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May 13, 2010 11:08 AM

Home Cooking in the Wild...

I hope this is the correct place to post such a question - here it is: I'll be camping for a few days this summer in a pretty remote location - and I've been tasked with creating a menu for 10-12 people for three days. I'll have access to a fire pit (if we make one) as well as one or (hopefully) two camping stoves.

We'll have to bring everything in and pack everything out when we leave - so I'm envisioning some big coolers for ingredients, etc. I'm flying out there at the last minute so prepping things before hand is sort of tricky (I may have one night to prep stuff). Ok, so the question is, does anyone have any good ideas for some meals I could put together in the middle of nowhere? One thing I've done before while camping is macadamia nut pesto with chicken - it's easy enough to boil water, pan sear sliced chicken, etc.

Do you good people have any other ideas or dishes you have tried while camping that I should take a shot at? Many thanks in advance for your ideas and inspiration!


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  1. If you are actually packing it in and not driving to the campsite, you should look into the freeze dried camping food. It is fairly expensive but a lot lighter than regular food.

    Make sure the stuff you do bring in coolers is special so that it is worth it.

    You could also try to military MRE (meals ready to eat) packages. They can be cooked right in the same packaging they come in.

    If you find that you are able to drive to the campsite or that someone will be bringing pack mules then I recommend bring a camp style dutch oven. These are cast Iron with feet and a sealable lid that you can put coals onto. They also have a bail to hang them off a rod.

    2 Replies
    1. re: tonka11_99

      Hey there Tonka, I was thinking about a dutch oven type of set-up - heavy but could be well worth it in the long run. I don't think folks will go for the MRE route, although if it was just my wife and myself, that would be a good way to go!

      We are packing it in, in a rather unusual way, basically loading all of our gear on a boat, then getting dropped off at a remote beach and swimming (probably about 50-100 feet) into shore and camping mor or less right on the beach. All gear is in dry bags, etc. Coolers just get swum/surfed in to shore.

      So we don't really have to lug things too far... which is good!

      1. re: jeexbit

        Swimming with a 12-15 pound cast iron dutch oven sounds like a shortcut to disaster. But if you are going to be on a lake. Try to plan on or at least bring the fixings for fish that you catch. Unfortunately, you have to have a plan for when you don't catch anything. There is nothing better than a fish fry outdoors especially in the morning.

        Use aluminum foil as much as possible. You can wrap something in foil and bury it in coals. It is easy.

        In fact, when I was a boy scout, we were very fond making a hamburger patty then putting onion, carrots and potatoes on top of it. Wrapping it in 2 layers of foil. In about 30 minutes, it's done.

        Taking a sweet onion and not quite quartering it from the top. Leave a little on the bottom that isn't cooked. put some butter in between the wedges. salt and pepper. If you like you can add some beef bouillon. Wrap in foil and put them in the coals for 45 minutes or so..... evil good.

    2. Are you cooking for friends/family or clients? What style of food is expected?

      1 Reply
      1. re: just_M

        This is a big family gathering - one vegan in the mix, she's great though, very flexible about "picking out things" she doesn't eat. So basically a low-key and fun group, but everyone is really into good food. :)

      2. If you're packing it in, that makes a huge difference. I'd go w/ Tonka's advice. If you're having it carried in (burro, horses, car, etc) that changes the get go.

        When we're camping (truck) it's:

        Breakfast is
        Eggs w/ bacon and fried potatoes
        Eggs and chorizo in tortillas
        Pancakes w/ fresh fruit

        Lunch is
        Sandwiches w/ chips
        Salsa and chips - maybe some refried beans
        Hotdogs and beans

        Dinner is
        Steaks on the grill w/ corn on the cob
        Leftovers from lunch / breakfast
        Stew in one of those cast iron skillets that have the lid on and you can put coals on top

        Of course there's always the roasted marshmallows and I've had apple crisp done in the same pan that I described above. Oh! And chili! And cornbread.

        Most of those can indeed be prepped prior - So let us know how you're packing things in and the CHer's will chime in.

        Now I want to go camping, even in the heat of the desert.

        3 Replies
        1. re: JerryMe

          Thanks Jerry, these are good suggestions - I'm digging it. I really like the idea of piling coals on top of a dutch oven or cast iron skillet w/lid. Good stuff. I've experimented with wrapping stuff in heavy foil before too (mixes of veggies, of course baked potatoes - even stuffed peppers/tomatoes) and just placing it onto hot coals - so that will be a strategy to consider as well. I guess I'm trying to figure out what to cook and *how* to cook for what seems like a pretty large group for a few days.

          But it's going to be a blast, no doubt! Thanks again for your menu ideas, it's helping get me motivated to figure this out.

          1. re: jeexbit

            Coals require wood...Is wood (supplied) part of the package? Or will you be left to your own resourcefulness?? ~~~ Has the site been used by others lately? If so sufficient amounts of wood of the size to produce coals may be in short supply ~~~~~ Two, two burner propane stoves and a 6 -pack of propane bottles might come in handy.

            Have Fun!

            1. re: Uncle Bob

              I think we're left to our own devices as far as wood goes - my guess is we'll be able to find something around there... Two stoves seems about right - we've got one (yet to be filed tested, need to get on that) and hopefully there will be another in the mix as well. With two stoves and a fire for coals, I'm hoping the heat element will be covered!

        2. Another thing you guys could cook as a group activity is this.. just keep coaching them, they won't believe it at first and you might want to rehearse at home once.

          I was a boy scout. I made bacon and eggs in a paper sack.

          Yeah, you can do it. Put two strips of bacon in a paper bag and hold it over the camp fire. The grease from the bacon melted and kept the bag from burning.

          When the bacon was about 3/4 cooked, I broke 2 eggs into the bag and continued to hold the bag over the fire.

          Another 5-6 minutes the bacon and the eggs were done. I took it to a camp table, ripped open the bag and ate my breakfast and then I rolled up the bag and threw it away.

          Our scout master taught it to us so there was probably 8-10 of us all learning how to cook bacon and eggs in a bag. It was magic!

          1 Reply
          1. re: tonka11_99

            That is insane! I'm going to trust you that it really works... :D

          2. Depending on where you're going you might be able to get away with some semi-perishables for the first couple of nights. If the temps aren't too high, I like to make a mix of bulgur, powdered goat milk, nuts, spanish chorizo, golden raisins, and saffron. I keep slivered garlic and butter in a separate container, and saute that before adding the other ingredients and some (filtered) water. The nice thing is that bulgur cooks so fast you can usually turn off the burner and cover once you get a boil. Depending on the altitude you may need to re-simmer a couple of times, but it is still a huge fuel-saver, given the ratio of calories/carbs to fuel. This works really well in pretty much all the PNW backcountry west of or in the Cascades, but obviously there would be concerns in the summer in other places.

            Either way, a group that size for that long? I would absolutely say an emphatic "no" to being fully responsible for the menu and/or cooking. A few consecutive menu failures in the backcountry and sh*t goes Lord of the Flies fast.

            1 Reply
            1. re: eight_inch_pestle

              I know, it's a little daunting - I've already delegated desserts to my sister. :)

              Now I have visions of Lord of the Flies in my head... "Kill the pig! Cut his throat! Kill the pig! Bash him in!"

              I'll look into bulgur, it just might save my skin...