Filipina American food enthusiast with a taste for life

Urbanfoodie & Friends Go Camping! 

A few weeks ago, a group of friends and I went camping for the weekend at Father Hennepin State Park on Mille Lacs Lake (Yep, that’s “One Thousand Lakes Lake”), about 1.5 hours outside of the Twin Cities. None of us had been to that park before (and a few of us had never been camping ever!). We were pleasantly surprised with how much fun we were able to have, given how small the park is relative to other Minnesota State parks. The site’s main advantage is the beach/park, which includes a sand volleyball court, large grassy area perfect for whiffle ball, and a playground for the kiddos (and adults who want to act like kiddos). The hiking is pretty limited, so if that’s one of your main reasons for camping then I’d steer you somewhere else. But if your main goal is to hang out with some friends and/or do some fishing (there were many boats out there), then Father Hennepin is a great place to check out.

For me, camping is all about being outdoors and spending quality time with cherished people in your life….and camping cooking! Sure, you could go the whole weekend just eating grilled hot dogs and canned baked beans, with some s’mores thrown in for good measure. That’s just not how my homies and I roll (though, yes, we did eat some delicious hot dogs and canned baked beans as well). You can get as simple or elaborate as you want. One of my favorite camp-eating experiences is going with my research lab group, where my advisor brought marinated Korean pork bulgogi that we cooked over the camp fire and used to make ssam lettuce wraps and chigae. If you wanna get fancy with your camping experience, consider: how much prep do I want to do before hand? and what can I make that won’t go bad and get us all sick if kept in a cooler all weekend?

My friends and I split up who would be in charge of each meal for the weekend, which worked out great. With T being the Super Camp Master of the group, T and I supplied most of the cooking gear (cast iron skillets, gas stove, long handled spatula, cooking oil, percolator for making fresh brewed coffee-so necessary) and the rest of folks brought more supplies, utensils, and foodstuffs. 

We’re all fans of eating, and the camping weekend was no disappointment. Some of the highlights are pictured above. I prepared some fried garlic in oil (see recipe at the end of this post) to make garlic-fried rice  and eggs for a Filipino silog breakfast. The same garlic oil was used to dress some salad with fresh pico de gallo. Our friends contributed other delicious things like an orzo pasta salad, encased meats (including awesome sausage from local grocery store Sentyrz Market in Northeast), fruit salad, root vegetables steamed in foil wraps, orange-beet-goat cheese salad (with the beets roasted in foil in the campfire), and fruit/granola/yogurt parfaits for breakfast. One of my friends even extemporaneously came up with a campfire dessert inspired by our leftover s’mores ingredients: the Mocha-Bacon pancake, which was made up of crushed graham crackers, an egg, some Korean instant coffee which contains sugar and creamer, chocolate chunks, and topped with crispy fried bacon bits. Holy, moly! I have to admit, I was skeptical at first, but it was damn good!

I’d say that we each probably put in a few hours of cooking prep work before the weekend, and it was totally worth it. We had a blast cooking and eating together, in between playing and relaxing in the great outdoors.

Recipe: Fried Garlic in Oil 

Garlic oil

This garlic oil takes a little bit of time to make ahead of time, and it’s worth every minute of tending to the slow cooked garlic, which ends up with a chewy, candy-like texture and a savory punch.  You can make garlic-fried rice with the garlic chunks, two or more tablespoons of the garlic oil, day-old white rice, and salt. You can also use the garlic oil to cook up eggs over the camp stove or fire. Just add some of your choosing meat and you’ve got a Filipino silog (see my previous post on this breakfast of champions). Get creative - I added some of the garlic oil and garlic flakes to some pico de gallo to top a salad.

1. Chop up a head of garlic so that pieces are roughly equal in size, medium-to-finely chopped. 

2. In a heavy skillet (cast iron works well because of the evenly retained heat), heat up approximately 1 cup of canola oil over low-medium heat. You’ll need enough oil to have the garlic fully submerged.

3. Once oil is shimmering, add garlic in an even layer around the pan. (You may want to test out the heat of the oil with a tiny bit of garlic first before dumping it all into the pan. If it’s too hot, that’s bad because the garlic will burn rather than slowly cook to infuse the oil with flavor).

4. Allow garlic to slowly cook until a medium golden brown, stirring periodically to prevent burning. This can 15 minutes or more. Keep a watchful eye over the cooking because two minutes too long and you’ll end up with bitter, burned garlic.

5. Once garlic is cooked, either strain the oil to separate the garlic or simply pour both garlic and oil into a glass or ceramic container. Let cool and then use to your heart’s desire! The garlic oil should keep for about a week.

Best Bars for Holiday Parties


The holiday season may as well be renamed the party season. Some of these are held in private homes, but sometimes — like when you know your friends are ready to get truly crazy under the mistletoe — they’re better suited to bars. Here are some of the best bars around town for hosting a gathering of holiday revelers. (And hooray for L.A. weather: three of them have outdoor space!)

….more here

I just wanted to say that I read this as “Best [Dessert] Bars for Holiday Parties” like lemon bars, rice krispie treats, and the like. HOW MINNESOTAN IS THAT?! In fact, Wikipedia even has a special subsection on the vernacular:

Guidelines for bars and bars in Minnesota

Though similar to cookies, bars are not considered cookies and require no dough measuring.[2] Rice Krispie treats are considered bars in Minnesota, but a brownie is not a bar.[2] Bars are considered one of two essentials for potlucks in Minnesota, the other being hotdish.[7] According to You Know You’re in Minnesota When…: 101 Quintessential Places, People, Events, Customs, Lingo, and Eats of the North Star State by Berit Thorkelson, the bar is a Minnesota staple and a “typical Minnesota dessert”.[2] Thorkelson notes that bars are not included in Webster’s Dictionary, and the word pronunciation of the “ar” is with “a pirate-like arrr” followed by a soft clipped s.[2]

Oh hey, Minnesotans! And other people with money!


If you are from Minnesota and on the Internet, or if you are following people from Minnesota and on the Internet, you may be aware that it’s Give to the Max Day. You may be overly aware that it’s Give to the Max Day!

On Give to the Max Day you can donate to your favorite Minnesota charities and everyone cheers, and it’s really fun because clicking buttons to give money to people who need it is really fun.

For example, you could donate to the Twin Cities Runoff, which is a nonprofit organization that is sponsored by Springboard for the Arts. (We’re not really pushing for donations today because we’re launching a large fundraising campaign in the near future, but your support will go directly toward compensating contributors.)

Today, however, I’m donating to organizations that have matching grants available because I’m an Amer’can who likes to get the most for her money.

Here are the three organizations I’m supporting, and I wish I could give more:

  • The Library Foundation of Hennepin County - The library is completely necessary to my functioning as a person and as a businesswoman. They also have a quote from Ed Asner in the donation video, which is a huge selling point!
  • The Neighborhood Development Center - Support local independent businesses in the neighborhoods that need them!
  • Rainbow Rumpus - The only online magazine designed exclusively for kids with LGBT parents! It’s a fantastic organization that helps a lot of families and a lot of kids, and I used to volunteer there and I’m all for supporting them.

There are a ton of other places to give—like the Twin Cities Daily Planet or Works Progress—and they all deserve your attention and support. Even if you just scroll through the GiveMN website, you can see the amazing community-oriented nonprofit work that occurs every day (not just on Give to the Max Day) throughout the state of Minnesota. It’s one of the reasons why I really really love it here.

Don’t get Give-to-the-Maxed out just yet! Four more personal considerations for you on this Give to the Max Day:

Now go forth and be charitable!

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