Thursday, November 29, 2012


When you wish upon a star

Crisp, pitch-dark nights while camping beckon the hidden stargazer in all of us, no matter how young or old you are. Sitting outside at a campsite surrounded with limited, if any urban light impacting your gaze, creates the perfect environment to test your astronomy. And it’s a test as the International Astronomical Union (IAU), recognizes 88 constellations covering the entire northern and southern sky.   

Start off simple.  In the northern hemisphere, Ursula Major or the Big Dipper is the easiest constellation to spot.  In the southern hemisphere, it is the Crux or Southern Cross.  Once you know a few basic constellations, do a little research and discover their backstories.  Most constellations are based on mythological tales.  It’s always more fun to find stars, especially for kids, when they know how Orion fights against the charging Taurus while pursuing the beautiful Pleiades sisters.

Is it a bird, a plane, no it’s little green men

Most of us were taught there are nine planets in the solar system.  That was correct until 2006 when poor Pluto was demoted and the official number was reduced to eight by the IAU.  The five brightest planets, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, can be distinguished from stars because their position changes slightly from one night to the next and they do not twinkle like stars.

Meteorites, or as we all lovingly call them, shooting stars, are small objects that enter the Earth’s atmosphere.  As they pass through, they burn up and leave small bits of burning materials in their wake.  This burning material creates the shooting stars as the Meteorites disintegrate through the sky.

If you do spot a moving object in the sky, it is more likely a Satellite, than an alien spaceship.  Satellites move slowly across the sky.  The most notable Satellite to spot is the International Space Station, which is brighter than Venus in the night sky. Younger kids will have fun waving at the astronauts occupying the space station once it is spotted.   If you have entered your zip code into and it does not recognize the satellite you’ve identified, don’t worry its probably a UFO (just kidding).

21st century stargazing

In modern stargazing, technology comes in super handy.  Grab you smart phone and become an astronomical expert with the click or point of it.  There are amazing apps for smart phones that make identification of celestial bodies easy no matter where in the world you live.  Some are free while others have a nominal charge to download.   We like a few top rated options but there are many more available.
  •        Starwalk
  •        Sky Safari 3
  •        The Night Sky
  •        Gosky watch 
What you’ll need 
  1. Season and hemisphere specific star charts
  2. Binoculars (or a telescope)
  3. Stargazing apps for smart phone
  4. Flashlight beam

So layback on a blanket at the end of the evening.  Put out the campfire and let the night sky envelop you.  The stars will come out and say hello

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Turkey and Cranberry Tarragon Salad

Yield: 4 servings

French tarragon 
Faire du camping (to go camping) correctly the grassahaven team likes to infuse a little French influence into our cooking.  Tarragon, one of the four French fines herbes, is a distinctive herb, with a slight anise or licorice aroma.  But don’t let the licorice flavor concern you.  It is perfect for pairing with turkey and cranberries to make a fresh salad for lunch.  Use your left over turkey or chicken.  Bon App├ętit

C’est Bon!

2 cups diced cooked turkey (or chicken)
¼ cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
1 stalk celery finely chopped
3 scallions (green onions) finely diced
½ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons tarragon
¼ teaspoon pepper
salt to taste

Good bread (ciabatta, croissants, etc), lettuce, or tomato for serving

recommended campsite gadgets and gear:
spoon or knife

at home preparation:
prep time 10 minutes · total time: 10 minutes
The day before your departure, dice cooked turkey, cranberries, celery and scallions.  Mix remaining ingredients and season to taste.  Place in resealable bag. And refridgerate until your departure

campsite preparation and presentation:
total time: 5 minutes minutes
Serve on good bread for a turkey salad sandwich; over lettuce for a simple lunch salad or fill a hollowed out tomato for an interesting twist.   Serve immediately.

cook’s notes:
Keep salad very cold until ready to serve

Remember Better·Living·Is·Surprisingly·Simple™ in the outdoors.
Turkey and Cranberry Tarragon Salad · Enjoy

Friday, November 23, 2012

Turkey Pot Pie

Yield: 4-6 servings

Cool, crisp days in the midst of a kaleidoscope of oranges, reds and yellows spell only one thing for grasshaven: autumn camping.  Camping after Thanksgiving is an opportunity to use left overs in new and interesting ways while allowing an extension of family gathering time.   Make memories around the table on Thanksgiving Day and leave Friday for a weekend camping trip.  Grab your turkey left overs, mix with some vegetables and wrap them in flaky goodness.  Roasting the pie over a hot fire in the great outdoors infuses it with a smoky aroma that can only be achieved during autumn camping.  Open the lid and enjoy the home cooked smells.

1 cup diced cooked turkey
2 cups frozen vegetables, thawed
2 tablespoons butter
1 (10 ounce) can of cream of mushroom soup
½ cup milk
1/3 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
½ teaspoon oregano
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon garlic salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
salt to taste

1 cup Bisquick baking mix
½ cup milk
1 egg

recommended campsite gadgets and gear:
dutch oven
can opener
heat resistant spoon
mixing bowl
measuring cups

at home preparation:
prep time 10 minutes · total time: 10 minutes
The day before your departure, dice cooked turkey and slice mushrooms.  Place in resealable bag.  Measure oregano, garlic salt, pepper, and bay leaf and place in small resealable bag. Measure Bisquick and place in resealable bag.

campsite preparation and presentation:
total time: 30 minutes
Prepare a cooking fire.  In a dutch oven, combine turkey, vegetables, cream of mushroom soup, milk, mushrooms and spices.  In a mixing bowl, combine Bisquick, milk and egg.  Spoon Bisquick mixture over filling, covering completely.  Close lid and place onto of fire.  Build small fire on top of dutch oven.  Cook about 20 minutes or until top turns golden.  Serve immediately.

cook’s notes:
Frozen turkey from Thanksgiving dinner and frozen vegetables can keep your cooler cool and make transportation to the campsite easier.

Remember Better·Living·Is·Surprisingly·Simple™ in the outdoors.
Turkey Pot Pie · Enjoy

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pulled Pork Lunch Special

Yield: 4-6 servings

2-3 cups cooked pulled pork
¾ cup favorite barbeque sauce
2 cups shredded cheese

Baked potatoes or sourdough rolls
Coleslaw as a side or topping for the roll

at home preparation:
prep time 10 minutes · total time: 10 minutes
Assemble any ingredients (the grasshaven team cooks pork butt one evening for a delicious outdoor dinner and reserves some pulled pork for the next day’s lunch special sandwiches or baked potato toppings)

campsite preparation and presentation:
total time: 3-4 hours
Warm the pulled pork and barbeque sauce in a saucepan.  Toast the bread (or if you have left over baked potatoes – warm the potatoes).  Once the pork/barbeque sauce is hot and the bread or potatoes are warm, plate the sandwiches (or baked potatoes) with the pulled pork mixture. Enjoy!

recommended campsite gadgets and gear:
aluminum foil
disposable aluminum pan
meat thermometer

cook’s notes:
Add a side of coleslaw (we recommend our Lovage Infused Slaw) and homemade chips.  Even a simple lunch can become an epicurean delight.

Remember Better·Living·Is·Surprisingly·Simple™ in the outdoors.
Pulled Pork Lunch Special · Enjoy