It’s May, kids. And you know what that means? It’s camping season.
The May long weekend is always the first one of the year when I stock the car with a surplus of beer, drive out to the middle of butt-hump nowhere beyond the range of wifi or cell signals, and try to cook food over a roaring fire under a star-soaked sky.
I literally just popped a tent over the whole thing.
Growing up we spent most of our Summer weekends in the RV. We’d pile into the truck, drive an hour and a half out to Pine Lake (that’s actually what it was called,) and set up to do nothing but be there together. It was glorious. Most days we’d try our best to stand up on sticks while holding a rope behind a speeding motorboat, and at night, we’d roast marshmallows and toast hot dogs until our eyelids got too heavy to keep them open a moment longer.
The campground had a guest-house with an ice cream shop where they showed movies each night, a dock where you could rent paddle boats for $5 or so an hour, and a big tent where they hosted weekend dances every Saturday night. That’s where 12 year old me would lurk around the edge of the dance floor, darting between the shadows from the over-head lighting, wishing on all the stars in the sky above that the cute boy in the camper down the road would ask me to dance.
Spoiler alert: he didn’t.
I mean, we were 12.
And if I’m being honest – lurking as a dating strategy has about as much appeal as munching on screws.
Over the years, I curated a collection of friends who helped me grow from the child I was toward the woman I was about to become. They helped me realize what I liked, and what I didn’t. What was funny, and what wasn’t. And how badly I wanted to belong somewhere. Through broken legs, adventures trespassing on private land (and getting shot at) to get to our swimming dock, and watching popular films on Summer nights while crunching on potato chips and coke-bottle candy, they shaped me.
Of course, September inevitably rolled around, and we’d go our separate ways until April. But come May?
Oh, sweet mama.
As a grown up, I’ve fallen even more in love with camping. And now, I do it properly – on the ground, tucked in a bag, inside a tent. I can carry all of my gear on my back. Showering is not an option. And the only thing you have to do, is be there.
Camping is my happy place.
Unfortunately, the campgrounds are currently shut and that means no unfurled sleeping bags or roaring fire pits with blackened marshmallows and toasted hot dogs. That being said, we do have surplus of beer, plenty of stars in the sky, and a dish I ALWAYS make for the first night of camping – boozy beer chili con carne.
Loaded with fresh veggies, spiced protein, and spiked with dark beer, this recipe is one of the best chili recipes you will ever make. You probably have all the ingredients in your fridge already, too. And it comes together in an hour. Though I won’t lie – dishing up seconds the next day (or 3) makes it even better. Garnish to your preference, though I like a healthy dose of sour cream, diced red onion, sliced avocado, cheddar cheese, green onion, hot sauce, some tortilla chips, and more beer. But that’s me.
Make my boozy beer chile con carne and chow down on camp-friendly-food, kids. Because hell, if we can’t go camping, we can still eat like we are. Because it’s almost May long, baby. And that’s campin’ season.
Boozy Beer Chili Con Carne
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 C chopped onion 1/2” pieces
- 1 C chopped carrots 1/2” pieces
- 1 C chopped celery 1/2” pieces
- 1 C chopped bell pepper 1/2” pieces
- 1 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 large bay leaves
- 3 cloves garlic peeled & finely chopped
- 1 Lb ground protein beef, chicken, pork, or even turkey - use what ya like best
- 14 Oz canned diced tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 C dark beer
- 2 Tbsp hot sauce
- 7 Oz can kidney beans drained & rinsed
- 7 Oz can black beans drained & rinsed
- 7 Oz can garbanzo beans drained & rinsed
- 7 Oz can whole kernel corn drained
- Coarse sea salt & fresh cracked black pepper
- Drizzle olive oil into a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, bell pepper, oregano, cumin, bay leaves, and salt and pepper. Stir well. Cook for approx. 5 min to soften.
- Add garlic. Stir constantly for 1 minute.
- Add beef and stir occasionally to cook through.
- Turn the heat to high and pour in diced tomatoes, chili powder, beer, hot sauce, beans, and season with salt and pepper. Stir well. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the whole kernel corn, stir, and simmer 5 minutes.
- Serve with sour cream, diced red onion, sliced avocado, cheddar cheese, green onion, hot sauce, and more beer!