As the sun sets over the horizon, a blistering chill sweeps through the air. All is quiet, save for the few nocturnal animals crooning their eerie night-time tunes. The only warmth and light you’ll receive is from the glow of your campfire.
Click here for the 9 Scary Campfire Stories (Slideshows)
As you are roasting your marshmallows for s’mores and the fire crackles into the air, a flashlight is flicked on and a creepy laugh breaks up the deafening silence. Startled you look to your fellow campers for answers and hear that old familiar opening line:
“Have you ever heard the tale of...”
For those that enjoy the great outdoors, unplugging from life and heading for the literal hills is an affair that involves a ton of fun in the arms of nature. From fly fishing to hiking through the forest, campers find fun without the help of technology, and a classic way to pass the time around the campfire is to tell scary stories. Some campfire stories have been circling for decades, told in different iterations across different cultures, borrowing from both imagination and legend.
Take for instance the tale of the Hooked Man, who wreaks murderous havoc on young lovers — a story with roots in both fiction as well as fact. Or the eerie story about the young woman who mysteriously wore a yellow ribbon around her neck to conceal a deep, dark secret.
These tales of horror, whether spun from folk tales used to teach children a lesson or simple from the depraved mind of some amazing horror writers, all serve to make your unplugged camping experience more fun. So while you’re roasting your fresh catch over the fire or simply preparing some delicious s’mores, keep these little stories in your back pocket for a fun and frightful time!
Dinner Party Discovery
Two sisters were traveling when they ran into bad weather in Cape Cod and their car broke down. Looking for shelter from the storm, the pair walked up to an abandoned house and decided to wait until the morning for a tow. During the middle of the night, they were awoken by a glowing figure of a seaman by the non-working fireplace. Thinking they were dreaming the sisters went back to sleep. When they awoke, they found seaweed and salt water by the fireplace. They eventually got a tow into town and discovered the home they were sleeping in actually was owned by a man who drowned. When a stranger offered to send the seaweed to a museum for analysis, the results were bone-chilling…The sisters later went to a dinner party where they met a museum curator who offered to test the seaweed they had found. Days later, they received a note that said....
This story tells the shuddering tale of a young girl alone in the house with a leaky faucet. The story goes that her parents bought her a dog before they left and the young girl allowed the dog to sleep next to her bed for protection. The night she was left alone, a leaky faucet caused her to wake up several times, checking the bathroom and finding the dripping faucet that would stop. Each time she returned to her bed, she’d place her hand over the side of the bed for a reassuring lick on her hand from her furry protector. After getting up several more times to find no leaky faucet, she heard the noise coming from her closet. She opened the door to a horrific scene…
14 Best Campfire Stories (Scary / Funny / Creepy)
Sitting around a campfire in the dark is a perfect time for telling stories. The stories in this article are designed for many different camping experiences and differing groups of campers. Choose one of our scary campfire stories for older kids and adults, or a funny camp fire story for younger kids. Our ghost campfire stories are sure to give all the listeners the shivers. Choose the perfect story for any age from our list of campfire stories.
Campfire stories are best if told dramatically, using different voices and sound effects add to the scariness. Some of these stories can be stretched out to make them even more frightening. Be creative and have fun!
A Guide to Backyard Camping—S’mores Hacks and Campfire Stories Included
Roasting marshmallows over a campfire
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
The morning bird songs are well underway, green has begun to peek from the soil, and the desire to cozy up around a campfire is growing in many minds. But right now, camping at your favorite campground isn’t an option. In an effort to fight the spread of COVID-19, the Minnesota DNR has closed all campgrounds until at least May 1. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative and set up camp in your very own backyard. It simply takes imagination and a little time to gather supplies. With these tips, you’ll be kicking off your camping season at home in no time. So dust off your tent and grab the marshmallows.
Start by Taking a Hike
Immersing yourself in nature and breathing some fresh air will help inspire the camping mood. All state parks and nature centers are still open for use of hiking trails, although most park buildings are closed until further notice.
Top picks include the 18 miles of trails along the Minnesota River at Fort Snelling State Park and the multi-terrain loops through prairies and woodlands at Lake Elmo Park Reserve. (More beautiful hiking spots can be found here.) Plus, all state parks, along with other outdoor recreation areas, have waived their entrance fees during this time. Just be sure to practice social distancing while on the trails and call in beforehand to make sure that the park has not already reached capacity. Peak hours right now are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and all day on weekends, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. For the most up-to-date information, visit dnr.state.mn.us/covid-19.html
Set Up Camp at Home
- Shelter: Head outside and search for a flat surface to unpack your tent. (With a little extra time to spare these days, now is the perfect time for everyone to learn exactly how to properly pitch a tent.) Make it comfortable with cushy sleeping bags, blankets, and pillows, and if you’re feeling more like glamping, add extra padding with air mattresses, yoga mats, or foam play mats. (Being only steps away from home means you don’t need to worry about how much you haul in.) If you don’t have a tent, opt for sleeping under the stars, in a hammock, or DIY a snug tipi sanctuary with blankets and sticks.
- Ambience: String lights inside your tent, and if there are nearby trees, hang paper lanterns or twinkling lights.
- Dinner: Gather up some firewood and start a campfire. Roast hot dogs, bratwursts, burgers, or a slew of sizzling foil-packet dinners directly over the heat. Or, invest in a Dutch oven and cook delicious meals like chili, sloppy joes, or pizza.
- Dessert: No camping trip is complete without roasting marshmallows over the campfire for s’mores. For a special twist, try a banana boat s’more. Simply slice open the peel on one side, remove some banana for room, add in your favorite s’mores toppings, then wrap it in foil and briefly heat over the fire. Another twist? Fill a waffle cone with mini marshmallows and pieces of chocolate, wrap in foil, heat, enjoy. (And be careful when handling the hot foil.)
