Michigan Wine and Steak Dinner

Here is a painting that I did a few years ago during a "Wine and Canvass" event.

A painting that I painted a few years ago during a “Wine and Canvas” event.

Being from Michigan’s wine country, there’s nothing better than a good red wine with a seasoned steak cooked over an open fire. We tend to choose a steak with extra fat marbled in the meat for tenderness and flavor when we grill.  Maybe you do too.  People often know how to choose a good steak, but they aren’t sure which bottle of wine will go well with their meal.  Yes, I said a bottle.  I’m not a fan of the plastic wine bags and boxes, although they do travel well and keep the air out of the wine.  We take a real bottle and cover it in a mesh bag to keep the bottle from breaking.  Wine will add depth to the flavor of your meal, and impress your wine loving friends (many whom don’t drink beer.)

Here’s an easy to remember rule of thumb.  According to Wine Folly, the fattier the cut of steak, the darker the wine (color=the amount of tannin).  Though I often limit myself to packing from the wine choices we have on our shelf, we do loosely follow this wine rule.  If I’m hitting the grocery store (Meijer’s) on the way to camp, I give some thought to what will pair well with our Saturday night BBQ.  Read on for a few really tasty Michigan wine recommendations.

Fall is a wonderful time to take a color tour in our area, and we often end up at a new winery for a tour and tasting.  Now that Mike has restored our vintage Mustang, we always want to take a drive – anywhere!  Lemon Creek Winery is one of our old favorites.  They make an award-winning, dark red Cabernet Franc that my husband loves.  It pairs really well with rich, red meat dinners.  If you like a dessert wine, their Cherry Wine tastes just like cherry pie so I serve it as a dessert.  Or with a dessert.  It went REALLY well with some not-too-sweet dark chocolate truffles last Valentine’s Day.

Tabor Hill is another favorite, local winery of ours.  They are known far and wide for their demi-sec red and white wines, which are both semi-dry.  People who say they don’t like wine, and those who are just starting to develop their pallet, often like these two wines which are served at the White House.  For those who have developed an appreciation for drier wines, the affordable table wines we like are Red Arrow Red and Pinot Gris.  The downside to camping with a white wine, like a Pinot Gris, is chilling it.  Pack your white wine in a “wine-cozy” to keep it from breaking.  This will also keep it cold when it is out of the cooler on the boat, or at the beach!

79300_a1_gSo how do I serve the wine in on a camping trip?  Our answer is plastic, collapsible wine stemware.   We have also packed the little wine glasses that you get during a winery tour, but they add weight and can break so we “rough it”.   You’ll need to pack a tool that includes a wine bottle opener and a separate pour spout cork.  If there is, by chance, any left overs the next day, add it to a stew.

Meijer stores carry all of the wines mentioned above. While you’re there, pick up some Faygo pop for the kids!  It’s fun to try new foods, so I’m always looking for something new to try.  Today, I happened to see a California wine called Happy Camper, and it sounds delicious!  Maybe it’s just the name?  Having watched this video, I’m ready to have a taste.  The owner says that KOA campgrounds and others carry it in their store.  I may give our local KOA a call.  Have you ever tasted Happy Camper wine?  If so, how did you like it?

I love to hear how people live.  Let me know what wines you like to bring on a road trip, or to the campground.  Do you use a river to keep the wine chilled?  What do you serve it with at camp?  Don’t forget to follow my page.  Happy Camping!


REI YouTube Video Review

Click Here for Camping Meal Tips

Have you ever played Nintendo’s Animal Crossing?  Listen closely.  Do you hear that tune in the background music REI used in this “Family Camping” video?  Maybe not, but it’s close.

This camper is spot-on with his advice about keeping the meals simple, easy to pack and I love that he used a list.  It’s much harder to improvise in the woods when you only have a weekend’s worth of food.

Farm markets, road side stands and “living off the land” are great ways to make your food taste a bit more fresh and “gourmet”.  However, I don’t count on finding a maple syrup stand or a pint of fresh blueberries when I must have a topping for the ready-made flapjack mix.

I’d also avoid picking berries when you are back country hiking or camping in an area with bears.   I know, that’s a “Duh Tip” for most of you, but I’ve watched people do it.  With kids.  Eek!

Back to the video, this hungry camper seems to be cold weather camping and mentions one of his meals: ham and sauteed onions with ready-made polenta.   I’ve never tried it.  Have you?  I’ll put it on the list of “Big Breakfast” recipes to try at home this winter.  Everybody wants to be the “camp hero”!


Grocery Store Stops

Go into the store knowing what you’ll be eating for the next few days.  I write a few “one liner” menus.  Below’s example is from a Boy Scout Troop 579 hiking menu I put together for the Appalachian Trail in 2011:

Breakfast   Base Camp Breakfast Burritos: pre-cooked bacon, eggs, cheese, seasoning; walking 
                  apple salad (core and apple and fill with peanut butter that’s been mixed with dried fruit),                               Sunny D/Tea/Coffee

Lunch         Hiking: BLT Wrap w/ Ital. dressing, mustard, cheese, sliced like an appetizer pin wheel

Snacks       Turkey Jerky, string cheese, Planter’s Nut-rition Energy Bars GORP + left-overs

Dinner        Base Camp Victory Dinner:

Carrots with ranch and celery w/ peanut butter appetizers.  Main course: Steak, mushrooms and onions, baked potatoes (pre-cooked before the hike, covered with foil and warmed in the fire), grilled corn on the cob, Banana Boats (make a slit in the banana, fill with marshmallows and pieces of chocolate, wrap in foil, set on a grill over the fire until they are warmed through), Coke and Gatorade

My best on the road grocery shopping tip:

Always make a beeline to the frozen food section.  Say you need potatoes.  In the freezer section they are already diced, slightly cooked and you can buy them mixed with another ingredient needed in your recipe, such as diced onions or peppers.  These tidy little bags are already frozen and will pack neatly out of your way in the cooler, unlike a fresh bag of potatoes or a bag of smelly onions.   If you want roasted red potatoes and onions in a dutch oven with olive oil, sea salt and fresh rosemary, by all means hit the fresh veggies isle.  But chances are you’ll appreciate the frozen convenience of at least some of your veggies being prepped and ready to quick-cook at meal time.