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Cooking while Camping

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CeeBee May 20, 2008 05:07 AM

So I just saw the Chow feature about campfire cooking and realized that I really don't have a plan for this weekend's upcoming camping trip. There's just going to be two of us, we're car camping in the Catskills from Friday-Monday. Does anyone have anything to add to the ideas on the feature thread? Something nicer than usual camping fare would be nice, preferrably without relying on dairy too much. So far on the menu: pancakes for breakfast one morning, kielbasa on the grill for dinner one night (make extra to throw into homfries the next morning with potatoes that were cooked in the campfire). Lunch, dinner, snack ideas all appreciated.
One other thing...that thread mentioned bringing eggs in an olive jar to prevent spoilage. Anyone know what that's all about?
TIA!

  1. e
    EdwardAdams May 20, 2008 05:22 AM

    Eggs will keep in the shell just find without spoilage for a weekend even outside the cooler. Car camping does not limit your menu much since you can bring just about whatever you need for a recipe. Baking is out unless you want to master the dutch oven, something that only pays off when out for more than a week, IMO. Sticking with grilling for cooking meats is a good idea since it limits cleanup, the real pain when camping. Keep those kielbasa away from live flame though unless you like the taste of carbon.

    1. l
      lexpatti May 20, 2008 06:14 AM

      One of our annual camping trips, I made a great muffelatta (they are better over time, giving the flavors a chance to meld).
      http://www.nolacuisine.com/2005/07/17...

      3 Replies
      1. re: lexpatti
        decolady Aug 23, 2010 08:09 PM

        Muffalettas are certainly one of our favourites for camping or picnicking. Delicious and reminds me of home.

        1. re: decolady
          Phurstluv Aug 23, 2010 08:44 PM

          LOLVE muffalettas - Great call, lex!!

        2. re: lexpatti
          mariacarmen Aug 28, 2010 09:38 PM

          another fan of the muffaletta! i made that last year for lunch - they do benefit from hanging out a whole day. I also made these on the same trip, just for 2 of us: http://www.gourmet.com/recipes/2000s/...
          started them at home, threw them on the fire for dinner. They're my favorite prep for ribs.

        3. c
          charlesbois May 20, 2008 06:31 AM

          Hmm, sounds like you'll be doing campfire cooking rather than camp stove cooking. I love to do foil packet dinners in the campfire, corn on the cob steamed in their husks, baked potatoes in coals and really anything on a stick you hold over the fire. How bout some shellfish, like shrimp or lobsty...they cook quickly and easily either in boiling water or on the grill... For snacks or lunches, I always bring summer sausage, good cheddar and triscuits for ease of preparation.

          Really, as previous poster said, wtih car camping the sky is the limit on what you can bring, as long as you have a good cooler for some perishables.

          2 Replies
          1. re: charlesbois
            c
            CeeBee May 20, 2008 09:25 AM

            I like the sausage/cheddar/cracker combo...I was struggling with lunch ideas and really didn't want to go with PB&J!

            1. re: CeeBee
              s
              SteveG May 20, 2008 12:39 PM

              I'm personally not a big fan of summer sausage, so I usually bring a nice dry cured salami. Any dry cured sausage should be fine without refrigeration, just don't buy pre-sliced stuff.

              It's not light, but it's very compact, flavorful, and all the weight is protein, fat, and salt, which are exactly what you need when you're outdoors exercising.

              I've also been fine with regular cheddar in my backpack for over a week; I think sharp cheddar is reasonably stable, but a stinky cheese that ripens would probably get out of control after a few days away from low temperatures.

          2. Morganna May 20, 2008 06:37 AM

            We always took hot dogs and made roll ups with them. Freeze a package of hot dogs and use them in the cooler to keep the cooler cold. When they've thawed, then wrap them in tortillas with cheese (if you like), and hold closed with tooth picks (if necessary) and cook over the fire. The tortilla gets browned and crisp and the hot dog is heated through, and the cheese gets all melty.

            We also liked packets of instant hot cider for the cool mornings, using hot water from the fire to mix it up.

            1. aussiewonder May 21, 2008 06:42 AM

              Last weekend our camping menu consisted of: Friday dinner - chicken tagine w/ spinach and quenioa added to the pot 10 mins before the end of cooking (one pot, all precooked and just reheated upon arrival); Sat am - eggs and baked beans on toast w/ fresh fruit on the side; lunch we had cold 'oven fried' chicken (i usually take a pre-roasted or store bought chicken) and salad; Sat dinner - we grilled corn, potatoes, rack of lamb which we marinated for a couple of days pre-trip, salad. Sun breakfast - fruit salad and scrambled egg wraps.