- Campfire stories: Not all campfire stories need to center around frightening tales. After all, there’s nothing quite as relaxing as kicking back and conversing with loved ones over the warmth of a crackling campfire. Take turns exchanging favorite camping memories, or get the conversations started by playing games like Twenty Questions or Name That Tune. If the urge to spook arises, grab the flashlight and share scary classics such as “Bloody Mary,” or a more family-friendly legend, “A Grave Problem.” These campfire stories, plus many more, can be found here. (For a Minnesotan twist, local author Benjamin Percy recently released a book of spooky short stories, Suicide Woods.)
- Stargazing: Take time to look up. If it’s a clear night, you can view constellations such as Ursa Major, which includes the famous Big Dipper. Look for the outline of a spoon or a cup with a long handle, and from there it becomes easier to see the image of the “great bear” it resembles. (The cup is the bear’s chest, and the long handle is part of the bear’s head.) Once you locate the Big Dipper, you’ll be amazed at how quickly the rest of the night sky comes alive. Use this guide to know what to look for.
- Games: Board and card games are always fun, and now, only steps from home, it’s the perfect time to bust out the yard games. Bean bag toss, ladder golf, and Yardzee are favorites. For something a bit out of the ordinary, use yard paint to make your own outdoor Twister game. Or, take advantage of the night’s darkness and get clever with glow sticks, setting up glow-in-the-dark hopscotch or a game of ring toss.
Resist the temptation to go back inside. Pack everything you’re going to need, because to get the full camping experience, you’re going to want to stay outside and embrace nature. But if you need to make a snack run, we won’t judge.
Unable to camp in your backyard? Recreate nearly all these backyard camping tips right inside your living room or basement.
Have fun. Make the most of the inability to camp at a campground. Sure, it’s not exactly the same, but the uniqueness will create good memories during a difficult time.
A widespread belief concerning ghosts is that they are composed of a misty, airy, or subtle material. Anthropologists link this idea to early beliefs that ghosts were the person within the person (the person's spirit), most noticeable in ancient cultures as a person's breath, which upon exhaling in colder climates appears visibly as a white mist.  Belief in ghosts is found in all cultures around the world, and thus ghost stories may be passed down orally or in written form. 
The campfire story, a form of oral storytelling, often involves recounting ghost stories, or other scary stories.  Some of the stories are decades old, with varying versions across multiple cultures.  Many schools and educational institutions encourage ghost storytelling as part of literature. 
In 1929, five key features of the English ghost story were identified in "Some Remarks on Ghost Stories" by M. R. James. As summarized by Frank Coffman for a course in popular imaginative literature, they were: 
- The pretense of truth
- "A pleasing terror"
- No gratuitous bloodshed or sex
- No "explanation of the machinery"
- Setting: "those of the writer's (and reader's) own day"
The introduction of pulp magazines in the early 1900s created new avenues for ghost stories to be published, and they also began to appear in publications such as Good Housekeeping and The New Yorker. 
Early examples Edit
Ghosts in the classical world often appeared in the form of vapor or smoke, but at other times they were described as being substantial, appearing as they had been at the time of death, complete with the wounds that killed them.  Spirits of the dead appear in literature as early as Homer's Odyssey, which features a journey to the underworld and the hero encountering the ghosts of the dead,  as well as the Old Testament in which the Witch of Endor calls the spirit of the prophet Samuel. 
The play Mostellaria, by the Roman playwright Plautus, is the earliest known work to feature a haunted dwelling, and is sometimes translated as The Haunted House.  Another early account of a haunted place comes from an account by Pliny the Younger (c. 50 AD).  Pliny describes the haunting of a house in Athens by a ghost bound in chains, an archetype that would become familiar in later literature. 
Ghosts often appeared in the tragedies of the Roman writer Seneca, who would later influence the revival of tragedy on the Renaissance stage, particularly Thomas Kyd and Shakespeare. 
The One Thousand and One Nights, sometimes known as Arabian Nights, contains a number of ghost stories, often involving jinn (also spelled as djinn), ghouls and corpses.   In particular, the tale of "Ali the Cairene and the Haunted House in Baghdad" revolves around a house haunted by jinns.  Other medieval Arabic literature, such as the Encyclopedia of the Brethren of Purity, also contain ghost stories. 
The 11th century Japanese work The Tale of Genji contains ghost stories, and includes characters being possessed by spirits. 
English Renaissance Theatre Edit
In the mid-16th century, the works of Seneca were rediscovered by Italian humanists, and they became the models for the revival of tragedy. Seneca's influence is particularly evident in Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy and Shakespeare's Hamlet, both of which share a revenge theme, a corpse-strewn climax, and ghosts among the cast. The ghosts in Richard III also resemble the Senecan model, while the ghost in Hamlet plays a more complex role.  The shade of Hamlet's murdered father in Hamlet has become one of the more recognizable ghosts in English literature. In another of Shakespeare's works, Macbeth, the murdered Banquo returns as a ghost to the dismay of the title character. 
In English Renaissance theatre, ghosts were often depicted in the garb of the living and even in armour. Armour, being out-of-date by the time of the Renaissance, gave the stage ghost a sense of antiquity.  The sheeted ghost began to gain ground on stage in the 1800s because an armoured ghost had to be moved about by complicated pulley systems or lifts, and eventually became clichéd stage elements and objects of ridicule. Ann Jones and Peter Stallybrass, in Renaissance Clothing and the Materials of Memory, point out, "In fact, it is as laughter increasingly threatens the Ghost that he starts to be staged not in armor but in some form of 'spirit drapery'." An interesting observation by Jones and Stallybrass is that "at the historical point at which ghosts themselves become increasingly implausible, at least to an educated elite, to believe in them at all it seems to be necessary to assert their immateriality, their invisibility. [. ] The drapery of ghosts must now, indeed, be as spiritual as the ghosts themselves. This is a striking departure both from the ghosts of the Renaissance stage and from the Greek and Roman theatrical ghosts upon which that stage drew. The most prominent feature of Renaissance ghosts is precisely their gross materiality. They appear to us conspicuously clothed." 
