I had a second cookie for dessert tonight. I figured I deserved it after spending the better part of my week with some very energetic (albeit lovely) 7th graders. We just completed our annual overnight field trip with Inside Out in the mountains of North Carolina.
The trip in numbers:
28 seventh graders.
4 hours in the bus round trip.
0 cell phones, video games, iPods, televisions, computers for the students.
over 55 hours spent all together, bonding as a class.
3 teachers, 3 camp counselors.
1 giant rock face to climb.
27 kids who climbed at least partway up.
about 27 kids who, upon turning around on the rock, said, “WHOA” at the view.
1 awesome rock climbing instructor who, apart from coaching each student, recited poetry for us.
1 time when I was forced to use a portable bathroom which, thank God, turned out to be one of the only clean and pleasant-smelling portable bathrooms in the universe. I wish I knew the company who cleaned it so I could write them a thank you letter. I’m not kidding.
4 gorgeous waterfalls, one of which thundered just above us as we stood on the rocks below and watched the rainbow in its spray.
1 opportunity to serve by cleaning up at the Carl Sandburg Home.
5 baby goats cuddled profusely at the dairy farm.
1 mama goat who, as it turns out, bites.
4 snakes seen in one day alone (today). Thankfully, they were seen from afar.
1 sluice in the same mountain stream where Katniss Everdeen swam.
hundreds of trees.
hundreds of bugs.
1 tsunami of bug spray in the girls’ cabin each morning.
about a dozen times when a student (or teacher) accidentally knocked over a chair in the dining hall.
7 meals eaten at camp, including 2 picnic lunches.
1 liter of food waste or less after the first meal.
0 liters of food waste at the last meal.
1 soaked camp counselor who fulfilled his agreement to jump in the lake if the kids had no food waste.
innumerable games and team challenges.
many kids who impressed me by communicating well, leading, or following wisely in said challenges.
3 student-created skits, including one with a doughnut-related crime and another with a pet chicken.
1 round of awesome s’mores.
1 silly photo with my entire girls’ cabin in Princess Leia buns.
14 girls absolutely quiet by 10:30 each night. No word about the boys’ cabin, but I have faith in them (and their chaperone)!
2 cramped bathrooms behind one shower curtains that wasn’t quite wide enough to cover both.
14 girls making it “so public” when they were in one stall or the other so as to prevent ANY confusion.
0 shower conflicts. Did I mention 14 girls? My ladies were low-maintenance. Except for the mascara — but I promised I wouldn’t say a critical word about it, since I brought my own tube, too.
5+ morning dippers each day — if you aren’t sure what the “morning dip” is, think freezing water first thing in the morning.
1 very dramatic story by a campfire.
1 crawfish, 2 salamanders, 1 minnow, and 1 tiny bass caught for observation and released.
3 coke zeros smuggled into the cabin by a certain teacher who then found it difficult to scold the student who had smuggled in the chocolate truffles. And the one with the cheerios. And the one with the doughnuts. We’re a hungry bunch.
29 letters written to our future selves, which will be mailed to us next year!
1.5 dozen doughnuts consumed over 2 days.
1 very tired, proud teacher.
And for you? 2 cute pizza mushrooms with a ton of flavor, minus the carb count. Enjoy — while I take a nap!
What was your favorite school field trip? Answer here or join our Facebook discussion.
Rustic Pizza Stuffed Mushrooms
Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking
Yield: 2 servings
I wanted an umami-heavy pizza here, so along with the roasted mushroom “crust,” I added an anchovy filet. I also found that a few black olives and a smashed clove of roasted garlic did not go unappreciated. You should feel free to add whatever pizza toppings you enjoy — in fact, you’ll notice that I tucked a few leftover crumbles of Italian sausage into the mushroom cap in the foreground above, though those weren’t in the original recipe. The sky’s the limit!
2 large portobello mushroom caps
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and few grinds pepper, divided
freshly grated Mozzarella cheese, to taste
4-6 slices pepperoni
a handful of sliced black olives*
2 cloves roasted garlic**, smashed
1 anchovy filet, chopped lightly with a fork
6 tablespoons pizza sauce of your choice***
crumbles of cooked Italian sausage (optional)
*I used some pitted black Cerignola olives marinated in olive oil and red chili flakes from my specialty grocer, but you can use any you like.
**I bought mine from the specialty grocer, but you can roast a head yourself using this guide — you won’t believe the sweet, mild flavor. You can use raw, but use less, because raw garlic is much hotter, spicier, and obnoxious. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
***I just used a jarred brand I love.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Clean the mushroom caps by brushing gently with a wet brush. Remove the stems from mushrooms and gently remove gills with a spoon. Brush each mushroom cap with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt and a grind of pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes (depending on the size of the mushroom) or until they are nicely roasted but still holding their general shape.
Let the mushrooms cool until they can be handled. Drain any excess moisture from the caps and spoon a few tablespoons of pizza sauce into each one. Top with sliced olives, anchovy pieces, pepperoni, Italian sausage (if you’re using it), the smashed roasted garlic, a generous sprinkle of Mozzarella cheese, and another small grind of pepper. Place the mushrooms back into the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve immediately.
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