Fighting Funny Food Phobias

Fighting Funny Food Phobias

Some of you may know that I spent a huge chunk of my working life as a server. At Disney, and many other places. Some well-known chains, some Mom-and-Pops, a pretty good cross section of restaurants.

And that’s one reason why I enjoy doing restaurant reviews. I love to cook and bake; being a foodie is a big part of who I am.

Now, sanitation is one of those things that everyone who cooks–whether at home or in a 5-Star establishment–thinks about.

When you’re in the business, a big part of your training is in safe food handling procedures.

And that’s as it should be. I’m not trying to say differently.

But some of our attitudes about food, how we prepare it and our relationship to it have become just a bit… shall we say, just a bit overly-sanitized.

Let me flesh that out a little: our ways of preparing and even thinking about food are a huge departure from how humans have done it for all but a tiny fraction of the time we’ve been on the planet.

Two brief anecdotes about my experiences with food and how we prepare it will help shed some light on this.

Unless you’re reading my blog for the first time, you know I love camping and just about anything else one can do outdoors for fun.

And I’m happiest when I’m cooking on my propane, two-burner camp stove. It’s just way too much fun.

This may seem funny, but you should have seen how hard I tried in some of my first outings in the great outdoors to translate restaurant “best practices” into the camping environment.

Yeah, it was pretty funny!

It wasn’t too long into the process that I gave up trying to always keep something more-or-less sanitized–even if just paper towels–between my cooking utensils and cutlery and those not-sanitized picnic tables.

It feels really good now to just cook my stuff, tongs and utensils, ladles and pot stickers, lids, grits and bacon bits, all flying around and coming to rest God-knows-where until the good stuff eventually comes to rest in my belly! Where it should go!

Even I am not OCD enough to prepare my food on one of those glorious forays into the Mom Nature’s back yard the way we do in a decent eatery or even in my kitchen, for that matter.

Last little story about this and how my awareness has evolved: I opened a container of brown rice the other day and found that some moth-like pests had paid a visit between the time I emptied a bag of rice into the jar and that moment I opened it up. And, yes, that had been a long time.

Not sure if they were able to get in there–it was a very cheap container–or if they were larvae who “came of age”. Rice and grits and pantry pests! It’s a thing.

Don’t know. Didn’t have to know.

The “me” before my camp cook’s epiphany would have gone “yuck!” and then summarily thrown out the rice.

The “me” after illumination picked out the corpses of the moths or weevils or whatever the hell they were, cooked the rice and enjoyed the hell out of it.

A little onion, garlic, cumin and weevil protein–loves me some o’ dat!

So I’ve tried to get past some of my silly food phobias and feel like I’ve come a long way.

But I’m thinking that if you go back just a bit further–in terms of human evolution, I mean–our forebears would have handled the bug-in-the-rice thing a bit differently.

No doubt in my mind, that they would merely have picked out the bugs and eaten them! 

Dead or alive!

I guess at the end of the day, I’m actually a pretty modern camper!

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

© 2019 Ben Lawrence Basile

Photo credit Benjamin Basile

 

 

I did get back there and…

I did get back there and…

I enjoyed my camping trip to Tosohatchee WMA just beyond Christmas. That awesome but tiny little town is the last community before the Orange-Brevard line.

Had a good time but I did learn one unpleasant lesson: even in a Wildlife Management Area, where you can go days without seeing another human, you really should keep your car locked at all times.

Or, at the very least, you shouldn’t keep that hatch up while you’re doing stuff at your camp site!

My awesome camp coffee maker flew away! Bummed. But I have another. Just couldn’t get the juice of the sacred bean on this trip!

Still very glad I made the trip and got my outdoor fix for the next week or two.

Then I’ll have to have another, or I’ll start getting a little cross-eyed and stuff!

I did get some good pix. Including the banner photo at the top. That was on the extreme edge of Tosohatchee, where it dead ends into the St. Johns River.

Herons and thieves. What a combo! So glad to have gone. Planning the next excursion…

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

 

Heading back to Tosohatchee!

Heading back to Tosohatchee!

Haven’t been camping in about three months or so and I’m going through withdrawals! No, that’s not a joke!

So I’ll get my next “nature hit” in about a week’s time and I’m all jacked up over it!

I like the Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area for camping. This will be my fifth trip out to this choice nature spot and my second camping outing there.

You may remember from a previous post that you need a hunting permit to hunt Florida’s WMA’s  but not to camp. You just can’t camp in any hunting season.

It’s quite primitive. No hook-ups of any kind. Porta Johns and no showers. So it’s real camping. I’m one of those campers who carries a boat load of propane and every kind of battery powered device know to man, so I do just fine in these spots.

It’s also a time to take a jillion photos, so that’s a big part of the allure of camping for this puppy. I’ll have plenty pix to share on the other side of this very welcome outing!

