Food Finds For The Outdoors

The latest food finds, to get you out on the trail with a well-tended tummy……

Epic Uncured Bacon Bits.

They are soft, chewy and with a pleasant fatty taste. Great to eat plain, or add into meals. They are more like pancetta than what you might think of as “bacon bits”. Shelf stable till opened.

Yum Earth Organic Sour Twists.

Soft, allergy friendly candy for all ages – one that our youngest loves!

The middle kid loves hummus. The Townhouse Flatbread we found in the cracker aisle, in 3 packs. Shelf stable. Each box pops open, to make a tiny lunch area. Add in a bag of baby carrots and some cheese…..

For a new option with freeze-dried food, for prepping and backpacking, Valley Food Storage. A lot of fun options, including Freeze-Dried Greek Yogurt and Freeze-Dried Coconut Milk Bites. They carry a number of products, including dry soup mixes as well.

Late Afternoon Forest Hiking

I made a promise to myself this year, that once summer came, we would not waste it by being inside on nice afternoons. I am not a huge sun fan, but on the days when it is low 70’s, I love casual hiking in the shade of the trees in the low forest land. Yesterday, I shut the computer off, and we head to Nolte State Park, down the road from us. $30 later, and a new yearly pass, we were on the easy 1.4 mile loop hike.

It’s a favorite hike of mine, we don’t get there often enough though.

Snags, even baby owls up high in some areas.

This tree fell a few winters ago, and the boys love playing on it.

The heat has drained the back section of the lake, and is its own mini lake now. It was the only section where bugs loitered.

The low land forest was full of Red Huckleberry bushes, and there were so many ripe ones!

My dirt stained farm hands holding a harvest that the boys scarfed down.

Earlier in the week also went rock hunting. Alistaire with one of his finds. We had a short hike in the woods locally.

Best.Rock.Ever.

Wildflowers in the woods.

And a few native blackberries makes the hike complete….

The Ecozoom Versa Stove

We love to do outdoor cooking (which is pretty obvious, no?) and that includes grilling as well. However, our love of our massive charcoal grill has faded since we got an Ecozoom Versa Stove. I realized this on Friday, when we actually fired up the big grill for the first time in a few months. It takes forever. It’s messy. It’s hot (and it was a hot day on top of it). It is a space hog. And it makes awful s’mores, as it cools off too fast. All of which our Ecozoom does amazingly well.

Now then, over the years I haven’t been impressed with wood burning stoves, because these stoves often had floorless designs, which meant they couldn’t be used during fire bans, or any place where fires were banned. They were messy, tricky to light and filthy after handling. So, when I was offered the Ecozoom to review I was skeptical. Very skeptical.

But….

Could you say no to that sizzling goodness?

The Ecozoom won us over on its maiden voyage.

The Versa is different. A lot different. It’s sealed. It stays relatively cool on the outside. It works amazingly with even the heaviest cast iron pots slapped on top. The pans don’t move at all. I can pick up the stove and carry it on my own.

Specifications
Height: 11.5″
Diameter: 9.5″
Weight: 14.25 lbs

Features
Bottom damper door regulates air flow while top door is left open or closed depending on wood or charcoal fuel use
Durable three-pronged cast iron top
Fully insulated body retains and transfers maximum heat to your pot or pan
Refractory metal lined combustion chamber
Reinforced metal door frames
Sturdy steel handles with silicone grips keep handles cool while stove is hot

And here is another thing:

As I mentioned above, we enjoy grilling and cooking outdoors, but setting up the big grill is a pain. It isn’t “hard” but it is time-consuming and it uses a lot of charcoal. You have to get going an hour before cook time and expect it to burn for hours after. Not a quick spur of the moment event. The first time we used the stove we made a package of organic hot dogs. I wasn’t expecting the stove to be ready that fast, so I grabbed something quick to cook on it! The boys were very happy, since Mom rarely lets them have that.

Lighting the stove:

Add the charcoal in the center:

Within less than 20 minutes, it was showing temps of 900* inside, and I was cooking on it. As for smoke? Only at the start. Unlike a grill, you don’t fumigate yourself with smoke. Every time we have used it, I go inside after, and there is no “campfire” smell on my clothing. I haven’t used it with wood yet, so I will update when I do. Another note: it sips fuel. It uses barely any charcoal, especially compared to a large grill. It is highly efficient. Oh, and it’s hot after dinner and makes perfect toasted marshmallows.

It’s so easy to light it up, we have used it many times since receiving it. With our kitchen in the middle of a remodel, this stove has been amazing to use. And who doesn’t like to cook outside in the summer?

One hot cast iron skillet, sausages, tomatoes and eggs, all sizzled up together. What more could one want? Well….I did heat up some bourbon beans on the side!

We have enjoyed this stove so much we built an area for it in the backyard, so we can cook with it often. For homesteading, prepping or camping, it’s incredibly easy to use.

FTC Disclaimer: We received product for potential review.