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OUTDOOR DINING
by Melani Roewe

Now that we have our bird friends' tables set, it's time to begin planning what you might like to munch on while hiking or camping outdoors. Even a few hours' walk can be enough to make your tummy grumble!

Did you know that even the simplest foods taste extra yummy when eaten outdoors?

That's right! Here are some very simple treats you can pack for your next hike, whether it's around the block or up and over the closest hill. Next time, I'll show you some easy, and really tasty, recipes for your camping meals.

SUPER EASY:

Apple Surprise Using an apple corer or a knife (have an adult help you with the knife), cut out the inside of an apple. Remove the core and all apple seeds. Fill the apple with peanut butter or a mixture of peanut butter and raisins. MMM-good!

Orange Sipper Using a knife or the tip of a potato peeler, poke a hole about one third of the way through an orange. Insert a plastic straw into the hole. When thirsty, suck the orange juice out of the orange. (You may need to "massage" the orange)

Favorite Crackers, maybe with some cheese slices to go with them

Trail Mix Just mix equal amounts of any combination of these ingredients: any kind of oat, corn, rice, or wheat cereal; chocolate chips, raisins, other dried fruit bits; shredded coconut; peanuts or other chopped nuts.

Carrot or Celery Sticks

EASY (These may require an adult's help)

PEANUT HONEY BALLS
Makes 24 balls

    1/4 cup crushed wheat flake cereal; (1 cup = uncrushed)
    3 tablespoon honey
    1/4 cup peanut butter
    1/4 cup nonfat dry milk solids
    Non-stick cooking spray

Reserve two tablespoons crushed cereal. Mix honey and peanut butter. Gradually add nonfat milk, mixing well. Spray hands with non-stick cooking spray and shape into 1/2 inch balls. Roll in reserved cereal. Chill until firm, about 1 hour. Store in refrigerator.

PEANUT CHEWS
Makes 48 pieces

    1 cup dark corn syrup
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup smooth peanut putter
    1-1/4 cup salted or dry roasted peanuts; (6-1/2 oz can)
    5 cups corn flakes

Combine corn syrup and sugar in 3-quart heavy saucepan. Bring to a full boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; quickly stir in peanut butter. Add peanuts and corn flakes, stirring to coat. Press into buttered 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan. Cool and cut into 48 pieces.

HONEY FRUIT NUGGETS  
Makes 20 nuggets

    1/4 cup dried pitted prunes
    1/4 cup dried apricots
    1/4 cup dried figs
    1/4 cup pitted dates
    1/3 cup wheat-flake cereal; (1 cup uncrushed)
    1/4 cup honey
    1/2 square unsweetened chocolate; melted
    Non-stick cooking spray
    (coconut or chopped nuts for rolling)

Let prunes and apricots stand in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain. Put all fruit through food chopper and blend with crushed cereal. Blend in honey and melted chocolate. Spray hands with non-stick cooking spray and shape mixture into 1-inch balls. Roll in coconut or chopped nuts. Chill or set aside to "ripen." Can be made ahead of time.

CARAMEL CEREAL CRISPS
Makes 20 crisps

    1/4 cup butter or margarine
    1 tablespoon light corn syrup
    1 cup dark brown sugar
    1 tablespoon water
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    3-1/2 cups crisp rice cereal

Combine butter and corn syrup in heavy skillet; place over low heat until butter melts. Add sugar, water, and salt. Cook until mixture comes to a full boil, stirring occasionally. Boil 3 minutes or to the firm ball stage (242 to 248 degrees). Add cereal all at once while still over low heat and stir until evenly coated. Quickly spread mixture in buttered 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan. Mark in pieces at once. When cool, turn candy from pan and break in pieces with knife handle.

FRUITY GRANOLA
Makes 6 cups

    1/3 cup light brown sugar
    1/4 cup vegetable oil
    1/4 cup water
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    3-1/2 cups regular oats
    1/2 cup sunflower seeds OR chopped nuts
    1 6 oz pkg dried fruit bits
    Non-stick cooking spray

Combine brown sugar, oil, water, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat, stirring until sugar is melted. Drizzle mixture over oats, tossing well. Spray non-stick coating on a large shallow baking sheet and spread oats. Bake at 250 degrees 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and add the seeds or nuts the last 10 minutes. Cool. Stir in dried fruit bits. Store in a tightly covered container.

Happy Munching!

---until next time…..Melani


Melani Roewe is a former news editor, Girl Scout Leader and Adult Trainer and K-12 educator who enjoys alpine wilderness hiking, birdwatching, fishing, snow- and water-skiing, swimming, and camping. She directs her church's Youth and Adult Choirs and lives in Oklahoma with her husband and two children. She is also owner of the Glass Carver.

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