A Very Teardrop Trailer Thanksgiving
Throughout 2020, we were faced with an ever-changing state of our lives. Arguably the most isolated many of us have been from our loved ones, friends, and relatives; the pandemic had many of us reevaluating our holiday traditions which may have been spent traveling out of state to visit those dearest to us to share a meal. For the Molicks, the tradition has been to travel to visit family in a very remote part of New Mexico for Thanksgiving; but with concerns over the covid-19 pandemic, New Mexico had limited access for out-of-state visitors, and the access to hospitals in the rural region of New Mexico presented concerns. Our plans for Thanksgiving 2020 took a bit of a detour from the norm of being inside with our loved ones as Peter and his girlfriend Sarah, Kevin and Paula’s oldest son, ventured up to Grand Junction to pick up their Pika just in time for the holiday: we all packed up and headed west toward Moab to camp for our holiday weekend together.
Thursday morning we departed Grand Junction in a caravan of three Timberleaf Trailers, two Pikas and one Classic, westbound for gorgeous sandstone vistas rugged terrain speckled with bent and twisted juniper trees from many years of harsh desert conditions. We had pre-planned every detail of our holiday meal, cooking a turkey in an oven at home is challenging enough – let alone in the wilderness! We smoked the big bird (okay, just a few pounds of one) in a pellet smoker in the days leading up to our departure, along with prepared a number of other accoutrements to accompany the smoky bird, we spent an evening earlier in the week assembly-lining a delicious squash and brown butter tortellini to be served with brussels sprouts and balsamic drizzle, along with a parbaked casserole, some homemade bread, salad, and of course the staple – cranberry salad.
When cooking a meal like this for five, even with nearly everything pre-cooked, it’s handy to travel with some extra propane tanks and maybe an Ooni portable pizza oven to finish the baking of the casserole as well as heat up the smoky bird. The Partner Steel 2-burner stove of the Classic had no trouble bringing the pot of water to a boil for the pasta, while simultaneously bringing a skillet to a searing heat to give the brussels sprouts a delicious char before glazing them with the balsamic.
While Alex and Paula were hard at work cooking away a storm, Peter set about finding the perfect location for the table setting. Just below a small ledge from our campsite was the perfect spot to set out the portable dining table with a view of the fading light of the setting sun as it wandered its way through the canyon below. We set out the array of homemade foods (and overwhelmed the little camp table in the process), and settled in to one of the most memorable Thanksgiving meal views we have had together.
The following evening, out came the Ooni Pro 16 pizza oven again for dinner, this time the portable powerhouse of an oven was cranked up to a searing 950-degrees to show where its true skills shined: fresh homemade pizza… far off grid from your nearest pizzeria. Throughout the days before our departure, Alex prepared some sourdough pizza dough from the recipes courtesy of Rosehill Sourdough, along with his favorite sauce recipe and began throwing dough into the frigid evening air that Friday night; despite the below-freezing temperatures, the pizza oven was keeping toasty and pushing over 1,000-degrees for a 60-second bake on the pizzas.
What initially felt like a bit of an uprooted tradition for our typical holiday together, turned into a memorable and cherished Thanksgiving 2020: pandemic/teardrop edition. We hope that this story may inspire some of you to explore your gourmet side in your camp cooking, or consider a bit of a camping variant of your traditional holiday plans.
Words by Alex Molick; photography by Peter Molick