cookbook_denver_co_cacheA few years ago, my friend, Karen, moved to Denver from a Nashville suburb.  Now, besides the fact that she moved to a place where she knew very few people, started a new career, and bought her first house all within the space of a few months, I am hard-pressed to think of a move that could induce more culture shock than suburban Tennessee to Denver, CO.

Also, I think there is some kind of natural law that when you move away from the South, the first winter in your new city will be among the harshest and most brutal in recorded history.  I’m not sure whether this is the South trying to punish you for leaving, or the North trying to weed the scrawniest from the herd, but I do know that this phenomenon strikes particularly hard those who try to leave Tennessee (I speak from the experience of the Potts-McCoy’s brutal Memphis to Madison migration in ’01).

Anyway, after she’d had a few months to observe and adapt and dig herself out from the accumulated snowbanks, I asked Karen what she thought of people in Denver, to which she responded, “Everyone is really fit and outdoorsy here.  We have the highest skin cancer rates in the country.  And I am probably going to have to learn how to ski.”

When I went to visit her there, I found these observations to be true – North Face vests as far as the eye can see, and being about a mile closer to the sun than most other places in the United States, it’s extraordinarily bright in a way that almost compels you to turn off the television and be outdoors.  Just stock up on the SPF 45 when you do.

Colorado Cache is not the only Junior League cookbook that includes a section devoted to wild game or to Mexican cooking.  It is also not the only one with a chapter devoted to microwave cooking (thankfully, I do not have a microwave, and will be spared finding out what the shrimp jambalaya or burgandy beef stew recipes included in this chapter taste like).  However, it is the only Junior League cookbook I’ve come across to include an extensive section of recipes for camping.

So, that’s the plan for this week – campfire food.

Though I usually have to be dragged to the woods, I do enjoy certain aspects of camping:  hiking, drinking bourbon out of a metal cup, and those little sammiches that involve two slices of Wonder Bread and a can of fruit pie filling.  In short, I am a car camper under the best of circumstances.  However, the main advantage to car camping is that you can pack a cooler, and eat extraordinarily well.  We traditionally have steak and garlic-rosemary potatoes the first night, bacon and eggs and leftover potatoes for breakfast the next day, pasta and sauce on our second night, and whatever is leftover before we pack out.  This week’s cooking should introduce a few new possibilities to the camping menu, though it will have to be pretty good to top steak in the woods.