Border ballads Edit
Ghosts figured prominently in traditional British ballads of the 16th and 17th centuries, particularly the “Border Ballads” of the turbulent border country between England and Scotland. Ballads of this type include The Unquiet Grave, The Wife of Usher's Well, and Sweet William's Ghost, which feature the recurring theme of returning dead lovers or children. In the ballad King Henry, a particularly ravenous ghost devours the king's horse and hounds before forcing the king into bed. The king then awakens to find the ghost transformed into a beautiful woman. 
Romantic era Edit
One of the key early appearances by ghosts was The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole in 1764, considered to be the first gothic novel.  However, although the ghost story shares the use of the supernatural with the Gothic novel, the two forms differ. Ghost stories, unlike Gothic fiction, usually take place in a time and location near to the audience of the story.
The modern short story emerged in Germany in the early decades of the 19th century. Kleist's The Beggar Woman of Locarno, published in 1810, and several other works from the period lay claim to being the first ghost short stories of a modern type. E. T. A. Hoffmann's ghost stories include "The Elementary Spirit" and "The Mines of Falun". 
The Russian equivalent of the ghost story is the bylichka.  Notables examples of the genre from the 1830s include Gogol's Viy and Pushkin's The Queen of Spades, although there were scores of other stories from lesser known writers, produced primarily as Christmas fiction. The Vosges mountain range is the setting for most ghost stories by the French writing team of Erckmann-Chatrian.
One of the earliest writers of ghost stories in English was Sir Walter Scott. His ghost stories, "Wandering Willie's Tale" (1824, first published as part of Redgauntlet) and The Tapestried Chamber (1828) eschewed the "Gothic" style of writing and helped set an example for later writers in the genre.
"Golden Age of the Ghost Story" Edit
Historian of the ghost story Jack Sullivan has noted that many literary critics argue a "Golden Age of the Ghost Story" existed between the decline of the Gothic novel in the 1830s and the start of the First World War.  Sullivan argues that the work of Edgar Allan Poe and Sheridan Le Fanu inaugurated this "Golden Age". 
Irish author Sheridan Le Fanu was one of the most influential writers of ghost stories.. Le Fanu's collections, such as In a Glass Darkly (1872) and The Purcell Papers (1880), helped popularise the short story as a medium for ghost fiction.  Charlotte Riddell, who wrote fiction as Mrs. J. H. Riddell, created ghost stories which were noted for adept use of the haunted house theme. 
The "classic" ghost story arose during the Victorian period, and included authors such as M. R. James, Sheridan Le Fanu, Violet Hunt, and Henry James. Classic ghost stories were influenced by the gothic fiction tradition, and contain elements of folklore and psychology. M. R. James summed up the essential elements of a ghost story as, “Malevolence and terror, the glare of evil faces, ‘the stony grin of unearthly malice', pursuing forms in darkness, and 'long-drawn, distant screams', are all in place, and so is a modicum of blood, shed with deliberation and carefully husbanded. ”. 
Famous literary apparitions from the Victorian period are the ghosts of A Christmas Carol, in which Ebenezer Scrooge is helped to see the error of his ways by the ghost of his former colleague Jacob Marley, and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come. In a precursor to A Christmas Carol Dickens published "The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton".  Dickens also wrote "The Signal-Man", another work featuring a ghost.
Jamesian style Edit
David Langford has described British author M. R. James as writing "the 20th century's most influential canon of ghost stories".  James perfected a method of story-telling which has since become known as Jamesian, which involved abandoning many of the traditional Gothic elements of his predecessors. The classic Jamesian tale usually includes the following elements:
- a characterful setting in an English village, seaside town or country estate an ancient town in France, Denmark or Sweden or a venerable abbey or university.
- a nondescript and rather naïve gentleman-scholar as protagonist (often of a reserved nature).
- the discovery of an old book or other antiquarian object that somehow unlocks, calls down the wrath, or at least attracts the unwelcome attention of a supernatural menace, usually from beyond the grave.
According to James, the story must "put the reader into the position of saying to himself, 'If I'm not very careful, something of this kind may happen to me!'"  He also perfected the technique of narrating supernatural events through implication and suggestion, letting his reader fill in the blanks, and focusing on the mundane details of his settings and characters in order to throw the horrific and bizarre elements into greater relief. He summed up his approach in his foreword to the anthology Ghosts and Marvels (Oxford, 1924): "Two ingredients most valuable in the concocting of a ghost story are, to me, the atmosphere and the nicely managed crescendo. . Let us, then, be introduced to the actors in a placid way let us see them going about their ordinary business, undisturbed by forebodings, pleased with their surroundings and into this calm environment let the ominous thing put out its head, unobtrusively at first, and then more insistently, until it holds the stage."
He also noted: "Another requisite, in my opinion, is that the ghost should be malevolent or odious: amiable and helpful apparitions are all very well in fairy tales or in local legends, but I have no use for them in a fictitious ghost story." 
Despite his suggestion (in the essay "Stories I Have Tried to Write") that writers employ reticence in their work, many of James's tales depict scenes and images of savage and often disturbing violence. 
19th-century American writers Edit
Influenced by British and German examples, American writers began to produce their own ghost stories. Washington Irving's short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1820), based on an earlier German folktale, features a Headless Horseman. It has been adapted for film and television many times, such as Sleepy Hollow, a successful 1999 feature film.  Irving also wrote "The Adventure of the German Student"  and Edgar Allan Poe wrote some stories which contain ghosts, such as "The Masque of the Red Death" and "Morella". 
