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.

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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.

More: Grilled Bananas with Buttered Maple Sauce, perfect for camping

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.

Trail Mix

Trail Mix with Nuts, Cherries and Chocolate

Serves 8

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

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom

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    Marian Bull
I'm a native New Yorker, Le Cordon Bleu graduate, former food writer/editor turned entrepreneur, mother of two, and unapologetic lover of cheese.


jane.colton3 March 21, 2014
Beautiful daughter! The only thing I would add to the trail mix would be coconut flakes.
Tereza March 19, 2014
I love adding pieces of dried apple to my trail mix!
mcs3000 March 19, 2014
Great post, Merrill! Beautiful pics of Clara. Your camping trip w/your sister sounded like a blast. Trail mix looks delish, but my fav is your friend's Sara's granola bars. Made them again for a hike last week. Everyone wanted the recipe.
AntoniaJames March 18, 2014
Great for people (like me) who like to hike without necessarily camping; for the longer day hikes we take, trail mix is essential. I prefer it over the next-best-alternative, Larabars, as it is not so sweet. The beauty of this is that you can control the sweetness so easily. I usually include pepitas and sunflower seeds, too. Also, for hiking it helps not to use too many salted nuts/seeds, as they tend to make one thirsty -- not a condition one wants on a strenuous or long-distance hike (the best kind). ;o) P.S. Also, I find trail mix to be the perfect snack when in negotiations all day!
Marian B. March 18, 2014
I would so go camping with Clara.
Catherine L. March 18, 2014
I always eat the chocolate out first, too! But this trail mix looks well-balanced enough that I might not.
Veronica F. March 18, 2014
Clara is gorgeous! Love her happy smile in the first picture.

Can't believe I haven't thought of making trail mix. Will be making this for my 2.5 yr old. Thanks!
Merrill S. March 18, 2014
Thank you, and hope you like it!