              Usually i try and make a one-pot stew or casserole style meal for the evening of arrival. Something that can be easily reheated on the stove or the fire whilst we set up OR if it's pouring w/ rain and that's not an option, something that can be eaten cold. I always bring a plethora of fruit, salad ingredients and hard boiled eggs. I also try and marinate as much stuff as i can before hand and pack it in ziplocs on the ice and if i can cook off a chicken or make a quiche etc...it helps to have quick easy food for lunches. If time permits we'll also half cook potatoes and wrap in foil or blanch vegies that can be reheated quickly and easily.

              7 Replies
              1. re: aussiewonder
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                grant.cook May 21, 2008 11:42 AM

                Depends on how fancy.. the foil ideas from up above are pretty reliable - just don't cook anything acidic in them.. heck, you could roast cornish game hens in foil (and those little buggers are great little "ice packs" for keeping a cooler cold). Kebabs are good too, if you have a rack or grate to hold them..

                I love dutch oven cooking - cast iron, with a rimmed lid, so you can drop coals on top.. but be sure to understand if you are allowed to have open flames in your campsite. Most allow it, but some don't.. a few, such as Yosemite, even ban collecting wood in some of the more well-camped areas, so you occasionally have to bring your own.

                Other than that, boiling-water-dishes are always pretty easy.. or breakfast on a nice griddle. Rub liquid soap on the bottom of pans going over an open flame or coals - makes cleaning off the black soot a LOT easier.

                I know you aren't in the wilderness, but make sure to keep your food in the cooler INSIDE the car - critters (or bears) do hone in on food like a missle, so no harm in playing it safe and removing temptation. That was a hard lesson to try to teach to young Boy Scouts imploring them NOT to keep candy bars or snacks in their tents in bear country.

                Coffee is easy if you have a french press... bring a decent cutting board, as you won't likely have a good work surface, and don't try to make something that requires things like: egg foams, maintaining a low simmer for an hour, pureeing (unless you love cranking a food mill), etc. But in some cases you can do that at home the night before - like browning of meats, making a good tomato-based sauce, getting things into a marinade bag, etc.

                1. re: grant.cook
                  susancinsf Aug 28, 2010 09:30 PM

                  I realize this is an older post in a resurrected thread, but still, to anyone reading this who is not familiar with bears: please do *not* follow this advice. The cooler should never go in the car: bear can still smell it and could destroy your car to get it. In my neck of the woods (the Sierra) it happens often. For that matter, in many parks in our area (such as Yosemite) you could get a heavy fine for keeping food in your car, it is specifically against the rules. These days, nearly all camp sites in bear country in California have bear proof metal boxes, and you should store your food there.

                  1. re: susancinsf
                    paulj Aug 29, 2010 09:46 AM

                    Not all bears are as smart as the Yosemite ones. Yes, if the park provides bear proof boxes, use them. More generally, follow the guidelines provided by the park.

                    For example, Canadian National Parks have a 'clean camp policy', meaning you should not leave any food or food related items out when you are away from the campsite. The usual garbage can is a bear proof design, and a few campgrounds are surrounded by an electric fence. But in general they don't have problems with bears tearing into cars.

                    If there aren't bear proof boxes, your car is the best bear-resistant container you are likely to have, especially for large objects like a cooler. Coolers don't fit in those bear proof canisters mean for backpackers. It is also hard to hang a cooler from a tree.

                    1. re: paulj
                      Veggo Aug 29, 2010 10:12 AM

                      Bears get into cars when a window has been left open a crack. It lets the food smell out, and gives the bear something to grip. They don't punch.
                      When I bought a house in the Spanish Peaks, I was uninformed and paid the "stupid tax" for leaving a can of bacon fat on the kitchen window sill, and for leaving a hummingbird feeder out at night. Two times.
                      At Yellowstone I strung a cooler in a sack from a tree a safe distance from our sleeping area. In Lake Placid, a black bear tore apart my entire campsite and stole a sirloin steak and a bag of potato chips in the middle of the night. Hey, we are guests in their home.

                      1. re: paulj
                        John E. Aug 29, 2010 10:26 AM

                        The clean camp policy works ok during the daytime. When you're sleeping at night, not so much.

                        We have a lot of black bears in Minnesota. If you're in bear country the best advice is to hang the food from the branch of a tree (in a sack, not a cooler, as far out onto the branch as possible and at least 10 feet off the ground. A bear can't reach it there. A bear can destroy your car however, even without the window open at all. The bear can smell the food in the car with the window and cooler lid closed.

                        1. re: paulj
                          paulj Aug 29, 2010 10:48 AM

                          The Ca NP clean camp regulations

                          http://www.pc.gc.ca/docs/v-g/oursgest...

                          Whether bears are major problem in your area depends a lot on past history. If through past carelessness by campers, bears associate humans with easy pickings, they will be more aggressive. Where the association is weak, they are more likely to avoid contact with humans.

                          Hanging food while car camping is probably not a good idea, especially in established campgrounds. Repeated use of a branch can damage the bark. I have seen permanent hanging rigs in a few walkin campgrounds, though the boxes are a more effective and durable tool.

