Christmas Fun — a Recap


Grandkids picking up the wrapping paper. I need about 12 of those to help around home.

Hello and welcome to the blog!  It was a fun Christmas spent with good friends.  Sis and I exchanged some gifts that both of us really like.   Two of hers have really come in handy…  More about that after the Christmas Eve cooking / camping.

Monday was spent at Cedar Valley campground in east-central Iowa.  Cedar Valley is along the Cedar River just a few miles north of the crossing with Interstate 80.  Though the price has escalated to $10 for camping with electricity (it used to be $7), it’s still a fantastic bargain.

Fashioned from two hickory axe handles for strength, these work great!

The cooking accessory I’d been referring to is two poles that can be driven in the ground and used for roasting meat.  They are fashioned out of two hickory axe handles.  The tip on each was sharpened to a point to allow driving into the ground either side of a fire ring.

Roasting marinated pheasant breast.

Despite cold weather in the 30s, the roasted marinated pheasant breast turned out well.  The meat was quite well done but never got dry.  The flavor was delightful.  If there is no pheasant available, I’d recommend trying this with a small chicken (use the natural kind – no water added or at least cut back on the salt).  You could use a slab of turkey breast… or about any poultry.  Here is the recipe.

Tasty Marinated Roast Bird

1/2C olive oil
1 small lemon, juiced
1T apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup real honey
1t garlic powder
1t onion powder
1+1/2 tablespoons kosher salt (or HALF as much if using table salt)
2t Italian seasoning
1/2 t cayenne (optional)
black pepper to taste.

Combine all the ingredients in a freezer bag and marinate 24 hours.  Cook over coals, in a rotisserie, or even just in a 350 degree oven until done (165 degrees).

Christmas Eve Dinner – stick and all…

The pheasant was delightful — a little sweet and savory in one.  The carrots were another idea.  I’d microwaved them until partially cooked, then sealed them in a foil bag with a couple tablespoons of butter and a tablespoon of honey.  Cooked over coals, they were so tasty and very little work.  The cheesy garlic mashed potatoes were made the day before as were the beans ‘n’ ham.  The mystery dish that looks strange is portabella green bean casserole.  When I make the popular casserole, adding a bunch of freshly sautéed mushrooms jazzes it up.

The night of camping was peaceful.  Earlier I’d been trying to roast the pheasant legs on skewers and dropped both into the fire.  Nonetheless, they were cooked and tossed to the wildlife.  An animal dragged off the legs as well as the pheasant carcass.  Merry Christmas to that four legged fur pal.

Anamosa Mayor Dale and his wife.

On Christmas day I visited with Mayor Dale and his family.  They invited me to a large family gathering with terrific food.  Unbeknown to me, his children all bought presents and I had quite a few to open.  One of them was a cooking accessory!  More about that in a future post!  They are an awesome group of folks.

A present from Sis.  The caption on the package reads “Make America Sweet Again!”


I think the cats are Democrats. They love this toy!  I made a crack on Facebook that it could scare away a turkey vulture.   🙂

Sis contributed a couple fun political gag gifts.  That Trump hair cotton candy is kind of scary.  Another funny gift was the Hillary cat toy now being enjoyed by Jenny and Duke.  Neither one of those items are too flattering but humorous in any case!

With that it’s time to “git for home” (the post is being done at McDonald’s over a Diet Coke).  Thankfully the bruised leg is doing better at least.  Much to my dismay, I had to call in to work due to sickness.  This cold / flu virus will hopefully vacate soon.  Rest and fluids are the best medicine… (A shot of Dr. McGillicuddy’s cherry liquor helps too).  Sis had given me an electric blanket and an electric throw cover.  Both have been invaluable during times of fever and chills.

Take care and thanks for visiting.  I hope everyone had a safe and happy Christmas (or other holiday at this time).  Happy camping!

Brad, Jenny, and Duke
Jones County, Iowa




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About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"

6 Responses to Christmas Fun — a Recap

  1. Jo Harmon says:

    You had a nice Christmas Eve camping and a wonderful Christmas day with lots of friends and kids to enjoy.
    Sorry you got sick though. Hope your feeling better soon.

    • Jo Harmon says:

      And the tool you created for the BBQ is clever. All the food looks good.

      • VanTrekker says:

        Thanks Jo! It really is fun cooking and trying new foods outdoors. I texted the recipe from retired Pharmacist Bob and he said he’ll pass along more dead pheasants. Yummy stuff! For Christmas I received a burger press. That could be interesting!

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Jo. It was a great Christmas. The cold/flu or whatever it is now is a lot better but it did a number on the lungs. That’s one of the things about Iowa… The cold gets us at times! Lots of flu bugs with the ever changing temperatures. 🙂 Take care!

  2. my_vantasy says:

    What a great Christmas and camping trip. I have a garlic parmesan carrot recipe that I bet I could start at home and finish like you did yours at a campground. Great idea! The political gifts are funny. The Little Dog and I love our electric blanket. Hopefully this is our last cold winter and we can head south next year. We’ll be camping in five short months! Better to visit Iowa in June or August or does it matter?

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi! The garlic parmesan carrot recipe sounds delicious! You could definitely begin cooking it at home before leaving. I can imagine The Little Dog likes the blanket. Jenny and Duke love this one. She hasn’t been sleeping in her room lately and then I see her snuggled up against him every night. It’s good to have companions even for animals!

      Well, there are advantages and disadvantages to both times of the year. June might have a little higher temps and more volatile weather but we don’t have the humidity as bad in June (till the later part). In early August the corn is dumping a lot of moisture into the air at night and it’s hazy / muggy as can be. It’s kind of a trade-off. We just live with it. 🙂 Have a happy new year!