The end of last year we realized we didn’t get out to camp at all. Not even once, and this was really sad as we went the previous year every other weekend. And, it happens to be something that we really love to do. So, we started our journey of looking for a van. A cool “camping” van, with the hopes of getting out into the wild more often. Now, the van should not be what was stopping us, and it wasn’t, but we realized that while we loved getting out, the preparation could be grueling. We wanted the van to be ready to go at the drop of a hat. Last month we found the perfect van, and the beginning of Adventure Year has begun.
About the same time as the van rolled into our lives, Sunset Magazine reached out as they noticed our love of the outdoors, and asked if we would review their newest book The Great Outdoors Cookbook. I have been a Sunset Magazine reader for as long as I can remember, from shuffling through my mother’s copies to our own. It is always my go-to read when we are heading out of town, whether camping or city dwelling, not to mention their delicious recipes. It was a given that we had to check out this book. Now we had a fully loaded van, a great book filled with fun camp recipes, there was clearly no excuse for not hitting the high road.
As we were not familiar with the new van, we decided to stay somewhat local and head to Bodega Bay for a weekend of camping. Along the way, we planned on stopping at two of our favorite spots for oysters. Our first stop would be Tomales Bay to pick up oysters to enjoy at camp, and the second stop would be Hog Island to enjoy their succulent BBQ oysters before continuing up north to our camp site. The drive through rolling green pastures, past farm animals and dairy ranches, was a welcome retreat from the busy we had had.
Once settled into camp we popped up a bottle of rose, enjoyed the fresh oysters ands started preparing this outrageous recipe for grilled Rib Eye Steaks with Pistachio Butter and Asparagus. One of the misconceptions about camping is that you need to eat crappy food such as prepackaged food. This is completely not true, especially if you are car camping. With a little preparing ahead of time, you can basically cook almost anything. We took a two-week road trip, all camping, a few years ago. We planned ahead and primarily shopped the farmer’s markets along the way with an occasional stop at the grocery store. We ate very well. For this recipe, I prepared the pistachio butter ahead of time and tossed it into the cooler. All that was left to do was season the meat, cut the ends off of the asparagus and start grilling. The nutty pistachio butter is really great on smoky, slightly charred meat, as well as smeared over the asparagus. I hate to admit it, but we used up all of the butter as it was so good.
The Great Outdoors Cookbook is full of great recipe ideas, and one of the things I really like about the book is that it is broken down into three sections, campfires, home fires and inspired fires. That being said it is a great resource for camping as well as at home grilling. In addition to recipes, they also share tips on “camp kitchen” basics as well as grilling basics, which I found very useful to combine with my knowledge in those areas. There are recipes that are easy to take in your backpack, as well as tips for foraging. Everything from cocktails to dessert is covered in this beautiful cookbook as well as great breakfast ideas centered around the campfire or grill. One chapter we are really excited to explore is dutch oven cooking. Doesn’t dutch oven cinnamon rolls sound outstanding?
We have been enjoying this cookbook so much that we want one lucky reader to have a copy. While it is perfect for you if you enjoy the outdoors and grilling, it would also make a great gift for that special dad for Father’s Day, or even a graduate who loves the great outdoors. Just leave a comment below telling us about one of your most memorable meals around a campfire or backyard grill session. We will announce the winner on Memorial Day, which is next Monday. Wouldn’t these rib eye steaks be great added to your Memorial Day menu?
To check out more camping photos click over to our online albums!
The winner of The Great Outdoors Cookbook is ……… # 4, Matt Robinson!
Recipe: Rib Eye Steaks with Pistachio Butter and Asparagus
** printed with permission from Sunset Magazine
- 1/4 cup shelled, roasted unsalted pistachios
- 1 cup arugula
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 2 boneless rib-eye steaks (each about 12 oz.)
- 1 pound asparagus, trimmed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
- If you’re camping, do this before you leave home: Whirl pistachios and arugula in a food processor until minced. Add butter and whirl until smooth, scraping down inside of bowl as needed. Transfer to a small container and chill.
- 2. Heat a charcoal or wood-fired grill to high (450° to 550°; you can hold your hand 5 in. above cooking grate only 2 to 4 seconds). Coat steaks and asparagus with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill steaks, turning once, until done the way you like, 6 to 15 minutes for medium-rare. Grill asparagus in last few minutes, turning once, until tender-crisp.
- 3. Transfer everything to a cutting board, dollop steaks with butter, and tent with foil. Let rest 5 minutes. Slice steaks and serve with asparagus.
- *If you can’t find unsalted pistachios, use unsalted butter to balance the salty nuts.
- Make ahead: Pistachio butter, up to 1 week, chilled.