What are you thankful for?
Thanksgiving is a holiday built around that very question. And after my trip to the Grand Canyon in October, I felt extremely grateful for all the beauty that surrounds us in the natural world outside our doors.
So I felt it would be appropriate to spend Thanksgiving in Sequoia National Park! The experience did not disappoint
Lemon and I packed our bags and head north towards the giant redwood trees. Most of the campgrounds are closed for the winter, so we first stayed in a campground in the lower Foothills section. It was a sketchy road to get to it, but once we did we settled in nicely and laid our sleepy heads to rest.
We woke up the next day to fresh air on a wonderful Thanksgiving morning.
Now, normally Thanksgiving day is filled with tons of food preparation. Multiple people milling around a house, trying not to step on children as you anxiously cook the turkey, pies, and sides to delicious perfection.
Our simple Thanksgiving on a campground was a totally different story. Since it was just me and Lemon, we didn’t need to feed a whole family of
mouths. So without the crazy food prep taking up our day, we headed out towards a beautiful hike instead!
We all know one of the most important parts of Thanksgiving is the food. So I was determined to make a quality campground version of a Thanksgiving feast. To make it feel complete, I wanted to make sure I had:
-Mashed Potatoes and Gravy -Sweet Potatoes -Green Beans -Stuffing -Turkey substitute (I don’t eat meat, but I wanted something close!) -Apple Pie
Looking at this list, I realized something: A lot of these are usually baked. Crap.
Luckily, cooking while camping is one of my favorite things to do, and I knew exactly how to make it work. Here’s how I did it:
Let’s start with the sweet potatoes. With my little condensed pots n pans set in hand (which is adorable by the way, you can get it here)
I boiled the sweet potatoes with a little cinnamon. Delicious!
Green beans are easy. They come in a can, so I just heat those suckers up on the stove the same way. Boom. Showed them who’s boss.
As I already said, I don’t eat meat, so turkey was out of the question. Instead, I figured I could cook some tofu on the stove. Pretty simple and with some spices and the gravy it did the trick for me! Now, if I had been a hardcore turkey fan, this would’ve been much harder. I would’ve probably tried to do something with a dutch oven. But for me, I was happy to have tofu instead!
Next, mashed potatoes. I knew I already had sweet potatoes, so I wanted to mix it up a bit. Instead of making regular mashed potatoes, I decided to substitute in mashed cauliflower. Some of you may be scoffing at the sound of that, but believe me, when I make them they are delicious! I make them all the time at home, and the process is basically the same:
I boiled the cauliflower just like the sweet potatoes. They don’t take long to become nice and soft. Then I mashed them up with my fork (At home I stick them in the blender to make them extra smooth, but the fork did just fine at the campground).
You could stop there, but to make them a bit creamier, I added a scoop of greek yogurt. It makes a huge difference! Finally, I topped them off with some delicious Ranch seasoning from Flavor God (seriously worth it, but you could easily substitute garlic salt instead!)
Mashed potatoes are nothing without gravy, and mashed cauliflower follows a similar rule. I had a pretty difficult time figuring out how to make gravy while camping, especially as someone who doesn’t eat meat. I’m also not a big fan of mixes. So I improvised.
I sautéed mushrooms and onions for a bit using my little backpack full of cute cooking utensils (seriously, how cute is this?)
Then added some vegetable stock, letting the flavor from the mushrooms seep out. Then slowly added flour until it reached the consistency that looked like gravy. I was genuinely surprised with the end result! Score.
Stuffing. Is. My. Favorite. So I wanted to make sure it tasted amazing. I brought along my favorite whole wheat bread, and ripped a few pieces up into little chunks.
I chopped some celery up to go with it, and threw everything into the pan with some veggie stock to start cooking. I broke an egg in there, mixed it all up, added a little everything spice (again, I use Flavor God’s deliciousness:) and let it all simmer until the bread has soaked up all the flavorings. Mmmmmm.
Finally: apple pie. Reality kicked in real quick and I realized it would be much more work than I wanted to make an actual apple pie while camping. So I considered other options: apple pie flavored cliff bar, those little packed apple pies from 7 eleven, but those both seemed like cheating. I wanted to cook!
And then it dawned on me. The difficult part of the apple pie is the crust, so what if I just got rid of it? Aha! I decided to do a sort of apple crumble instead of a legit pie. I figured it was a pretty close substitute, and super easy to cook. I chopped up an apple, and threw the slices in a pot with a little butter and cinnamon.
Once they were nice and soft, I scooped them into my bowl from my kitchen set and topped them off with my favorite granola: Kind. It provided the perfect crunch topping to my “apple pie”. This was so delicious and easy to make, I’ll definitely be making it again next time I go camping! Who needs Thanksgiving?
The Final Result
I’m not sure if the food was genuinely freaking delicious, or if a lot of it was my pride in successfully making something resembling a Thanksgiving dinner, but either way my stomach was super happy. Thanksgiving while camping was such a success, I may have to do it again next year! I’m hungry just thinking about it…