Sunday, August 10, 2008

Wisconsin Eating, Part Two

I'm back from my week-long vacation in Wisconsin, and what a fun and relaxing week it was. What with all the swimming, floating, pontooning, tubing, and attempted water skiing, it was a rather eventful week. And, thanks to the personalities who like cooking as much as I do, not devoid of good food.

Lake Kaubashine as the morning mist lifts

My Italian chicken sticks went off without a hitch, as did my grilled pizza (which required some degree of improvisation due to the time limits of the charcoal grill and the stickiness of Jiffy pizza dough without the hope of flour as a thickener). Really fantastic, though, were some of the other meals. Here's a rundown:

Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables
Herb and Ricotta Stuffed Chicken
Vegetarian Four Bean Chili
Gorgonzola, Fig, and Pecan Salad
Fajita Explosion Salad (chicken with all the fajita fixings)
Fried Wisconsin Cheese Curds

Yes, I know fried cheese curds do not a meal make. But it was Wisconsin. And the cheese shop with the best cheese curds was only two miles away from our cabin.

Unfortunately for this blog, the only food I took pictures of the week was s'mores, and not even s'mores in their melt-y, messy glory, just the marshmallows. Let me tell you, though, they were delicious. And the marshmallows (look for yourself!) were toasted to perfection.

Behold: The perfectly toasted marshmallow

Since it seems somewhat silly to give a recipe for a classic s'more (graham + chocolate + toasted marshmallow), I'll use my camp counselor knowledge to give you a recipe for a perfect marshmallow-toasting fire.

How to Build a Fire to Toast the Perfect Marshmallows

an even number of firewood logs (at least 4)
kindling (such as dried pine needles or strips of newspaper)
medium-sized sticks (no green anywhere on them)
matches or a lighter

In your fire pit (and you should have one if you want to be Smokey the Bear safe) use the firewood logs to assemble a log cabin structure, two logs to a level. On the bottom of the log cabin, spread the kindling so that when it catches fire it exposes the flames to both air and the logs. Place the sticks above the kindling and between layers of your log cabin. When you've finished building this structure, it should look as though the kindling will set the sticks, then the logs, aflame.
Carefully light the kindling on two sides of the log cabin using matches or a lighter. Depending on your fire-building skills and experience, you may need to provide some encouragement to the fire in the form of air. If the flames look weak at the beginning, blow downwards into the kindling (e.g. fanning the flames).
Now comes the part that separates the burnt marshmallows from the perfectly-toasted: let the flames die down, just like you would with a charcoal grill. Once the flames stop trying to kiss your marshmallows, the residual heat within the log cabin will be optimal for quick-toasting as many marshmallows as you, or the 12 others on vacation with you, can eat.

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