Monday, July 27, 2009

A day trip to Subiaco, Arkansas

From 1994 to 2005 I attended "Choir Camp" in Subiaco, AR (which is a monastery) along with my best friend from birth, Elise. Choir Camp is this wonderful little camp where kids ages 3rd grade to senior in high school attend and work for one week on a sung Episcopal service for Saturday morning and a Broadway style revue show for the afternoon on Saturday. They also learn handbell songs, do arts and crafts, swim in the monk's Olympic size pool, have a costume dance party, do a giant slip and slide, and more. There are usually about 100 kids and the staff is comprised of a "college staff" that are the group leaders for the kids and then about 30 adults who have pretty much all done the camp for 20+ years. They are choir directors, organists, and even professional actors. The show this year was directed by a Broadway actor. Choir Camp is a special little place.

So this past Saturday, Elise and I decided to go see the church service and show and visit all our favorite Choir Camp people. In between the service and the show there is a picnic, so I spent Friday cooking for our picnic lunch. We got up at 4AM and left at 5Am, drove 4 hours, spend a few hours there, went to Little Rock to visit Elise's aunt and adorable cousins (really - adorable.) and then came home. It was a whirlwind of a day but one of the best days I've had in a while. It was great going back to Choir Camp and also getting to spend so much time with Elise - we haven't had one on one best friend time in a long time.

For the picnic, I made baked chicken strips, a corn and black bean salsa, and brownies with peanut butter chips. It was a very cheap meal (I spent probably 25$ total on supplies and it fed 4 people) and was delicious. We needed something that would travel well.

My brownies - Duncan Hines brand, I did the fudge style (2 eggs instead of 3) and added peanut butter chips to add flavor. They were awesome.

My dip - I got the recipe from Blue Jean Gourmet's blog but made modifications for my taste. I basically compiled:
- 2 cans yellow/white corn mix
- 2 cans black beans (low sodium version but it really doesn't matter)
- 1 can Rotel tomatoes (I did the cilantro/lime version but it doesn't matter... 2 cans would have been good)
- 1 bunch finely chopped cilantro
- 5 green onions, chopped (the white ends only)
- 2 jalepenos, seeded and chopped
- 2 limes, squeezed for juice (you just want the juice, not the actual lime)
- red pepper flakes
- cumin
- salt

I left it in the fridge overnight and it was awesome because the flavors combined... it was so good. Used some heavy tortilla chips and it was a healthy dip.

I wanted to do chicken tenders but usually we fry them and I didn't want to do that - they get soggy when left and also not the healthiest. I found a recipe on Annie Eats and modified it.

I took chicken breasts and cut them diagonally in two, and let them soak in cold salt water for 30 minutes (I'm not sure why - it just said to do it, so I did). I then dried the chicken and dipped it in flour (that had salt and pepper in it), then egg, then panko (that had red pepper flakes in it) and baked them on 400 until they were crispy on the outside (this took about 20 minutes). They would have been great hot but they still tasted wonderful cold. We dipped them in ranch. A spicy ranch sauce would have been even better probably.

Elise at our picnic spot on Saturday, unloading the cooler, excited to eat our feast!
The abbey at Subiaco. It is gorgeous there and in the middle of nowhere, nested in the mountains of Arkansas. There are monks there and a boys school during the school year.
About to watch the show - it was hilarious this year. We miss choir camp so much!!

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