Into the Wilderness

For the past three weekends I have been a sublimely happy camper enjoying the great outdoors as part of a Forest Ecology class. Our first outing was a two day trip where we hiked part of the Pacific Crest Trail and became familiar with Douglas Firs and hemlocks. On our following trip we headed to the Redwoods for a long and utterly magical weekend walking the beach of the Pacific ocean and exploring lush fern canyons. Our final trip was a stunning overnighter to Crater Lake; here we breathed in the high desert pine air and were awed by intense volcanic history and Indian lore.

I had visited all of these places in the past, but this was indeed different. Our instructor was a bundle of information and enthusiasm—and we all jumped on board with her; overnight we literally became “Tree Huggers.” (It’s actually one way to measure a tree’s girth.)

We learned about the necessity of fire in the wilderness—it is nature’s way of renewing itself. We learned the critical importance of balance in nature; when one species disappears, it affects an entire community. I didn’t know that the redwood tree is fire resistant, and that its ability to retard fire partially accounts for its longevity. The redwood is our tallest and most primitive tree, and sadly, we are left with only a handful, and these are protected primarily in the preserves of Northern California and Southern Oregon. Over the last couple of centuries we have sliced and diced these ancient marvels almost to extinction, and have managed to nearly eliminate what it took nature thousands of years to create.

As you can well imagine, the discussion of food was a serious and ongoing conversation among our ranks. We did some fine dining which included such extravagant camp treats as: smoked brisket, burgers, and bratwurst. Breakfast was often on our own; or some made piles of egg burritos, or other such treats. As long as I had my pressed coffee in the morning I was very happy. To round this out, I decided to make ahead a stack of my old sailing favorite, Eggs McBorah, a convenient breakfast enjoyed while underway, traveling or other limited conditions.These solid morsels pack well; they are nearly non-destructive, and highly satisfying.

You’ve probably surmised that we are talking shades of Eggs McMuffin and you certainly do not require a recipe; but here is one alternative for planning and execution purposes. I have also learned that this is one breakfast that goes down with equal enthusiasm hot, room temperature, or cold.

Eggs McBorah
4 eggs
spray oil
4 slices chiplotle cheese, or as needed
fresh ground pepper
4 slices smoked ham, thin sliced, or more if needed
4 English muffins, spit, toasted and lightly buttered
1 or more ramekins, or other small microwaveable dishes

Spray the ramekins and lay 1 or 2 slices of ham in bottom of ramekin. Crack 1 egg into each dish, break the yolk with a sharp knife, and sprinkle with a few grinds black pepper. Top the eggs with thinly sliced cheese. Cover the top with a paper towel, tuck under the dish and place in microwave oven.

Cook one at a time for approximately 40 seconds or until cheese is melted and top is firm. The yolk should still be slightly runny. Carefully remove with mitts or towel, the dish will be hot. Run a knife around edge to loosen the egg and invert onto the top slice of a toasted English muffin.

Add the bottom slice and set upright. Repeat with remaining 3, or as many as needed. Allow to cool before wrapping. Can be made ahead; store in refrigerator or other cool spot. ~~

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