gourmet camping

last weekend my farmer man and i headed upcountry for some camping.  we picked polipoli state park in kula, situated above the cloudline at about 6000 feet.  we are accustomed to shoreline living and consistently hot weather, and it must be said that 6000 feet is a very different world indeed.  basically, we froze our skinny butts off.  it was about 60 degrees when we arrived in late afternoon, and about 40 degrees at night; couple that with the sound of falling branches and gusty wind from the top of haleakala, and it’s pretty obvious why we didn’t sleep very much that night.

most people think of maui as a tropical, beachy paradise, and… well, it is!  romantic (expensive) seaside hotels, fancy waterfront dining, lots of pretty white sand beaches, and *great* surf breaks make for an islandgrrly’s dream.  but because of our 10,000 ft volcanic mountain haleakala (house of the sun) we also have a huge variation in climate.  this allows things like strawberries, figs, and stonefruits to be grown in the cooler temperatures on the mountain slopes, while papaya, pineapples, coconuts and bananas grow at sea level.  i took these photos this weekend to show that maui is more than beaches…

we had heaps of fun: a long country drive with lots of coffee and good music, a beautifully cool evening, a five-mile morning hike, and stocking up at mana foods on the way home.

but, more importantly, we ate a bunch of good food while we were away.  like the title of this post, we joked that it was gourmet camping.  on saturday the boyfriend cooked up some mean eats for the camping dinner, and later in the fading mountain twilight we enjoyed lentil & shitake pilaf in kabocha pumpkin and sweet potato, garlic and sage ‘packets.’  for the morning i prepared organic green tea and organic peruvian coffee for our caffeine-addicted selves, as well as maple spelt muffins, local apple bananas, and more coffee.  not so bad for ‘camping food!’  we did have some technical difficulties because the boyfriend forgot the pan to heat our food in, so we improvised, using lava rocks on the camping stove to heat the potatoes and the liquids.  we did not have a real fire because all of maui is in suffering from dangerous drought conditions and much of the forest is charred as it is… sad but true.  so we used a little gas stove balanced on the cooler.

lentil & carrot pilaf in kabocha pumpkin

trying to cook outside

1 kabocha pumpkin, halved and baked
1/2 cup sliced onion
2 cloves of garlic
4-6 shitake mushrooms, fresh or soaked for 20 minutes in hot water
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup cooked lentils
2 carrots, sliced thinly
2 tbsp earth balance or olive oil
handful of crushed, toasted nuts (walnuts or hazelnuts)

halve and scrape the seeds from the kabocha.  bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, checking with a fork for doneness (fork should pass right through the skin and flesh).  set aside and let it cool.

in a large saute pan cook the onions in the earth balance or oil, then add the garlic and mushrooms and cook until everything is soft.  add the carrots and cook for one minute, until just softening.  add the cooked lentils and brown rice and stir to combine.  turn off the heat, sprinkle with the crushed nuts, and let it cool for about 15 minutes.  when the rice is cool, fill the halves of the kabocha and wrap in foil until ready to eat (outside or in!)

potato packets on the stove

sweet potato, garlic and sage ‘packets

1 large sweet potato or yam
handful of fresh sage leaves
4 cloves of garlic
3-4  tbsp of earth balance

slice the potato into 1/2 inch thick slices and set aside.  chop the garlic and the sage.  heat the earth balance in a pan and add the garlic, cooking until soft.  add the sage leaves at the last minute and cook until just wilted.  dredge the potato slices in the garlic mixture, then bake for 15-20 minutes in your oven.  or, simply wrap them up and cook them in the firepit or barbecue.

get out of the kitchen and get outside!

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