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Friday, June 10, 2011

Camp Life on Survey

Dishes, nettles & SPAM, avoiding getting shocked on the bear fence, and feeding the woodstove to keep the teepee warm - that's what our survey field camp is all about. That and this year Molly and Mary were all about the 'Twighlight series'. Molly was reading the first book and Mary had already read it - and they discussed it while we waited for dinner in the cook tent. In the bottom photo that's the book Molly is reading. All that I know about the 'Twighlight series is what I read in a People magazine while we were in the field last summer at Penguk.

Everyone is slightly afraid of the electric fence. Inevitably someone ducks under the fence carefully and does not bother to turn it off, and the next person, assuming it is off, gets the nasty shock. This year I got shocked one morning when I was turning it off. Most uncomfortable feeling. For these reasons I never quite trust the fence, and sort of assume it is always on and out to get me. In the photos Molly and Mary are ducking under the fence on their way back from doing the dishes in the fourth photo.

Nettles and SPAM is one of my favorite aspects of field camp. We pick just the heads of the nettles - preferably the small ones - I usually try and get a 1/2 gallon zip lock or so of them. Some of us use thin gloves to pick the nettles but I don't. I just make sure to pick them from down below in one motion and I rarely get stung. Then in a cast iron skillet we cook up the thinly sliced SPAM. I suppose if you are scared of SPAM or want to be gourmet that you could use salt pork. But SPAM does work GREAT for this. After the SPAM is crispy on each side I remove it from the pan and add a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil. I add more oil than I think I should. Nettles really soak up the oil! And then add the nettles.

I stir them around on fairly high heat in the oil until they are all slightly wilted. Then I add a 1/2 cup of hot water and the water should hit the frying pan and steam off - effectively steaming the nettles. I keep stirring and do this one or even two more times. Then it is time to add the SPAM back to the frying pan, do one more stir, and then serve and enjoy.

Everybody likes this dish, and while we were waiting for ther float plane at the lagoon we picked nettles, and the next night I served them to my kids. It is one vegetable that they REALLY like - or maybe it is the SPAM ... ... Mark likes nettles so much that he took some root stock to put into his garden back in CA. In the field we ate nettles practically every night.


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