In the later 19th century, mainstream American writers such as Edith Wharton, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman  and F. Marion Crawford  all wrote ghost fiction. Henry James also wrote ghost stories, including the famous The Turn of the Screw.  The Turn of the Screw has also appeared in a number of adaptations, notably the film The Innocents and Benjamin Britten's opera The Turn of the Screw.
The introduction of pulp magazines in the early 1900s created new avenues for ghost stories to be published, and they also began to appear in publications such as Good Housekeeping and The New Yorker. 
Comedies and operas Edit
Oscar Telgmann's opera Leo, the Royal Cadet (1885) includes Judge's Song about a ghost at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario. 
Oscar Wilde's comic short story "The Canterville Ghost" (1887) has been adapted for film and television on several occasions.
In the United States, prior to and during the First World War, folklorists Olive Dame Campbell and Cecil Sharp collected ballads from the people of the Appalachian Mountains, which included ghostly themes such as "The Cruel Ship's Carpenter", "The Suffolk Miracle", "The Unquiet Grave" and "The Wife of Usher's Well". The theme of these ballads was often the return of a dead lover. These songs were variants of traditional British ballads handed down by generations of mountaineers descended from the people of the Anglo-Scottish border region. 
Psychological horror Edit
In the Edwardian era, Algernon Blackwood (who combined the ghost story with nature mysticism),  Oliver Onions (whose ghost stories drew on psychological horror),  and William Hope Hodgson (whose ghost tales also contained elements of the sea story and science fiction) helped move the ghost story in new directions. 
Kaidan (怪談), which literally means “supernatural tale”  or "weird tale",  is a form of Japanese ghost story.  Kaidan entered the vernacular when a game called Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai became popular in the Edo period. The popularity of the game, as well as the acquisition of a printing press, led to the creation of a literary genre called Kaidanshu. Kaidan are not always horror stories, they can "be funny, or strange, or just telling about an odd thing that happened one time". 
Lafcadio Hearn published Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things in 1904 as a collection of Japanese ghost stories collected by Lafcadio Hearn, and later made into a film.  The book "is seen as the first introduction of Japanese superstition to European and American audiences." 
Modern era (1920 onward) Edit
Ghost Stories magazine, which contained almost nothing but ghost stories, was published from 1926 to 1932.
Beginning in the 1940s, Fritz Leiber wrote ghost tales set in modern industrial settings, such as "Smoke Ghost" (1941) and "A Bit of the Dark World" (1962).  Shirley Jackson made an important contribution to ghost fiction with her novel The Haunting of Hill House (1959).  
A noted modern British writer of ghost fiction is Ramsey Campbell.  Susan Hill also produced The Woman in Black (1983), a ghost novel that has been adapted for stage, television and film. 
Noël Coward's play Blithe Spirit, later made into a 1945 film, places a more humorous slant on the phenomenon of haunting of individuals and specific locations.
During the late 1890s the depiction of ghost and supernatural events appear in films. With the advent of motion pictures and television, screen depictions of ghosts became common, and spanned a variety of genres. The works of Shakespeare, Dickens and Wilde have all been made into cinematic versions, as well as adaptations of other playwrights and novelists. One of the well known short films was Haunted Castle directed by Georges Méliès in 1896. It is also considered as the first silent short film depicting ghost and supernatural events. 
In 1926 the novel Topper by Thorne Smith was published, which created the modern American ghost. When the novel was adapted into the 1937 movie Topper, it initiated a new film genre and would also influence television.  After the second World War, sentimental depictions of ghosts had become more popular in cinema than horror, and include the 1947 film The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, which was later adapted to television with a successful 1968–70 TV series.  Genuine psychological horror films from this period include 1944's The Uninvited, and 1945's Dead of Night. The film Blithe Spirit, based on a play by Noël Coward, was also produced in this period.  1963 saw one of the first major adaptations of a ghost novel, The Haunting, based on the well known novel The Haunting of Hill House. 
The 1970s saw screen depictions of ghosts diverge into distinct genres of the romantic and horror. A common theme in the romantic genre from this period is the ghost as a benign guide or messenger, often with unfinished business, such as 1989's Field of Dreams, the 1990 film Ghost, and the 1993 comedy Heart and Souls.  In the horror genre, 1980's The Fog, and the A Nightmare on Elm Street series of films from the 1980s and 1990s are notable examples of the trend for the merging of ghost stories with scenes of physical violence.  The 1990s saw a return to classic "gothic" ghosts, whose dangers were more psychological than physical. Examples of films are comedy and mystery from this period include 1984's “Ghostbusters”, 1999's The Sixth Sense and The Others. The 1990s also saw a lighthearted adaptation of the children's character Casper the Friendly Ghost, originally popular in cartoon form in the 1950s and early 1960s, in the feature film Casper.
Asian cinema has also produced horror films about ghosts, such as the 1998 Japanese film Ringu (remade in the US as The Ring in 2002), and the Pang brothers' 2002 film The Eye.  Indian ghost movies are popular not just in India, but in the Middle East, Africa, South East Asia and other parts of the world. Some Indian ghost movies such as the comedy / horror film Manichitrathazhu have been commercial successes, dubbed into several languages.  Generally the films are based on the experiences of modern people who are unexpectedly exposed to ghosts, and usually draw on traditional Indian literature or folklore. In some cases the Indian films are remakes of western films, such as Anjaane, based on Alejandro Amenábar's ghost story The Others. 
