Camping With A Chef

Camping with a Chef

Sometimes, we just need to disconnect and step into nature to allow her to slow us down and recharge our mind and body. The perfect place where I love to disconnect from my hardwired life, and reconnect with my authentic self, is Algonquin Park, in Ontario.

Located a little over 3-hours north or Toronto, Algonquin Park is a dream for every overwhelmed, sitting-at-your-computer-all-day, iphone using, noise saturated, city dweller, that there ever was. Algonquin Park is where I go to reconnect with myself and disconnect from the wired world we live in. Her warm, summer breezes, scented with pine and cedar, keep me coming back for more.

I can’t imagine a summer without Algonquin.

My man and I love to go backcountry camping. It’s something I haven’t done much of over the last 8-years. But, since I have gained so much momentum in my recovery from Lyme Disease, I’m incredibly happy to report that my hiking boots are back on, and I’m able once again to enjoy hiking and camping.

Camping with a Chef

Camping with a Chef

Since I didn’t have a great deal of time this summer to spend days and days in the woods, we chose to hike into the Highlands Trail, for a 2-day forest adventure.

Now, when I go hiking and camping with my Honey, it’s never about hot dogs and marshmallows. Instead, I get to revel in nature with one of the best chefs, ever! Trained by the Stratford Chef School, my Love is not only an expert in French culinary arts, he also has a passion for rawfood and vegetarian cuisine, and helps me to make the most amazing gluten-free and sugar-free food on the planet.

Yep, I’m definitely spoiled but grateful at the same time. He has taught me everything I know about cooking — skills I certainly didn’t have before meeting him almost 16-years ago.

He makes the most beautiful food, and I wanted to share with you some of the culinary magic we enjoyed while walking in the woods this summer.

Camping with a Chef

We started off our trail adventure with some sugar-free snacks: my Honey made some raw chocolate and coffee energy bars that are to die for! Sweetened only with the goodness of dates and goji berries, these energy bars are better than any equivalent on the market; in my humble opinion they should be packaged and sold. They are extremely hardy and gorgeously delicious. You definitely don’t have to saturate your snacks in added sugar in order to make them taste great. Dates certainly go a long way!

When we arrived at our camp site, around 3-hours later, we were greeted by the most wonderful view. It was a welcome scene to see after a long, mostly uphill climb to the backcountry. I’m certainly well enough to hike again, but I must say, recovering my strength is slow to say the least. Every time I saw another hill to climb, I felt like whimpering.

Algonquin Park

Algonquin Park

But regardless of how heavy my pack was, or how much pain my body was in while hiking, I stayed focused on how wonderful it was to be back in the forest and seeing a part of the country that most people don’t get to see. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to have the strength, again, to leave my comfortable, city home, and walk into a place inhabited by super friendly chipmunks, loons, and bears (Of course, I could go without the bears…sort of scary!)

All of the backcountry camping sites in Algonquin Park are really out of the ordinary. They are spaced quite far apart, on gorgeous lakes, so you don’t really end up seeing or hearing anyone. As soon as we arrived at our spot, I tore off my clothes, jumped into my bikini and eased into Provoking Lake; then I laid in the sun on hot, flat rocks at the shore.

While I lazily sunned myself, my Love started to prepare dinner: Salmon with sauteed kale, red peppers, and a baked potato. I got up to help start the fire: I put on one hiking boot to snap wood, while wearing a sandal on the other foot, to relax.

Camping with a Chef

Camping with a Chef

Camping with a Chef

A great trick is to freeze your meat the night before leaving on your hiking trip. We packed the frozen salmon, in this case, into our pack, and by the time we arrived at our camp site, it was thawed and ready to cook. The salmon was prepared with some chopped onion, garlic, and cilantro. It slowly cooked over the campfire, while wrapped in foil.

The baked potato, wrapped in foil as well, was placed into the fire — half buried in hot ash. It took an hour to bake the potato, and it had the most tasty, crispy skin. It really is the best way to have a baked potato.

For dessert, we enjoyed some dried cherries, dates, cashews, and almonds. Trail mix supplies bought mainly from Real Raw Foods here in Canada (an excellent online rawfood retailer).

Camping with a Chef

Camping with a Chef

Camping with Chef

The sunset, quickly, and the loons started to hoot (I guess it’s hooting…it sounds like hooting); We then settled into our tent before the mosquitoes ate us alive.

On the next, rainy, morning, my Honey made some prosciutto and jarlsberg toasties on gluten-free, sugar-free bread by Little Stream Bakery (a gorgeous Canadian product!). These toasties were made in a pan — the sandwich was assembled, lightly drizzled with olive oil, and browned in a pan, until the cheese was extra melty.

Camping with a Chef

We enjoyed our breakfast with a cup of organic, Earl Grey, iced tea, made the night before with freshly filtered water and sweetened with NuNaturals vanilla liquid stevia. Water filters have come such a long way! Years ago, you either had to use iodine tablets before drinking lake water, or you had to use a water filter pump, that took hours, before you could make the most minuscule amount of drinking water. Now, thanks to the Platypus filtering system, we can make a gallon of fresh water, that tastes delicious, in about 3-minutes. Fabulous!

Algonquin Park

Water filter for camping

Algonquin Park

Algonquin Park

Alison Smith

Our short, little trip into the wilderness was lovely. I want to go back already. I think of all the friends that I would love to take with me next time because people really need to see what it’s like in Algonquin. It’s a magical place to disconnect from the city and reconnect with your inner wild sister.

Here’s to the Wild Woods and all of the gifts that she gives us. And, here’s to you…what were you up to this summer? Leave a comment below; I would love to hear about your travels.

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