PLOC Juice!
..or Pineapple Orange Lime Cayenne

The forecast in many parts of North America reaches 90 degrees in the next several days, so here’s a cold drink recipe to try. Shout out to my many Northwest peeps living without air conditioning. I had a real brain-sparking juice from Assembly Hall (a part of that behemoth conglomerate known as Tom Douglas restaurants) in Belltown, Seattle which spurred me to attempt an imitation, which inevitably spawned variants.

PLOC Juice (Pineapple Orange Lime Cayenne)
Inspired by Tropical Spice Juice from Assembly Hall

Ingredients:
1 fresh pineapple, cut in chunks with rind removed*
1.5 orange, peel off, scrape a bit of pith off too
2-3 limes, (see oranges)
ice to desired thickness
Optional: 1/2 c frozen mango or ice, or coconut milk to taste
1 small dash of cayenne pepper
Optional: mint, coconut flakes, for garnish

Asian Food Center Pineapple Heaven, chop, chop chop, slice, juice, blend.
Asian Food Center Pineapple Heaven, chop, chop chop, slice, juice, blend.

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Guest Vid by K: Espresso & Tonic!

Inspired by our neighborhood coffee shop Neptune’s Espresso Tonic (as mentioned in Bon Appetit), K___ tried his hand at making one himself, using our favored tonic water of choice, Fever Tree*. Presenting: espresso tonic, the Wongson way!

Today’s Trial Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating:
 5 of 5 stars.
Well, that is certainly novel.
Likelihood of Repeat: 35%
The first couple sips are always a little startling, after that it starts to grow on you..I think…maybe..
Don’t worry folks, if this is not enough cold refreshment for you this summer, I’ve got at least two more in my back pocket coming, on top of last year’s frozen coconut limeade.
Lesson Learned: Even when you’re feeling unsuspectingly casual and lazy-looking without a stitch of makeup on a Sunday afternoon, you might still concede to post a video that includes your mug in it, in the interest of telling the world about the DIY espresso tonic your household experienced..shrug.
But seriously, next time I might try muddling the rosemary** a little, and maybe adding a few crushed berries for a sweet, tart flavor.

*I actually drink tonic water on its own sometimes, no gin.   On the advice of one of my docs, the quinine in it supposedly helps with nocturnal leg cramps -so painful they wake me up. The internet, however, indicates that docs no longer prescribe quinine for anything besides malaria due to strong side effects (beyond the crazy dreams, I’m guessing). I have to assume that tonic water has much lower amounts of it than a prescription, though. However, if you are after quinine in tonic water, read the bottle labels carefully. Sometimes it’s just sugar water without any actual tonic-ness.

**From the garden out back! Hooray!

Raspberry Chocolate Camp Cake
in a Dutch Oven, by Fire!

Raspberry Chocolate Camp Cake - using a dutch oven

I found this gluten-free chocolate cherry cake recipe and used it to make a raspberry chocolate cake in a dutch oven by campfire. Below are the basic steps re-written the way I did them. This was a good one to prep and fire up before dinner, and let sit and finish cooking while you eat the main meal.

Raspberry chocolate cake batter: before and after.
Raspberry chocolate cake batter: before and after.

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Campfire Cooking Methods

Before more recent whirlwind adventures to a wedding in Vermont, K____ and I took a brief respite to camp in the North Cascades National Park. The votes are in, and the top winning option for next blog post was Campfire Cooking Methods! Special thanks to Logistikris for the unique comment entry of ‘Campfire chocoraspberry cake.’ I’ll try to cover chocoraspberry cake next. We were only there a couple nights, or: “as long as my back will take tent sleeping,” and “that’s how long the giant cooler of ice and frozen meats lasts to a safe-ish temp.”

Packing bin of non-refrigeration items for high-maintenance car camping: cooking oils and vinaigrettes are quarantined in a brown paper bag.
Packing bin of non-refrigeration items for high-maintenance car camping: cooking oils and vinaigrettes are quarantined in a brown paper bag.

Method Part 1: Pack it!