In fictional television programming, ghosts have been explored in series such as Ghost Whisperer, Medium, Supernatural, the television series adaptation of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). In animated fictional television programming, ghosts have served as the central element in series such as Casper the Friendly Ghost, Danny Phantom, and Scooby-Doo, as well as minor roles in various other television shows. [ which? ]
Popularized in part by the 1984 comedy franchise Ghostbusters, ghost hunting has been popularized as a hobby wherein reportedly haunted places are explored. The ghost hunting theme has been featured in paranormal reality television series, such as A Haunting, Ghost Adventures, Ghost Hunters, Ghost Hunters International, Ghost Lab, and Most Haunted. It is also represented in children's television by such programs as The Ghost Hunter based on the book series of the same name and Ghost Trackers. 
The Indian television series, Aahat, featured ghost and supernatural stories written by B. P. Singh. It was first aired on 5 October 1995 and ran for more than a decade, ending on 25 November 2010 with more than 450 episodes. 
S’mores Cheesecake Bars
Marshmallow cheesecake on top of a graham cracker crust with Hershey&rsquos chocolate on top! These S&rsquomores Cheesecake Bars are a cool and creamy way to get your s&rsquomores fix without a campfire.
If you guys only knew how much cheesecake has been happening around here.
It&rsquos like I was off the cheesecake train for the better part of a year and then all of a sudden I had to make alllllllllll the cheesecake. So the good news is that there are lots of awesome cheesecake recipes coming up!
And the better news is that these S&rsquomores Cheesecake Bars are at the top of my favorites list.
S&rsquomores Cheesecake Bars have MARSHMALLOW cheesecake. I thought about getting all s&rsquomores-ey with some torched marshmallows on top, but I was having a really hard time translating that into a technique you could duplicate at home without A) expensive equipment, or B) lighting your kitchen on fire, so I decided to skip all that mess and just marshmallow up the cheesecake. And we are doing it right with Fluff.
I love excuses to get out my big jar of Marshmallow Fluff!
So let&rsquos talk cheesecake for a sec. I think it scares people sometimes.
Bakeries and restaurants sell it for like a billion dollars a gold-plated slice, and recipes have all these scary crack-proof techniques that tell you to put your cake in a water bath, or use room temperature ingredients, or hold your breath and hop on one foot.
It feels HIGH MAINTENANCE.
But. Cheesecake is anything but high maintenance. These bars are fool proof. They will turn out without cracking &ndash just smooth, creamy cheesecake &ndash every. single. time.
My trick is the oven temperature. You start at 350°. Then you drop it to 275°. Then you just shut it off. The end. Not complicated.
It lets everything cook slowly and then cool slowly. No splits or cracks to cover. Just perfect and easy little bars of cheesecake.
Did you know it&rsquos S&rsquomores Week? Well now you do.
Some of my very talented friends dubbed this the week of all graham crackers topped with marshmallows and chocolate, and then they just told us to go creative crazy with it. There are sooooooooo many awesome ideas and recipes. You have found s&rsquomores heaven.
25 Backyard Camping Ideas That'll Make You Feel Like You're in the Great Outdoors
We're all dreaming of an epic summer vacation right now. At the same time, you and your family may be feeling like it's an impossible time to get away. But don't despair&mdashif you can't hit the open road for your annual beach getaway or car camping trip, the next best option is to simply open your back door.
That's right&mdashturning your backyard into your own personal campsite is a fun and pretty easy way to experience the great outdoors without packing the car and the bags and (perhaps the best perk of all) no one will ask, "Are we there yet?" (Another bonus: indoor bathrooms. Are you sold yet?) Create a backyard camp by pitching a tent, setting up the best camping chairs around a fire or one of these best camping stoves, and cook up some delicious campfire recipes (s'mores are a must-have sweet treat while telling spooky stories!). And if bugs are a problem in your backyard, don't forget the best bug zappers that really work!
These 25 backyard camping ideas will make your summer staycation a fun family memory&mdashand maybe even a tradition&mdashfor years to come.
You can go two ways here: Grab your best camping tent from the garage and pop it open, or get crafty and create a teepee for the kids.
Camping&mdasheven in the backyard&mdashcalls for a fire (you can't have s'mores without it, right?). To keep it contained safely, a sturdy flagstone firepit will keep the family warm and on a sugar high all night long.
Next-level the regular s'mores trio of ingredients&mdashgraham cracker, marshmallow, and chocolate square&mdashwith these exciting combinations. We'll have one of each! Try these campfire dessert treats for a change of pace.
For a fun camping activity, take the kids on a backyard scavenger hunt. Write the names of insects, flowers, and trees on paper bags, and let them make a run for it. Collect each specimen in the bags.
Add a sense of history to the campfire with a vintage thermos filled to the brim with delicious hot cocoa.
Sure, you could bring board games and cards outside, but if you're in your backyard anyway, why not break out some fun lawn games? All ages will enjoy a game of corn hole, washer toss, badminton, Frisbee, giant Jenga, croquet, and more.
Ketchup and mustard are classic, but if you have adventurous campers in your crew, add some creative toppings to those buns.
Simple string lights add a magical touch to backyard camping. Hang strands of lights from four poles&mdashmapping out your campsite&mdashor hang them inside your backyard tent. Check out backyard string light ideas for fun ways to light up your space all year long.
For a refreshing adult beverage, try the Bee's Knees Shandy, featuring lemon juice, gin, and beer. Use a lager, pilsner, or any other beer you like.
If the kids are old enough for some spooky fun, gather 'round the fire and see who can tell the best ghost story.
Save the bloodsuckers for scary campfire stories. Sage, mint, and lavender come together for an all-natural, non-toxic way to repel pesky mosquitoes&mdashmeaning no one will be itching to leave the backyard campsite.
Get the tutorial at Tilly's Nest.
For an elevated take on classic grilled burgers, try a crowd-pleasing sweet-and-savory pork burger with summer peaches and goat cheese.
