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camp coffee cake

I spent the summer of 2003 and 2004 working at a summer camp for kid’s in the hills of Missouri. I was a boat driver by title, but I also taught everything from mountain biking to diving to archery.  I still cannot believe that parents left me alone with their children and a bow and arrow.  Or a boat motor for that matter.

Those were the best summers of my life and the worst summers of my life.  The morning call would blare over the speakers in our cabin (John Tesh in person some mornings!), and we would have 15 minutes to get up, get our kids in motion and book it to the dining hall.  Many mornings I would sneak out of our cabin before the sun rose and tiptoe down to the lakeshore, where I would meet my best friend, Ann.  We’d grab a couple of kayaks, shake all the spiders out and head off across the lake to the rock cliffs on the other side.  Once we reached them, we’d rest our paddles across our laps and sit forever, just talking about nothing or something.  The water was like reflecting glass, so perfectly still, the only ripple a consequence of the slightest shift of our kayaks.  And then, at the last possible second, we’d grudgingly head back across the lake to resume our positions.

Ann and I with the husbands at her wedding reception

As a counselor I was forbidden to have a cell phone, so the summer was filled with daily races to the main office, hoping there was a letter with my name on it.  The husband and I had only been dating about a year, and two months away from him seemed beyond eternity.  I would sit each night, listening to the bugs outside.  Flashlight in hand, I’d write and write and write hoping that my words would convey to him just how much I truly missed him.

Not only were we not allowed to have a cell phone, but we were also not allowed to bring our own food (I know).  The dining hall was pretty much hit or miss, but there were two things in particular that they were famous for: lasagna and coffee cake.

The coffee cake in particular was my favorite, and I can still remember the taste of brown sugar as if it was just yesterday.  I remember exactly the way it looked on the cheap, plastic serving dish and the way it crumbled ever so slightly when my fork would slide into it.  Bliss I tell you…bliss.  I believe I had only experienced coffee cake maybe once in my life before that, and since then I honestly have not eaten it again.  The husband hates it when I make absolute statements like that, but I promise it’s true:)

From time to time my mind has drifted to thoughts of that coffee cake, and I’ve had visions of sinking my teeth into a warm square of it once again.  And I’ll tell you, if I stumbled onto that exact same recipe made by the exact same people again I’d snatch it up in a second.  But you guys know me.  If I’m going to branch out and make it myself, I’m going to veganize it and healthify it.  Because that’s what I do. It makes me happy:)

Which brings us to the other day.  I was browsing the pages of my awesome new cookbook Vegan With a Vengeance,  given to me as a Christmas gift by my lovely friend, Grace.  I’ve wanted VWV for a long time, and I’m so excited to finally get to dig into it!  Awhile back, I unknowingly baked a chocolate muffin recipe from it, and the muffins were to die for, and ever since I’ve been itching to get my hands on a copy.

Anyway, so I was flipping through and suddenly my eyes landed on a recipe for blueberry coffee cake.  I did a double take.  Vegan blueberry coffee cake!  The best part was that I already had all the ingredients waiting in my pantry except for soy vanilla yogurt which I ran out of last week.  So, I grabbed my purse, grabbed the husband and headed to the health food store.

A half hour later, this:And this:

And this:

Then, finally…this:

Did it taste exactly like the coffee cake of my camp counselor days?  Honestly, no.

But it was oh so delicious.  I could go on and on, telling you about how moist it was and how it had just the right amount of sweetness – not sickly sweet – but soul satisfying.  But instead I’ll just be honest and say that I’ve had a slice of it every morning for the last 4 days, and one day I had it for lunch as well (my appetite has been a little funny lately, but that’s another story).

I’ll still be on the lookout for one of the white aproned, chef hatted cooks from the summer of ’04, but until then…

Did you go to summer camp as kid?  What’s your favorite memory (food or otherwise) from those days?

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15 Responses to “camp coffee cake”

  1. I never did go to camp as a kid. I was always too afraid. I did go to girl scout camp over a weekend at least. Coffee cakes looks great.

    [Reply]

    candice Reply:

    I didn’t realize you were shy! Are you still shy now that you’re older? The only camps I went to as a kid were church camps where I already knew everyone…I would have been really intimidated to go to one alone for sure.

    [Reply]

    Heather (Where's the Beach) Reply:

    I’m still pretty shy until I get to know someone. I do WAY better in small groups.

    [Reply]

  2. kelli says:

    yum! i did some girl scout camping as a kid. i loved it. a few summers ago i worked at a camp as a 3rd grade group leader during the day and a jewelry making instructor in the afternoon. it was so much fun, but i was terrified of the ticks!

    [Reply]

    candice Reply:

    how fun…a jewelry making instructor?!

    [Reply]

  3. I can honestly say that it looks AMAZING :)
    I went to a church camp as a kid, but I wasn’t too fond of it. Mainly just because it was freezing and I only brought shorts! ha!

    [Reply]

    candice Reply:

    Thanks, Paige!
    That would definitely turn me off from camp – I absolutely hate being cold!

    [Reply]

  4. he he he… my childhood was practically a summer camp, being as how I grew up in the middle of nowhere… :p That’s cool that you were a counselor- although I’d be pretty panicked without a phone!

    [Reply]

    candice Reply:

    yes, it was definitely panic mode at first. But then I kind of got used to it and it wasn’t so bad. I kind of thought about foregoing it once I got home too, but that lasted about 10 minutes, ha!

    [Reply]

  5. Laura @ Backstage Pass says:

    Beautiful post, Candice!
    As a kid, I LOVED summer camps. I think they’re an American must. I loved being outdoors, being active all day, even the crummy food :-) at our camp, there was this cherry cake dish that was my favorite. Come to think of it, I think I have a photo somewhere – that was like 14 years ago! I was meant to be a food blogger, lol.

    [Reply]

    candice Reply:

    Thanks, Laura!

    How funny that you have a photo of it:)

    [Reply]

  6. I loved going to camp as a kid. I went to a handful of various church camps over the years and I was an avid Girl Scout camper. That was an every summer kind of camp until 8th grade. I don’t remember much about the food except one year at girl scout camp they made a fudgy brownie type pudding. It was soo good. Like rich chocolate pudding with brownie bits in it. {slurp} As for favorite memories I enjoyed the last night hike to the red rocks for a campfire under the stars. Singing, S’mores and general togetherness :-)

    [Reply]

    candice Reply:

    You’re making me want to go to camp right now, haha. Sounds so fun and relaxing!

    [Reply]

  7. Cynthia says:

    That coffee cake looks delicious! I never went to camp as a kid. I did love the school lunches though. I actually enjoyed the pizza they served there. Tasty. :)

    [Reply]

    candice Reply:

    It’s so funny the things we liked as kids…wonder if you’d still like it now? :)

    [Reply]

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