Summer Traditions

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Famous cole slaw and potato salad


It’s summer and that means sun, visit this site sand and lots of sweat.  Summer in New York has always had an unpredictable beginning, also known as June.  Then it’s hot, humid and lots of sweat.   This year has been a wet summer.  Not bad,  but definitely not normal.  It means our beach camping days have been limited and bbq’s few.   That doesn’t mean we havent been doing both.   That would be silly .  What it does mean, is a change in what we pack for the beach and keeping our bbq’s a little more simple.  For camping we’ve been making our vegetarian chile and chicken mole for dinners and spam musabi’s for lunches.  These have become our staples.  We’ve also been making our famous cole slaw, corn salad and curried corn for BBQ’S.  I always feel a little guilty bringing these out but a friend said, “don’t,  these have become tradition. We want these side dishes at your bbq’s”.  That was a huge compliment and humbling moment.   I’m always happy when someone likes what we cook, who doesn’t?  But to be starting a tradition is something completely different.   To me that is a true testament to home and comfort.  I’m glad we can bring a little of both to our friends and our home.   Here’s to traditions, summer, friends and comfort food.  Now go out and make a tradition of your own!

Winter Camping

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It’s official.  Camping season is here!  Well almost.  But that didn’t stop us from heading into the woods on this semi warm (21 degrees) winter weekend.  Yes some might call us crazy, buy and this would be one of those times.  But when you feel the need to escape you can’t deny it.  So we hit the trains and trails of Harriman Park and set up camp at our favorite spot, order Lake Skenonto.  We only went for in quick trip this time so we only prepped one meal.  Beef stew.  We wanted something hardy and quick to heat up, as time and day light would be short when we arrived at our campsite.   After trudging through two feet of snow we hit camp and started to prep.  Jason worked on getting a space cleared for a fire and I went hunting for wood.  I came back with very little so we swapped chores and Jason hit the mother load!   I found a log under the snow that we could sit on while our fire roared and I also set up the tent.   After all that work and we rewarded ourselves with a shot of whiskey.   With our fire ablaze we started dinner and enjoyed the serine quiet and beauty of the wilderness.   After dinner and whiskey with a little snow to mellow it out we enjoyed the fire for a while and then headed into the tent to watch a movie.

The next day we woke to a couple of eagles singing a song, made some coffee and breakfast.   After a little leisure time in our winter wonderland we decided to pack it in and slowly made our way back to the train.   We didn’t have time for our usual Chinese farewell meal but that was ok.  After walking through all that snow both ways, just getting home was reward enough.   With our packs off our backs and a congratulatory glass of white wine we are melted into our coach and are dreaming of hitting the trails in spring.




Beef Stew
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This is a great make a head of time meal for camping.
  • 1 lb beef stew meat
  • 1 32oz can of whole tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 bell pepper(your choice)
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 celery stocks chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and slice ¼ inch
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 garlic gloves crushed and separated
  • ¼ teaspoon of oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon of thyme
  • Splash of wine (red or white)
  • Couple dashes of worcestershire sauce
  • Smidge of horseradish
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Flour to dredge meat
  • Olive oil
  1. Salt and pepper as you go along
  2. Dredge meat in flour and cook in stock pot with olive oil till they get a little brown on all sides.
  3. About 5 minutes, a quick sear.
  4. Set aside on a plate.
  5. Add onion and celery to pot and cook till onions start to get translucent.
  6. Add thyme and oregano
  7. Add one crushed garlic clove
  8. Add bay leaf
  9. Add potatoes
  10. Splash of wine
  11. Cook till potatoes are half way done
  12. Squeeze tomatoes with hands and put in pot with juice from can
  13. Add carrots, bell pepper, Worcestershire, horseradish
  14. Add meat including any juices.
  15. Add last crushed garlic clove
  16. Salt and pepper to taste
  17. Simmer for 45 - 60 minutes

Fall Camping

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Our first fall camping trip got off to a slow start, cure we accidentally boarded the wrong train! But luckily it was a happy accident. By the time we made it to Tuxedo and Harrimon Park the slight rain that was plaguing us all morning had stopped. We bought our final supplies and headed to the trail, visit this arriving just in time to collect firewood, make camp and start dinner before sunset. Steak, baked potatoes and cilantro pesto corn were the evening meal and a lovely moon to gaze at. Later with the fire and moon in full force we just sat back and took it all in, before heading of to sleep.

