Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cooking at Camp

I mentioned last week that I would write about cooking at camp. The way I cook at camp varies from trip to trip. Sometimes I like to take just ingredients and cook everything there at the campsite. Sometimes I have good intentions, but we end up going to a restaurant one or more times during our trip. Other times, like this past weekend, I make a lot of our food ahead of time so that I don't have much cooking or clean up while we're on our mini-vacation.

Last Friday night, we had Taco Salads for our first camp meal. My original idea was to buy individual bags of corn chips or tortilla chips to make Walking Tacos. The idea there is to crush the bags of chips a little, then open the bag and add the taco toppings to it, creating a salad in the bag. I nixed that idea because of the cost of individual bags of chips, but I did find a partial package of disposable bowls in the cabinet. They were left over from a cold day when Shane took a Crock Pot full of soup in to work for his crew. I knew we'd never use them at home, so I stuck them in our camp gear for the salads. I browned and seasoned the ground beef at home, chopped up the lettuce, tomatoes, olives, and grabbed some homemade salsa, sour cream and shredded cheese out of the fridge (we almost always have all of those things on hand). When we were ready to eat, all I had to do was heat the cooked meat in a pan -- on our camper's propane cook top, but it could just as easily been over a fire -- so we could each assemble our salads with the addition of one large bag of nacho flavored chips.

In my opinion, there's nothing quite as good as breakfast cooked outdoors. But again, if you're on vacation, sometimes you just want to get started on the fun as soon as you can. For Saturday morning, I made a breakfast casserole ahead of time. I layered has brown patties in the bottom of a baking dish and baked them at 400° until they were brown and crispy. Meanwhile, I cooked six slices of bacon (OK, make that 10 slices), crumbled them, and added them to six eggs that had been scrambled with 1/4 cup water. I sprinkled in some salt and pepper and poured all of it over the cooked hash browns. I returned the casserole to the oven for about 15 minutes or until the eggs were set. I added about 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese to the top and cooked it for another 5 minutes or so. After it had cooled, I cut the casserole into serving-size squares and wrapped them in foil. On Saturday morning I just put the squares on the grill -- off to the sides for indirect heat -- and left them there until they were heated through. I guess you could call this dish Camper's Quiche.

Our plan for lunch on Saturday was to have hot dogs over the grill or camp fire along with some chips and dip and fresh fruit. As it turned out, our hike was much longer than we expected and we ended hiking right through lunch. We snacked a little on grapes, chips and Chewy Coconut Chocolate Chunk Blondies (also made ahead of time) to hold us until supper.

Saturday's supper was called Camper Pie. It's very tasty, if not very pretty. For these, I made up hamburger patties and froze them a few days ahead of time. By Saturday evening, they had thawed most of the way in the cooler and were ready to cook. On a large square of foil, I placed one hamburger patty, a half of a thinly sliced medium potato, a few slices of carrot, two pats of butter (OK, make it three), and a couple of teaspoons of dry onion soup mix. I sealed the foil and put the packets on the grill for about 20 minutes or until the meat was cooked and the veggies were tender. Using our gas cook top, I cooked small roasting ears in boiling water (they could also be grilled) and served those, along with the previously mentioned grapes, chips and blondies.

I found the Camper Pie recipe here, along with a lot of other camp-friendly recipes, some serious and some just silly. It's a fun site to visit.

Sunday -- and our entire weekend, for that matter -- was much cooler than we'd expected. While we were out and about on Saturday, I picked up a package of instant oatmeal packets. We were all glad to have hot oatmeal for breakfast along with some Sausage Pinwheels that I'd made ahead and re-heated on the grill. Sausage Pinwheels taste a lot like biscuits and gravy in a roll form. You can find the recipe here.

So, as you can see, camping doesn't have to wreck your food budget. The only items I bought specifically for this trip were the hash brown patties, the crescent rolls for the Sausage Pinwheels and the instant oatmeal packets. The rest was food I already had in my pantry or freezer.


Frances said...

I was sitting here drooling over every single thing you made. Then realized it is lunchtime. I don't want what I brought...I want what is in your blog!!


Annie Jones said...

I've learned better than to look at food blogs or cookbooks when I'm hungry. I end up bookmarking everything!

Tug said...

The campers quiche & sausage pinwheels look awesome! I love veggies put in tinfoil on the grill...unfortunately I can't have a grill on the 3rd floor here. ;-(

I never found camp cooking as tough as people seem to think it is...my challenge was sleeping bags on the ground! A camper, boat or beach chair 1/2 in the water was ideal.

Glad you had a good time!

Leanne said...

We never do breakfast casserole here, but I think I'm going to have to give it go.

There's nothing in the world like porridge when its cold outside, seriously it just can't be beaten (says the girl with 3 kilos of oats in the larder)

Annie Jones said...

Tug: We have some of those zero-gravity reclining lawn chairs. I've napped in mine and I'm pretty sure I could sleep the night through in it. Haven't tried it yet, though.

Leanne: I love my oatmeal, too. I also like just oat bran made into a hot cereal.

Miranda said...

All of this looks delicious!