Happy Valentine’s Day

Glamping in Ontario.

For two avidly outdoorsy people there really isn’t anything more romantic than a totally secluded back country adventure (provided of course those two people are romantically involved).  Beautiful sunset giving way to a star filled night. A little wine after a wonderful meal. Perhaps a moonlit skinny dip in a cool, calm dark water lake. To me this sounds like a recipe for the perfect Valentine’s Day. Except, I live in Southern Ontario and it’s currently 23C below zero. I can say with all certainty there is nothing romantic about that; most certainly not the moonlit swim.

So what is a romantic to do?

The first step is to find the perfect location for your romantic winter back country escape. Although most provincial (State) and national parks allow for winter camping, spending a night freezing in a tent with my sweetheart isn’t in the cards.   Lucky for me my sweetheart introduced me to the concept of Glamping.

For those not in the know, glamping is “glamorous camping.” It’s all about experiencing the positive aspects of nature without giving up on the creature comforts. No pitching a tent, rolling out your sleeping bag or starting a fire. It’s luxury in the great outdoors.

There’s no shortage of glamIMG_20150214_083444_hdr_editping options, either. There are Algonquin Ranger cabins, Provincial Park yurts, retro trailers and treehouses for rent on Airbnb, and many booking sites offering private glamping options all over the world.

This year, we’ll be staying in a yurt at Pinery Provincial Park. Most of our regular readers won’t have much use for glamping since you’re all about carrying everything with you into the wild. But sometimes, say on Valentine’s Day, when you’d like to be outdoors and all comfy with your special someone, glamping offers a nice alternative. The upside of glamping is that you don’t have to carry everything in, which leaves you more options for cooking – yurts generally include a bbq for use. I’ll be making my sweetheart braised shortribs with a rice pilaf, followed by chocolate almond pudding. We’ll be sipping on a nice bottle of Tawes sparkling wine. That’s another perk of glamping- being able to carry in luxury items like champagne and a box of chocolates!

Happy Valentines Day everyone!

Happy Valentines Day
For our romantic night in the back country I've prepared a delicious menu starting with warm chocolate almond pudding for desert. For the main course we'll have wild rice and mushroom pilaf and braised short ribs, and lets not forget a little bottle of sparkling wine.
Chocolate Almond Pudding - Because I eat dessert first
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 ½ tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ tbsp. tapioca flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pure almond extract
  • ½ cup almond milk, dehydrated
  • 1 powdered egg yolk
  • 3 ½ tbsp. whole milk powder
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
The Pilaf
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • ½ cup wild rice, cooked and dehydrated
  • ⅓ cup camp rice
  • 1 tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp. dehydrated chicken stock powder
  • ¾ pound mixed mushrooms sliced
  • 2 tbsp. chives
The Braised Short Rib
  • 2 lbs beef short ribs,
  • ⅓ cup coconut aminos
  • 2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 (5-inch) stalk lemongrass, halved and smashed
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tbsp. coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 tbsp orange juice concentrate
  • 1 ½ tbsp. hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
At Home Instructions- Warm Chocolate Pudding
  1. Combine all ingredients in your kickass 1960’s blender or food processor. Pulse to incorporate all ingredients well. Store in a zip-lock bag.
At Home Instructions - Wild rice Pilaf
  1. In a large saucepan bring 2 cups of cold water and wild rice to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove rice from heat and let stand, covered, until rice cools to room temperature. Once cool, pour wild rice onto the drying sheet lined dehydrator tray. Use the vegetable setting (125 degrees) and dry for 3-5 hours. Combine with remaining ingredients and store in zip-lock bag
At Home Instructions- Braised Short Ribs
  1. In a stockpot or Dutch oven over low heat, combine all the ingredients. Add enough water necessary to cover the short ribs.
  2. Braise until meat is tender enough to fall off the bones. Once ribs are cooked, remove from the braising liquid and allow cooling to a temperature that you can handle with your hands without burning yourself. Remove meat from bones, removing as much fat as you can. Using two forks, separate the meat into thin strands, to the consistency of pulled pork. Drain meat under cold water to remove as much fat as you can.
  3. Drain the fat off of the cooking liquid and discard. Over mid-high heat bring liquid to a rolling bowl. Allow to reduce by half, about 15-20 minutes Return the short ribs and the reduced sauce and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  4. Once cool to room temperature, place 2 cups of mixture evenly on the onto the drying sheet lined dehydrator tray. Use the meat setting (155-165 degrees) for this and allow to dry for 10-12 hours, overnight usually will do it. Drying time will depend on how thick the pieces of meat.
Back Country Instructions

Glamping makes back country preparation a whole lot easier than trying to prepare this feast using a single burner micro stove or jetboil.

Because the braised short ribs will take the longest to cook they are up first. Bring 500ml (2 cups) of water to boil. Reduce heat to simmer and pour the contents into the pot and cook for 10 minutes. Cover and remove from direct heat and allow to continue to gently simmer until the rice and pudding are cooked, about 15 minutes.

For the rice pilaf, bring 500ml (2 cups) of water to boil. Pour contents of the rice pilaf into the boiling water. Reduce to a rolling boil and cook for 10 minutes stirring often. Cover and remove from heat. The pilaf and the braised short ribs should be ready to serve at the same time.

Now for dessert: the most important part of the meal IMHO. If you are like me, your first instinct is to eat the pudding first, but like Pink Floyd says, "If you don't eat yer meat, you can't have any pudding" So, for the the pudding bring 350ml (1½ cup) of water to a boil. Empty the contents into the boiling water and stir. Continue to stir continuously until the bitter-sweet chocolate has completely melted and the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and set aside until you're finished yer meat.



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