The City Girl's Guide to Surviving in the Wild
Okay, when I say "wild", maybe I'm being a bit overdramatic ('cause this is coming to you from a cottage with running water and an electric stove) but here's a few pointers on getting the heck out of dodge and how to make the best of it.
I never got to be a Girl Scout and I've always regretted it. In my older age, I really dig spending time outdoors more than in. Call it Woodsy Chic if you will. Gimme an ax to chop wood (fabulous upper body workout, by the way) and a fishing pole any day.
- Learn how to start a fire. This is a super-basic survival skill that everyone should have. The essentials are tinder (and I don't mean the swipe right kind), kindling, and wood. Wanna know something super cool? You can kill two birds with one stone - bring an extra big bag of marshmallows for smores cause they make excellent tinder. Everyone's favorite sweet melty treat is basically fuel. While they catch fire easily, they burn kinda slowly, giving the kindling enough time to ignite. Pop several jumbo ones into the bottom of fire pit to get things going. Otherwise, lint, bits of straw, brown paper bags, and anything else that will easily ignite are great tinder. Kindling is a bit trickier, but thin slices of wood or twigs work best to get the fire going and finally ignite firewood. Got wet wood? Strip away as much of the wet bark and outer wood as possible.
- Your good old cast iron skillet from home is also good on the fire. One of the many reasons I love cast iron is because of it's versatility. Cast iron gets better with age and it goes from the cooktop, to the oven, to the open fire with no problems. While coated cast iron (Le Creuset, Staub, Tramontina, etc.) is all the rage, cooking on an open fire with these will ruin the finish. Invest in a few good skillets and one Dutchie pot and you're set a) for life and b) for any cooking circumstances.
- Instead of using ice to keep items cold, use refreezable cold packs. Your food won't be wet, the packs stay colder for longer, and you can use them time and time again. It's worth the investment. Get medication that has to remain refrigerated? Save those cold packs.
- Invest in a galvanized tub. I bought a couple of these to keep drinks cold for my DIY wedding. If there has been any one item that has gotten serious reuse, it's the tub. I load it up with my kitchen items to take with and then it can be used as a cooler, as a wash tub, or flip it upside down to use as a small table. Plus it just looks super cool.
- Know how to make good Cowgirl Coffee. I mean, you can bring your french press, your moka pot, or your Vietnamese coffee maker, but if you are trying to pare down what your gear, know that a pot, ground coffee, and water is basically all you need. Cowboy Coffee gets a bad wrap, but if you take french press principles and modify them a bit, you can have some tasty brew. Check this out.
- Get a good vacuum sealed container. I have three. I was fortunate enough to get my dad's Stanley thermos as a hand-me-down. That bad boy is about 20 years old, has probably been run over by a paver, and it still does it's job. It's not sexy, but it keeps hot liquids hot and cold liquids cold. I also have a Seven-Fifty "Wine Growler" and I love this for keeping my coffee hot (and my chardonnay chilled) and it also doubles as a rolling pin for pies baked with local fruit.
- Switch up your S'mores. Everyone loves this sweet treat, but I like mine made for grown folks. Try a S'more using strawberry marshmallows, Dove dark chocolate with almonds and oat biscuits instead of honey grahams. You will not be disappointed!
- Stock up on long-handled matches. I personally carry matches and a candle lighter, but the matches can double as kindling for fire starting.
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