🔥 Gimme Your Mountain Pie Recipes! 🔥 🌳🌲🏕️🌳


So, do you like mountain pies? I sure do.

Typical mountain pie preparation, assembly, & cooking at church camp.

Typical mountain pie preparation, assembly, & cooking at church camp.

This is a horrible blurry photo of a mountain pie, but look at those crimped edges!We used to make them every time we went camping when I was a kid, and we camped quite often. Nothing beats cooking a mountain pie over the hot coals of an aging campfire. We generally make pizza ones, and we have made Reuben ones, and you have your standard pie-filling from a can/powdered sugar on top ones… but other than that I haven’t gotten too crazy. One time I did make a baked bean one. I mean, why not? Also, once we put leftover nine-can vegetable soup in an electric sandwich maker that we got on clearance from Kmart for $5. So, that is sort of similar to making a mountain pie. I mean, it would have made a good one.

It's a bit crispy, but I assure you it was delicious.

Look at those crimped edges!

You gotta use a cast iron pie iron though, not those goofy aluminum ones. I have melted many an aluminum pie iron. I make those coals blacksmith hot. Also, you need one that seals the edges. The ones that don’t make a seal are just sandwich-heater-uppers and that’s bogus. I know they also make round ones where you can cook an egg and make an Egg McMuffin-ish type of sandwich.

My wife & I counsel for church camp every summer, and my camp always makes mountain pies… a tradition my family brought to our camp group when I was younger. Usually my friend Laurel & I end up being the cooks, over a fire in a pavilion fireplace that rivals the fury of Mount Doom of Mordor.

Some of the campers have made cool ones with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I need to try that. (Side note: have you ever had a campfire banana? Do it!) An old preacher friend of ours enjoys one filled with butter & powdered sugar. I bet it’s like a donut.

#MountainPieMadness

Moutain Pielander? THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE! #MountainPieMadness

So, what are your go-to mountain pie recipes?  I hear some people also call them hobo pies, pudgy pies, campfire pies, jaffle pies, and other crazy stuff.  They have to rank up there right behind hot dogs and s’mores as the #1 campfire food.  I have thought a cheesesteak one would be delicious, maybe an Italian Sub on, maybe a burger melt/’Frisco burger kind of thing, maybe one with baked beans and a sliced hot dog would be the ultimate campfire mashup?  You could go with a classic grilled cheese.

Share your tried-and-true recipes and your zany ideas in the comments!

So, they call it a Babymoon…


Apparently the newest annoying word for some time away is Babymoon.  It’s better than Daycation or Staycation, but still annoying.  The word is annoying, but the actual time away isn’t.  With the impending arrival getting closer and closer, many online pregnancy-related websites & email lists suggest taking a babymoon.  This goes especially for first time parents, as a nice little last fling before all of your apparent freedoms disappear.

We decided a while ago that a nice little getaway to a cabin would be the way to go.  We have been tent camping at Forest Ridge Cabins and Campgrounds before, but had never tried out the cabins.  They always looked quite inviting.  The campground itself is always clean, and the owners are quite hospitable.  The prices are competitive with other places that we checked out online, and really quite affordable.  Important for the babymoon aspect, it’s not that far away.  Cabins are our thing now I guess… since we honeymooned in one in Gatlinburg, TN.  It all just seemed to make sense.

We booked the date a while ago, assuming that since it was spring we’d have a nice warm weekend.  It was a nice weekend, but there was about 5 inches of snow on the ground, and the temperature never got much above freezing.

We stayed in the Allegheny cabin, and it was warm & cozy inside.  We brought along some DVD‘s, cooked some s’mores (with peanut butter cups) around the campfire, and just had a nice relaxing weekend.  The kitchen was stocked with all kinds of cookware and utensils, we made a nice steak dinner on Saturday.  I also made a friend in Oliver, one of the campground cats.  He strolled up as I was waiting for the last log to burn out on the campfire, then followed me up on the porch to hang out a but on top of the hot tub cover.  He liked to look in the window at us, then look away when he saw that we were looking at him.

I think we’ve decided that Forest Ridge is “our place” as far as camping when we’re not going camping at Living Waters.

