Life is Good When You Are Roasting Marshmallows

This is one of my favorite T-shirts ever:

Favorite T-shirt: Life is good in Olympic National Park

We’ve been roasting a lot of marshmallows lately.  This began in Canada when we started burning a lot more campfires because it’s been chilly at night.

Theresa builds us a campfire probably one out of every three nights when we’re camping someplace that allows fires (some campgrounds don’t provide fire rings, and some parks ban fires due to dry conditions).  Yes, almost always it’s Theresa who builds the campfire.  Just like our home life, we tend to fall into roles with life on the road.  For example, I always do the cooking on the outdoor grill, while Theresa prepares the portion of the meal indoors that requires the stove and/or microwave.  But when it comes to campfires, Theresa is the fire master.

Timm roasting a marshmallow while Shadow and Darby watch intently

Roasting marshmallows is a “family event” that even the dogs enjoy.  We give each dog an unroasted marshmallow at the start, and then we give them any marshmallows that get burned.  We don’t like burned marshmallows ourselves, but the dogs seem to love them.  Though we have to be careful not to feed Shadow anything except dog biscuits after 8pm because he has a sensitive stomach, and sometimes what goes down comes back up during the night in the RV… not fun!

Speaking of burned marshmallows, when we were dispersed camping along the Chena River in Alaska, there was a man camping nearby with his two young sons.  We noticed their interest in our marshmallow roast, so we stopped at their camp and gave them some marshmallows to roast over their fire.  The kids were delighted, and the youngest boy grabbed the bag of marshmallows and immediately sat down to start his roast.  Yet in spite of his best efforts, he burned almost every marshmallow to a smoking, black crisp.  When his father told him to take his time and roast the marshmallows more slowly, the boy exclaimed, “But I can’t wait!”  So the father took this opportunity to teach his son the delicious rewards of patience.

Darby is hoping I burn this marshmallow so it will be hers

We roast marshmallows almost every time we have a camp fire.  It has become a nice tradition.

Of course we have to consider the nutritional impact of our little tradition.  Each marshmallow has 22 calories and no fat, and I doubt the calorie content changes much after roasting.  I usually eat 8-12 marshmallows per night, which is about 200-300 calories.  This might seem like a lot, but it’s probably less than my typical after-dinner desert of ice cream, pie or cookies.  And besides, most days we burn off thousands of calories hiking through the mountains, and I’ve dropped down to my high school weight, so I could probably use the calories, empty as they may be.

Occasionally we’ll want a really fattening desert, so we’ll make s’mores, which are roasted marshmallows and melted chocolate stuffed between two graham crackers.  I won’t even ponder how many calories and fat are in those thigh-busters.  Fortunately I’m not much of a chocoholic, and I actually prefer the taste of roasted marshmallows by themselves, so s’mores are a rare treat.

Unlike some foods, the brand of marshmallows is important.  We often buy store-brand products (such as Walmart Great Value) because they are significantly cheaper than name-brands, and often taste just as good or even better.  But not marshmallows.  Not only do name-brand marshmallows taste much better than store-brand marshmallows, they roast more evenly, and we can slide off the outer roasted shell to double or even triple roast the marshmallows.

Double-roasted marshmallow

Double-roasting marshmallows can be tricky.  It requires a slight twist of the wrist to slide the roasted shell off the gooey center.  Then you stick the white remains back in the fire, and it emerges looking like a miniature roasted turkey.  If your technique is really good, you can repeat the process once more to triple-roast the marshmallow.

Ahhh, life is good when you are relaxing in a campground after a long hike through a beautiful park, warming your bones next to a crackling fire, and roasting a delicious little cylinder of puffed sugar over an open flame.  Life is good when you are roasting marshmallows.

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