Tropical Thai in the Dusty Desert

Our last Cub Scout camp out ever — and I wanted to make something special for the Saturday group dinner.

Already being in the cultural mash-up mode, I opted for traditional Thai — a tropical cuisine whose flavors might adapt nicely to the particular leisurely pace of a desert camp out.

Willa, the desert and stormy skies

Willa, the desert and stormy skies

We got to our friends Greg and Mary Ann’s private property, Camp Nylen in the Joshua Tree desert around 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon, the first ones to arrive. After opening camp and getting settled in, I began simple dinner preparations for the three families that would be there that evening. I had made a pesto pasta and brought a couple steaks. Greg arrived with his son Gram, pal Vic and his sons Miles and Logan got there with five different kinds of Aidells sausages, and we got ready to throw some red oak logs on the Santa Maria grill. More

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Pack 24

On the eve of departing for another Cub Scout camping trip near Joshua Tree, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect a simple fact: I love our Cub Scouts pack.

It took me awhile, but I came around. Being one who is, generally speaking, apprehensive with group activities, recited credos and the like, I was skeptical at first. But the boy wanted to do it, and this was about him, not me.

Tidepooling in Malibu

Tidepooling in Malibu

As with most things Topanga, I soon realized this was not a typical pack — that, despite the rules and formalities, I was among my tribe. More

Cowboy Colgin Rides Again

It was past Pioneertown, the last outpost, at the end of a long and dusty dirt road amidst the boulders and Joshua trees and outlaw cabins of the Mojave desert, that we set up camp.

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Desert shadow selfie

More specifically, it was the property of our friend and Scoutmaster, Greg, and his wife Mary Ann, and an official Cub Scouts camp out. And I was designated cook for 50 or so people on Saturday night.

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Keeping it Local

I was a bit skeptical when I first got the email. Our local community club, which is always having some event or other, had dreamed up a new one: the Fiddle & Griddle family campout.

Albacore & shrimp ceviche

Albacore & shrimp ceviche

It was to take place on the baseball field on a Saturday in August, there would be a Santa Maria-style grill to cook on, games for the kids, campfire singalongs and so forth. It sounded interesting, but probably wasn’t our style of thing — I’m a reluctant camper, I find the packing up, unloading, setting up camp, breaking down, packing back up and unloading again a laborious process, especially for a single night a couple miles from home. More

The Endless Summer

I had just finished lunch of Mexican food and ice-cold beer with my father and brothers, and was now standing outside the Home Depot in my t-shirt, shorts and flip flops, waiting for a customer service associate to swap out my empty Amerigas propane tank for a full one.

I would be barbecuing for friends this evening, and needed my back-up tank full just in case. After all, I’d had to use the Weber to cook my Christmas dinner when the main propane tank went dry. And suddenly, thinking of this, I had a moment of sadness. It was mid-January. Another 80-degree day, another cold beer, another barbecue… and what happened to winter, to whisky and braises?? We can’t even go skiing because there’s no snow in the mountains. As I write this, many of the mountains are, in fact, on fire.

Happy, lightly dressed girls, camping in January

Happy, lightly dressed girls, camping in January

I know it’s difficult for those of you friends in the Midwest, on the East Coast, and in Canada, Iceland, the British Isles and beyond, swallowed by various polar vortices, nor’easters, blizzards, ice storms and so on, to have much sympathy for our plight. More

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