The next day we awoke to a beautiful misty fog rolling over the hills and exposing Lake Skenonto in all its fall foliage beauty. The birds sang hello while we made coffee and breakfast. The sky cleared up and it was a glorious fall day to be in the woods. So naturally we pulled out the ukuleles and serenaded the animals with our songs. After some more quiet time it was time to head back to the city. So we packed up, said goodbye to our animal friends and headed for the train and Chinese food. This may have been our first fall camping trip but it won’t be our last.


Vegetarian Chili for Camping

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Chili Chili fixin's Chili veggies


One of the easiest things to make for camping is vegetarian chili. You just chuck everything in a pot, no rx let it simmer for a while and tah dah! It’s done. I’ve made this so many times that I don’t measure anymore. Who am I kidding a never measure! Ok so I’ve gotten better at measuring thanks to writing about what we cook. You can keep it vegetarian or add meat it’s all up to you. We usually are out for a couple days so keeping it meat free is best. I also freeze it so it becomes part of the ice we use to keep everything fresh. I like to add as many fresh ingredients as possible, like tomatoes, corn, carrots, onions, bell peppers and sometimes zucchini. This is a great dish to experiment with and have fun.



Vegetarian Chili for Camping
Recipe type: Main dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
  • 1 8oz can of black beans
  • 1 8oz can of dark kidney beans
  • 1 8oz can of pink beans
  • 1 28oz can of whole tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 oz can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1-2 6oz cans of tomato paste( depending on how thick you want it)
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 med onion
  • 1 med green bell pepper
  • 1 med red or yellow or orange bell pepper(your choice)
  • 2 carrots(3 if small)
  • 1 med zucchini
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon of cumin
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon of ancho chile powder
  • 1 large or two medium bay leaves
  • ½ tablespoon of salt
  • ½ tablespoon of pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Olive oil
  1. Peel and chop onion
  2. Peel and chop carrots
  3. Chop bell peppers and zucchini into cubes
  4. Cut kernels off corn
  5. Chop tomatoes
  6. Peel and rough chop garlic
  7. In large sauce pan add some olive oil and onion
  8. A sprinkle of salt and pepper
  9. Sauté for a few minutes
  10. Add tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes till tomatoes start falling apart
  11. Add remaining vegetables, garlic and cans of tomatoes, sauce and paste
  12. Rinse beans and add them to the pot
  13. Add spices and herbs, salt and pepper
  14. Simmer for about 20 minutes
  15. let cool and put in freezer bags and freeze.
If you aren't a camper that's ok, this is a great meal anytime. They say to let chili sit overnight that way it incorporates all the flavors. I usually can't wait, but if you can, let the pot cool off, refrigerate and reheat the next day.
Don't for get the hot sauce, cheese and sour cream for the ultimate bowl of chili!

Spring/Winter camping?!

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Our first camping trip of the season was amazing and cold!

The day started out fine, pills a little cloudy but not too bad. We hit the subway, no rx then train to Tuxedo, grabbed the last of the supplies and hit the trail. We made it to camp with plenty of time to gather wood, pitch the tent, get water and start our fire. It was a lazy afternoon. Well as lazy as that can be. We took our time and enjoyed the spring day. We did notice along the way that there was still snow in random spots and when we arrived at our usual camp site, the lake was still frozen in parts. Jason dubbed this trip, winter camping! We were still delighted, the sun had come out and we just lapping up the quiet and slow pace we were settling into.



With our fire in full swing and whiskey in our cups we started dinner. We kept it simple. Dry rubbed ribs, steak, asparagus and baked potatoes. One of the best things about camping is you can wrap everything in foil, chuck it in the fire and leg it go. Of course we love cooking a more elaborate meal, but our first outing we wanted to keep it as simple as possible. After dinner we put more wood on the fire and watched the sunset. So far so good, right? Then the sun went down and the wind and cold went up! We usually hangout by the fire for a while but not that night. We headed into the tent and watched a movie I had downloaded. All snuggled up with hot water bottles, snacks and our movie we settled in for the night.

