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As a Mom of two rambunctious kids I know full well that “camping” means work for me and fun for them.  But Moms already know that it takes a lot more effort to go our there and have fun than to sit at home.  These days I’m so busy with day-to-day life, it was refreshing to turn off the phone and not bring any electronics to Inks Lake State Park.  The trip was a Scout Pack activity but everyone in the family is welcome, and most of the parents were Moms!

Camping did have me a little worried.  Little Sister likes to play in the dirt, with bugs, and chases butterflies.  She could easily get lost!  All the families kept an eye on the heard of kids as they explored our piece of heaven.  I went to the rescue of a boy while taking pictures of this flowering cactus, he fell on to the very same species I was admiring.  My trusty multi-tool with pliers came in handy as I played field EMT removing thorns and pins.  I was thankful it wasn’t one of my kids.  Sure enough though, Big Brother took a spill and scratched up his knee.  I could tell it was him by the yelp through the trees.  Can’t have fun without someone getting hurt.

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I prepared some beef carnitas the night before we left, froze them and carried it in the cooler.  Wrapped in two layers of foil they sat on the coals until heated through.  On the side, a mixture of potatoes, sweet onion, and tomatoes cooked in foil.  A very satisfying meal.

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Campfire Carnitas

  • 1 pound skirt or flank steak
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup diced sweet onion
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3-4 chilies in adobo sauce, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup marinara sauce

Sear the beef on both sides, remove to a plate to rest.  Sauté the carrot and onion in the pan with olive oil.  Add the garlic powder, chilies and marinara sauce.  Slice the meat against the grain and return to the pan.  Reduce the heat to simmer and cook until the carrots are soft, about another 10 minutes.  Cool and pour into a ziptop bag, freeze overnight.

Remove the carnitas from the bag.  Double wrap the mixture (it can be frozen) in foil.  Heat over medium coals until bubbling hot again.  Serve with tortillas and your favorite toppings like avocado, pico de gallo, or cilantro.

 

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Breakfast was fruit salad (mango, banana, pear).  I was still stuffed with s’mores from last night.  The kids had cereal and milk, as well as some of my fruit.

The park was unbelievably beautiful.  Real toilets with showers, albeit a short hike away, were nice since we were tenting.

For more ideas on food outdoors, check out the Texas Parks Picnicking Page.  I’ll leave you with a slideshow of the trip.

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