Tie Dye a'la Campfire

We went camping for the first time in two years a couple weekends ago. Well... I guess I can't really call it "camping". The weather forecast called for rain (which it did- a lot) so we decided to leave the tent at home and rent a cute little cabin instead. It turned out to be a great idea.

Our cabin was equipped with two bunk beds with nice soft mattresses; we supplied our own pillows, sheets and blankets. We also had a little fridge that really came in handy and a microwave which we never even plugged in. Aside from having a roof over our heads and a modern way to keep our food cold, it was practically camping.

All of our meals were cooked on the campfire (once we finally got the logs dry enough to light), and it was our first attempt at vegetarian camp cooking. Everything was amazing! We had brought along some tofu dogs (the jumbo sized ones) that cooked up really nicely and tasted just like real hot dogs- maybe even better! We also brought along Qrunch green chili quinoa burgers (my favorite with some hot sauce) and some regular GardenBurgers for ourselves to eat at the group cookout, since we were at the campground with a bunch of people from work and we knew none of them would eat "hippie burgers". We were asked to bring a dish to pass as well, so we made up some asparagus farro risotto... I've made it before, but never on a fire! It was well worth the hour it took to cook up the farro, and it seemed to go over pretty well.

For lunch one day, I prepared some tasty black bean tacos that cooked in about a minute- I literally dumped a can of black beans into the skillet and seasoned them, then mixed them up for a few seconds and they were done! Delicious! I ate mine in crispy whole grain corn shells with chopped romaine, some cheese, and a little glop of plain Greek yogurt, which is a great substitute for sour cream. 

And who doesn't love s'mores. Actually, I made one the other day in the microwave (leftovers!) with peanut butter and white chocolate chips. Pretty sure it was better than the original. I'm drooling just thinking about it.

We learned a fun little trick while we were messing around with some amaranth too. Hubby had requested that I pick up some "healthy whole grains" at the store, and amaranth was on his list. I brought some along in hopes of making a yummy side dish to go with our hot dogs, but it failed miserably. Time to look up a recipe!

As I was flipping through some cooking websites on my phone (yup, really not roughing it), I saw that amaranth can be popped like popcorn. Of course we had to try it! It's so simple- just heat up a pan and toss a small handful of the dry amaranth in, then watch it pop! It really does taste like popcorn too, although it's kind of a challenge to eat because the kernels are so tiny. I'm thinking it would make a great crispy coating for some sort of main course though! Mmmm... popped amaranth encrusted tofu. *make mental note* 

For the group cookout and activity night, I provided the supplies to do tie dye with the kids. I had kids that I'd never met before crawling out of campers and begging to try it! Some of them didn't have shirts to dye, but they came armed with dish towels or something dug out of their parents' suitcases. Fortunately, I had brought along some extra tank tops, and a few of the moms brought 5-packs of undershirts, so there were plenty to go around. Although some of the kids were very content to create art on the absorbent paper towels underneath...

Procion dye from Dharma Trading, mixed with water heated on the fire.

Hearts and spirals were the most common requests for tie dye shapes, and I ended up tying up lots of shirts that night. I even attempted to remember how to tie a peace sign... but I'm not sure how it turned out. I always tell the kids to leave the shirts in the bag as long as they can (24+ hours) so the colors stay nice and bright; I didn't really get to see any of them untied except for my own.

I ended up doing a spiral, a heart, and some sort of random accordion fold on the three shirts I brought. The spiral was done on a white tee that I had screen printed white at our last company clothing order- my hope was that the dye would stick to the shirt and not the screen print, and it worked! I also discovered that ribbed tank tops are pretty hard to tie up into shapes because they're so stretchy. The shirt is barely ten inches wide before being stretched out! Needless to say, my heart didn't turn out too well. :)

Perhaps in the future I'll post a few tie dye tutorials on making different shapes. I've successfully done hearts, peace signs, smiley faces, spirals, dots... you name it! Haven't done it in a while though, and this definitely cleared a few cobwebs! Here are a few examples from several years ago...

Black shirts, tie-bleached

Heart shape on the front...
...peace sign on the back!


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