Check out Forest Ridge on Facebook, Twitter, & Yelp, and check out some of our photos…

Really, I haven’t forgotten.


Haven’t been blogging much lately, but I have a new job, am trying to get mazes done when I can, and I’ve been researching several potential purchases to help with said job online.  I will no doubt get back to blogging once things level out.

Any advice on which Epipen leg pouch I should get?  The OmaxCare™ LegBuddy™, the Allergy Essentials Epissentials™ Epipen Holder, or something else?

OxmaCare™ LegBuddy™

OxmaCare™ LegBuddy™

Epissentials™ Epipen Case

Epissentials™ Epipen Case

Medipouch Leg Wrap

Medipouch Leg Wrap

I finally got my prescription renewed, & got a double-pack. Thankfully I’ve never had to jab myself with one.  I did try the practice one a few times.  So, what do you do with your expired ones?  Does anyone take donations or recycle them?

Help Me Reach My Goal!

Help Me Reach My Goal!

Don’t forget, I’ll be doing the FAAN Walk For Food Allergy on Sept. 16th in Pittsburgh, and I could certainly always use more donations!  I’m only about a third of the way to my goal this year, so I can certainly use some help.

I’m also always trying to figure out how to come up with cash to buy more goofy guitars, and Ernie and the Berts is writing more stuff & hoping to record ASAP.  I try to catch other local & national shows when I can.

Of course, I’m also spending time with the wife, as we have some fun stuff coming up… like weddings, hopefully the Renaissance Fair soon, the Food Allergy Walk, a camp service for church, and more.

I’m still not Kmart or McDonald’s, but I do have some blog feedback that I need to address.

I might have some more stuff asking opinions in the next few days.

Yes we will.


So, one of the Recreation campers this week was new to the group.  Tod is 23, and he wowed us all with is flag collection & knowledge.  He had over 150 with him at camp… some full sized, some miniatures.  He could name the flag and the time period.  (For example the Imperial Japanese flag & the current one.)  He sorted the flags by continent.  He named some countries that I didn’t know existed.  He also had a thing for cool military hats, and a bunch of those as well… from French to Russian to Australian.

Tod also has an incredibly creative imagination.  He told many stories and wrote songs and stories in his pile of composition books.  He told us bout elves that lived in the woods, that shot lasers to make you grow tall, vampire princesses, mermaids that had nests under our cabins, purple giraffes that laid eggs, werepigs, four-headed frogs, poisonous porcupines… and so many other fantastic creatures.

Tod shared readings of song lyrics & the story of Esther all hand written by him in his books.  He also drew us many pictures.  One of our counselors Laurel took home a pile (he seemed to take a liking to her & handed her a lot of them), and I have some photos of others, but I did bring one home that he handed to me.  Tod told me it was a song.  I’d like to share it with you:

Living Waters You Will Remember My Name  by Tod Elbridge Johnson  It was at Living Waters The wind blows, the flags fly, And the Campers Come!  But you should not doubt me, You will remember my name.  Oh Living Waters you will remember Living Waters one thing remains.  Living Waters warm and tender You will remember my name.  Your heart, Your heart had ventured with Jesus.  Nothing but ashes from the campfire remain.  Oh Living Waters you will remember Living Waters one thing remains.  Living Waters so warm and tender You will remember my name.  Yeah you will remember my name.

You Will Remember My Name (Tod Elbridge Johnson)

Here it is typed out if you had trouble reading it:

Living Waters You Will Remember My Name

by Tod Elbridge Johnson

It was at Living Waters
The wind blows, the flags fly,
And the campers come!

But you should not doubt me,
You will remember my name.

Oh Living Waters you will remember
Living Waters one thing remains.

Living Waters warm and tender
You will remember my name.

Your heart,
Your heart had ventured with Jesus.

Nothing but ashes from the campfire remain.

Oh Living Waters you will remember
Living Waters one thing remains.

Living Waters so warm and tender
You will remember my name.

Yeah you will remember my name.

Yes, Tod, we will remember.

I might try to set this, or some of the lines to music.  I hope Tod likes the result!

My Week at Camp


Archery Camp 1997

This was a few years ago at camp, and years before the wife & I realized that we kinda liked each other. Ha ha.

