It’s 5:30AM and I’m wide awake. I look through the screen of our tent to see the dark night sky filled with the last bright stars of the night. I sneak out to boil water for some coffee while Orion’s Belt shines above me. I sit in one of our camp chairs, wrapped in my favorite camp blanket, sipping hot coffee out of a thermos while I watch the stars fade. The black night sky turns blue with a beautiful desert sunrise on the horizon. We’re in Arches National Park, and this is one of my favorite moments.
The sun goes behind the mountain and the canyon falls into shade. The cool breeze gets cooler, and I bundle up now to hopefully stay warm throughout the night. The river is rushing alongside our campsite and we are surrounded by trees. Scott shows me how to pick out the best twigs around the campground to add to the fire. Back and forth, we run, carrying handfuls of woody treasures to add to the pile beside the fire pit. I feel like a child, picking out the dry scraps of wood from the wet in the forest – collecting, running, giggling, smiling. We are camping along the Crystal River in Colorado, and this is one of my favorite moments.
It’s warm and the sun is strong in the early afternoon. The crystal blue water in the lake reflects the sky and the rolling, tree covered mountains surrounding its edges. We walk in the shade of a trail beneath the pines. Watching the fish swim in the clear water, admiring the handful of yellow aspen trees sprinkled throughout the hills around us. Everything is golden. Even the greens, reds, and blues coloring the landscape around us look “golden”. Here Scott and I stand – mentioning special beauty we see to one another, discussing our dreams, and standing in silence. We are at Sylvan Lake in Colorado, and this is one of my favorite moments.
I’m hoping to split the three major stretches of our trip into three separate posts filled with photos and stories to share with you over the next few weeks, but I wanted to sneak in a few of my favorite moments with you here today. To say our trip was “great” wouldn’t do it justice. Six days and five nights between the most diverse destinations we’ve gone to in such a short period as of yet, sleeping in our tent and living out of our car, Scott and I thrived. I know some people aren’t meant to be around one another night and day for so long – but we can confidently say that we were designed this way. Never tiring of one another, or the constant beauty and level of adventure surrounding us. We are each at our best when we are around the other. Camping makes you earn the beautiful moments you experience, making them even sweeter. Several of those moments were at night, around the campfire, roasting s’mores. You’ve survived the day of hiking, driving, exploring, tearing down and setting up camp. Eating out of the cooler in the back seat, brushing your teeth using water from your water bottle over the fire pit, washing the dirt off your face in the bathroom at the gas station. The sun starts to set, you kick back in your camp chair by the fire, skewer a few marshmallows, and you’ve arrived.
Scott and I deemed these graham crackers to be the best we have ever eaten. We may be biased, or have different graham standards than others, but I would bet you will love these too! I’ve been making them for each of our trips over the past few years, but this batch was the first I’ve made without wheat, processed sugar, or margarine. These are packed with only the good stuff and sing to the sweet ingredients that they are comprised of. A mixture of whole spelt and oat flour yield the perfect level of crunch and crumb. The combination of coconut sugar, molasses, and honey bring the sweet flavors we all know when we bite into one of these grahams. And glorious coconut oil makes them absolutely melt in your mouth. Paired with a good bar of dark chocolate and some roasted vegan mallows – THIS is my favorite treat out of all the treats. And you get to light things on fire. WINNING.
But of course you can bake these up to simply enjoy on their own, slather with some nut butter for an afternoon snack, or grind them up to make a tasty crust. Any way you choose to enjoy them, these babies are the jam.
See here my favorite bar of dark chocolate and vegan mallows for roasting. Happy camping!
Tid Bits: As always, the flours I use in this recipe are key. If you cannot get ahold of whole spelt flour, whole wheat flour will do, but do nut substitute or leave out the oat flour! And as for the 10 minutes of freezing time for each batch mentioned in the directions below – do not skip this step unless you want burnt, crumbly edges on your cookies, the chilling is super fast and worth it I promise.
HOMEMADE GRAHAM CRACKERS
Makes 12 large graham crackers, or 6 s’mores.
3/4 cup whole spelt flour
3/4 cup oat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup refined coconut oil
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons raw honey (or brown rice syrup)
2 teaspoons molasses
Preheat the oven to 350F.
In a medium mixing bowl combine the flours, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a small bowl whisk together the coconut oil, coconut sugar, raw honey, and molasses. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix well until fully combined.
Scoop 6 large spoonfuls of dough (about 2 tablespoons worth) using a cookie scoop (or with a spoon and then roll the scoops into balls) and place them on a plate. Set the plate in the freezer to chill the dough for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the plate and transfer one dough ball at a time to a parchment lined cookie sheet. As you transfer each dough ball, place a small square of parchment over the ball (about 4×4 inches in size) and using the backside of a plate, press down firmly on the parchment covered dough ball to flatten into a disk. Do this one by one until all six have been flattened. Place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies are golden. While the first batch of cookies are baking, roll the remaining dough into 6 more balls and place on the plate in the freezer to set for the 10 minutes that the first batch is baking.
When the first batch of graham crackers is done baking, slide the parchment off of the baking sheet and onto the counter to let the cookies cool. Line with another sheet of parchment, and remove the last 6 cookie dough balls from the freezer and repeat the parchment/plate pressing step, then bake. Let all of the graham cracker cookies cool fully on the counter before transferring to an airtight container. They can be stored at room temperature or refrigerated, and are best if eaten within one week.