WHAT’S IN A NAME?

PahaQue is not just a name, and although rooted in lore, it is something even more than just the meaning of the words.  It is a way of life, or at the very least, a way of looking at life. It is about experiencing and enjoying the great outdoors with family and friends.  It is about understanding the history of the land, and it is about the peace and solitude that can only be found in the places less affected by modern humankind.

No matter where you live and where you camp, history can be found everywhere.  From the Native Americans who once roamed every square foot of this land, to pre-historic animals, and even further back in time, the natural history of our land is all around.  But nowhere is it more visible than in nature.  To find it however, you must know where to look, and what you are looking for.

One easy way to begin to understand the history of the land is to learn about the plant and animals that inhabit the areas in which you camp.  Learn how the previous inhabitants found usefulness in everything, and you will learn how a certain type of tree was once critical to a certain tribe’s existence, perhaps for medicinal or spiritual purposes, or how that tree may have aided in the existence of certain bird or other plant species.

Aside from living examples of history, another way to understand the history of the land is to find more tangible relics.  Arrowheads usually come to mind first.  Almost anyone who has ever camped has found an arrowhead or knows someone who has.  Learning more about arrowhead types specific to your favorite camping area can provide much information about what types of game were hunted, how they were hunted, and even the time period of their use.  Cave drawings or other forms of pictographs are another exciting example of tangible evidence left by pre-historic inhabitants, thus providing yet another excellent learning opportunity.  Historic structures from our forefathers, particularly when preserved as a museum, provide still another source of information about the land, from yet another group of previous inhabitants who struggled to carve out an existence in a once harsh land.

Whether you camp in campgrounds or backcountry wilderness, the opportunities to learn more, and therefore further your appreciation of the land and its history, are all around you.  It may be just a short hike, or a day trip away from camp, but seeking out  opportunities to learn more about the natural history of the area you camp in is not only a great experience for kids and adults alike, but it also makes for great after dinner conversation around the camp fire.

Kids especially seem fascinated with the tales of frontier life and struggles, of Indian fights, of the trappers, hunters and other pioneer frontier folk that settled the land.  The stories come to life even more when they happened in the vicinity of your camp.  At night it is easy to imagine yourself in another time, and history makes great material for fire-side stories.  And perhaps with this understanding of natural history comes a deeper appreciation of the outdoors.

This is just one aspect of the meaning of PahaQue – the camping lifestyle.  Whatever you choose to call it, it all adds up to one thing – WE LOVE CAMPING!  It’s our way of life.

Oh, and for the ‘official’ definition of our name click here

Hope to see you ’round the campfire soon!

Happy Trails,

Jeff

Cooky Jason’s August Tip – Dutch Oven Cooking

Dutch Oven Cooking – by Cooky Jason

 So you picked up your very first Dutch Oven and cooked your first dish. To your dismay you find that the bottom was overdone and the middle was a bit mushy. What’s the secret to cooking award winning dishes with the Dutch Oven? Well in my opinion it all comes down to controlling the heat. Most folks will agree that regulating cooking temperature is the hardest thing to master when learning to cook in a Dutch oven.

Charcoal – For starters always use high quality briquettes. Everyone has their favorite and my briquette of choice is Kingsford. Most Kingsford users will agree that the briquettes are packed tighter than most other brands which minimizes popping and spitting. Kingsford charcoal also burns longer than other brands. Kingsford charcoal will generate good heat for roughly an hour, so for recipes that take more than an hour to cook, remove the remaining briquettes and ash from the oven and replenish them with new briquettes. Since the Dutch oven is already hot, you will not need as many briquettes as when you started cooking. Removing 2-3 briquettes from the top and bottom of the Dutch oven usually does the trick.

Cooking Methods When Using a Dutch Oven
There are four different methods of cooking with a Dutch Oven over a campfire – each achieved by altering the source of heat. Remember not to rush the cooking process. If you allow adequate time for the oven to heat up before adding the food, and keep the coals manipulated to maintain the temperature, you will have great results.

Roasting – In roasting, the heat from your coals should come from the top and bottom evenly. You will place coals on top, as well as pulling the coals up under the pan to create an even heat. Place the same amount of coals on the lid as under the pan. Roasting is best achieved at high temperatures and short cooking times. This will seal in the juices.

Frying and Boiling – When frying and boiling, all the heat should come from underneath the pan. The temperature should be high and kept even during the cooking process.

Baking – Baking requires cooking mostly from the top. You should place the coals on the lid and underneath the pan at a three to one ratio, with most of the coals on the lid. You will want to watch baking foods very carefully.

