Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
7 Oct

Grokfeast in Maryland

On September 8th I asked my readers to host picnics and to send me the results. The following is one of 27 amazing submissions, the best of which will win an entire cow, courtesy of US Wellness.

I was SO excited when I heard about your contest! I love grassfed beef and US Wellness. I’ve actually tasted their pemmican and have a nearly empty tub of tallow in the fridge.

My schedule is really full at this time of year, so the only time I had open was the afternoon and evening of Sunday, September 19. With just a week to plan the event, I had to work fast. I didn’t have too many friends familiar with the term “Grokfeast,” but many were interested in a “Primal Picnic.”

First, we found the perfect spot to hold the event. Our friend Guy has a couple of acres with woods, a pond, free-range chickens, a lovely two-seat outhouse, and most importantly, a fire pit.

We began the festivities with a walk in the woods. The funniest part was when Paul found a rubber chicken toy along the trail, probably an old dog toy for Scooby, Guy’s dog. We foraged for wild edibles and found excellent sticks for our games. After the walk, Dan demonstrated several different primitive fire starting techniques, and we had a ceremony to light the fire. It was really awesome when he held the tinder up to his mouth and blew on it until it smoked and glowed. We then played some primal games with sticks, including an oversized version of pick-up sticks (with real sticks from the woods!) and a log toss.

Not everyone was brave enough to experience face painting, but some of us had fantastic fun decorating each other! Some made a moon out of mud and others drew charcoal stripes.

Guy: “There’s some dirt on your face.”
Amy: “I know. Where’s yours?”

I wanted the feast to focus on foods that are local (or at least could be grown locally) and in season. I decided that the menu would include a wild edibles salad, kabobs, and omelets so that people could have fun playing with their food and putting ingredients together.

The ingredients included marinated venison, fish, peppers, mushrooms, onions, carrots, squash, garlic cloves, fresh herbs, and pineapple. Ok, so pineapple isn’t local, but it was a special occasion, right? If we’d have had the feast 2 weeks earlier, we could’ve had some wild forest pawpaw fruit. Cooking over the open fire was an adventure because most of us had very little experience with that.

Pat, Sandra, and I (Amy) also volunteered to make other delicious dishes such as squash and beet appetizers, baked apples, and raw milk custard. We tried to vote on a favorite dish, but they were all delicious.

We had a splendid time, with a fest fit for a king or tribal celebration. It definitely was fun, and we also had a lot of fun chasing the chickens away from the food!

The Feast

pre cooking feast
  • Homebrewed mint tea made from fresh chocolate mint, lemon thyme, and lavender
  • Homebrewed ginger and fennel digestive tea
  • Beet appetizers served on zucchini, butternut squash, and cucumbers
  • Salad dressing made from vinegar, olive oil, and fresh oregano
  • Wild edibles salad containing violet leaves, plantain, dandelion, red clover, elderberries, and other foraged plants
  • Roasted garlic cloves
  • Venison burgers with a cilantro, lemon, and lime marinade
  • Homemade tomato sauce seasoned with fresh basil
  • Fish, stuffed with fresh herbs and cooked over the fire with peppers and mushrooms
  • Kabobs: squash, pineapple, mushrooms, carrots, peppers
  • Omelets made to order with any of the available ingredients, including fresh eggs found in the henhouse
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Baked apples
  • Raw milk custard

Recipe: Baked Apples

baked apples

Preheat the oven to 325˚ F.

Start with 1 apple per person. Show off your knife skills and remove the core. Place the apples in a large pan, standing upright. Drop about 20 raisins into each one. Sprinkle with a little ginger and a little cinnamon, heavier on the cinnamon. No need to measure; just give a shake or two over each apple.

Place a thin slice of butter or coconut oil on top of the raisin core for each apple. This keeps them from drying out. Also pour water into the bottom of the pan until the apples are standing in about 2 inches. Put that ruler away – no measuring! Just eyeball it.

Bake for 1 hour, no lid. This is the only measurement you should really stick to. If you leave them in longer, they’ll become very mushy, but at 325˚ F for 1 hour they were still solid enough to pick up and eat by hand. Perfect for a primal picnic!