So, if you’ve known me for a while, you know camp Living Waters is a big part of my life, and has been for a long long time.  It was near & dear for my family and many friends growing up, it’s where I met the girl that eventually became my wife.  It’s where I have made friendships that defy logic and are somewhat closer to a family than being mere friends.  It’s actually close to the feeling you have being in a band… it’s a sense of belonging, not quite a gang mentality, but there is a strong bond that goes beyond mere friendship that’s hard to explain.

Hogan 4

This is where I stayed for the week.

I have been lucky enough to not only be a camper, but a counselor for many many camp functions, eventually inheriting the director title for Jr./Sr. High Camp that we had this past week.  Luckily for me, all of our counselors have their duties and functions where they take charge, and I think we pulled it off.  I don’t think we’ve had many direct discussions on who needs to do what… it amazingly all just falls into place and we understand what needs done and who’s best suited to do it.  We dive in & do it as a team.

Church camp may scare some people.  Those that know me from outside of camp may be surprised or questioning of my affiliation with such a thing.  I try to take all the things that I have been taught, and lead life by example.  I’m generally not preachy about religious subjects (or at least I try not to be), but I will delve into the subject if someone asks me about it.  I have a respect for all religious beliefs or non-belief, and ask that in a conversation I am shown that same respect.  (I have some good friends that should also be able to tell you that it’s pretty hard to offend me on such subjects.)

Pavillion

This is where we hung out for most of the week.

I feel like I have been called to work with the camp that has given so much to me, to provide campers with their own version of the experiences I had over the years that have helped make me into the person that I am today.  I hope to be a good example to the kids on how go out into the world and be good examples to others themselves.  You don’t have to run around spitting scriptures, knock on people’s doors, or force others to believe what you believe or feel what you feel.  You do need to treat people with respect and kindness.  We discussed being a good seed this week, and how we’re planted in the world to serve others around us.  Serving can be as simple as listening to a friend’s troubles, cutting grass or washing a car, or just telling someone that they are important to you.  We don’t often pause for the simple small things, yet they can have such an impact.  Sometimes I had to be goofy with the kids to get the gears turning, but turn they did.  Once we were able to get into discussions & past answers that were perhaps subconsciously what they thought I wanted to hear… I got some fantastic examples and ideas on how you can do small things to help those around you.

Some of the activities at camp besides bible study in the AM were Archery, a night game pattered after an one one called Get Smart & a flashlight tag game that has morphed into one we call Star Wars, a terrarium craft, a creek walk, a trip to Shawnee, team-building games, orienteering, making mountain pies, lots of singing, vespers every night headed up by Laurel, science time making bandanas with Kirby & Kaylyn, and a campfire where we talked about everything from what we’re thankful for to what our hardships are… and how we can help each other through them.

Archery!

Archery!

I feel like Archery is such an incredible activity for teens… it seems like something that is hard to do, but if you listen to the instruction given by Kirby & Adam, you are consistently hitting the target within a day or 2, and you can become a great shot by the end of the week (when we start putting things like playing cards & water balloons on the targets for fun).  It’s an incredible self-esteem builder, and teaches great discipline and focus.  It’s easy to understand that you must do things correctly or someone can get hurt.  The kids encourage each other and commend each other without any prompting from us old people.  It builds a positive environment easily & organically.  It’s amazing to see them light up when they hit a bullseye, hit a playing card, or pop a water balloon.

We of course sometimes had problems with losing attention quickly… and I blame social media.  We’re luckily able to reel them back in.  I think it helps that most of our staff are smart-asses.  I try to show & tell the kids that you don’t have to conduct yourself differently at camp than you do at home, or vice versa.  Also, I find it fascinating how many of the younger kids constantly asked me if they could go to the bathroom.  It must be from school.  I feel that they’re all old enough to conduct themselves responsibly & can take care of such things without disruption to whatever’s going on.

Some of my personal highlights for the week were when one kid had told us how he had never experienced any kind of group or camp setting before & couldn’t believe how all the other kids had been so accepting of him.  In fact, I didn’t hear a negative word from any of the kids to another.  They would instantly take to the kids that seemed to be outsiders and make sure to include them in the group.  It was an awesome thing to see.  It’s also great to see the kids that have grown up together in various camps form friendships that will last a life time.

