The Girl Scout troop I led when my oldest child was in elementary school and a year into middle school was all about camping. They knew much more about it than I did, which wouldn’t have taken much. Fortunately, one of the other moms was certified to lead camping outings, so we were “good to go.”
We tent-camped in several different areas, including a small prairie area in Pickaway County, where we encountered an insane number of ticks. (We renamed it Tickaway County, naturally.) We quickly learned we preferred a roof over our heads, even if we had to lay out our sleeping bags on concrete.
One of the best places we camped was a shelter house at Bob Evans Farm (home of Bob and Jewell Evans and their five children for 20 years), where you can eat at the original Bob Evans Restaurant, in Rio Grand, Ohio. Route 35 bisects the farm, making it easy to find if you just head south through Gallia County. The shelter house was across the road and at the far end of a good-size pasture from the homestead and restaurant, so we felt like we were really out in the country.
There were usually between 15 and 20 girls, little sisters and moms along on our camp outs. We hiked the hillsides on the farm, did some rather primitive cooking and really enjoyed being outside and away from home for the weekend. (Amazing how good everything tastes when you’re really hungry. Ever try ham in a hole?)
I don’t know if the shelter house is available to scouts these days, but the Bob Evans homestead is going strong. There is a museum, the restaurant of course, and the Bob Evans Raccoon Creek Canoe Livery just down the road.
Raccoon Creek meanders through Zaleski State Forest, across Lake Hope, and empties into the Ohio River at Gallipolis. The part of the creek that crosses Bob Evans Farm is an easy paddle. You’ll see all sorts of wildlife, including beavers and their dams. There’s better paddling for day trips when the water’s high.
These days, one of the biggest draws all year at the farm is the Fall Festival. It’s on the grounds Oct. 14-16 this year, with plenty of room for free primitive camping. The Festival features entertainment, handmade arts and crafts, farm contests, local food, children’s activities, demonstrations and musical performances. Outside food vendors and crafters come from all over to be there. You should, too!
I’ll admit we succumbed to the chance to eat at the original Bob Evans Restaurant during one camping trip when the weather was nasty. It was either that or fight off an unarmed revolt by hungry girl scouts when we couldn’t get a fire going. Here’s an original Bob and Jewell Evans recipe you won’t have to travel to Rio Grand to eat.
CHICKEN POT PIE
1 pastry recipe for a double-crust pie
1 1/2 cups roasted boneless, skinless chicken
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 small onion, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 carrots, diced
1/2 package frozen peas
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cubes chicken bouillon
2 cups water
3 potatoes peeled and cubed
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup half-and-half
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll out bottom pie crust, press into a 10 inch deep dish pie pan. Set aside.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat, add the onion, celery, carrots, peas, parsley, oregano and salt and pepper. Cook and stir until vegetables are soft. Stir in the bouillon and water. Bring mixture to a boil. Stir in potatoes and cook until fork tender but still a little firm.
In a medium saucepan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in the chicken and flour. Add the half-and-half and heat through. Stir chicken mixture into the vegetables and cook until thickened. Cool slightly, then pour into the unbaked pie shell. Roll out the top crust and place on top of filling. Flute edges and vent top with fork holes to let out steam.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 and continue to bake for another 20 minutes until crust is golden brown.
Serves five to six.
Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.