The End of the Camping Season….

We had an awesome summer of camping in our new-to-us trailer this year, and we ended our season on Thanksgiving weekend with a grand finale trip to Cape Breton to travel the Cabot Trail.  I can’t believe that after nearly 15 years of living in Nova Scotia, this is my first time really exploring the Trail.

And what a gorgeous place to celebrate Thanksgiving. 

 Cabot Trail |

 Cabot Trail |

At the beginning of the summer I figured I would try my hand at some new and interesting recipes that were camping-friendly. 

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All-time Favourite Harvest Recipe #2: Chocolate Zucchini Cake and The Cool Kids

When I was in junior high and high school, each year our school put on a bike trip and a canoe trip.  The bike trip was in the fall, and the canoe trip in the summer.  I was an avid participant every year.  Spanning over 4-5 days, the trips were planned meticulously by the teacher supervisors and were my first real experiences backcountry camping and getting to cool places using my own muscle power.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake |

I can’t say enough for what those trips did for my sense of capability and self-worth.  They taught me team work and cemented a love of the outdoors that has lasted through the decades since.

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Camping food – Twisted Skillet Chili

We’ve been camping in our little new-to-us circa 1980 8-foot pop-up trailer four times so far this summer.  Considering that our weekends often get booked up weeks in advance with volleyball tournaments and doula clients due and BBQ’s etc., I’m actually pretty proud of the number of times we’ve packed our life and a pile of diapers into the car and headed out to sleep under the stars.  Having the trailer already packed with most of what we need has limited the number of excuses not to go and the time it takes to gather everything up after work on a Friday and head out.  

Camping Food - Twisted Skillet Chili |

We’ve stayed in Kejimkujik National Park where we slept in a grove of trees, ate dark chocolate by the fire till the stars came out, and turned our little space heater on high to ward off the May chill.  We found ourselves nestled in amongst huge satellite dish-sporting RVs in a kind of soulless campground at Parlee Beach, New Brunswick, where we only made it to the beach for ten minutes and spend one of our nights smothering the dog with love and comfort after a fireworks-related anxiety attack.  

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Homemade Marshmallows – FROM SCRATCH!

I just want you all to know that I write this blog for the sheer, unadulterated fucking joy it brings me.

Sorry for the language.  But actually, those of you who know me in real life know that I have a mouth on me like a scuba-instructor/sailor’s wife/aggressive cyclist that hasn’t exactly made the graceful transition to mother/lactation educator/public health professional.  

Homemade Marshmallows |

But seriously.  Unadulterated fucking joy.  I love re-creating classic recipes and imagining new ones; I love taking what I hope are gorgeous pictures of what I’ve made, and I love love love writing writing writing.

Besides those (selfish) reasons, I also hope that you find some inspiration here.  Or some way to look at the food and the people and the happenstances in your life with maybe a bit more levity, or reverence, or gratitude.  Or some way to nod your head and think, “me too.  I burn pancakes/have a crazy toddler/make lists of lists too.”  Or, maybe even, reading these words allows you a moment to take a breath and a sip of tea before the rest of your day pours on.

Homemade Marshmallows |

On the inspiration part:  I specifically hope that you might find some inspiration here to make foods from scratch.  To decide that, even when it might be easier to go to the grocery store, it might be wonderful to make it yourself.  And that might be pretty easy too.  Or satisfying.  Or, I think, at the very least, healthier.

So here’s another thing you can make from scratch:  marshmallows.  Trust me on how much more lovely and pillowy these are than the soulless variety that’s been sitting on a shelf for what is probably a frighteningly long time, and just give them a try.  They’re fucking delightful.

Homemade Marshmallows |

And, if you want to make some other stuff from scratch, check out my NEW (!!) recipe index, in the “from scratch” section, and learn how to make bread, cereal, frosting, crackers, granola bars…all kinds of good stuff.

Homemade Marshmallows
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  1. 1 cup cold water
  2. 3 packages gelatin
  3. 1 1/2 cups sugar
  4. 1 cup corn syrup
  5. 1/4 tsp. salt
  6. 2 tsp. vanilla
  7. 1/4 cup icing sugar
  8. 1/4 cup cornstarch
  1. Place half of the cold water in a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer, if you have one). Sprinkle the gelatin over the surface of the water.
  2. Combine the rest of the water, sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 240F (use a candy thermometer to measure temperature).
  3. As soon as you reach the correct temperature, slowly drizzle the syrup into the bowl with the gelatin, mixing on low speed as you incorporate (if you're not using a stand mixer, use electric
  4. beaters to mix).
  5. Once combined, continue to beat the mixture on high speed until it cools to lukewarm and thickens substantially, and starts to look like marshmallow! This usually takes 12-15 minutes. Towards the end of mixing, blend in the vanilla extract. This is also when you can add other flavours. For my chai marshmallows, I added 1/2 tsp. cardamom, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. cloves and 1/4 tsp. nutmeg.
  6. Whisk together the icing sugar and cornstarch in a bowl. Grease a 9 X 13 baking dish and coat the bottom and sides with the sugar/cornstarch combo, saving the rest of it for the tops and sides of the marshmallows. Pour the marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan and use a lightly buttered spatula to smooth out the top. Sprinkle some of the sugar/cornstarch over top of the marshmallow, and let it stand at room temperature, uncovered, for at least four hours.
  7. Remove the marshmallow from the baking dish and cut into desired shapes/sizes. Coat the edges of the marshmallows with the remaining sugar/cornstarch. Store in an airtight container.
Adapted from Recipe courtesy of Annie's Eats
Purple House Café