Living Waters 2012 - Jr./Sr. High Camp & Recreation Camp

We Are One Big Happy Family – Living Waters 2012 – Jr./Sr. High Camp & Recreation Camp

Camp Flags

Camp Flags

The big highlight was our interaction with the other camp there this week… Recreation Camp is for special needs adults to come enjoy a camp setting.  We did several activities with them besides our 3 meals & singing in the dining hall each day.  We had science time where they learned about chemicals that make up ink and the separation, and we made easy tie-dye-like bandanas with Sharpies and rubbing alcohol.  Our campers mixed with & assisted the rec camp, and it was fantastically fun.  We also mixed again with our trip to Shawnee, singing on the bus and swimming and relaxing together as one big group.  Campers from both camps expressed the need to do it more often.  It was enough to move me to tears to see how the kids accepted the rec camp group who were so different, and made their day by just spending time with them, sharing a laugh, a splash, bouncing a beach ball, and lots of good-natured teasing.  Then there was our campfire sing-along, our seeing one of their campers’ collection of over 150 flags I’ll have to talk about him in another post), and them visiting us on the archery range one day.  It’s a feeling of great joy to see all of our campers make such connections.  My wife & mom are directors at Rec camp, and I feel like that helps us bring the camps closer together.

That feeling is why I was moved to make this a while back…

Check out my photos and my wife’s photos on Facebook if you’re interested.  If you’re a camper or counselor & want to share your photos too, please paste the link in the comments below!

I haven’t forgotten about blogging.


I haven’t forgotten about blogging.  There’s just been a bunch going on lately.  The band had a few gigs back-to-back, & we’ve been trying to come up with new stuff.  The real job has been rather taxing of late, the workload and hours have increased.  The wife & I seem to have some sort of scheduled social or family function every weekend lately.  Our week at Living Waters is coming up & I’ve been preparing for that.  I started to work on my New York Pro guitar & chronicle that, but got to a stopping point & haven’t had time to get back to it.  I’ve been trying to pull together some mazes, new old, some unfinished… I want to get a bunch ready to go, then look at my best publishing options.  I’ve also been battling a nasty stuffy nose coupled with a summer cold & fatigue.

I’m certainly not complaining, there’s just a bunch of stuff going on.  I felt the need to explain the lack of posts.  I even have some drafts written on what I feel to be some entertaining subjects…  I just need the time to sit, make the graphics & write the posts that go along with them.

If you need some blog feed, check out:

Move Along, Move Along...

Move Along, Move Along…

♡ Happy Birthday Bethany! ♡


Generally I blog about goofy stuff except for food allergies, and not much here takes a serious tone.  If you’re reading this, I assume you already know that.  A bunch has been going on with life lately, we’ve been through a whirlwind of ups & downs as things get increasingly hectic.  I’ll spare you the details as my good friends & family probably already know all the stuff we have going on anyway.  At any rate, that’s not the focus of this blog any way… it’s just the spark behind it.

The focus of this one is my wife, Bethany.  Her Birthday is today, and with it approaching while we have many other things going on… I didn’t want it to get lost in the shuffle.  I decided to make note and wish her a happy birthday here.  (Someone might have to tell her about this… I don’t think she reads it much because she hears most of my ranting live without the added benefit of a filter.)

Archery Camp 1997We’ve known each other for many many years and originally there was not even a remote spark of interest.  We have a wide age gap, and I was a counselor when she was a camper at our church camp, Living Waters.  I’m sure we talked, joked, and laughed… I even helped instruct her in Archery.  Sadly for the reader, nothing creepy was going on.

Many years later we went to dinner at Ritter’s as old friends catching up (thanks to AIM of all things), and something sparked there.  We generally don’t have much in common.  We have wildly different personalities.  We go together perfectly.