The next morning was bright and sunny. The wind was still whipping around a little and we thought we might have to take the early train home. But thankfully it went away and a beautiful spring day took over. We made breakfast, eggs, potatoes and bacon, and just relaxed. By lunch time we were sufficiently hungry and found our leftover ribs and butter were missing. These were to be added to our egg drop ramen soup. We couldn’t find them anywhere. After a little more searching, I found the empty foil I had wrapped the butter in, and a fork! Jason had heard something in the night like an animal walking through our camp but thought nothing of it. There are deer, geese, hawks, ducks and we usually camp next to a beaver and his dam. I guess one of them got hungry in the night!

We still enjoyed our lunch, finished our movie and made our way back to civilization. It’s always a bitter sweet walk. As we get closer to the train station you realize it’s almost over. But our reward for making this trip and back in one piece is Chinese food across the street from the platform. With our delicious snack in our bellies we drink our travel beer on the train and make the long ride home. Already dreaming of our next camping adventure.


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Oktoberfest begins our wilderness camping season.  It’s a short season but hopefully we can get in a few more before the snow falls.  It’s a three day hike across Harriman State Park and ends at Bear Mountain where a polka band, medical steins of beer, decease pierogi’s, dosage bratwurst with sauerkraut and stuffed cabbage await us.   Did I mention people dancing in traditional lederhosen outfits???  Yes that too!!!

We start by taking the train from Hoboken New Jersey and head north to Tuxedo Park, where we get our final supplies or anything we forgot.  Each day is a full day of hiking, so there is no time for dilly dallying.   Our daily goal is to get to a shelter before someone else.  Unfortunately you can’t reserve them. The first day is the most grueling but the shelter has an amazing view of the sunset just up the rock hill, and a fireplace where we cook.  This night we will have caveman ribs and potatoes.  Dry rubbed ribs in foil and thrown straight into the fire along with the rest.  I have also brought along pudding cups for desert as they need no refrigeration.  Of course everything is frozen and thaws as each day progresses –  including the cucumbers I juiced for our after-dinner cocktails.  Jason also had a surprise that made the whole trip and future trips glamorous (well to us it was!).  Hot water bottles! No more cold tent for us!!!

The Second day is one of the longest and takes us through the famed lemon squeezer(you can see why).  It is a very long day with a short stop for lunch.  The shelter that is mid way to our next destination is empty  and even has lovely art work. We chose to go a little further and stop near a creek to get some water and eat there.  We walk along the Long Path and pass through a small portion of the West Point Military School property. We call this passing through enemy lines!   After that comes Hippo Rock, which means we are just moments away from our last resting spot.  A shelter with two fireplaces!  Very deluxe especially when it gets to be night and its cold!  I have had to defend this place so others can’t/wont join us.  I will always fight to have this space to ourselves, it is the best spot and the view is breathtaking.  We will be having chili for dinner, a box of Merlot to drink and more pudding for desert.  Yum!

On the last day we make our final breakfast of eggs and bacon, then it’s time to head off to Oktoberfest! We walk along some famous paths that were used during he revolutionary wars (1777 and 1779) and another part of West Point.  Stop for lunch at Turkey Hill Lake and follow the Popolopen Creek till we make it to Bear Mountain Lodge next to Hessian Lake and Oktoberfest!!!  Once there will will eat, drink, listen to music and enjoy our fellow revelers.  The older couple are there every year and are total hams!  We love them and enjoy their wonderful party spirits.  It is a short visit as we need to catch the last bus back to the city.  But with full bellies and a little light headed from the steins of beer we slowly drift back to our home in Brooklyn Heights satisfied and dreaming of next years adventure.


Dry Rub:



Garlic Powder

Dry Basil leaves

Smoked Paprika

Ancho Chile Powder

Cayenne Pepper



Final Beach Camping Weekend!!!