We get it&mdashnot every family can be the von Trapps, but that's okay. Make a list of your family's favorite tunes, grab the guitar or ukulele, and use some spoons or pots and pans to keep the beat. Bonus points if there's a harmonica player in the fam!
So long, microwave. Your campfire is perfect for making popcorn the old-fashioned way.
Turn an old white bedsheet or a canvas drop cloth into the big screen for an outdoor movie night. Spread out blankets, throw pillows in front of the tent, and start the show with camp-themed movies like Troop Beverly Hills, The Parent Trap, or one of these classic kids' movies.
If you're in your backyard already, might as well cook up the best grilling recipes for dinner. Try these delicious bourbon BBQ glazed pork chops your family will love.
Become a firefly phenom with a simple keychain flashlight, a Mason jar, and some DIY catchers. But remember: Once the light show is over, it's time for the fireflies to return to the wild.
Get the tutorial at Positively Splendid.
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Giant Red Mouth
Timmy was out for a walk one day when he got lost. He started to backtrack, to try to find his way home, when suddenly it began to rain. The rain came pouring down, bucketfuls of water, and Timmy was quickly getting soaked. He started to run, still not quite knowing where to go.
He came across a house that was clearly deserted. All the windows were empty, no lights were on. He ran up to the house to see if he could get shelter from the cold, driving rain. There was nowhere near the house to shelter him from the rain. No eaves, no porch roof. The only way to stay dry would be to get inside, and as he could tell no one lived there he didn’t think anyone would mind much. He tried the door, and it was unlocked. Timmy was happy to be inside.
He sat near a window, trying to dry off a bit, when he heard a voice behind him. “Do you know what I do with my giant red mouth and my long purple fingers?”
Timmy whipped around and saw a huge, awful monster, with horns on top of its head, purple fur, beady little eyes, long fingers and crooked fingernails, and a giant red mouth filled with pointy teeth.
Terrified, Timmy turned to run down the hallway. The monster ran after him, his giant feet crashing along the floor behind him. Timmy made it to a doorway, ran through, and shut the door behind him.
From the other side of the door, Timmy heard the monster getting louder. “Do you know what I do with my giant red mouth and my long purple fingers?” The monster was too close, so Timmy ran, out the other side of the room and into a bathroom. He shut the door behind him just as the monster caught up with him.
The monster was even louder now. “Do you know what I do with my giant red mouth and my long purple fingers?”
Timmy had no place to hide except the bathroom closet. He crawled inside and closed the door behind him as the monster burst into the bathroom. The monster was just outside the door, and Timmy had nowhere else to run. He made himself as small as he possibly could, and held his breath.
For a moment it was quiet, and then the monster tore the closet door open. Timmy was trapped. The monster’s breath was on his face as it asked again, “Do you know what I do with my giant red mouth and my long purple fingers?”
Timmy could barely squeak out an answer. “No,” he said.
“Then I’ll show you,” said the monster.
(Put your finger horizontally across your lips and flap it up and down while making a “B” sound. Make a funny face as you do it, and get a big laugh from your audience!)
S’mores Cookie Cups
S’mores are a favorite here all year round! I’m sure they’re a hit at your house too, but it’s not always convenient to have a campfire. Here are some delectable S’mores cookie cup morsels of honey grahams, Hershey’s chocolate and marshmallow that everyone is sure to love!
How to Make S’mores Cookie Cups
Carefully break apart two Hershey’s chocolate bars into individual squares, set aside. Cut a dozen marshmallows in half and place the cut side UP. If you place them cut-side down they’ll stick to your plate.
In a small bowl combine the melted butter, graham cracker crumbs and powdered sugar, mixing well. Spoon a tablespoon or so of the graham cracker mixture into each cup of a mini muffin tin.
Press an indentation in the center of each cup, you could use the bottom of a shot glass, a wooden dowel, a small spice jar etc. Be sure to press them in DEEPLY, to compact the filling else they’ll crumble when you take them out.
Place in oven for about 4 minutes. Remove and immediately place a single square of chocolate in each cup:
Then immediately top with a marshmallow half. Place the cut side of the marshmallow DOWN on the chocolate. Return to the oven and bake for about 4 minutes, or until marshmallows puff up a bit:
Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack for ten minutes or so. While they are cooling, melt the remaining two Hershey chocolate bars. Gently break apart into pieces, place them in microwave safe bowl for about 25 seconds.
Remove from microwave, stirring until the chocolate is smooth. Be sure to avoid overheating the chocolate as it will separate if high heat is used. Drop a dollop of melted Hershey’s chocolate onto the top of each s’more cookie cup.
Using a butter-knife, gently loosen the edges of each of the s’more bites, then lift them out and place them on a plate. If they are still hot, they’ll crumble, so make sure they’ve cooled sufficiently.
These will last (Loosely covered) for several days. Ah, who am I kidding. These will be completely devoured in a matter of minutes and you’re probably better off making at least two batches right away.
They taste even better when cooked over an open flame.
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How To Make S’mores In Australia
It’s just past sunset. The air is cooling quickly on this autumn evening. We’ve made a spontaneous decision to have dinner over a campfire, so mom and dad are packing the necessities in the back of dad’s black Ford Ranger that I’ll always remember with its big rainbow ࡪ” decal on the doors. I run off to tell my friends about the exciting news that we’re going to light a campfire my friends are our two dogs, Missy (a Collie/coyote cross) and Mac (a Sheltie). They’re just as excited as I am. Mom calls for me and I hop into dad’s truck, next to dad. Mom sits on the other side of me, while Missy and Mac chase after the truck as dad drives into the woods.
Dad parks his truck on the top of the hill overlooking our house. The view is splendid, although we can’t see much of it it’s getting steadily darker as the sun falls further and further past the horizon. We gather some stones and arrange a roughly-shaped circle in the grass where our fire will be. Mom and I pick some branches off a tree (we choose fresh, moist branches) to use as roasting sticks and dad prepares the fire.
