It would be easy to go on and on about the food we all enjoy here at Rockbrook because everyday Rick and his team of cooks in the kitchen serve us wonderful, healthy meals. Lately dishes like his homemade lasagna (made with Rick’s special marinara tomato sauce, and 3 kinds of cheese!), freshly baked Focaccio bread (imagine the giant bowls of flour and the jug of bubbling yeast used to make the dough), and Caesar Salad with his own croutons and homemade dressing come to mind. Thanks to Rick, Rockbrook meals are complete and always yummy. One counselor commented that she looks forward to returning from her day off because she can “eat well again.” You might think our staff would be tired of the food we serve and be craving “real food” out in the “real world,” but when our camp food is this good, it’s the other way around.
Accomplishing this isn’t easy. It takes a great deal of planning, preparation time, and hard work by lots of hands. Today we all enjoyed an amazing example as Rick presented a meal of pulled-pork barbecue he seasoned and grilled over the last 2 days. Let me describe some of the process. He started with 171 pounds of “Boston Butts” (pork shoulder) and rubbed each of the 16 pieces with a dry spice blend of brown sugar, garlic powder, paprika, dry mustard, black pepper, plenty of salt and his “secret ingredient” coffee. Next on our 8-foot grill hot with charcoal, he cooked everything until completely charred on the outside, carefully adjusting the temperature to make sure there’s plenty of smokey flavor added. This step alone took several hours! Each blackened butt, then goes on a rack pan so it can be baked at a low temperature for another 10 hours or so. This crucial step removes most of the fat leaving the tenderest meat behind. Once out of the oven and mostly cooled, and after “resting” a bit, the final step was to pull the meat apart creating the strands that give traditional southern barbecue its unique texture. Rick began this process by ripping the pieces apart with a custom-made shredding tool attached to a drill, and finally pulling the remaining chunks by hand. That’s some work! At dinner, Rick served this delicious, smokey seasoned pork with a homemade vinegar-based sauce and soft buns to make barbecue sandwiches. He added freshly cut coleslaw, and warm baked beans to complete this very southern meal. And it was fantastic! After second and even third helpings, several of us felt perhaps a little too full, but also completely satisfied.
Today’s weather turned wet on us with light grey cloudy skies, temperatures in the 60s and an occasional light drizzle of rain. That moisture, while deepening the greens of the forest around us, brings out colorful raincoats and rubber boots as the girls make their way between activity buildings. Most activities stayed indoors, but the rain was light enough to allow some, like archery for example, to carry on. This meant wearing long sleeves of some sort or even a raincoat, but the girls seemed unfazed and even shot quite well, as you can see here with Sophia’s bullseye arrow.
Tonight’s Evening Program split the camp, because of the rain, into two groups for an Appalachian-inspired campfire program in the main Lodges. Somewhat reminiscent of the old television show “Hee-Haw,” the girls came dressed in flannel and jeans, found bandannas to tie back their pigtails, and even painted freckles on their cheeks. We called this program “Jug Band” because it included plenty of familiar songs to sing— “Mountain Dew,” “Cider Song,” and “Wagon Wheel” for example —and we encouraged the girls to play along on improvised instruments like shakers or other “jugs.” The program alternated between songs, funny skits, and opportunities to tell jokes. We learned, for example, what the sushi said to the hornet… “Wasabi!” And apparently, what you give a pig with a rash… “Oinkment.” With warm fires crackling in the fireplaces this was a delightful way for both groups to enjoy the cool misty evening, and a wonderful way to wrap up the day.