Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hobo Packets

Last week, two little girls came trudging down our narrow street with sticks over their shoulders. At the end of the sticks were bandannas, red for the older girl, green for the younger, in which their Mom had wrapped the contents of a picnic lunch. They were searching for a good picnic spot and they had their Daddy in tow.

It must be fully 50 years since I have seen a bindlestiff, as we called them, but the memory came rushing back. When I was in Brownie Scouts, we made them whenever we went on hikes. Ours were made with garden stakes and bandannas, just like these. Inside the bandanna was always a "hobo packet" of meat cubes and veggies wrapped in aluminum foil to be cooked in the embers of the campfire. This worthy food always preceded the s'mores, which were less healthy but more delicious.

That got me thinking about hobo packets and how I hadn't made one in a long time. So, I decided to fashion two from parchment paper for our dinner that evening. I sliced a shallot very thinly and laid it on the paper, topped it with halibut, sliced zucchini and carrots and fresh oregano from the garden. Laid two halves of a corn ear alongside, dabbed a modicum of butter on the corn and veggies and wrapped the whole thing tightly in the paper, doubling and folding the top and sides to contain the juices. Popped them into a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes. We knew they were done when the scent wafted out of the oven to tantalize.

The packets were served closed on the plates, so we could each open ours and inhale that first delicious wisp of steam that carries all the married scents of the contents. This is cooking magic - everything was perfectly cooked and juicy, all at the same time and without effort. The last shreds of the shallot at the very bottom, limp and slightly caramelized, were a little reward for eating all your veggies and fish.

I'm planning a picnic now, complete with bindlestiffs for me and My Beloved.

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Blogger Greg said...

I like the idea of adding corn. I would love to get a photo of you and beloved carrying your bags. ;)

Thursday, September 09, 2010  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

I always associated those bindlestiffs with running away from home. I guess, because I always wanted to run away from home.

Showed your meal to Cranky just now, and he's "Yes, yes!"

Thursday, September 09, 2010  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Greg, our neighbors already know we're a little off kilter - they wouldn't raise an eyebrow. :-)

Cookiecrumb, my sister was the one who ran away from home, taking her best party dress, which she lost along the way. I always thought I was a changeling, despite looking quite a bit like my father...

Friday, September 10, 2010  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

I was a lot more practical than your sister. I took Bermuda shorts.

Friday, September 10, 2010  
Blogger Zoomie said...

I'll let my sister know so she's more prepared next time she hits the road. :-)

Friday, September 10, 2010  

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