By Mandy Simon
Having never really been an “outdoorsy” family when it came to vacations, the idea of camping is intimidating to me. This is something I’m being eased into by friends. A few nights on the beach in Assateague agreed with me and, next thing you know, I’ve agreed to my second weekend at a cabin in West Virginia.
Seven women, nearly a hundred pounds of groceries and too much alcohol all tucked together in a small, aggressively wood-paneled cabin could go in several narrative directions but there were no pillow fights, no slasher film screeching of strings – just food. Glorious food.
Since I don’t have the recipe for my friend Katie’s decadent lasagna or Sara’s fluffy whole wheat pancakes (ladies, maybe you’ll contribute in comments?), I’m stuck offering up only my own.
The seven of us divided up responsibility for the meals of the weekend and tag-teamed them. With my lovely friend Nada acting as sous chef, we created a menu of roasted chicken and sweet potatotes and ginger peanut soup .
I’ve made this soup several times and it never disappoints. Here’s the recipe I work from but I highly suggest tweaking it. I put in a little more peanut butter this time and a lot more broccoli and cauliflower. It makes the soup chunkier because, well, I like a hearty soup. The cayenne is a matter of taste, too. I say drop the bottle in but it’s whatever you can take.
For the chicken, we had about three pounds of chicken thighs that we roasted with (after seasoning with salt and pepper) olive oil, garlic, and a boatload of grated ginger. For good measure and because we had way too many for the soup, we threw some chopped onions on top. They caramelized nicely, actually, and the chicken turned out perfectly moist and tender.
We roughly chopped the sweet potatoes and roasted them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. They were a bit of a let down since they didn’t come out crispy but, hey, they’re sweet potatoes. I’ll eat them and I’ll like them. This is, however, the second time I’ve attempted a crispy sweet potato and have ended up with something much mushier in texture. Can anyone help me out? I have a feeling it’s that I’m just too impatient and take them out of the oven early.
All this was washed down with various red wines and a Sam Adams variety pack. Perhaps a brand of beer that meets our commenters’ standards? No?