We bring our stick collection to dad, who pulls out his pocket knife and begins to sharpen the ends of the sticks for poking our food onto. I take a look at our dinner – mom and dad have brought hot dogs, hot dog buns, potato chips, ketchup, mustard, drinks and, of course, marshmallows.
The fire eventually grows bigger, brighter and warmer. Mom unfolds our lawn chairs so we can sit around the fire and warm up. Missy and Mac are running about, sniffing the trails of the rabbits, turkeys, coyotes and deer that inhabit our woods. Mom and I feel a little nervous we’re spooked by all the strange sounds we hear in the dark around us – rustling in the weeds, twigs snapping. The dogs are also feeling a little paranoid, constantly sniffing the ground around us. I feel safe, though, because we have dad to protect us.
Dad hands us our roasting sticks and we thread our hot dogs onto them to roast. I stand as far away from the fire as possible, doing a good impression of Inspector Gadget with my roasting stick hanging off the end of my extendo-arm I am scared of getting burned! Mom and dad tell me not to worry as they roast their hot dogs until they’re black. I don’t like burnt dogs so I draw in my extendo-arm just before my hot dog is starting to blister. I carefully place the hot, hot dog into a bun, pour over the ketchup and relish (no mustard, please!) and bite into it.
Mmmm. So much better than a microwaved or boiled hot dog. A campfire-roasted hot dog, roasted on a stick fresh from the tree, eaten under the stars and around the glow of a warm fire. I can’t think of a better way to eat my dinner. I munch the rest of my hot dog and chips while mom and dad finish roasting their own hot dogs.
It’s very dark now, and although Missy and Mac have settled down, I still hear those strange noises. But mom and dad have finished their hot dogs and chips and it’s time to roast marshmallows. We each poke a column of marshmallows on our roasting sticks and suspend them over the fire. Again, I stand as far away as possible to avoid any sparks from the fire colliding with my skin. As with my hot dogs, I don’t like burned marshmallows, so I allow them to toast gently, just until they’re slightly brown. I pull my stick from the fire and test how soft the marshmallows are with my fingers. Yep, they’re ready to eat. Mom likes her marshmallows black, so she keeps hers over the fire. I tease her about how yucky the burnt taste is and then pull my browned marshmallows off the stick with my teeth.
How delicious this is! The outside is crunchy and the inside is melty and gooey. I finish my column of marshmallows and then promptly align the next batch on my stick.
After our second helpings of marshmallows, we pack dad’s truck up again with our gear, garbage and leftover food. Dad puts out the fire and we climb into the truck. Missy and Mac run back home, chasing the truck. When we get inside the house, I look out the window to the hill we had just come from. It’s so dark that I can’t even see it, but I don’t need to see it that night, that experience, now has a permanent place in my memory.
What a wonderful evening. A little cold, and a little scary, but who cares? You can’t beat a campfire dinner. And I can remember it just as if it happened, perhaps, a month ago.
We may not have made s’mores over the fire (and now I wonder why on Earth we never did!), but I have had plenty of s’mores in my lifetime. When you’re not able to make a fire, you have to devise other ways to make s’mores I’ve made them in the microwave, the oven and yes, even over a candle.
As you know, s’mores are a sandwich, of sorts, of graham crackers, melty chocolate and gooey marshmallows. The first ever recorded recipe for s’mores, then known as “Some Mores”, is printed in the book Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts, from 1927. S’mores are, indeed, a favorite American campfire treat they’ve even got their own special day – August 10 is National S’mores Day!
You may also know that I am American. Yes, I live in Australia, but my heart is American. I miss lots of things about the U.S. and s’mores is just one of those things. When I first moved here, I was saddened to learn that graham crackers did not exist in the Land Down Under. I had to make a request to my mom to send me some graham crackers once!
As the years went by, I eventually discovered another cookie (er, well, cookies are known as “biscuits” in Australia) that was sort of similar to graham crackers and I would crumble up these biscuits to use in pie crusts, etc. But I never found a biscuit that was a good enough substitute for graham crackers…
Until I stumbled across a s’mores recipe on taste.com.au. Of course the recipe was written by the lovely Valli Little, who else! I couldn’t believe she was making s’mores with digestive biscuits. I had no idea what a digestive biscuit was, or how it could possibly be used for s’mores. Sure, I had heard of digestive biscuits before, but I thought they were some sort of biscuit that was meant to aid in digestion and they’d taste icky and weird.
I trusted Valli, however, and tested the recipe myself. When I brought home two packages of digestive biscuits – one coated in dark chocolate, the other plain – I quickly opened them and gave the biscuits a nibble. Hm. Oh yes, they could be used like graham crackers! They do actually taste similar! They weren’t icky and weird at all! And right there on the box was a disclaimer that these biscuits do not aid in digestion in any way whatsoever!
So I made my first s’more in years, varying from Valli’s recipe a bit. I used the chocolate-coated biscuits and I used normal-sized white marshmallows. I made them in the microwave, not the oven. And wow. Delicious. Okay, it’s still not a traditional s’more, but it’s the closest I’m going to get, and I was very happy with it.
For the purpose of this post, I went all out and made s’mores in the oven with both the chocolate-coated biscuits and plain biscuits. I’m sure you can tell which is which in the photos (the choc-coated is the s’more on top). I used a combination of Lindt chocolate in milk and 70% chocolate for the plain s’more.
Side note – when making s’mores, if I’m using Lindt chocolate on a plain biscuit, I prefer milk chocolate. But, if I’m using the chocolate-coated biscuits to make s’mores, I prefer the dark chocolate-coated biscuits over the milk chocolate ones.