The Tribe

Maryland group photo

Amy Conaway, Brenda Conaway, Dan DeVries, Guy Neal, John Sullivan, Pat Toolan, Paul Conaway, Sandra Nicht


You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. baked apples are great this time of year

    Me216 wrote on October 7th, 2010
  2. Yay Maryland!

    AT22 wrote on October 7th, 2010
  3. Experienced foragers to teach their wisdom to the tribe…BONUS!!!

    Larry wrote on October 7th, 2010
  4. You have to watch the video to see the two seat outhouse. Ha!

    Amy wrote on October 7th, 2010
  5. raw milk custard – yum!

    Sandra the YogaHon wrote on October 7th, 2010
  6. Yay – foraging for the feast! And you made games out of stuff you gathered! AND old-school fire-starting. Very nice. fresh eggs *jealous*

    Peggy wrote on October 7th, 2010
    • and is that some “heirloom” Tupperware?
      ;)

      Peggy wrote on October 7th, 2010
  7. Great job!

    Ryan wrote on October 7th, 2010
  8. Those apples look amazing!

    Cindy Hanna wrote on October 7th, 2010
  9. Glad to see some more “seasoned” primal enthusiasts! A lot of parents and grandparents (mine included) proclaim that they are too set in their ways to see themselves adopting a primal lifestyle, but it’s clear that it’s never to late to improve the quality of your life! This looks like it was a lot of fun!

    Kris wrote on October 7th, 2010
  10. Love that y’all were taught how to make fire! That’s a skill I look forward to learning.

    Julie wrote on October 7th, 2010
  11. Quite an impressive spread there!

    Ryan wrote on October 7th, 2010
  12. Oh, wow! Definitely looked like the perfect location for a grokfeast! :D

    Funkadelic Flash wrote on October 7th, 2010
  13. it was perfect – too bad you couldn’t see the baby free range chicks (I took video but couldn’t get it properly uploaded – if you want to see the bits, go here:

    http://sharing.theflip.com/session/6799c205ceb5646d77d0774f95eca782/video/18542314

    Sandra the YogaHon wrote on October 7th, 2010
  14. I like that you included the fire starting activity. Also like the home brew of digestive tea.

    christie wrote on October 7th, 2010
  15. I’m going to have to try that baked apple recipes….with the addition of a little bacon of course ;)

    Whitney wrote on October 7th, 2010
  16. Foraging is awesome. There are some wild berries that grow behind my work…they’re tasty

    Fatkid wrote on October 7th, 2010
  17. Venison, I am so jealous. I have not had venison in years.

    Mark wrote on October 8th, 2010
  18. Totally awesome feast and looks like a beautiful day for it too! Great job.

    Marsha wrote on October 8th, 2010
  19. Looks like great fun Dan. Thanks for sharing….

    Alan wrote on October 8th, 2010
  20. Enjoyed the website and presentation. Great job starting the fire. Hope you credited your Nebraska upbringing for that skill!

    Ed Ziemba wrote on October 8th, 2010
  21. Love the idea of foraging for your salad greens — how did it taste? And thanks for providing the baked apples recipe. I want to go apple picking, but wasn’t sure what to make from all those apples — now I do :)

    Maria wrote on October 8th, 2010
  22. An outhouse!? To modern! Ha!! ;)

    gilliebean wrote on October 8th, 2010
    • *Too modern.

      Also, this reminds me of the time I went rock climbing in Joshua Tree and we planned a meal of hobo stew for everyone. We bought beef at the local store and root veggies. Then we chopped it all up and put it in tinfoil bowls. We sealed the bowls and put them over the fire until they started to steam or smoke. Yum!!

      gilliebean wrote on October 8th, 2010
  23. Loved it.

    carol wrote on October 8th, 2010
  24. The photo of the picnic on the checkered cloth looked to be right out of Martha Stewart’s living magazine. Beautiful.

    Sharon wrote on October 8th, 2010
  25. your spread was varied and looked delicious!

    Heather wrote on October 9th, 2010

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