Simmering and Stewing – Most of the heat should be from the bottom of the pan. The coals should be placed on the lid and underneath the pan in a four to one ratio, with the bulk of the coals underneath the oven. Regulate the heat in stewing and simmering by moving hot coals underneath the pan

Number of Coals to Use to Achieve the Desired Temperature
Here’s a secret that even most seasoned outdoor cooks don’t know: You can prevent burned bottoms, raw tops, and dried-out foods by using properly sized and spaced coals to control the interior oven temperature. Virtually all baked goods can be baked successfully at 350°, which is the ideal temperature for a Dutch oven.
The number and placement of the coals on and under your oven is critical.The optimal number of coals used for any oven is based on its diameter. For example, if you are using a 12-inch oven, you will need two coals per inch, a total of 24. More coals will likely burn your food and less may necessitate too long a cooking period. To determine how many coals go under and how many go on top, remember the magic number 2:
· 2 coals per inch of oven diameter
· place 2 more coals than the oven size on the lid, and
· place 2 less than the oven size under it.
Example: For a 12-inch oven, 12-2=10 coals under the oven, and 12+2=14 coals go on the lid, for a total of 24. The same formula applies to all ovens. A 10-inch oven should have 8 coals underneath and 12 coals on the lid. A 14-inch oven should have 12 coals underneath and 16 coals on the lid.
The placement of the coals is also an important part of proper heat regulation. The proper layout for coals or briquettes under the oven is circular. Coals should be approximately one inch apart in a circle under the oven. Never place coals directly under the center of the oven. If you do, you will create a hot spot and burn whatever you are cooking. By placing the coals in a circle, the natural conductivity of the oven will distribute the heat evenly and effectively.
The coals on the lid of the oven should also be placed evenly in a circle along the flange of the outer lid. However, four of the coals should be placed toward the center of the lid, two on either side of the handle. This coal placement will produce an even, consistent temperature within the oven of approximately 350° and maintain that heat for up to two hours.
In the event that you need to generate a higher temperature inside your oven, “cheat up” the coals. Additional coals placed two at a time, one on the lid and one under the oven, will add another 50°. Two additional coals top and bottom would bring your oven’s temperature up to 450°. It is extremely rare to need a temperature of 450°, and you should never need one higher than that.

Questions/comments/requests/suggestions/limericks/thoughts on life/childhood stories? Feel free to drop me a line at jasonr@pahaque.com.

The Gear Doctor for August 2014

Cleaning Your Gear the Right Way

After a few good uses, the faithful sleeping bag begins to get a little on the raunchy side and your trusty tent is showing signs of dirt, birds, and campfire smoke. Wash or don’t wash—-that is the question. Sure you can wash them.

The main thing to remember for washing a sleeping bag   is to use a NON-AGITATING machine. If you don’t have a front loader or newer non agitator type top loader, go to a Laundromat. Use the GENTLE cycle and a detergent with no perfumes or dyes. Make sure to use liquid and NOT powder. If the bag is synthetic, it will only take one dryer cycle. Don’t forget to use the LOW setting, as the bag could melt if on a higher setting. Down sleeping bags require a tad more care. You can opt for a down detergent or use Cheer Free liquid. The dryer will also be on LOW, but you’ll dry the down bag a lot longer, say 4 or 5 cycles. Throw three pairs of CLEAN balled up pairs of socks in the dryer along with the bag to beat the down feathers apart. Bag is dry when it comes out looking like the Michelin man! Camping clothing can be washed like regular clothing, but most are synthetic, so watch that dryer setting.

Tents (backpacking size, not family camping tents) can be washed on GENTLE and spun dry in the washer. They must be hung out on a line to dry; DO NOT place them in the dryer. The same goes for the rainfly. Good luck and Happy Laundry!!

The Gear Doctor

Celestial Navigator – August 2014

There are few things more enjoyable during a night in camp than staring at the night sky.  Now you can be a celestial expert and dazzle your camp mates with your night sky knowledge.  There’s lots going in the July night sky, so grab your telescope and your tent and get out there!

  • August 10 – Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This phase occurs at 18:09 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Sturgeon Moon because the large sturgeon fish of the Great Lakes and other major lakes were more easily caught at this time of year. This moon has also been known as the Green Corn Moon and the Grain Moon. This is also the closest and largest full Moon of the year, an annual event that has come to be known as a “supermoon” by the media. The truth is that it is only slightly larger and brighter than normal and most people are not really able to tell the difference.
  • August 12, 13 – Perseids Meteor Shower. The Perseids is one of the best meteor showers to observe, producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by comet Swift-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1862. The Perseids are famous for producing a large number of bright meteors. The shower runs annually from July 17 to August 24. It peaks this year on the night of August 12 and the morning of August 13. The waning gibbous moon will block out some of the meteors this year, but the Perseids are so bright and numerous that it should still be a good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Perseus, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
  • August 18 – Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter. Conjunctions are rare events where two or more objects will appear extremely close together in the night sky. The two bright planets will come unusually close to each other, only a quarter of a degree, in the early morning sky. Also, the beehive cluster in the constellation Cancer will be only 1 degree away. This rare, double-planet event is definitely one not to miss. Look for the bright planets in the east just before sunrise.
  • August 25 – New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This phase occurs at 14:13 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
  • August 29 – Neptune at Opposition. The blue giant planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. This is the best time to view and photograph Neptune. Due to its extreme distance from Earth, it will only appear as a tiny blue dot in all but the most powerful telescopes.