syrupy sweet

Last week’s post mentioned that I was “taking it easy,” which many of you (accurately) pointed out wasn’t really the case. When does taking it easy include making a pot of soup, loaf of banana bread, lovely cake and caramel sauce, and pumpkin waffles? Yet keep in mind that my profession–and obsession–puts me in the kitchen. And as it is for many of you, the kitchen is my playground. Strangely enough, it’s the weeks I don’t have time to be in the kitchen that are my busiest and most stressful.

Now THIS week, though, I’m really going to take it easy. Really. Because all I’m going to do (well, mostly all), is send you over to yesterday’s Blog of Funny Names in Food post. It was fun to write and I’d love for anyone who hangs out at food for fun to also see what I’m putting out over there. It’s a once-a-month gig and I’ll continue to highlight it here when my turn comes around. (Which, btw, I spaced last month. Read this if you want to see what a hastily thrown together blog post looks like.) So. You head over to read at least the latest waffle iron (spoiler alert, yes) post and I’ll wait here. Promising you something tasty when you return!

Alrighty then, you’re back? Signed up for the Cornelius S Waffle event on facebook? Excellent. Because I promise to never send you home empty-handed, we’ll finish with two recipes that were posted months apart on the same blog. Last April, I mentally bookmarked the first and when the second posted a few days ago, I committed to making them both. Then the waffle flag started flying–it was time.

I admit to being one of those maple syrup snobs–shunning anything in a plastic squeeze bottle on grocery shelves. If it isn’t pure maple syrup (preferably from a local artisan), I’m not buying. When I saw Kitchen Simplicity’s DIY syrup recipe, I was a bit taken aback, but the ingredients looked wholesome (read: no corn syrup) and it seemed a fun project. Ditto when I saw her buttermilk version go up.

butter-flavor on left, buttermilk on right--both divine

butter-flavored on left, buttermilk on right–both divine

These recipes are as easy as it gets. They both came together in under 10 minutes–not 10 minutes each, mind you. I made two syrups in 10 minutes. Now I have two lovely homemade syrups and they’re amazing.

We’ve already enjoyed them on pancakes and waffles and next up will grant my daughter’s wish of pouring over ice cream. They’re going to be grand in cocktails as well.

drizzled over 'cakes

drizzled over ‘cakes

oh, so sweet on waffles

oh, so sweet on waffles

poured over ice cream

poured over ice cream

add a bit of soda water, and this could be a lovely cocktail

add a bit of soda water, and this could be a first-rate cocktail

If you’re up for “taking it easy” this week, I suggest you get into the kitchen and cook up syrup. It’ll be the easiest DIY you ever do.

camp fare

Our family recently camped our way through South Dakota–Badlands, Black Hills, and the like. I wasn’t at all sure that it would go well as our week-plus trip would be the longest we’d camped with our girls. My husband and I enjoyed camping pre-kids, but our first forays into the camping wild with babies were disasters, so we’ve been cautious with our travel plans. With our youngest at age 6, we figured we’d give it another go. And I’m pleased to say that things went extremely well.

No surprise that one of my favorite parts of camping is the food. I enjoy planning meals, packing the food, then making things happen at the campsite. For sure there are restaurant stops (lunches usually), but breakfasts and evening fare are made over the campfire or on a campstove.

Our campfire cooking was curbed as soon as we crossed over into the western part of South Dakota as their extreme heat and dry weather meant Burn Ban. S’mores would have to wait for another trip. The first night’s meal proved our camping skillet to be in sorry shape. Next trip, we’d bring the cast-iron, but this go-round we found that anything we heated, even if over a low flame and for a short time, ended up overcooked (read: charred).

Girl Scout gumbo in a skillet

Just the same, our camp meals were fantastic. After a long day of travel or a long sleep in the tent, whatever we cooked up on that stove was divine. Pasta sauce, ground beef, and spaghetti noodles; Girl Scout Gumbo and rice (my oldest, who had recently been to Girl Scout camp, took charge here); steak and veggie stir-fry with barley; hobo dinner (sans campfire, the ground beef, potatoes, onions, carrots, and bell peppers cooked in a skillet instead of in the usual foil packet); burgers and fried potatoes. But the best meal I ate? Our pancakes and eggs.

No photo of this meal as it wasn’t much to look at. But it absolutely hit the spot that morning. I’d just come back from a run and felt I’d earned a good meal. My husband had already cooked up pancakes for the girls and had (thoughtfully) left a tin cupful of batter for me so I could fry mine up fresh. I cooked up a ‘cake or two, also adding our last egg to the skillet. The stove was on a slight slant and food ended up running together in the skillet. As well, the pancake batter cooked up unevenly in our piece-of-junk skillet. Once plated, my breakfast consisted of unevenly cooked and misshapen pancakes attached to an overcooked egg. Doesn’t sound appetizing. But eaten outside, topped with butter and rivers of pure maple syrup, and served alongside my wonderfully caffeinated hazelnut instant coffee, it was absolutely the best meal I had on the trip.

Camp food aside, there are fun food spots we found while driving around SD that deserve a shout-out:

The best apple fritter I’ve ever tasted at Baker’s Bakery & Cafe in Custer City.

under glass

in our box

Huge slices of pie and an awesome birthday cake malt at Bobkat’s Purple Pie Palace, also in Custer City.

pie time

straight out of a dr. seuss book

hubby’s choice: blueberry

apple pie with moose tracks ice cream–favorite order of my 10-year-old

Bison stew (world-famous if the signage is to be believed) and Buffalo Sweat beer at the Mount Rushmore cafe.

Fine dining it was not, but fun to find beer and bison at the foot of Mt. Rushmore.

Downhome chuckwagon fare at the Circle B Ranch–roasted venison in a peppery garlic gravy, baked potato, cowboy salad, applesauce, biscuits, and ginger cake.

cowboy supper at the Circle B

Donuts (again, said to be world-famous) at Wall Drug Cafe. Wall Drug also had amazing ice cream, made in-house. I have no pictures from this stop (my bad), but cakespy did a better job than I could have, so will send you there.

Assorted truffles at Silk Fudge in Keystone.

white Russian, sea salt

I’m grateful to have taken a longer vacation with my family this summer. Its success means there will be more to look forward to, allowing us opportunity to cook the campfire meals we couldn’t on this trip. The s’mores await.