Repeat Novelty

A few years back, we made grouper with mole verde sauce on a backpacking trip, using a recipe inspired by Souzz’s travels to Oaxaca, Mexico. Preparing the mole required a hand crank food processor–kind of extravagant–so we figured we’d probably never do it again. But it came out pretty well the first time, so we decided it was a novelty worth repeating (hmmm, is “repeat novelty” an oxymoron? And does that answer change if the novelty is a Mexican-themed dish on the 4th of July?).

Our plan for July 4th weekend was for some paddling and hiking in West Virginia, with roadside camping afterwards along the Dry Fork of the Cheat. The Dry Fork is in a beautiful forested canyon, with crystal clear streams tumbling down just about every draw. Our campsite was right next to Mill Creek–so there were at least two things babbling around our camp at all times.

With the rain last week, the rapids on the Cheat were pumping, and the hiking in Otter Creek Wilderness was great, too. Otter Creek has a ton of wildlife and a nice trail system that runs almost all the way to the Eastern Continental Divide. The Cheat, just to its north, cuts through a lovely valley with plenty of adventure opportunities. We brought along our ultralight Alpacka packrafts, a bike to run shuttle for the paddling, and our hiking stuff.

Wind Rapids, Cheat Narrows
Calamity Rock, Cheat Narrows

As for the mole, you do need that hand-crank food processor (we got ours a few years back from Amazon), but the recipe really isn’t that involved. And whether at home or on the trail, the keys to a nice mole are the same: fresh ingredients, fresh spices, sharp knives, and a little bit of patience. We went to La Union Grocery in Arlington for the tomatillos, onions, lettuce, jalapenos, cilantro, and cumin, and we took our time chopping and cranking (literally) in camp.

As we diced and prepped, we made sure to include all of the seeds from the jalapenos (there’s not much heat without them). We lightly toasted the pumpkin seeds, and we spooned them on top (instead of processing/chopping) in order to give it more texture. We served our mole over snapper instead of grouper like last time, but we’d have used grouper if we could have found it (rural West Virginia isn’t exactly a haven for fresh seafood markets).

We capped off our 4th of July with a red, white, and blue dessert: shortcake with whipped cream, strawberries, and blueberries. Having a cooler along made it super-easy to make (or, rather, to assemble), but it’s a good backpacking dish, too (I made the same dessert last weekend on an overnight trip, so this was yet another repeat novelty). If we’d thought ahead a bit more, we’d have brought fresh whipping cream instead of Cool Whip, and then used a cordless drill with a beater to mix it up. Using a drill as a mixer always seemed like a clever idea to me. Next time…

As we were getting ready to turn in for the night, we heard fireworks from a distant camp–and we wondered if they, too, had enjoyed mole verde made with a hand-crank food processor. I would have wandered up there and asked, but Souzz told me that I would have sounded like an oxymoron. At least that’s what I think she said.

8 thoughts on “Repeat Novelty

  1. I still have nightmares about calamity rock (jk). Glad to see at least the strawberry short cake had some patriotism associated with it 🙂 I’ve never made a mole but it looked good. I thought they usually had mexican chocolate in them?

    1. There are apparently many kinds of mole, and the most traditional ones do have chocolate. Ours was a mole verde, so it was a tomatillo-based sauce. Spicier peppers are often used, too. We used jalapenos to keep it kind of mild in the summer heat…although temps got into the 50s at night along the Dry Fork (much to our surprise). It’s def a worthwhile recipe!

  2. It’s like you’re talking right to me Court!😁
    Beautiful pics and a yummy looking meal.
    Thanks for the latest addition!!

    1. Aaah, well, true confessions, we did bring along the snapper. That said, we have found a lot of seafood in Elkins! (but never grouper, kind of tough to find even in the big city sometimes). Thanks for reading and commenting!

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