When a friend is getting married, you go out of your way to make sure she feels special. This particular friend didn't want a huge, over-the-top Bachelorette party. Like me, she enjoys hanging out low key-style with watching movies, playing boardgames and enjoying good conversation. So I suggested something more active, fun and adventurous.
I first heard about these new additions to Ontario Parks through their blog when they were promoting their "glamping" adventures this past summer. A few years back, I was invited to go "winter camping" and was not too pleased at the thought. I think the other girls were a little hesitant this time as well until they saw where we were staying. The soft-sided shelter had a stove heater, lighting, electricity, bunk beds with mattresses, a microwave and a fridge. When I plan a weekend getaway, I go in style and this definitely lived up to the "glamping" name.
These types of yurts and cabins are only available at Pinery Provincial Park, Arrowhead Provincial Park and Murphy's Point in Ontario and fit a maximum of five people. We started the weekend by going for a hike around the park and then headed into town for dinner at a local pub. Afterwards, we went back to the yurt and spent the night playing games, chatting and staying warm by the fire. At one point we were complaining that the stove was turned too high and we were TOO warm. I felt a little bit sorry for the other people in the park camping in tents. The weather was gorgeous and not too cold and after two days we officially survived a weekend of "winter camping."
Food is an important element of any weekend trip. In our old age, we tend to lean towards healthier snacks and no longer eat a whole bag of "Smart Food" in one sitting--unfortunately that was a regular occurrence for me in first year University. On this trip we had fruit, muffins, smoothies, cheese, crackers and vegetables. Look at us being so responsible and healthy. It was a Bachelorette Party though, so what happened at the campsite, stays at the campsite...
For lunch on Sunday, we were treated to some homemade soup made by the Bride herself. When I asked where she got the recipe, she said it was from the 2013 Milk Calendar. "The Milk Calendar, really?" I said. Yes, the same Milk Calendar I have had hanging right in front of my face this whole year. I stared at this soup for the month of May and I couldn't then recall seeing it. I guess it had become so ingrained in my brain that I knew I would make it eventually. We warmed up with bowls of soup and spent the morning playing more boardgames and hanging out before driving back to the city.
Creamy Tomato Rice Soup (recipe from the 2013 Milk Calendar)1 tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 chopped onion
1 1/2 tsp dried basil, oregano or Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper
1 can diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup sodium-reduced chicken or vegetable broth
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup cooked rice or mixed grains (quinoa or lentils would also work)
1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
Directions:1. In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, basil, salt and pepper; cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until tender.
2. Add tomatoes and broth; cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and boil gently, covered, for 10 minutes or until tomatoes are soft.
3. Remove from heat. Using an immersion blender in pot or transferring soup in batches to a blender, puree soup until smooth. Return to post.
4. Whisk flour into milk; gradually pour into pot while whisking.
5. Stir in rice and cook over medium heat, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Season to taste with sugar, pepper and salt.
I don't know if it was because we were camping, it was November or I was hungry, but the soup was so good that when I got back I ripped the recipe off of the calendar and stuck in my "to-make" recipe file. This is such an easy and hearty soup that is also only 200 calories per serving. Just like girl's weekends, you can be responsible and still enjoy yourself--splurging is alright sometimes too.