In a previous article, I wrote primarily about box ovens. With this article, we will consider a couple of other ideas that can also make your camping meals fun and enjoyable.
The first is something called foil packs. Foil packs are quite simple. You spread out a large sheet of aluminum foil, add whatever ingredients you like, seal it up on the ends, and place it on a bed of hot charcoal.
Remember not to use too much charcoal. Each briquette adds about 25 degrees F. (The same rule applies to dutch ovens, box ovens, and even your barbeque grill at home.) Add too many and you will burn the food, possibly melt the aluminum foil, and maybe burn yourself in the process.
Sample ingredients might include potatoes, onions, carrots, hamburger, a couple spoonfuls of campbells soup (such as cream of mushroom), salt and pepper to taste, and a bit of water for moisture during cooking. If you want to add cheese, add it after the cooking process. Otherwise, it will probably burn to the inside of the foil pack.
Another fun way to cook outdoors is with dutch ovens. You can cook almost anything in a dutch oven and you can find lots of recipes on the internet.
It is often recommended that you line the inside of the oven with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Here is a sample recipe that we learned from some boy scouts at a recent webelos day camp.
Peach Dump Cake Recipe
2 boxes yellow cake mix;
2 cans peaches;
1 stick butter;
1 can 7up or Sprite;
Line dutch oven with foil. Dump cake mix into bottom. Dump peaches on top of cake mix. Slice the butter into hunks and add to the mixture. Add cinnamon to taste. Pour 7up or Sprite on top. Stir. Place lid on oven, and place about 20 hot coals on top. Cook approximately 45 minutes.
Personally, I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to put the peaches on the bottom so you don’t have to put as much effort into stirring the cake mix. Some experimentation may be warranted. Get creative! After all, that’s one of the things that makes it fun.
Another thing that makes these recipes fun is that the whole family can get involved. The kids can help make foil packs, and even a small child could do most of the dump cake up to the point of adding the coals.
For most people, outdoor cooking is synonymous with barbeque, but there are many other ways to cook outdoors. If you have been camping, you are probably at least familiar with the portable propane stoves which provide a burner or two similar to the stovetop burners you have at home. In addition, you may have also heard of dutch ovens. However, I am thinking most people who have not been involved in scouting have probably not heard of box ovens.
This past weekend I attended camp with my son’s cub scout pack. As part of the camp, they worked on their outdoorsman badge, which includes cooking outdoors. The first night of camp the boys all made box ovens. Then we used the box ovens to cook two meals.
The construction of a box oven is quite simple. Basically, you take a cardboard box, cover it on the inside with aluminum foil (wrap it top to bottom and tape it on the outside). Construct a cardboard lid also lined with aluminum foil. (While cooking, this should be weighed down with some convenient item such as a rock.) Finally, push rods made from coat hangers through the center of the box to serve as a rack to place food on. The box should be big enough to fit an pan inside and big enough that your
Cooking with the box oven is quite simple. The rule to remember is one charcoal briquette will account for approximately 25 degrees (Fahrenheit). So, if you are baking something that requires 400 degrees, use 16 briquettes.
In the morning, we cooked breakfast biscuits in our box ovens. We used the type of biscuits where you just crack open the tube, separate them and put them on a cooking sheet. We used a disposable aluminum pan which we saved to use again at lunch.
We also cooked eggs in a bag. This is another creative way to cook which allows for easy cleanup. Basically, you take a couple of eggs, crack them into a zip-lock sandwich bag, add bacon (pre-cooked), cheese, salt and pepper to taste. You seal up the bag being careful to remove as much air as possible. Then you drop the bag into boiling water. For the boiling water, we used a propane stove.
At lunch, we used our box ovens again to cook “pigs in a blanket” (hotdogs wrapped in biscuits), and cobbler.
For the cobbler, we re-used the aluminum pan from the morning. We took two cans of cherry pie filling, dumped them in the pan, poured a box of white cake mix on top of that, and then carefully poured a can of 7up on top of that. No mixing involved. Then we baked it until it looked done. Easy as can be, and it tasted great!
Now I’ve been thinking it would be fun to try baking a pizza on the next camp-out using a box oven. We could buy one of those pre-made crusts, a jar of sauce, cheese, and pepperonis. The kids would love it, and the cleanup would be easy.
Speaking of easy cleanup… for the cub scout camp, we were asked to bring mess kits, and that is what most of us used. However, if you cook with a box oven and also use disposable plates and utensils, you could easily manage to avoid doing any dishwashing.
So, the next time you go camping, don’t just cook, cook creatively. Whether you use a box oven or some other creative method, you’ll feel better after a long day of hiking or other fun outdoor activities if you have an enjoyable and fun meal when you get back to camp.