For several years early August was reserved for our family camping trip. Our destination was always the same magical place, D. L. Bliss State Park. This pristine spot is located on the western shore of Lake Tahoe, just north of Emerald Bay. In August there are lots of shooting stars and we spent many nights counting how many we could see gliding across the sky. Nestled among the pines, firs, and huge smooth boulders are over 100 campsites, but the best part of it is the beach, of course, where we spent most of our time. After a quick breakfast we would pack a picnic lunch and walk down a short sandy path to the water. In August the lake is usually warmer, and sitting in an inner tube reading a book is a very pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. The best time to paddle or kayak is in the morning before the wind kicks up. In places where the water is shallow, it is clear enough to see smooth boulders on the sandy lake bottom as you head around the bend towards Emerald Bay. Lake Tahoe is large and deep and it holds enough water to cover the entire state by 14 inches!
On our first camping trip there it took a while to set up our brand new tents (one for the kids and one for us). There was not much flat ground, and we were complete novices. We wanted the kids close—they were young and we were nervous, though we told ourselves that we could always sleep in the car if we had to. At that time everyone entering the park had to sign an agreement with the park service to put all food, cooking equipment, and toiletries in the car before going to sleep because of the bears. That first night we heard bears tearing into someone’s food. As we lay in our sleeping bags holding our breath, the enormous shadow of a bear moved across the side of the tent. My husband whispered that this wasn’t quite the peaceful vacation he had been looking forward to. The kids ended up sleeping with us anyway, and the next morning we saw other parents walking around the campsite like zombies, sleep deprived from the hours of noisy dumpster diving by the bears.
The following year our campsite had bear boxes on posts almost 6 ft. high. While we were cooking dinner, we could hear the booming roars of bears calling each other (or something), somewhere above us— not a very comforting feeling to say the least, but they weren’t really interested in us, just our food. In the middle of the night, I heard what sounded like a plastic bag being opened. Pulling down a corner of the tent flap, I saw a huge bear standing on her back legs in the moonlight, head and shoulders a full two feet above our bear box! Had we not closed the box correctly? She moved off a few yards into the bushes with a bag, and sat down to eat with her back to us. While the bear was busy eating, Chris tiptoed out of the tent and shut the door to the box; then he crept out again with his camera and took a picture of the bear with her nose in our Costco trail mix. Luckily that was the only food she got, because my recently made mango chutney was in the bear box too…
Mango Chutney is another one of those “secret sauces” that you can make once or twice a year and keep in the back of your refrigerator to pull out to add an extra little something your dish. It lasts for months and you will find a lot of different uses for it. Besides Pirates' kabobs, mango chutney is a perfect addition to a cheese plate, or as a condiment on turkey sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches, lamb burgers and turkey burgers. It is also delicious in place of applesauce alongside a pork chop or chicken thigh.
- 1 ¾ cups of apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ¾ cup of white sugar
- 3 cups of peeled sliced and chopped mangoes
- 3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon of whole yellow mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon of minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper(optional)
- ½ cup of golden raisins
- zest and juice from one lemon
Add vinegar and sugar to large saucepan and bring to a slow boil over medium heat. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to a low simmer, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn. Check the consistency after about 40 minutes. It should be the texture of jam not be too runny.