Camping / Granola



What? That doesn't look fun to you? Sleeping damply under a parking-lot-sized piece of blue plastic while the rain hurls itself from the clouds like giant clots of wet, suicidal lemmings, even though it has, to date, been the driest summer on record? Well aren't you strange! Because it's especially fun in the moment right after it starts to pelt water, when you and your partner are out in the rain stringing the tarp to the trees, because that's just the kind of situation that lends itself to a kind of absolute harmony: a oneness of vision and purpose that brings everyone closer, like putting together an IKEA futon frame or putting up wallpaper or cleaning up your barfing kids in the night, if you know what I'm saying (and what I'm saying is: lack of harmony).There was a moment when we had the edge of the tarp draining onto a boogie board that was propped up against a plastic bin that was set up on another tarp right by the ditch we'd dug with a miniature plastic beach shovel to encourage the water to drain awaywards rather than towards.
Campfire under a tarp: good idea or not?And yet. It was fun, even during the worst of it, and I'm not even sure why. Maybe it was the game we invented--the one where each person takes a turn standing up with a hand to their breast and making up the national anthem of a made-up language? (This only became unfun briefly, when I realized that our Russian neighbors were looking over at us offendedly. "Oh no!" I said. "I think they think we're making fun of them!" And Birdy said, "Well, we did get the idea from listening to them talk." Which was, I'm ashamed to say, true. But as you know, I khev Russian blood in my veins, so ees okay, yes?) Or maybe it was all that cozy reading in the tent. Or the wet day at the bay.

Or the excuse to clam-shack it for dinner. Or the game that we bought for $1.50 at the Brewster Library book sale. 
I'm Sorry! Did we steal your game idea? What an Aggravation! So Sorry. (That's a photo I lifted from ebay, lest you thing we brought a metal-framed bed camping.)Or the fact that we still didn't miss a single day of pond swimming.Our own private pond.Or the fact that when the weather did turn, and turn glorious, nobody could have appreciated it more than we did.
Much intrepid boogie boarding was boogied.Of course, we ate well, because that's what we do. Classic camp dinner (see the last photo here), to which I added diced zukes; goat-cheese and basil and cucumber sandwiches at the beach; tuna and pickled banana pepper sandwiches at the beach; fire-melted Raclette with tiny boiled potatoes and cornichons (because it's a longstanding tradition); fried scallops; 
Us at Arnold's, where the scallops make my eyes water with happiness. Also: a giant stuffed quahog, like chowder crossed with Stove Top, in a good way.dip cones; birthday cake;
Are you dying a little because our tablecloth is so nice? Me too. I splurged on two yards of this fabric. I didn't even hem it or anything. It's so lovely.and, for breakfast, a beautiful bass, caught, gutted, and fried in bacon fat by Ava's dad, Jonathan.


Right?And lots of granola. I am republishing this recipe for two reasons: 1) because it's awesome and I still make it all the time, and 2) because I've changed it the slightest bit with the addition of bran cereal. I always add it now, but it is especially great for camping, in that keeping things moving along way, even though you risk spending less time in the fascinating insectarium of the bathroom. So that might be kind of disappointing.
2008. The granola still looks the same, though Birdy doesn't.GranolaIf your family doesn’t share a titanic aversion to sunflower seeds, please feel free to add them here. Along with cinnamon, which is another normal granola additive that I don’t like and don't add. If you want fruit—raisins, those date rolly things, or dried cherries—wait until the granola has baked and cooled, then stir it in. 
6 generous cups old-fashioned rolled oats1 cup bran cereal, ideally the twiggy kind that looks like something a guinea pig would eat (I use Trader Joe's High Fiber Cereal)1 ½ cups coarsely chopped raw nuts (I use a mix of pecans and sliced almonds)1 ½ cups shredded coconut (mine is the sweetened kind)¼ cup each pumpkin seeds, whole flax seeds, ground flax seeds, and wheat germ ½ cup brown sugar1 teaspoon kosher salt (or blah as much blah blah blah)1  stick butter1/3 cup mild-tasting honey1 teaspoon vanilla
Heat the oven to 300. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a very large bowl (hands are nice for this, as are children), then melt the butter and honey together in a small saucepan, add the vanilla, and stir it into the dry ingredients, mixing with a wooden spoon (preferably one that doesn’t hold an aromatic memory of garlic or cumin) until everything seems well moistened.
Now spread the granola evenly on two very large rimmed baking sheets (I think mine are called “jelly roll pans,” and they’re 12 inches by 17 inches) and bake for 15 minutes. Now take the pans out of the oven and use a spatula to stir the granola around—the edges may have started to brown a bit, and the idea is to move it often enough that all of it browns without any of it burning; be especially wary of the wheat germ, which likes to hide out at the bottom of the pan where it can char in peace. Put the pans back in the oven (switching their positions), and bake another 10 minutes, then stir them around and return them to the oven. After another 10 minutes (35 minutes altogether), evaluate the granola for doneness: it should be fairly golden and toasted-looking; if it’s not, return it to the oven for a few minutes at a time, stirring at each checking until it’s done; bear in mind that it will continue to toast a bit in the hot pans after you remove them from the oven. Allow the finished granola to cool completely before storing in a large, lidded, airtight container or, if you're camping, in a gallon-sized ziploc.