Monday, July 6, 2009

A Vegan Camping Menu

We spent Fourth of July weekend way downeast at Cobscook Bay State Park. Campgrounds near Bar Harbor and Moosehead Lake have been booked solid since March, but if you drive northeast and stop just before Canada, you can still get a waterfront site on short notice.

Tourists overlook poor old Washington County, where conveniences are scarce but the coastal scenery is the stuff of calendars and postcards. With its scruffy, rolling blueberry barrens, massive pines, and rocky cliffs dropping away to the ocean, Washington County feels like a well-kept secret compared to the frenzy of southern Maine in July. Massachusetts can have Ogunquit, Boothbay, even Acadia. The empty distances that shelter Washington County from economic development also deter daytrippers, ensuring plenty of privacy and unspoiled views for the rest of us.

This ain't Vermont, though, so vegan food can be hard to find in rural areas. Nearing the end of our two-hour drive, we stopped in Machias at the Fat Cat Deli, a casual lunch spot overlooking the river. I was relieved to find vegetarian chili and a vegan hummus sandwich on the menu. I wasn't expecting much flavor, but the smokey, tangy chili surprised me, and the hearty homemade pita was nothing to scoff at.

For $5.50, I was full all afternoon. We'll definitely make Fat Cat Deli a regular stop on downeast trips.

We arrived at our campsite, on a steep, wooded hill overlooking Whiting Bay. Equipped with books, knitting, and a cooler full of campfire food, we hoped the rain would hold off. Our menu included:

Curried Lentil Burgers with grilled onions
• Prospect Park Potato Salad from Veganomicon
• Cole Slaw, based loosely on this recipe
• Fritos (a picnic necessity)
VeganomiconWheat-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
•Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale

Outdoor cooking proved problematic, so I wasn't able to get an appetizing picture of this spread. It's rained steadily for the last three weeks, and our soggy firewood was practically inflammable. Instead of a roaring campfire, for most of the weekend we had a smoking, hissing, dripping pit. By the time we finally got flames going the first evening, sacrificing an entire New York Times and an unread New Yorker to the effort, it was long past dark. We spent the better part of the next afternoon trying to build a fire, and when our onions, burgers, and buns were finally grilled to perfection, a thunderstorm rolled in, driving us into the tent with our plates.

We had a great weekend, despite our cooking problems. We took a short hike...

... read by the fire...

... let Graeme and Ellie run wild...

... and made some time to stop and photograph the roses.

I'm daydreaming about what to pack in the cooler on our next camping trip. I'm imagining steamed veggie sausages with grilled peppers and lots of mustard. Please send your camp food suggestions my way!


  1. Your camping food sounds nicer than my every food! And while I would rather do just about anything else other than camping, I might tag along if I could eat like that. ;)

  2. Oh! I cried a little over the burning of the unread New Yorker. The food sounds lovely. If I had food that good, perhaps I might contemplate camping again. (As it happens, I haven't been camping since 4-H in 2002, when we had our camp out and they gave the vegetarians apples for dinner...)

  3. Don't worry, we can check The New Yorker out of the library. It shows how desperate we were for a hot dinner, though, right?

  4. Can you take me camping next time?

    And yeah, about my Greece post, it was super easy to ask for everything without feta. Plus, my feta-loving sister had some authentic greek feta that she hated, and I got to say, "serves you right!"


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