My ode to tinfoil

I have a love affair with tinfoil. Okay maybe that is a little bit extreme but I use tin foil every day and it works in a large variety of situations. It really started long ago at girl guide camp when I was 12-13 and we made whole meals in pouches of tin foil. It was amazing how much you could cook over an open fire simply by putting it in a little tin foil pouch.

As an adult, my love of tin foil really started when Kirby pulled out the tin foil shortly after we met to cook our vegetables on the BBQ. What an amazing find, the vegetables steam inside the foil so they are well cooked but flavorful and all of the goodness isn’t boiled or baked out of them.

Recipe for Tin Foil Vegetables:

Vegetables (quantity and type you want)
Olive Oil (or other heat stabilized oil of your preference)
Salt
Pepper and salt to taste
Chopped garlic (optional, we use the stuff out of the jar because it is milder)
A chopped onion (optional, I especially like this with the potatoes or sweet potatoes)
Water, larger the package the more you will need, ¼ to 1/3 of a cup should do it

Cut your vegetables if necessary. Beans and Asparagus don’t need to be cut but potatoes and sweet potatoes will cook faster if they are 1 inch cubes.

The key is making the package strong. Using heavy duty foil helps. Take two ends of the foil and fold it over itself several times. Then go to each end and do the same thing. The multiple folds keep all of the liquids inside the pouch.

Once on the grill you have to be careful that you don’t stick your utensil through the pouch – trust me I’ve slit open many but you can get the grove and you can use the end pieces as long as you are careful and it is all wrapped in their securely.

As it turns out you can cook almost anything inside one of these foil packets and at the end all you have to do is rinse off the foil and put it into your recycle bin! I do my fair share of dishes and am always happy to be saved from a sink full of things to wash, especially in the summer when there are just so many other amazing things to do.

 

Foil Trays

The next thing I do it to make foil trays for the barbeque. This sounds silly but they are great and keep things clean, keep sauces and juices off the grill, avoid flare ups, etc. I start with a heavy duty aluminum foil. They decide how big my tray needs to be depending on what I am cooking on and what I am cooking. They start on each side and fold it in about 1.5 inches and then turn the folded part back ½ the way, this will leave you with a side that is about ½ inch high and is tucked under the bottom a little bit. Then go to the other side and do the same thing. On the ends you need a little finesse but you fold them in the same way but you have to fold over the corners and bend them securely around the side pieces to hold the whole thing upright and also ensure there are no spaces where things can leak out.

These trays are great to keep sauce and grease out of the bottom of your grill. I don’t do this all the time but if what I am making has a sweet sauce it is better to keep all of the sugary sauce out of the barbeque. I also find them really helpful when I make things like ribs (link to my rib recipe) to keep from losing the meat. My ribs are fall off the bone soft by the time they go onto the grill so if you don’t put something under they will stick to the grill and you will lose some of them!

Great for camping

The trays and foil pouches are also great for camping. You can cook right over the open fire and then it is very helpful to ensure your food won’t fall into the fire. We use a coleman stove for the bulk of our cooking while camping. Although they are designed to be cooked on and for the grease to drain etc. it cuts down on most of the cleaning and helps to keep the campsite from attracting animals etc. if you keep the grease in the foil and dispose of it at night (link to the Restigouche article where the animal got into the garbage) you are less likely to have a visitor.

It is also really helpful for camping to be able to keep things clean and cook more interesting and healthy food over the grill. My favorite is veggies (link to camping meals) which we tend to eat too little of when we are camping but it is much easier to eat healthy and delicious when you plan in advance and have the means to cook without a huge mess.

I know these are all wasteful. That being said here in New Brunswick in my regional aluminum foil is recyclable, all you have to do it rinse it off and put it in the bin.

 

Tin foil is so helpful and saves a lot of the cleanup!

 

 

 

Canoeing the Restigouche with the kids July 2016

Kirby grew up in the heart of northern New Brunswick and spent lots of time on various rivers as a young boy with his father and siblings and friends. As an adult his happy place is on the river and a few years ago he went on a trip with his hockey buddies on the Restigouche. The next year year Kirby and I went with three other couples and I have to admit I was also hooked too.

I have done a fair bit of canoeing as well in my life. I started in Kejimkujik national park with my Dad when I was 13, that trip was the start of my lifelong passion for canoeing and hiking that has led me to this very place.

Last year Kirby wanted to share this amazing experience with the kids. I have to admit I was not sold on the idea. The kids were only 10 and 12 and being in the back woods and in a canoe with small children doesn’t always sound like a winning idea but since my whole goal is to not shut out ideas I bought in. I also want nothing more than for our kids to love the outdoors and to want to do these type of adventures with us!

I do love a canoe trip because you can take a lot more comforts than a backpacking trip. That being said you also add weight to the canoe and have to consider that. The weather looked wet and considering keeping the kids dry, and warm is a key to happiness for all of us I definitely over-packed on clothes and provisions to keep them dry.

Getting there

The drive from Saint John is a little more than four hours to Kedwick New Brunswick. Our plan was to drive up and stay at a local campground Chalets Restigouche. I did find this year that the campground was loud being a Friday night and this was tough because it was a very late night getting to sleep. This did make for a slightly less rested family than I would have liked but we did have fun around the fire and lots of great chat related to the trip.

There are campsite and chalets and the restaurant has one of the best Sunday brunches I’ve ever had.

We have found a lovely outfitter called Arpin Canoe Restigouche Inc., that is very friendly and accomodating, they know the river very well and they have all the gear you could require including 60 canoes of various sizes and brands.

