Well, summer has arrived in Iowa in its usual fashion with a vengeance: full force, hot and humid! With temperatures in the 90s and high humidity, the best place to be is near the water. In Wisconsin, whenever the weatherman gives the forecast he always ends it with “but cooler near the lake,” referring of course to Lake Michigan.
We were fortunate to have a cabin on a chain of lakes in northern Wisconsin. We spent many weekends and sometimes weeks at that quaint but rustic cabin! A long pier stretched out onto Silver Lake from the beach where our cabin sat. I spent endless hours swimming, diving off that pier and racing my brother and sister to the floating dock anchored out on the lake. Then we’d lie on the beach till we decided to do something else; talk about your lazy days of summer!
We also had a canoe, a sailfish and sunfish (sailboats) and of course a fishing boat. My absolute favorite was sailing; there is no better feeling than controlling your sails and having the wind catch them just right and send you flying across the lake.
My dad was an avid fisherman and I would often go with him to catch our dinner. Our lakes were so clear and blue that sometimes you could see the fish you were baiting! We caught plenty of perch, blue gills, trout and small-mouth bass. I enjoyed fishing, especially with my dad. I had my own poles, baited my hooks and removed any fish I caught. (Dad cleaned them.) At night we grilled whatever we caught. Pan-fried fish on the grill, roasted corn on the cob and foil packets filled with campfire potatoes or with smothered fresh vegetables. Nothing compares with opening those packets and smelling that smoky, charred, bundle of smothered, cheesy, yummy goodness! The charcoal from the grill marries perfectly with the corn creating a delicious, succulent ear.
After dinner was campfire time! We had a fire pit where we built a raging fire and spent the night sitting around. We roasted marshmallows on long sticks and gobbled up s’mores until we were stuffed. Mom and dad told stories about the “old days” and we listened with rapt attention. Sometimes we’d go for a late-night boat ride around the lake and enjoy the cool night air and peacefulness of a perfect summer evening. We always slept soundly, except for one night.
We were all deep in slumber when my mom awakened us with loud, shrill shrieks. Soon, my dad and brother had brooms in hand trying to get a bat out of our cabin. Mom was screaming, my sister and I were laughing hysterically and the bat flew into the living room drapes. In the bedlam the drapes came tumbling down, causing even more panic. At this point my mom announced that we were going to sleep outside. So all of us (except my dad who stayed until he got the bat out) grabbed our blankets and pillows and slept on the beach under the stars! What a night. That story has been told numerous times over the years at various family get-togethers and never fails to bring everyone to tears with laughter!
Bat episode included, the fondest memories of my childhood years were spent at that wonderful cabin. For today’s recipe, I’m sharing my favorite campfire potatoes. I’ve only cooked them on a campfire or charcoal grill, but I think they should turn out fine on a gas grill as well.
5-6 potatoes (skin on) sliced about one-quarter inch. I used Yukon Gold
1 white, yellow or Vidalia onion sliced
½ stick butter, cut in pats
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
Couple shakes of Worcestershire sauce
½ cup shredded cheddar
½ cup shredded mozzarella
Bacon crumbles (optional)
Use extra heavy foil doubled, spray with non-stick spray
Spread potatoes on foil leaving plenty of room to fold up ends later
Layer onions, butter pats, seasonings, cheeses and Worcestershire sauce
Fold up foil and seal edges tightly
Cook on middle rack of grill or campfire 35-45 minutes until potatoes are soft.
Unwrap, breathe in that fantastic aroma and eat heartily!
Keep cooking and stay cool friends; see you next month in my Kitchen Korner!