Beans N' CheeseI’m glad I have found my other half.  We like to laugh, and goof around with each other.  We meet on common ground where things are important.  Neither of us sleeps well when the other isn’t in the bed.  We do enjoy cooking together, entertaining, road trips, Flogging Molly, the RamonesJohnny Cash, & Willie Nelson.  I got her quoting Star Wars, she has me inexplicably interested in Glee.  We both like antiques, have an appreciation for the history of things.

We both have large & close extended families.  We all fit in all around.  That’s important to both of us.  We’re both still actively involved with camp, it’s a very special place to us on many levels any more.  We learn more about each other & ourselves with each passing year.

Bethany has brought out my sensitive side and I have given her a healthy dose of geekery & anarchy.  I’m proud of her for going to school and advancing her career.  I’m in awe of how she works with her special needs campers during recreation camp in the summer.  It takes incredible amounts of patience and mental strength.

She supports my crazy punk rock band, guitar acquisition habit, Batman & Star Wars obsessions, and puts up with lots of the History Channel and Discovery Channel.  She looks out for me with my crazy shellfish allergy, and takes care of me whenever I’m not feeling well or even if I’m just having a bad day.  She has gotten over rolling her eyes at my skull coffee mug.

So to Bethany, my wife & best friend, I want to say Happy Birthday!  I also want to tell you how much I love you and how glad I am that we are who we are.  I am a better man for for knowing & marrying you.  You are my favorite, and I’m glad we found each other.

♥

Camp Song Books


I’ve had a task in mind and in progress for a few years now, I need to make new camp song books.  It’s for a church camp where I participate several weekends out of the year as well as a full week during the summer.

I’d like the books to be usable by other groups if they want ’em, and have even thought about scrapping the book idea entirely and just using something to feed the projector that the camp has… but then you deal with the whole song being too much for a screen, and someone’s got to “flip pages”… could turn into a mess.  I’ve also thought about putting them all on an easel… but I’ve amassed a collection of ridiculous proportions.  Also, neither of these are practical at night around a campfire which is my favorite camp song setting.

There’s also the “what to include” trap.  We have a book with a lot of songs that are (to me) traditional, I’d like to add some newer ones, and have even entertained the idea of writing some of my own.  Some of the songs that I like, or that people want to sing, I really don’t have good chord progressions to back them up… and I need to get those.  Some songs, I have 3 or 4 different chord progressions and they all sound off or terrible.  I try to dumb it all down and change the key so I’m playing G, C, D, Am, & Em mostly.  Some songs have the dreaded Bm.  B, Bm, & Bm7, how I hate you.  I’m not a great guitar player by any means, but if you can strum through some chord changes… you should be able to play anything in the book.  Yeah, the songs can be corny or goofy, but I feel that it’s an important group fellowship dynamic to have that sing-along time.  It’s also a memorable part of the whole camp experience.

There’s also the alternate lyrics/verses issue.  People really take liberties with hymns, and it’s always been that way.  With some songs, I have a plethora of verses.  Some songs have alternate melodies or arrangements.  Some songs have lines changed or have been lanced with inclusive language.  (On a side issue, I know I’m UCC and on the whole it’s an incredibly liberal organization as far as Christian Churches go… but I don’t understand who’s so offended by gender-specific pronouns and why they need to change old hymns – Just write new ones and don’t mess with the words people have been singing for decades, or don’t sing the songs that you don’t like.)

I guess I generally like things to be more fluid than final, and I never have a “perfect” book idea in mind… but I need to get one done.  Here are some ideas that I’ve had…

  • A song book with a lo-fi companion CD of how exactly the songs go would be pretty cool.  (Maybe even two tracks each, one w/ vocals, one w/o so you can campfire karaoke.)
  • Mini 3-ring binders?  Would make adding songs awesome… but could get costly, and perhaps it’d make it too easy for pages to fall out?
  • Chord progressions, not just lyrics in the song books.  Lots of campers and counselors can play… so having all of the song books be the “master” would be good.
  • No page numbers.  Just look for the title of the song.  (We’re plagued by 2 or 3 different “editions” of the same song book with songs being on different pages and what-not.)  Then again, a song book without an index would be ridiculous…  maybe.

I’d appreciate the thoughts of any other camp song people, songwriters, guitar players, or any other musicians out there… or anyone who’s interested in becoming one.