I have a hat at work that I refer to as my “thinking” hat. I wear it as needed with the hope that it has the same effect that blinders have on horses. People who have worked with me long enough know that when I have on my camouflage I HEART CAMPING hat I am in full concentration mode. When I’m not wearing it, the hat collects dust perched atop my computer monitor. Last week, my eyes glazed over my computer screen and suddenly focused on my hat. The words I HEART CAMPING practically jumped out and hit me in the face, and I picked up the phone.

A friendly voice answered, “Hello, Pennsylvania Parks Reservations, this is Bridget. How may I help you?”

“Hi, I would like to make a reservation.”

“Sure, for what date?”

“Ummm, this weekend please.”

“Ma’am, you are aware that this is Friday of Labor Day weekend?”

“Yes, I know… I’ll take ANY park in PA that has availability.”

I usually go to French Creek State Park. They have nice campgrounds, well-kept trails and it’s no more than a scenic hour away. Of course, there was no shot to get a reservation there, so when Bridget gave me the few remaining options I chose the park with a campsite that seemed the most private.

I made my reservation at Colonel Denning State Park, and my friend joined me. I packed my tent, my sleeping bag, a change of clothes, a toothbrush and my camping crate. In it I had all the camping provisions that I needed, most of which assisted in the making of my must-have camping meal, Camp Stew.

My mother used to make this recipe when I was growing up. It was a recipe that she learned when she was in the Girl Scouts, and she had such cravings for it in her adult life that she continued to make it for our family. When I was old enough to go camping on my own, I always made sure I had the fixings for this yummy concoction.

I think it’s neat that my mother held such strong sentiment for this recipe that she brought it to the dinner table. And, I had such a strong recollection of it from the family dinner table that I have made it a tradition at every camping trip I go on.

Mama’s Camp Stew

Here is the recipe for my mamma’s camp stew. There are three steps:

  1. Brown hamburger with chopped onion and green pepper in a skillet.

    (WC Dish tip: When camping, use a disposable aluminum pan – it can blacken like hell on the bottom, but keeps the temperature perfecto and you can throw it away when you are done.)

  2. Add canned Franco-American spaghetti sauce (hold the meatballs), ketchup, salt and pepper to taste (I like to squirt in some mustard if I have it on-site).

  3. Top with grated cheddar cheese and heat until the cheese is melted.

    (WC Dish Tip: Chop up extra onions and pepper and keep some shredded cheese to make southwest eggs in the morning. Just bring a few eggs to keep in the cooler, some Pam and a smaller disposable foil container.)

The Camp Stew was delicious and satisfying as always, particularly when enjoyed in the great outdoors, but of course my camping adventure would not have been complete without some s’mores to top it off.

The Final Dish: It was great to be without my cell phone, computer and work for two days! I’m looking forward to fall camping adventures where I’ll share with you some of my favorite gourmet s’mores recipes!