Sherry's Story: Of Gold and
Campground Cooking

Meet Sherry Lohman. She and Bill were high school sweethearts; they have been married for 43 years. You’ll see Sherry’s lovely watercolors dotted throughout this cookbook.

In addition to being a talented artist, Sherry, who retired from teaching elementary school after 34 years, has been Bill’s sous chef from the very start of his cooking adventures. In fact, you might say that she helped kindle his interest in campground cooking.

When Sherry was teaching fourth-grade in Southern California, the state’s history was an important part of the curriculum. Fascinated by the Great Gold Rush era, and the hardships endured by the prospectors who descended upon Sutter’s Mill by the hundreds of thousands, Sherry identified with their intriguing stories, their struggling to stake and keep their claims.

She especially identified with the lucky few whose “Eureka!” moments yielded pans of gold flakes and nuggets.

In the early 1980s, soaked by a year of torrential rain, California’s soil conditions not optimal for farming produced instead a boon for the adventurous: washed-down gold was plentiful, and, nearly 100 years after the Great Gold Rush, the time was again ripe for unearthing treasure.

Sherry’s pleading was relentless “Let’s go panning for gold! Let’s go prospecting!” She finally wore Bill down. He had a surprise for her, though.

Instead of staying in a motel near the panning sites, which is what she expected, Bill decided that if they were going to go mining for gold, they’d kick it old school by roughing it in a tent. Sherry could hardly refuse; after all, she had gotten him to agree to her gold-rush scheme. And so a tent it was, leading her to remember Oscar Wilde’s advice:

“Be careful what you wish for; you may get it!”

The Lohmans spent the busy weeks before their trip preparing, reading, researching, and purchasing all of the requisite, large-scale gear an amazingly expensive proposition considering that they were looking for the miniscule: precious specks of gold.

They wisely embarked on an advance trial run in the mountains near their home for a weekend the main event would be keeping them away from home for two weeks. They wanted to ensure that they had all that was needed before diving, feet first, into the deep wilderness for such an extended period of time.

Their top priority? Food.

The provisions had to travel well, but could not take up much space, requiring that Sherry and Bill pack large quantities of pre-made food packets dehydrated this, rehydrated that and processed foods, such as packaged meat, that contained more preservatives than proteins.

This diet resulted in so many unwanted sounds and smells emanating from their tent that they made a pledge to each other right then and there:

“We eat well at home. We are, by God, going to eat well camping!”

As for the gold, well, they found some a few flakes, mostly although nothing close to the gold made by the retailers from whom they purchased their camping gear.

And although Sherry and Bill never went out in search of gold again, they say that they discovered something far more precious: camping. “Through camping, we made friends who are more valuable than any gold we could have found in ‘them thar hills.”

Over time, Bill and Sherry equipped their camp kitchen just like the one at their home. They purchased an elephant-sized white igloo cooler to keep food fresh. They bought a fold-down camping oven, with a real temperature gauge, so they could bake on-site. They needed more flame, so they bought an extra propane stove one with three burners. More burners, however, meant the need for more pots and pans. As Sherry says, “If there’s an available burner, Bill needs a pot for it.”

They acquired a large grill and an item that they use more than anything else: a portable smoker. Finally, having outfitted themselves for the lavish outdoor meals they intended to prepare, they needed a monster van to haul it all.

No, the Lohmans don’t travel light when they go camping, but they and their fortunate friends eat like gold-endowed royalty.

Sherry and Bill have prepared the recipes in this book in their kitchen and at their campsite. They have served these meals beneath chandeliers and starry skies, and shared them with friends and acquaintances, old and new.

Now they would like to share them with you. Enjoy!
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2165 N. Glassell Street Orange, CA 92865

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