How Does Your Marshmallow Roast?

Many wonderful memories are created around a campfire.

How Does Your Marshmallow Roast?
How Does Your Marshmallow Roast? (Photo Credit: Todd Zawistowski)

Camping with family or friends typically include one campfire staple: marshmallows, the sweet ingredient that makes any form of outdoor gathering, well, sweeter.

For many, the best use of marshmallows is as the gooey main ingredient of s’mores.

It is unclear who first created this treat, but the earliest s’more (some more) recipe can be found in Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts, a 1927 handbook by Girl Scouts of the USA and some people speculate the organization coined the name. The traditional s’more is made with marshmallows, graham crackers, and a few pieces of chocolate. Tradition also says that these are consumed quickly, prompting further calls for S’MORE!

Tired of reading about it and ready to make your own? Here’s how.

Take a graham cracker, place a section of chocolate on it, and then carefully place a freshly roasted marshmallow on top of the candy bar. Top the marshmallow off with another graham cracker, carefully squeezing the campfire dessert sandwich together as the hot marshmallow melts the chocolate.

How Does Your Marshmallow Roast?
How Does Your Marshmallow Roast? (Source: My Baker Lady)

But as many campers know, there is more than one way to roast a marshmallow.

But first, let’s talk campfire safety.

NEVER start a campfire when there are fire restrictions in place or if the campground, area, or event rules prohibit campfires. The restrictions are put in place for your safety and for the safety of others.

If campfires are permitted, use an existing fire ring or pit. Be sure the campfire is at least 15 feet from tents and RV, trees and shrubs, and other flammable objects. Also beware of low-hanging branches overhead. Keep the fire small and under control. Never leave your campfire unattended.

Most importantly, ensure you work closely with children and talk to them about fire danger, proper behavior, and safety rules—then expect and enforce nothing less. Precaution is a key to great camping experiences. Some experts advocate a 10-foot rule between young children and a campfire.

Now, let’s get to the marshmallow basics. Use a roasting stick 30 inches in length or longer. The degree a marshmallow is roasted runs the gamut, from the barely cooked, light caramel-colored outer layer to the flaming marshmallow that contains a gooey interior wrapped by a crispy, blackened shell. From there, most people graduate to s’mores and rarely move on.

But there are some innovative ways to roast the little white treats that can help cut down on the amount of sugar intake by the kids, thus making bedtime a little more doable.

Think fruit. Even if the kids—including us older ones—insist on more traditional s’mores, there are some healthy tricks. Grill thin slices of pineapple and substitute chocolate for the sweet, warm fruit. You will still get a tasty treat but by substituting with fruit, it is healthier. If you want to cut down even more on calories, try using slices of angel food cake instead of graham crackers.

How Does Your Marshmallow Roast?
How Does Your Marshmallow Roast? (Source: Sierra Culture)

But know that you have other options. Use nutella instead of chocolate. Make peach, brie, and dark chocolate s’mores. Add cookie dough. Make a peanut butter and jelly bacon s’morrito (wrapped in a tortilla, obviously).

Use Keebler Fudge Stripes instead of graham crackers. Use chocolate chip cookies. Or peanut butter cookies. Make pretzel s’mores…and cover them in chocolate. Make s’mores with Ritz crackers. Use Oreos instead of Graham crackers.…and then add peanut butter. Or you could wrap your s’mores in a biscuit and add strawberries.

You can also get a little inventive and move away from s’mores. Grab a small bag of chocolate or peanut butter chips—or a combination of the two. Take a banana and slice one side open, exposing the fruit but leaving the peel intact. Slice the banana, add a few chocolate chips then top with tiny marshmallows. Or substitute the chips for berries from the local farmer’s market. Place the banana in aluminum foil and wrap tightly. Place the foil-wrapped fruit next to but not on the flames. Wait five to 10 minutes or enough time for the chips and marshmallows to melt. Open and enjoy with a spoon.

Another way to limit the amount of marshmallows used is to substitute them with marshmallow crème, a spreadable version of marshmallows that helps you more easily regulate portion. For healthier treats, use large strawberries, apple slices, banana chucks, pineapple, or other fruit. Put a piece of fruit on a roasting stick, dip quickly in the crème and roast over indirect heat until a delicious golden brown. You’re still having campfire fun, but the focus is on a healthier evening snack.

