Camp cooking

I love camping!  and am inspired to become a great camp cook.  The standard rules of a home kitchen do not apply here, well, most of them.  You cannot just open the cupboard and wonder what you feel like making.  No, there is planning, shopping, packing, and preparing involved here.  Less is better, as space is always limited, and you don’t want to have to pack the leftovers all back home.  But bringing all the necessary ingredients is essential.  It’s super lame to have to go all the way back into town, to pay elevated prices for some minor ingredient you already have at home, but forgot.

I have learned to stick to the basics.  Everyone loves hotdogs, baked beans, and chips while camping, which can serve as either a lunch or dinner (or breakfast, if you ask my son or husband).  Bacon, eggs, pancakes, and hot cocoa makes both parents and kids excited for camp breakfast, and is also so easy.  Then I usually fill the gaps in with a prepared lunch for the first day, such as sandwiches or pasta salad and fruit, and a simple dinner, such as chicken kebabs or salmon patties and mashed potatoes.  The foil pouch dinner is also a fun, simple camp dinner, where you fill a foil square with diced meat of your choice, vegetable (potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, etc work well), a dash of olive oil and some seasonings and toss it in the hot coals of the fire for 30-40 minutes, depending on the intensity of heat coming from the coals.

I am also realizing the versatility and wonders of my cast iron skillet.  I mean, I loved it before, in my home kitchen, and use it more than any other pan.  But didn’t really understand it’s full capability until a few years ago, when we spent three months camping down the coast of Washington and Oregon.  We needed something to cook over the fire with, to steam some, straight out of Willapa Bay, steamer clams.  They were the best clams either of us ever had in our whole lives, one of those “best meals of your life” type clams.  The next morning we made bacon, pancakes, and eggs in it, which turned out just as wonderfully.  The skillet has been my favorite camp kitchen tool ever since.

p418005222(my skillet, after a hard morning’s work.)

Along with my skillet, my camp stove is essential.  I like to have the ability to quickly boil water for cocoa, make myself some coffee, or heat some dogs.  I think the both are essential and equally wonderful.  Though, I have to admit, I do have dreams of owning a CampChef (industrial-sized propane camp stove), my little Coleman stove fits our needs just perfectly.  Our car is jam-packed as it is, there is no room for a larger stove, or the full sized propane tank needed to fuel it.  And I am really only cooking for four people.  Maybe some day, when I start working as a personal camp chef, then I can rationalize the purchase.

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For now, things are working smoothly, and I feel I am growing into a better camp cook.  Little food returned home with us, and everyone ate well.  Now I can start planning for our Mother’s Day trip, with friends.  Wonder what the menu will be?

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Categories: travel

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