Camping in Delaware

I couldn’t find a photo of my Dad cooking breakfast at our campsite in Delaware but this photo is definitely from that time. It looks like I’m watching my oldest sister gutting a fish that was destined to be part of our dinner that night. And at least you can see the old coffee pot, and dish pan and the general camp set up of card table, tarps and ropes…

When I think of my father cooking I think of camping and waking up to the smell of coffee and bacon.  Crawling out of the canvas tent I’d find my father at the camp stove cooking bacon and eggs for us, frying the eggs in the bacon grease.  It was always delicious.  As my father used to say everything tastes delicious when you’re camping.  And when you’re camping on the sand dunes in Delaware it usually had at least a little bit of sand in it.  When it was time to wash the dishes the sand was always handy for scouring the pots, but first one of us would be sent to the pump for water.  The first few pumps nothing came out, then eventually it did and we’d fill the jugs and haul them back to the campsite where some would be heated on the stove and my mother would use it to wash the tin camping dishes in the wash basin.

Some days, after spending the morning on the beach playing with the waves and collecting shells we’d all climb into the old station wagon and go across the road to the bay side clamming.  We’d get rakes and baskets, wade out into the bay and put the clams we raked up into the baskets floating nearby in black inner tubes.  One time, I remember, my sister got bitten on her toe by a crab, jumped up yelling, and then when she landed got bitten again….or so she said anyway.

Later on toward evening, back at the beach on the ocean side, my father and brother would dig a pit in the sand into which they placed charcoals and driftwood to build a hot fire to cook our dinner.  My sister and I were sent down to the water with ears of corn, still in their husks, that we would dump in the ocean water to get wet and salty.  Then, using some method I was happily unaware of, my father and brother would layer seaweed,  clams and the corn in their husks and cook us our dinner…of which, of course, I only ate the corn. Because next we’d roast hotdogs and marshmallows on sticks over the remaining hot coals and those were delicious. Of course I’d usually burn a marshmallow or two but my father, like all fathers I suppose, ate those, saying he liked them best.

So that was the extent of my father’s camp cooking.  Not too fancy…maybe only salt and pepper on the eggs? And ocean salt on the corn? But still it all tasted delicious.  But then everything tastes delicious when you’re camping.

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