Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Campground Cooking

The one thing you should count on when camping is that you can't count on anything! This seems to apply to campground cooking more than anything else.

Cooking at camp is a whole different beast than cooking at home. While almost anything you cook at home can be made at camp, if you have the right equipment, the method is different. Some foods cook faster over a fire or charcoal, while others cook more slowly. Timing needs to be adjusted accordingly. Hiking, swimming and other activities can increase appetites, while lazing around camp or spending hours in the hot sun can decrease it. So, food amounts need to be adjusted accordingly. An unexpected turn in the weather or just having too much fun to stop and eat can wreak havoc on even the loosest of meal schedules.

Just like at home, too many hot dogs or cold sandwiches get boring in a hurry. So I try to serve a variety of foods when we camp, without including too much junk food (although there is always plenty of that, too). I try to do as much as I can at home before we leave, including making meat into patties, portioning dry ingredients so I don't have to measure anything at camp, and making potato and pasta salads ahead of time. I have to admit, I didn't do as well as usual with the prepping this trip.

With all that in mind, here's how our weekend played out:

Friday night went just as planned. After we got to camp, looked around a bit and set everything up, we had a typical campground meal of hot dogs and bratwursts on the grill, some ready-made macaroni salad, some baked beans I made ahead, and chips and dip. We had soda, water and/or beer to drink. Yes, we take our own grill; campsite grills are often hard to adjust, broken or missing altogether.

Saturday morning was a different story. We woke to a downpour. We quickly moved everything into the tent or under the picnic table to stay dry. Instead of the big breakfast I'd hoped to cook, we took off in the van for a while. Despite the rain, there were many homes around the lake holding garage sales, so we went to some of those. One church that was having a sale was also holding a fund-raiser biscuits and gravy breakfast, so we ate there. Good stuff!

After the rain, we went back to camp. The plan was to eat turkey and cheese sandwiches, but there were enough hot dogs and brats leftover from the night before that we ate those along with some bananas and some chips and dip. Soda, water and tea were the drinks.

We took a long hike Saturday afternoon and arrived back at camp starving. The menu was meatloaf patties on the grill, potatoes "baked" on the grill, and roasted corn on the cob.

To speed things up (we were hungry!), I used the camp stove to make chunky hash browns with bacon and chives instead of baking the potatoes, and I simmered the corn on the propane stove, too. Again we had soda, water and/or beer to drink.

We followed the meal up with some Jiffy Pop popcorn. The directions say you shouldn't cook it on a charcoal grill...

but as you can see, ours turned out fine that way.

Sunday's breakfast was going to be scrambled eggs (boiled in a Ziploc bag for ease), bacon and toast. Instead, I fell back on Saturday's plan for sausage patties with stewed apples and pancakes, with some good strong campfire coffee and milk. But somehow I forgot the pancake mix. I remember setting it on the kitchen counter at home, but it never made it to the campsite. So we had toast instead. There was plenty of apple juice left to go with our meal, too.

Our tradition at this campground has been to lunch eat at Becky's Cafe. It's at the top of the lake road on our way out. Becky serves the biggest and best tenderloin sandwich I've ever seen. For just $5.00, she'll serve a whole tenderloin, cut in half and placed on two plates. The halves are still plate-sized!! All that and a bag of chips, because frankly, it would be hard to find room for French fries. She also offers up great service. She must seat thousands of customers over the summer, but she'll remember you even if you're only there once a year! Sadly...we broke tradition this year by not stopping at Becky's. We were just too full from breakfast.

We headed up the road to my parents for a quick visit. Shane and I were still full, but Kat snacked on several things her great-grandma had on hand. I have to say camping must have agreed with Kat; I've never known her have such a good appetite.

By the time we got home Sunday night, we were hungry again. This is when I can really appreciate some good leftovers. We pulled anything and everything that was left in our coolers and chuck box, and had a buffet supper! The last of the leftovers was our lunch on Monday.

And Monday evening, after getting everything unloaded and unpacked? Well, we ordered a pizza, of course!


ajooja said...

My wife and I talked about "those poor people" who were camping this weekend with all the thunderstorms. Hope everything was OK.

The food looks great. Mmmmmmmm. :)

Donna said...

LOL...Pizza! Well of Course!! A body'is tired after all that camping!!! Glad you enjoyed it!!hughugs

Lisa said...

We've also ate at Beckys several years ago. I cant even remember now exactly where it's at, but I remember everyone thinking I was nuts cause I dont particularly care for tenderloins and couldnt understand what all the rave was about. It's one of my hubby's fav places to eat when we are down around the lakes.

Annie Jones said...

Ajooja: There was a small puddle of rain in our tent, but that was all. We were north of all the bad stuff, I think.

Donna: Sometimes you just have to take the easy way out. LOL!

Lisa: Becky's tenderloin is pretty darn good. I think the size of it at that price is what's so amazing. But I've had a few tenderloin sandwiches that aren't anything to rave about.

videocamper said...

Nice little camping article and thanks for the chuck box link.