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“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”

-Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Merry Christmas to y'all! That's how we say it in North Carolina. We had a near picture-perfect day down at the Roanoke River, the only that could have made it better would have been about six inches of snow.

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We built a fire along the outside edge of our Christmas lighted Aqua Quest Defender 10x10 tarp to keep the chilly air at bay.

campfire on the Roanoke River

My razor-sharp KABAR BK-16 knife sliced up a top sirloin, onion, red pepper, and peppered bacon.  Our recipe is truly is as about as simple as it gets.  We purchased a top sirloin, onion, red pepper, and peppered bacon at our local grocery store.  The skewers were old steel skewers that came in a Father's Day grilling kit. 

beef kabobs ready to roast over the campfire on the Roanoke River

I built several beef kabobs that we roasted over a hot bed of coals and enjoyed fresh yeast bread rolls just out of the Stanley cook pot.  The yeast bread baked to near perfection but did get a little dark on the bottom.  I forgot to use my trivet in the proper manner and I didn't have the separation between the Stanley cook pot and the baking dish that contained the bread.

Christmas lights on an Aqua Quest tarp highlight warming my hands over the campfire on the Roanoke River

I can't even begin to explain the warm feeling I get when I look at the glow of the campfire at my feet and the twinkle of the Christmas lights hanging from my Aqua Quest tarp. To top it all off, we enjoyed several cups of homemade apple cider.

We had a wonderful Christmas dinner on the rocky banks of the Roanoke River and I thank you all for tuning in.

Merry Christmas, y'all!

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Apple Cider Recipe

  • 12 apples a variety of gala, granny smith and red delicious, sliced
  • 1-2 large oranges peeled and quartered (optional)
  • 1 lemon peeled (optional and will leave a slight hint of lemon)
  • 3-4 cinnamon sticks
  • 3-4 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • brown sugar and white sugar to sweeten

Apple Cider Instructions

  • 1. Add apples, oranges, lemon, cinnamon sticks, and whole cloves to a slow cooker.
  • 2. Fill the slow cooker with water.
  • 3. Cover and simmer for at least 4 hours or until apples are super tender. (I just let mine cook on low overnight, very flavorful this way!)
  • 4. Use a potato masher to mash up all the ingredients.
  • 5. Cover and cook for another hour.
  • 6. Strain mixture several times into a pitcher using a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth until smooth.
  • 7. Stir in vanilla extra.
  • 8. Add enough brown sugar and white sugar to reach the desired sweetness. (I love sweet cider, so I added about 3/4 cup of white sugar and 1/2 cup of brown sugar)
  • 9. Serve steaming hot or ice-cold, garnished with a fresh cinnamon stick and chopped apples.
  • 10.Refrigerate or freeze leftover cider.

Yeast Bread Recipe

  • 1 cup warm water (110º to 115ºF)
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons yeast
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ¾ to 3 cups bread flour

Measure water in 1-cup glass measure. Add yeast and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar; whisk or stir until dissolved. Let rest for 10 minutes. (The mixture will begin to foam and fill the cup. If this is not happening, start over with water, yeast, and sugar.)

Meanwhile, measure milk in a 1-cup glass measure. Microwave on High for 30 seconds or until milk is warm (80ºF).

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of sugar, butter, and salt. Add warm milk; whisk to combine. Add 1½ cups flour, whisk or stir until smooth.

Add dissolved yeast mixture; whisk or stir until smooth. Add remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, stir until combined.

Add just enough of the remaining flour until the mixture begins to form a ball.

Turn out onto a floured surface or board. Add just enough additional flour to keep it from sticking to the board and to your hands.

Knead 8 to 10 minutes (set the timer). When the dough is elastic and smooth, place in a large bowl that has been lightly coated with butter or oil. Turn once to coat the top of the dough.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Place in a warm place to rise (proof) until dough tests ripe or is about doubled in size.

Punch down; let rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly grease a loaf pan (approx. 9x7-inch).

Roll dough into a 9x7-inch rectangle. Beginning on the 7-inch side, roll up tightly and place in a loaf pan.

Cover and let rise again until nearly double in size (about 30 minutes).

Bake at 375ºF for 35 to 40 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when you tap the tops with your fingers (if necessary, cover with foil to prevent over-browning).

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