                        2. re: susancinsf
                          b
                          Beckyleach Aug 29, 2010 10:21 AM

                          We really like the metal bear boxes because they're almost a camp pantry AND you can set your Coleman stove on top and use as a cooking station, too. We've seen them in Minnesota and Wyoming, so far...

                    2. k
                      KrisJoy Aug 23, 2010 07:22 PM

                      We always have a group of 10 or more but last weekend while we were camping we had BBQ pork chops and mac. salad, chips, pickles. We also had french toast for breakfast with eggs and bacon. Depending on the weather you could have chilli one night and then make chilli dogs for lunch the next day (just a quick thought). Enjoy!!

                      1. Veggo Aug 23, 2010 08:32 PM

                        I learned the eggs in the olive jar maneuver back in Boy Scouts. It's not to preserve them, but when you crack the eggs and pour them into the jar, later you can pour them out one at a time - they don't get mixed together. You could fry a couple sunny side up with yolks intact the next morning.

                        1. Hank Hanover Aug 23, 2010 11:44 PM

                          What's the matter with steaks? and baked potatoes. That was always a camp out favorite of mine.

                          You could always premake some kind of braise like a stew. Pack it in plastic storage containers and reheat it on the fire.

                          I would suggest a braise cooked at the campsite but I suspect you don't want to spend 3 hours tending a fire.

                          A big batch of pulled pork stored in plastic containers would work well, too. You could buy the frozen containers of pulled pork or barbecued brisket if you don't want to work that hard.

                          1. t
                            themags Aug 24, 2010 04:39 AM

                            I love my Rome Industries Pie Iron http://www.pieiron.com/ - you can make sweet or savoury toasties right in the campfire. I probably like it for desserts more - just bring bread, butter and a can of pie filling - cherry, apple etc. Also it ain't camping without at least one sloppy joe night - bring on the Manwich! If you want to go upmarket I suggest ground Bison Manwich :-)

                            1. m
                              miss louella Aug 24, 2010 09:03 AM

                              One of my very favorite camping foods is wrapping a dowel with biscuit dough and "baking" it over a fire (like you do hot dogs). Love to slide a sausage where he dowel used to be, but sweeter folks enjoy jam or something similar.

                              Agree on the options being wide open when car camping, and really like using an actual fire to make delicious food. (Doesn't hurt that just about everything tastes better al fresco with the scent of woodsmoke in the air.)

                              1. mamachef Aug 24, 2010 11:29 AM

                                I planned and packed the food for an entire fraternity who went car-camping. They loved Kebabs; I kept it to beef for safety's sake. Clearly you need a good cooler, but anyhoo:
                                Cut up bite-size chunks of steak. Put into marinade of choice. Store in 2 ziplocs. Fill a gallon ziploc 1/4 with water, and soak wooden skewers.
                                Bring: cherry tomatoes, blanched/peeled pearl onions, zucchini chunks, etc. The night you want kebabs, thread meat alternating with vegies and grill. Rice isn't easy to make at campsite, but you could precook pilaf at home, bring it in a ziploc,

                                1. m
                                  mickeygee Aug 24, 2010 04:54 PM

                                  My 2 day camping menu consists of:
                                  Chicken & Veggies in foil packet (easy to throw on fire pit while setting up tent)
                                  Campfire chili (made in a dutch oven, and simmers for about 2 hours while we sit around and drink lots of wine)
                                  Pancakes & bacon/sausage for breakfast
                                  Oatmeal (for the day we're leaving, so not much clean up)
                                  My lunches vary, but I've done pasta salad, PB&J on a thick, hearty black bread, burgers and dogs, sausage sandwiches and soups.
                                  And of course, smores!

                                  1. c
                                    callmijane Aug 24, 2010 07:36 PM

                                    A good thing to do is make something ahead of time, and then freeze it- things I do are pasta sauce, soups or stews or chili. Helps keep the cooler colder, and much less work!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: callmijane
                                      momskitchen Aug 24, 2010 08:26 PM

                                      I love dutch oven cooking for camping.....here's one of the many recipes I have on my blog motherskitchen.blogspot.com:

                                      Mom's Tasty Flank Steak

                                      Marinade
                                      1/2 c. soy sauce
                                      1/4 c. olive oil
                                      1/4 c. lemon juice - bottled is fine for this recipe
                                      1 T. thyme
                                      3 green onions, sliced
                                      A big flank steak

                                      Place marinade ingredients in a plastic bag, and add steak. Freeze in marinade, and pack it in your cooler. (if you are making this at home, marinate it in the fridge overnight) At camp, put the beef and marinade in a 12 inch dutch oven with 10 coals on the bottom, 14 on top for about 30 minutes. (at home, broil it in a pan with the marinade until desired doneness) Serve with noodles. Yummy

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