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laborday prettyinpink panther sun walk servin' Halston arabesque levitation


Summer  beach camping has ended.  Our last big blow out was Labor Day weekend.   We made staples like Spam Musabi’s, doctor hot dogs and macaroni salad, cheapest eggs and bacon.  But what camping weekend would be complete without some new menu items?!  We added Spicy Teriyaki Ribs with mashed potato’s and chicken mole with rice and black beans. Well the beans didn’t quite make it cause the tab on the can broke and we couldn’t open it!  But we did take the left over ribs and add them to our Ramen for lunch on Sunday.  I also juiced some cucumbers and ginger to add to our cocktail’s.  My favorite mixer this season.

We did try to continue the faux sports pictures but I forgot the volleyball so we had to settle for a found tennis ball. Not the same thing.  But the high fashion did return. Complete with runway walk editorial photo shoots.

No beach  day or camping weekend would be complete with out our trusty axe’s.  With our Halloween show coming up in October we figured what better time to practice then sitting on a beach for 4 days?  Granted that is what beach ukulele camp is for!!!! Next is wilderness camping!!!!   Can’t wait!

July the 4th & then some!

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The weekend started with a bang.  It being 4th of July and all.  It was our friend Kirks Birthday and I attended his celebratory bbq bash where he made his Great Grandmas Fire Engine Red Cake and we enjoyed fireworks through a chain link fence. Only in New York can this be enjoyed.  Well not entirely enjoyed but the company was wonderful.  I then went home and took the late morning train to meet up with the beach crew for the rest of the weekend.

As usual we hit the beach bar for a quick arrival drink, abortion then headed for camp.  The weather was amazing and for lunch I brought egg salad sandwiches.  Great for the first day.  The rest was spent soaking in the sun, swimming in the ocean and playing the ukulele.  When dinner came around we were very excited to bust out the newest crazy meal we had thought up.  Meatloaf sliders. Yes that’s what I said.  They were a huge hit!! And really worked out great on the beach.  We accompanied them with coleslaw.  Which didn’t work out as well.  But you can’t win them all.

The next day was the usual breakfast, eggs, bacon and potatoes.   What wasn’t the usual was that our friend Naoum decided to join us.  We were beyond thrilled.  We picked him up a the dock and sang the New Zealand welcome song Haere mai.  He arrived just in time for lunch which was our Spam musubis.   We then constructed a kite made from the mylar balloons we found on the beach.   It took a while but well worth the effort.  For dinner we went for a classic, bacon wrapped hot dogs and macaroni salad.  needless to say there was nothing left.  The night was spent having cocktails and playing our favorite card game.

Our last day was lazy and spent doing what we do best.  Breakfast, swimming, sunning, playing the ukulele and making beach  pizzas for lunch.  Sadly it had to end so we packed up, flew the kite one last time, hit the ferry,  grabbed the train and headed home for Chinese food and a movie.



Meatloaf Sliders
Recipe type: BBQ
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 1 Pound of ground beef and ground pork combined
  • 1 Small green pepper chopped
  • 1 Small onion chopped(yellow or white)
  • 1 Egg
  • ¼ Cup of quick oats or bread crumbs
  • A couple splashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • A little bit of catchup
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl
  2. Mix with hands(my favorite part!)
  3. Make slider size loaf patties
  4. Grill till done all the way through
  5. Serve with your favorite burger toppings
  6. Best with potato slider buns

Shepherd’s Pie at the Beach? You Betcha!

