11 Least Crowded National Parks of 2011; S’mores Brownie Recipe
Say “national park” and most people think Yellowstone, Grand Canyon or Great Smoky Mountains.But let’s change that mindset and show some love to parks like Lake Clark, North Cascades and Dry Tortugas. If looking to get away from the crowds, head to one of these 11 national parks. According to visitation figures published by the National Park Service, of the U.S.’s 58 national parks, these were some of 2011’s least crowded parks. Although it’s November, it’s never too soon to plan your summer national park vacation.
Lake Clark National Park & Preserve, Alaska
2011 Visitation: 5,158
National Park of American Samoa
2011 Visitation: 8,716
Kobuk Valley National Park, Alaska
2011 Visitation: 11,485
Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve, Alaska
2011 Visitation: 11,623
Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
2011 Visitation: 15,892
North Cascades National Park, Washington
2011 Visitation: 19,208
Katmai National Park & Preserve, Alaska
2011 Visitation: 48,939
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve, Alaska
2011 Visitation: 65,225
Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida
2011 Visitation: 75,171
Great Basin National Park, Nevada
2011 Visitation: 91,451
Congaree National Park, South Carolina
2011 Visitation: 120,166
National Park Research Makes Me Hungry for S’mores
I never realized the ooey, gooey goodness of s’mores is a North American thing. It’s a sugary treat we made a few times each summer while sitting around the backyard campfire and avoiding the fire’s ever changing plume of smoke. While working in the Everglades, we hosted an international conference for a worldwide environmental organization. One of the events we coordinated was a campfire in the Flamingo Campground with all the fixings for s’mores.
I was extremely honored to learn it was the first time visitors from Europe were tasting the sweet goodness of roasted marshmallows and melted chocolate smothered between graham crackers for the very first time. They were leery about the concept but after one sticky bite, they were hooked!
S’mores Brownie Recipe
Gathering data for a class about national parks I taught for Charlotte County’s Lifelong Learning Institute, which is affiliated with Elderhostel and Edison State College, made me hungry for s’mores! It wasn’t practical to build a backyard bonfire. Perhaps I could have speared some marshmallows with a chopstick and roasted them over my current Yankee Candle but suspect it’d have a funky taste. So, I found and modified the Loveless Cafe’s S’mores Cookie Recipe into a s’mores brownie recipe.
1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla (I make my own)
1.5 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
1.5 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (to be melted with butter)
2 cups marshmallows
1 cup crushed graham crackers
Preheat oven to 325.
Cream sugar and eggs in a bowl with an electric mixer.
Blend in vanilla.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt together, then add in small batches to the bowl with creamed eggs and sugar.
Melt the butter with 1.5 cups chocolate chips in a glass bowl in the microwave.
Combine the melted chocolate chips and butter until blended.
Fold in the melted chocolate/butter combination with the batter along with the marshmallows and graham crackers until combined.
Pour into greased 9 x 9 inch pan.
Bake for about 13 – 17 minutes.
Cool in pan on cooling rack before enjoying.
Here’s a confession as to why this recipe is modified. I couldn’t see using a pound of sugar and 8 eggs in one recipe, so I attempted to cut the recipe in half. The cookies came out a tad runny so when in doubt, pour runny cookie batter into a pan and call it a brownie. Voila!
And yeah, being a diabetic means I should not be eating these but I’ve enjoyed them in moderation and shared the campfire-inspired dessert with others.
Have you visited any of these parks?