If you were a compulsive planner like me, you might list what you’d like to eat on your camping trip, and portion out ingredients as you pack up the accompanying junk food (in my house any road trip merits a hiatus from healthier eating). This time, I had in mind..

  • hot toddies
  • chocolate raspberry cake
  • marshmallows
  • hot dogs
  • and traditional sausage-bacon-egg-potato breakfast foods

In retrospect, it was too much in one night’s work to prep everything and also make spam musubi, but yeah, that’s what I did (even with lots of help from K___). If you are NOT a compulsive planner like me, I leave it to you to wing it like you do (i.e. like a BOSS). Really, I only measured things out for the first two items listed there, and I cheated with box chocolate cake mix. It’s camping, not the Iron Chef. I also made a little mix of balsamic vinegar and olive oil which came in handy as dressing and marinade.

Method Part 2: Fire, not for backpacking -especially in high-fire-prone areas.

With the exception of marshmallow roasting, you want a low, even fire with plenty of coals. K____ and I treated fire-building like a team sport, with him as captain. We spread the logs out pretty wide for cooking, to make room for an even surface for the tools. Want more on this? Let me google that for you... Don’t forget to read up before you are out of cell phone reception zones. Obvi, if you are backpacking, all this “camping” is a whole different ball game.

Method Part 3: Tools
Here’s what the latest full-scale carried-a-little-too-far Wong Way of camping entails for cooking tools:

Tool 1: Cast Iron Skillet
-Needs: high temp cooking oil or butter, don’t forget the metal flipper!
-Good for bacon and all-purpose random cooking, especially when you snag the last possible campsite and it turns out to have no standard grill rack.
-Bad for open-flame potatoes.
-Obviously a bad idea for for light-weight packs.

Cast iron skillet in action! Served with a side of beer from a faraway place.
Cast iron skillet in action! Served with a side of beer from a faraway place.

Tool 2: Dutch Oven
-Good for making cake, probably good for a lot else too, like stew. It really holds the heat in.
-Bad for your back. This thing is so heavy. At least that means the squirrels can’t mess with it, only Yogi Bear.
-ditto on the backpacking

Tool 3: Aluminum Foil
-Good for..tubers, if you can get coals. Much better to wrap potatoes than expose them in cooking on a skillet. It was useful to shape handles on top of them for easier maneuvering.
-Also good for fashioning makeshift plateware and utensils, for that one time when you forgot sporks.

If you put the pre-mixed toddy ingredients in a glass jar you can heat it up near the fire to melt the honey before combining with water from the percolator.
If you put the pre-mixed toddy ingredients in a glass jar you can heat it up near the fire to melt the honey before combining with water from the percolator.

Tool 4: Percolator. Just add water!
-Good for coffee, tea, hot cocoa
Hot toddies (basically, pre-mix everything but the water and lemon).
-Easy mac & cup noodle.
-Thermos + raw chicken noodle soup to cook over time.

Surprise Winning Tool: Percolator?!
That’s right, folks. While I’m grateful for the delicious breakfast K___ served up via skillet, and the fully-baked cake thanks to how well the dutch oven holds heat in, the percolator was the one I was most grateful to have, both to stave off a caffeine headache in the morning with coffee, and to keep me really cozy in the evening with hot toddies. It also felt like the easiest, most versatile one with endless possibilities. Maybe my opinion is swayed too strongly by how precious having water was on this trip since they hadn’t turned on the taps on the North Cascades yet. Oops.

Second Runner Up: Dutch Oven! This one is getting googled some more for the next camping trip. I’d probably rather just cheat directly with hot cakes’ take ‘n’ bake for smaller portion sizes on cakes, but I think you might get a good stew out of the dutch oven instead. They even come with campfire directions!

Safety Notes: on meat thermometers and a giant cooler on wheels..
-It’s definitely good to not poison yourself (see: safe cooking temps for meat).
-Tried to store meats on the bottom of the cooler, separated by ziplocs for extra OCD-style care.
-Tried to cook the more salmonella-prone items first, like eggs.

Relaxing with a hot toddy after dinner before getting in that tent.
Relaxing with a hot toddy after dinner before getting in that tent. Salud!

Questions? Comments? As usual, post below!