Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Campfire Frittata


What impacts a meal more ~ the aesthetics and surroundings it is served in or the food itself? I think there is good argument for both. Some of the most amazing things I have ever eaten were all on the beach. Ham and cheese sandwiches on fresh kaiser rolls were never as  magical as they were after I had been begrudgingly pulled from the water for lunch. The same sandwich eaten at home paled in comparison. I've never been much of a sweet tooth, but a frozen Milky Way bar purchased at the snack bar and devoured in the sand came pretty close to a religious experience for a child under 12. Growing up just minutes from the shore, there were hundreds of summer days where all three meals were served on the beach and everyone of them was remarkable. In fact, these memories are what led me to plan our dinner on the beach over the summer and again, a meal eaten next to the crashing surf resulted in pure magic.
The weekend we camped each family took responsibility for a meal to provide to the group. On the last morning of our trip, our friends Paul and Ann were in charge of breakfast. In a dutch oven over the fire they began to brown bacon and as it cooked added other odds and ends to that sizzling loveliness. Once everything had had a solid head start, they poured in an egg and cheese mixture and let it rise up to perfection. There were delicious edges crisped up from the fire and each bite seemed more incredible than the last. As we talked about our wonderful weekend on the ride home later that afternoon, that frittata was mentioned again. And again.
On our way home from the apple orchard I thought I would try my hand at recreating it. It was a chilly morning and we had left the house with bellies full of coffee which had worn off as fast as our caffeine buzz. While I browned half a pound of chopped bacon in an old cast iron skillet, I rummaged through the pantry and found a few russet potatoes that were begging to be used before their imminent departure to the compost bin. I cubed them up and added them to the bacon watching them brown up nicely in that bubbling bacon fat. I threw in some onion for good measure and gave it a minute or two before I poured in some eggs whisked with shredded cheddar cheese and let it just do it's thing. After a few minutes on the range top I popped it into the oven so the top would gain a nice light shade of brown.
I wasn't sure it would blow my mind the way the one eaten around a blazing fire while the early morning sun attempted to penetrate the dense woods with it's hazy rays did. Would it be as tasty as it was while we were all sitting around a weathered picnic table, wearing hooded sweatshirts and wool hats, hands clasped around mugs of steaming coffee for warmth?
It ended up providing equal satisfaction even without the incredible outdoorsy aesthetics. It was tasty and filling and made me wonder why I sometimes fuss over delicate omelets while the frittata is it's plain and practical sibling ~ the no nonsense one who doesn't require bells, whistles and tender loving care. The frittata also leaves in it's wake a legacy the omelet cannot. Leftovers. Which I warmed up in my office the following day for lunch. It was just as good as it was the day before and treated my senses to warm memories of that camping weekend. Let's just say it managed to make the Monday blues a little less painful. That in itself is a magical thing.

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