There are many ways to make the end of your camping day a memorable time with snacks. How does your marshmallow roast?

Worth Pondering…

Life is a marshmallow, easy to chew but hard to swallow.

Read More

Enjoy Spring at a Texas State Park

With the redbuds and bluebonnets blooming, it’s time to get outside and enjoy spring in Texas.

(Credit: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department)

“Much of Texas is still way behind its average annual rainfall, but it looks like winter rains in many areas of the state will make for an excellent spring,” says Texas Parks and Wildlife Executive Director Carter Smith. “Weather forecasters say we may still be in for more drought, so it’s a good idea to make the most of spring while it lasts.”

With apologies to a certain late night talk show host, here are the top 10 reasons to head outdoors and enjoy a great spring:

1. The fish are biting. The white bass, which travel like salmon upstream to lay and fertilize their eggs each spring, are already running in East Texas and in streams with sufficient water. The action should be starting any day now in Central Texas, with Colorado Bend State Park a perennial hot spot. Black bass are also heading into the spring spawning season with several ShareLunkers already on the board at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) in Athens. Plan a visit to TFFC for an up-close and personal look at these amazing fish. Likewise, conditions along the coast are heating up and a tour of Sea Center Texas in Lake Jackson offers a front row view of some impressive saltwater specimens.

Devils River Horsemint (Credit: Chase A. Fountain, © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department)

2. It’s that time of year…Wildflowers. The wildflowers are beginning to bloom in all but the most drought-stricken parts of the state. Prime public viewing and photographic opportunities can be found in traditional wildflower havens such as Lyndon B. Johnson and Washington-on-the-Brazos state historic sites, as well as East Texas destinations like Lake Somerville State Park and Trailway, and Tyler and Purtis Creek. Sandy soils typically produce some of the better wildflower displays, so head to Palmetto, Inks Lake and Enchanted Rock State Natural Area to see bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush and other early bloomers. For wildflower sighting updates, starting March 15, call the Texas Department of Transportation Hotline at 1-800-452-9292. 

3. The camping is great. Take advantage of mild days and cool nights for overnight camping in more than 90 parks across Texas. Weekend campsites go early in the spring, so book your reservation early.

4. Go ahead, make some s’mores.In many parks, burn bans that were in place last summer and fall and have been lifted. Depending on the weather and altitude, it’s a wonderful time of the year to enjoy a campfire.

5. Hit the road, Jack. Well, hit the trail. Mild temperatures and relatively low humidity make it a perfect time to go for a hike. Not only will you enjoy the scenery and wildlife, from butterflies to game animals, you’ll burn off those s’mores you ate around the campfire.

6. It’s Texas history season. One hundred and seventy-six years ago, the Texas Revolution was underway. State parks at sites that played a role in the brief but sanguinary military campaign that gained Texas its independence from Mexico include Washington-on-the-Brazos, Goliad and the San Jacinto Battle Ground.

7. Go and park it. If you visit almost any of our state parks on weekdays, you’ll find them far less crowded than they are on weekends this time of the year. Try one of the typically less crowded hidden “jewels” such as Copper Breaks, Seminole Canyon, Caprock Canyons, Meridian, or Village Creek.

Goliad State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Head to the beach. If you don’t like crowds and partying, wait until Spring Break is over, and then pack your fishing gear, surfboards and sunscreen and head to the Gulf sands of Galveston, Goose Island, Mustang Island and Sea Rim state parks. You’ll not only enjoy great beaches, but a variety of camping options.

9. Go turkey hunting. Rio Grande spring turkey hunting season opens in March and Eastern turkey season starts in April. With an abundance of gobblers available, the prospects look good this season.

10. Spring is for the birds. Spring is one of the best times of year for birding. Discover more than 950 places in Texas to see our feathered friends by picking up a Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail or Great Texas Wildlife Trail map.

Related Stories

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…

Texas is neither southern nor western. Texas is Texas.

—Senator William Blakley

Read More