If you love Nature like I do, make sure you get out there in the middle of it soon! Your Mother’s calling…

And you best answer!

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

 

 

Big Storm in Orlando means one RV’er is NOT a Happy Camper!

Big Storm in Orlando means one RV’er is NOT a Happy Camper!

Just saw this feature while cruising some news sites. What a story this is!

I have camped here, twice. Very nice park. I have not camped where this gentleman was because the park has separate areas for RV’ers and tent campers like yours truly. The RV section is on the left about a quarter mile before the tent spaces; they are much closer to Turkey Lake, the showers and the cabins.

When this big storm hit us yesterday evening, I was impressed, to say the least! I was absolutely hoping that we didn’t have issues with a window or some part of the roof being wind-compromised and suddenly having to deal with water in the house. (I’m renting in a 60 year old home that’s not in the very best shape.)

Grateful that, in the end, I didn’t have a problem with this huge Florida thunderstorm, but Mr. James Williams certainly did. A very large limb from a large oak came down and not only ripped a huge gash in the RV, but blocked our unhappy camper from getting out of his now-destroyed RV!

The stalwart survivor of this camping catastrophe did dial 911. The City of Orlando Fire and Rescue crews did what they do, and the Red Cross is giving James, and some others around the Orlando Metro area, secure and dry shelter for now.

A closing thought: camping is so much damn fun, I hope Mr. Williams is able to go on enjoying this awesome American pastime moving forward in spite of Wednesday’s vicious storm.

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit: Ben Lawrence Basile is the owner of this photo that shows the park on a much, much nicer day. November 27th of last year, to be precise!

After thoughts: the park’s official name is Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake, but although I’m often a stickler for precision, I call it Turkey Lake Park as many locals do. This fine park and resort is the only camping spot in the city’s park system; it sits less than two miles north of Universal Studios.

I’ve posted here before about camping in this nice enclave of tranquility inside Orlando city limits. That post is right here.

 

Lori Wilson Park might be…

Lori Wilson Park might be…

My fave park in Cocoa Beach is Lori Wilson Park, adjoining the beach. Right off A1A. And it just might be the the best spot in the very cool town of Cocoa Beach for outdoor freaks like me.

There are plenty of things to do and see in and around Cocoa Beach. I’ve seen quite a few of them. But I do keep returning to LWP over and over.

The banner photo is one I took a while back that I like a lot and has not been shared yet. I hope you like it.

 

Planning my next outdoor adventure, I am,

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

 

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

 

Another Triumphant Trimble Trip!

Another Triumphant Trimble Trip!

I just can’t get enough of Trimble Park. As you may remember, it’s a very nice park right where Orange and Lake counties meet. Although it’s actually in the very small Orange county town of Tangerine, that tiny hamlet does not deliver mail, so the park has a Mt. Dora mailing address even though that popular and well known town is across the county line.

Confused? Well, here’s the important part: Trimble Park is just overflowing with natural beauty and critters of every kind. And offers some of the nicest, most serenity-filled camping experiences anywhere in the Sunshine State.

I had my clothes and too much camping gear soaked pretty good on the first night. I had gone back to O’do to enjoy a movie with my little bro, and the rain came. I didn’t put on the rain fly because the weather forecast said no rain was coming. Yeah, Mother Nature caught me with my guard down. But Wednesday morning was quite sunny and I was able to dry everything out pretty well.

It was a nice outing in spite of the first night rains. I did get some pretty good photos and have made one I like especially the banner photo here. I feel all serene again just looking at it now.

May you enjoy some quiet, tranquil moments this day. I’ll be posting with more awesome photos before much longer…

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credit Ben Lawrence Basile

 

What’s Bulldog to do when he can’t get away for a camping trip?

What’s Bulldog to do when he can’t get away for a camping trip?

I’ll tell you what he does! He cruises over to one of his fave city parks here in Central Florida and fires up the grill.

Sometimes he does the full monte breakfast; it’s always fun to fire up that two burner camp stove.

There are a thousand reasons why I don’t get to camp or hike nearly as often as I like; could be a work schedule issue. Could be a budget thing. Very often it’s because my fave campgrounds are all booked up.

Boo-hoo-hoo!

The header photo for this post is of Downey Park on Orlando’s east side. This spot was very well-planned and put together and has way more grills than most parks. And even thought it’s usually mobbed–especially on the weekends–I usually have no trouble finding an available grill.

Lake Downey is a lovely spot on the eastern edge of the park; it’s a very nice place to take a photo or two. Or fifty or sixty. So here are a couple of photos I especially like of this corner of Downey Park.

I hope your week is off to a good start. I’m planning a beach getaway for later this week. Will let you know if I pull it off!

 

 

“Bulldog Ben” Basile

 

Photo credits Ben Lawrence Basile