I had forgotten how dark, how quiet, and how peaceful it is to be out in the woods. The pleasure of being temporarily disconnected from things that beep, light up, or plug-in, is an added bonus. For many years we took a yearly trip to the national parks with my parents and sister. After joining us on a trip to Sequoia, we quickly realized the benefits of having that kind of family time together, there were few distractions, lots of unstructured activity, and no fixed schedules. My parents and sister were troopers and year after year they drove up treacherous mountain roads, participated in nature walks, attended the evening ranger talks, and stayed in places that were not particularly luxurious. During those trips my parents often shared their own memories of going to the woods in Poland before the war. My mother talked about the delicious mushrooms that she picked and dried, to be used in soups all year long. My father spoke about the gypsies that came through each year, setting up camp in the woods, entertaining the locals with their small circus act. Those trips were definitely planned by Norm, who always insisted that we start at the visitor center and who always left the parks with a patch that he planned to sew on a wool blanket one day.
This past weekend we went camping for the first time in many years. I loved every minute of it and on Sunday morning when I knew that we would have to pack up and leave, I stayed in our small two-person tent as long as I could. It had rained the night before and I was enjoying that cozy feeling of being warm and comfortable in a very small space. Eventually I got up and walked out into the crisp morning air, and there stood Norm, still a Boy Scout at heart, slowly stirring a pot of grits, frying up eggs, making fresh coffee, and buttering up the toast. When we came home, I was still thinking about all those past trips that we had taken with our children and parents and realized that something was missing. This time Norm forgot to buy a patch. I guess we’ll have to go back soon.
1 cup Falls Mill White Corn Grits.
1 Tb sweet butter
dash of salt
8 oz. sharp grated sharp cheddar cheese
Place grits in bowl and cover with water, and stir so light bran will rise to the top. Carefully pour off water and light bran. In the meantime bring 2 cups of water to a boil with 1 Tb butter and 1/2 tsp salt. Add grits and reduce heat to low, cover pot and cook for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Grits should be thick and creamy. Add cheese, ground pepper, and a little milk if needed. Serves 4
October 26, 2012 at 10:14 PM
I have never had grits. Not something I grew up eating. We had cream of wheat-never liked it and oatmeal. The trip sounds wonderful So glad for the two of you and others, if they went, made the effort to enjoy the calm and peacefulness of the outdoors. It is so important with our crazy LA lives. Sounds like the two of you make a wonderful partnership.
Keep the wonderful stories and recipes coming.
October 27, 2012 at 7:25 PM
I didn’t grow up on them either but they are good! My mom made “manna” which I think is cream of wheat but I didn’t like it!!!
Thanks so much Estelle!!!
October 26, 2012 at 10:38 AM
As always the story was great. It is sad but I don’t remember the story daddy told about the gypsies at all. I am glad that you remember. Hopefully one day all these stories will become a part of a book of wonderful recipes and stories of our family and friends. Great job Irene.
Love, your shvester.
October 26, 2012 at 2:48 PM
That is sad!!! Norm remembers which I am grateful for because I am sure you would doubt me otherwise!! Thanks Anita! I love you and can’t wait to see you walking!!!
October 26, 2012 at 6:12 AM
Another beautiful post, Irene! It almost made me want to go camping! I wouldn’t mind waking up to someone cooking me cheesy grits, yum!
October 26, 2012 at 2:46 PM
Thanks Susan! It’s so worth it, even if I wasn’t thrilled to hear the raccoons crunching around in the middle of the night!!
October 25, 2012 at 1:27 PM
Talk about your down-home cooking can’t get more basic than cheese grits all my God awesome love cheese grits can’t say much for the two-person tent now tempted I can understand camping tent at the four seasons , but the grits now that is really home cooking at its best
October 25, 2012 at 8:13 PM
You are so right! Can’t be more down-home than grits, even though they were never served in my parents home!! You always make me smile!
October 25, 2012 at 1:05 PM
I highly recommend the grits and the camping, both were superb!
October 25, 2012 at 8:14 PM
And so was everything else!!!!!!
October 25, 2012 at 11:04 AM
SO SWEET, Irene!!! And I love grits too!
October 25, 2012 at 8:15 PM
Thank you Lori!! Who knew! I had them for the very first time when David was at Emory. Yummy!!!
October 25, 2012 at 8:02 AM
great post. I have such great memories of our Sequoia trips, the tent cabins, and cooking on the outdoor stoves. I recently looked through Mollie’s first year album and there were a ton of pictures of you guys and us in Sequoia. I hardly remember who those kids were. It’s so crazy!
October 25, 2012 at 8:17 PM
Me too Susan, starting with those brownies!!!! It will be so fun for all of us to be together at the chassaneh in the Catskils. And you are moving to The Bronx, what’s next??