Add the wine and beef stock. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally until flavors develop and sauce thickens. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.

You can opt to add oregano, basil or parsley. All are good. None are necessary. Serve with your favorite noodles and a grating of fresh parmesan.