The Route

We have found in the past that starting right at the Arpin site will lead to either two shorter days on the river or one longer day and a short day so we had them drive us up the Kedgiwck River to Eight Mile Brook which adds several hours of canoeing to the trip and makes for two full days on the river. It also allows you to see the more narrow and shallow Kedgwick river which is one of my personal favorites!

There is nothing quite as majestic as floating and paddling down such pristine wilderness. To marvel at the endless number of greens of the trees, the amazing variety of wildlife (in this trip alone we saw: fox, par, Salmon, mouse, beaver, dog, countless ducks and other birds, bald eagles, 2 black bears, squirrel, dragonfly, fawn and probably more I can’t even recall).

The mouse was notable because it was the drop off point before we even got on the river. I walked into the outhouse and this mouse scurried out between my feet. The black bears were amazing because they are amazing creatures but also because I have never seen a black bear in New Brunswick before, which shocks me considering the amount of time I spend outdoors. The fawn was the most amazing thing, we were sitting on the river bank cooking lunch when we saw a very small fawn probably two weeks old at the most across the bank, it got into the water and started to swim across, the kids were beside themselves yelling to Kirby to go help worried it would get swept away, amazingly that tiny creature swam with all its might and hit the other bank and ran away. The dog was at the end when we arrived at Two Brooks, being owned by the Warden and was a glutton for love.

Overnight

In the trip we chose there would be one night camping. There are lots of little spots you can stop and stay at the side of the river but there are also three established campsites with some facilities.

We were a bit nervous that there might be a crowd at the larger campsite but that would be the best place for the kids as it had as outhouse, picnic tables and a shelter.  We lucked out as there were not a lot of people on the river and we had the place to ourselves.

We had a great time camping, even with a bit of rain and the tables gave us somewhere to stow our coolers and buckets where animals could not get into them.

Sights to see

As you pass along the Restigouche you get to see lots of beautiful fishing camps. In particular keep your eyes open for Larry’s Gulch, which is owned by the province of New Brunswick and a number of beautiful privately owned camps. You will often see lots of fishermen as well in their boats fly fishing. Usually they will direct you which side of their boat they want you to pass on, usually it is behind where they are casting so make sure you pay attention – if you scare the fish they won’t bite.

The warden Ron was telling us that in the whole time he had been there so far he had only seen about 35 canoes pass. This is a marked decrease over past years but also means very few people are getting onto the river and experiencing this amazing territory. This is an easy canoe to get to and the facilities make it a very easy trip to organize. I would encourage anyone looking for a fairly easy paddle (there are some rapids and it is a good idea to have some canoe skills or take some lessons to be sure you and and all of your stuff stay in the canoe for the whole trip) this is well worth the time!

Camping Meals – Chicken, sweet potatoes and vegetables (paleo)

Your first thought will probably be how do you make chicken work out of a cooler. Well I had to try because I love to camp but since I try to eat Paleo and I don’t want to eat hotdogs all summer finding a way to take healthy, and more importantly delicious,  food with us on the go.

You also don’t want to be at a campsite trying to cut up vegetables and fumble with meat packages, making a mess and leaving “attraction” for the local wildlife.

All it takes is a little forward preparation and excellent camping meals can be yours without the hassle and mess.

Chicken (Bone in and Skin on)
  • Bone in, skin on, chicken breasts (as many as you need)
  • Minced garlic (I prefer out of the jar as it is a milder flavor than raw)
  • Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Chili powder
  • Any other spices you might want to add, I like to add fresh cilantro chopped!

Drop the chicken in a Ziploc bag or vacuum sealer bag with all of the ingredients.  Shake it around, take out the air, seal and pop in the freezer overnight before you go. The chicken will be frozen and then can be put in the cooler next to the ice before you go. I find the chicken is perfect for dinner on night #2 as it will be mostly thawed and will have really marinated in all those yummy ingredients.

Then all you need to do is pop it onto the stove grill side on a tin foil tray and cook to 165 degrees (with a meat thermometer to ensure proper food safety), or my professional method (not recommended by anyone promoting safe food handling)- until you cut into it and it is cooked all the way through and not pink. The length of time depends on how hot your stove is and how many things you are cooking but it is usually about 20 minutes.

Obviously you need to be sure you are careful with handling and cooking of poultry, keep it properly refrigerated and cook it properly to ensure you don’t end up with Salmonella etc.

Sweet potatoes

I don’t know about you but trying to prepare vegetables at a campsite has always been a real pain and makes a big mess that no one wants to have to worry about. The key to my veggies on the trail is a little forward planning.

  • Sweet Potatoes (about one per person or a bit more if you want leftovers for hash)
  • 1-2 onions
  • garlic (again I like the bottled minced garlic because it has a lighter flavour)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Start by cutting up the number of sweet potatoes you think you will need and cut them up the night before you go. I also add in an onion as I love the flavors, especially the way the onion caramelizes and adds that little flavour with the sweet potato.

I know “how in the world will that work, they will turn black and gross”…. They key is then to pop the onions and sweet potatoes into a vacuum sealer bag (I LOVE my vacuum sealer) with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and minced garlic (the kind out of the jar is best because fresh will make for a much stronger flavour that your tent mate may not appreciate in the middle of the night). Then seal up the whole thing.

The beauty is the next night when you are ready for dinner you just cut open the plastic pouch and dump it into tin foil, add a little water and  put it n the stove to cook. It can cook while you are making your protein and usually takes about 20 minutes.

Vegetables

In addition to the sweet potatoes I like to have some other vegetables. You can cook most vegetables with the tin foil packet trick but the ones that I find stand up the best to being in a bag and outdoor cooking are:

  • Asparagus
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Beans
  • Beets

Then you just prepare the same as the sweet potatoes I’ve explained above.