So there, Australia. If you thought you’d never taste s’mores, give this recipe a go. It’s the perfect simple and indulgent treat and, without a doubt, would taste even better when the marshmallows are roasted over a campfire.
Tip: try adding a bit of peanut butter to your s’mores for even more taste indulgence!
The Missing Friday
Early one morning, Errol sullenly awoke to what he thought would be another gloomy Friday. He’d looked at the weather report, and rain was 100% on the cards. He vaguely remembered wishing the day would disappear – if only!
Aside from this, it was another school day, and his big project was due! He smacked the alarm button none-too-softly, almost in spite, to switch it off, and rolled out of bed with a protracted yawn bordering on a prolonged groan.
Moodily pushing open his bedroom curtains, he squinted and froze in surprise. What was this? The sun was out, and so were kids in the park, as were a surprising number of families having picnics and dogs taking walks! What trickery was this, he thought?
Thinking something amiss, he rubbed his eyes and pinched himself, just double-checking that he was, in actual fact, awake. However, eyes reopened, and thigh pinched, he looked down upon the same scene!
A Welcome Delivery
No, no, he thought to himself, he must be confused. He slipped on his robe and slippers, padding down the stairs to explore further. The house was quiet, so where were mum and dad?
At this point, he clearly heard snoring from his parent’s room. Asleep? But, it was late he’d already lost 10 minutes wandering around they should have been up at least an hour ago!
All of a sudden, he noticed the newspaper jammed into the door slot. But wasn’t it only delivered on Saturdays? He slowly approached the door, giving himself another painful pinch for posterity.
In his hands, he held the weekly newspaper – it was unmistakable, the date clearly emblazoned at the top “Saturday, 1 June 2021.” It was at this point that he realized he’d mislaid Friday.
Yesterday is Not Even but a Memory!
How could it be? He had no memory of it, not a single thought, smell, regret, or embarrassing remembrance! Where had he gone, who had he seen? All these questions and more whirled through his head!
Most importantly, what had happened to his project? He quickly ran to the garage where he’d left it. Gone! It was gone. His heart skipped a beat. Hm, he had to find it otherwise, he’d fail! But wasn’t it Saturday, so he’d already failed if he didn’t hand it in himself on time?
He slowly padded back to his room in disbelief and befuddlement. He had important work to do – he had to lay out a plan to find out what had happened to Friday and his all-important project!
First up, a room search. Then, he’d ask his parents to make him the same breakfast. Lastly, if all else failed, he’d need to quiz his friends without making them suspicious!
Now, Where Did I Put That Memory?
It was at this point that he noticed something very strange – a trail of silvery, slobbery slime! It stretched from the end of his bed to the door. Why hadn’t he noticed it before?
He bolted upright, quick as a fox, running to the door, where he spied the rest of the trail, leading right to the stairs of the attic!
Oh no, he said, why the attic, his least favourite, creepiest place to go. Oh well, this was no time for hesitance or cowardliness – Friday must be found!
He slowly climbed the stairs, creakily opening the door to the room. It was slightly dark, so it took some time for his eyes to adjust.
A Fondness for Memories!
Nothing could have prepared Errol for the scene he bore witness to as his eyes finally adjusted to the light, though! There, sitting perkily, if not regally, on an old, abandoned tattered, torn, and weathered chair, was a being unlike any he’d seen before!
It had big, fuzzy ears with curly hairs, twirling whiskers, and blue eyes that were cloudy and a bit lost, as if partially blind. A monster! At this point, the monster gleefully hummed and giggled to himself, seemingly very pleased about something!
Why thought Errol? It must be the curious object laid out in front of the monster on the table! What was it? It appeared to be a crystal ball, except kind of jiggly, wiggling around on a plate.
Inside the ball, Errol noticed a curious scene unfolding – a classroom. Why was that his project? It must be! Therefore, was that also his lost Friday? It had to be! A memory in the flesh, how peculiar! He gasped before he could think twice about it.
Who Are You?
Startled, the monster twisted his head, looking directly at Errol, who froze in fear. It seemed he had been lost in thought but was suddenly well aware of Errol. “Well, well,” he said, “if it isn’t the source of my memory lunch!”
“Lu-lu-l-lunch?” stammered Errol, “wh-what do you mean, lu-lu-lunch?”
The monster replied, “I am the memory monster! I eat memories for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, dessert – and just for fun sometimes, to be honest! I come and steal all the days and moments that kids wish they’d never experienced!”
“But, that’s my memory,” said Errol, gaining a bit of confidence now that the monster hadn’t immediately tried to eat him – “You can’t just take it without asking!”
To which the memory monster replied, “I’ll do as I please, speaking of which, I’m hungry!” With that and a peculiar cackle, he picked up a strange fork made of what appeared to be glass and reached forward, ready to spear and gobble up Friday!”
A Tussle with a Memory Monster!
At this point, Errol yelled, not even caring if he woke his parents. He couldn’t have it! The memory monster wouldn’t eat his Friday, no matter how gloomy it was!
He ran forwards, knocking the fork out of the monster’s hand, and grabbed the memory. All of a sudden, the attic started to fade, making way for another sight – Errol’s room! And, strangely, the sound of his alarm?
But wait, wasn’t it much later? He’d already switched off his alarm. At this point, he heard a welcome sound – rain, rain belting down onto the roof! He also heard the kettle and footsteps below. He sighed. His parents – they were up.
It must be Friday! Yes, he was right. And, thankfully, not a single memory monster in sight! What a relief. But, wait, one final test! He got up, shoved his slippers and robe on, and ran as quick as he could to the garage. His project, yes, it was right there where he’d left it. He sighed in relief!
From that day on, Errol never wished a day gone, no, not even a moment. Even if sad, gloomy, or difficult, he wanted to be present for all of it! And, make sure the memory monster never came a-knocking, of course!