Philip and I both turned off our cellular data, left our phones in the car and submerged ourselves into our 3 day camping trip at Algonquin Provincial Park. Read on for our favourite camping essentials, dishes we made this trip, and how we unplug and spend our time while camping.
I vividly remember my first time camping in Algonquin Park. I remember agreeing to go with Philip who has camped his whole life, I remember the panic flush over me at the mention of bears, and I remember the weird looks and constant "are you sure?" from family, friends and coworkers when I told them of my plans. But my favourite remembrance is a billboard advertisement I saw on the car ride north that sums up the simple pleasure I've learnt about camping these past 5 years: lose reception, find yourself.
While I survived my first camping trip and shocked those with my love of the wild, a lot has changed in 5 years; we got married, we launched our blog, and starting this summer, phone service is now available at our favourite campsite (whomp, whomp). Honouring our commitment to nature, Philip and I both turned off our cellular data, left our phones in the car and submerged ourselves into our 3 day camping trip at Algonquin Provincial Park.
Read on for our favourite camping essentials, dishes we made this trip, and how we unplug and spend our time while camping.
1. Campsite: Canisbay Lake is our campground of choice in Algonquin. It's small, private, and far from the road making it a peaceful and relaxing experience. When booking a site, it's best to scout your sites for flat, free of tree roots and rocks, and far from washrooms. If you can't scout a site beforehand, select a site from the map with lake access. Our favourite lake access campsite at Canisbay is site 23.
2. Tents and Sleep Time: a camping trip is only as good as a good night's sleep. There's nothing worse than a leaky tent or waking up with an intolerable kink in your neck. Quality camping equipment is expensive but once you invest in sleeping bags, blowup mattress and cold-temperature blankets, it'll last you a long time. Tip to make sleeping in a tent more comfy: bring pillows.
3. Le Creuset Braiser: the iconic Le Creuset Enamelled Cast Iron is perfect for cooking one pot meals for small or large crowds when camping. Le Creuset sent us their multi-functional braiser in their newest Oyster colour and non-stick finish ideal for ideal for for eggs, bacon, breakfast sandwiches and chilli. Use this kitchen and now camping essential over the fire, coals or your portable gas stove for dishes guaranteed to take your camping meals to the next level. See below for the recipes we made in our braiser.
4. Pantry Staples: flour, baking powder, oil and/or butter, and eggs. With these ingredients we make biscuits, pancakes, breads, crusts and pasta. Add in your choice of fruits and veggies, meat and cheese and there is really no reason not to cook beautiful meals when camping. You have all the time in the world so why not have fun and test your creativity using ingredients found in your home kitchen.
5. Opinel Knife: the ultimate camping tool, our Opinel Corkscrew Pocket Knife completes your outdoor preparedness acting as a paring knife on the fly. It's become one of our essential travel pieces for its versatility and stainless steel corkscrew tucked alongside the handle. Plus, you never know when you're going to need to open a bottle of wine or cut cheese and salami for the ultimate charcuterie picnic.
1. Breakfast Sandwich: smoked from the open fire and sandwiched between fresh bannock, our Great Canadian Breakfast Sandwich is made with Canadian pork, over easy eggs and melty cheddar. Eat this before a long hike or day full of activities to keep your energy high and your cravings low. Breakfast doesn’t get any more Canadian than this. Use your braiser to fry your patties, eggs and bannock before you assemble, then use a smaller cast iron skillet and cover to melt the cheese.
2. Grilled Veggie and Pesto Sandwiches: one of our favourite activities is hiking while camping and sandwiches make for the ultimate picnic pack and go to enjoy on long hikes. Finely chop basil and walnuts on a cutting board or make pesto before your trip, spread it over a toasted bun and top with campfire grilled veggies in your braiser or on the grate then pack your sandwiches with your S'well bottle, an apple (or chips) and hit the trails.
3. Chili: the ultimate dish for cool nights to keep you warm and by the fire. Skip the hassle of keeping meat cold and opt for vegetarian chili made with beans, corn and mushrooms in your favourite pot or braiser. Spoon a heaping amount into a bowl, and top with jalapeños, cheese and crunched up nacho chips for the ultimate nacho chilli.
4. Risotto: a dish we make every time we go camping, risotto is a step above traditional camping meals. It's a dish that enhances the outdoor experience, uses simple ingredients like wild mushrooms and rosemary and allows you to enjoy your time cooking outside. A true Chef Sous Chef production, risotto was the first meal Philip ever made for me and has become a tradition of ours when camping.
Tip: Freeze chicken or vegetable stock before your trip and use it as an icepack until you're ready to use it up. Then heat in a sauce pan, mix in a splash of white wine and slowly add to the risotto.
5. Cobbler: who said you can't brunch while camping? Fruit cobbler is a great way to use up all your fruit from camping. Toss together leftover berries or stone fruit into your braiser or French oven atop an open flame and let the fruit cook down. Then top with fresh bannock, cover and let the steam from the fruit cook the bread to perfection. Top with mint and serve with a morning mimosa.
1. Hiking: Algonquin Park provides endless opportunities to explore the great outdoors. But what we love most are the breathtaking hikes all with unique stories of the land before from log lodges, to early settlers and artists who've travelled before. Every camping trip you can find us at our favourite hike, the Lookout with stunning views of clear crisp trees and an endless sky.
2. Canoeing: there is nothing more peaceful than gliding across a perfectly still lake in a canoe. The quietness, being under the open sky and the soft sounds of the water dividing between our paddles is one of the most relaxing things to do while camping. Plus, Philip and I definitely have a Pocahontas and John Smith vibe when canoeing across the lake, making this Disney classic a reality.
3. Algonquin Art Center: a gallery in the woods that showcases some of Canada’s foremost wilderness and wildlife artists. Built upon a long tradition of artists in Algonquin Park from Tom Thomson to Michael Dumas, the gallery is a historical hub that offers beautiful art and stories that followed before. Our favourite is definitely the conspiracy around Tom Thomson's death in 1917 while painting on Canoe Lake.
4. Wildlife and Nature: from moose to black bears, deer to loons, Algonquin Park offers the opportunity to get see wildlife up close in their natural habitat. Dawn and dusk are usually the best times for wildlife sightings, but you want to be very careful not to get to close and to keep a clean campsite, free from food and garbage. You don't want to be woken up (or eaten) by hungry animals at night.
5. Recharge: taking time for yourself is the most rewarding thing you can do while camping whether it's with a book you've had on your reading list, a good Spotify playlist, or bringing your own yoga mat and waking early to do your practice. Like the ad said, when you lose reception and don't have access to your phone there's something wonderful that happens to you and your mind allowing you to fully escape and recharge from the everyday.
Of course, no camping weekend is complete without a trip to the red bridge skywalk of Webers. Have you camped before? What are your must have essentials and favourite recipes to make in the great outdoors?
This post was created in collaboration with Le Creuset. All thoughts and opinions are our own.