Merrill's daughter Clara has quite the appetite -- and it's all Merrill can do to keep up. Armed with her greenmarket bag, a wooden spoon and a minimal amount of fuss, she steps into the fray.
Today: A camping snack all grown up.
Not a lot of people know this about me, but I love camping. I dedicated a lot of hours at summer camp to passing different levels of an activity we called "Campcraft." This involved everything from learning how to read a map (including topography), hunting down materials start a fire (fun fact: birch bark will ignite under most circumstances, even when wet), frying an egg on the top of a tin can, and pitching a (large) tent.
I went on at least one multi-night camping trip each summer, and my sister and I continued the tradition long after summer camp days were over, once spending two weeks driving across the Pacific Northwest, camping at some of the most beautiful parks in this country. We brought a cooler and cooked most of our meals over an open fire -- grilling sausages, toasting bread on forks, even making the campfire version of Bananas Foster.
Like most people who camp, I've eaten a lot of trail mix (a.k.a. Good Old Raisins and Peanuts, a.k.a. gorp). I like to think that my trail mix of choice has matured as I have throughout the years -- it started out in my summer camp days as a simple trio of peanuts, raisins and M&Ms. Over the years, the peanuts morphed into cashews and almonds, the raisins were joined by dried cherries and cranberries, and the M&Ms gave way to good, bittersweet chocolate.
At this point you're surely wondering when I'm going to get around to talking about Clara, my daughter -- you know, the person this column is supposedly about?
Well, it turns out Clara likes trail mix, just like her mother. Yes, sometimes she picks out the chocolate and eats that first, but I do that too: eventually, we get around to the nuts and dried fruit. I'm seeing lots of birch bark and eggs fried on tin cans in her future.
1 cup salted roasted cashews
1 cup salted roasted almonds
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cups bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips, or a mix of both
Photos by James Ransom