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Shepperd's Pie
Recipe type: Dinner
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • Mashed potatoes
  • 3-4 lbs of potatoes peeled
  • Cook to your specifications.
  • Filling
  • 1½ lbs of chuck roast
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 carrots
  • 2 celery stocks
  • ½ of orange bell pepper
  • 2 Roma tomatoes chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic pressed
  • ¼ stick of butter
  • Olive oil
  • Corn starch
  • Flour for dredging
  1. Cut roast into bit size pieces and set aside
  2. Chop onion, here set aside
  3. Peel and slice carrots into rounds, store set aside
  4. Chop celery, and set aside
  5. Chop bell pepper, set aside
  6. Chop tomato's, set aside
  7. Dredge meat in flour
  8. In large frying pan on low/medium heat melt butter
  9. Add meat for about 1 minute or till outside gets brown then remove and set aside
  10. Salt and pepper as you go along
  11. Saute onions for about 3 minutes
  12. Add carrots and celery
  13. Add a drizzle of olive oil
  14. Put meat back into pan cook for about 5-10 minutes till meat is cooked through
  15. Turn burner to low
  16. Add just enough corn starch to thicken and make a sauce
  17. Salt and pepper to taste
  18. (at this point a nice addition would be a bay leaf)
  19. Add garlic, bell pepper and tomato
  20. Let simmer for 20 minutes
  21. Add more cornstarch if sauce starts to get thin
The measurements are all totally from my usual guessing of what sounds good to me. So please feel free to experiment and change them to suit your culinary needs. Although I do say that I liked using the chunks of meat instead of the usual ground.
Making Pie!

Making Pie!

Pie in a bag!

Pie in a bag!

Cooking Pie!

Cooking Pie!

MMmmmm  Shepherd's Pie and beer!

MMmmmm Shepherd’s Pie and beer!

We just finished our second beach camping trip and are continuing the grand food experiment!  On Friday night Karlo Meria treated us to a mash up of pot stickers/dumplings.   We gobbled them up quickly, but we all agreed they need a little tweaking before the next attempt.  Of course our new staples Spam Musubi and Beach Pizza were must haves.   This time we used beefsteak tomatoes and added some onion on the pizzas, while the Musubi got a little extra rice wine vinegar.

The other dish that was a resounding success was, Shepherd’s Pie!!!  As with most food we bring camping this was made before and frozen.  This is a great trick because you use the frozen food as ice to keep the rest cold.   Then by the time you use it, it’s thawed out.  The recipe I used was literally off the top of my head and a little of what can we add.  The only thing missing was  frozen peas and if Jason has anything to say we wont forget them again.

Our next camping trip will be 4th of July weekend.  I wonder what we will come up with for this one!!!

Spam Musubi on the Beach!

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Our last blog was about Beach Pizza.   This one is about the other lunch we had while camping.  Spam Musubi.   What is Spam Musubi?  It’s kinda like sushi.  You basically take sushi rice, information pills Spam and wrap it up in Nori Seaweed(the kind used for sushi).  Simple right?  It’s also fun to make.   Of course you can add extra ingredients just for fun.   We thought it was time to challenge ourselves and try new recipes for our camping trips and this is one of them.  It worked out so well it has become a staple in our lunches.

Spam Musubi
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-4
This usually makes 9 Musubi's
  • 1 can of Spam
  • 1 package of Sushi Nori
  • 4 cups sushi rice
  • 6 cups water
  • Plum vinegar
  • Rice seasoning
  • *special item- Musubi Maker
  1. Make rice according to directions
  2. Slice Spam lengthwise
  3. You can get about ten slices out of a can
  4. Fry Spam for a couple minutes on each side till it gets a little crispy
  5. Put them on a plate to cool when done
  6. When rice is done let it cool
  7. Heat a dry frying pan for Nori
  8. When hot, Use tongs to heat nori on both sides till it starts to get bright green
  9. About 30 seconds on both sides or till its a little flexible.
  10. Don't over cook or it will be no good
  11. Grab Musubi maker
  12. Lay the Nori on a plate
  13. Place maker in the middle of the Nori
  14. Using your hands add some rice(about the size of a large meatball) inside the maker.
  15. Evenly spread it out
  16. You can use more if you like
  17. Press rice down
  18. Drizzle some plum vinegar
  19. Add a slice of Spam
  20. Sprinkle a little rice seasoning
  21. Add more rice on top
  22. Press rice and Spam down
  23. Slide Musubi maker up an away
  24. Wrap the seaweed around and use water to seal
  25. Lay them seal side down
  26. Put in container or zip lock bag and refrigerate
  27. Now you have perfect camping lunch
This works best with a Spam Musubi press. You can get them for less than $10 on Amazon or Houserice.com. Some people use soy sauce, we used plum vinegar.


Spam Musubi  Spam Musubi



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