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Since as far back as man can remember there has always been an interest in cooking around an open fire. We can’t have this luxury in our home or else we wouldn’t have a home after the meal was done. Over time the camp out included cold meat and bread, hot dogs, or an occasional hamburger but for the most part it was sandwiches. While open fires are the perfect place to fix meals the problem was carrying everything to the camp site and then roughing it when it came to preparing everything. It took a lot of preparing ahead of time so you could be ready for camping.
Camping around an open fire can be viewed in a totally different way. It’s not so much about dragging and lugging everything but the kitchen sink to the camp site and tons of water to help you rinse and keep up with the dishes. It’s about preparing all the food in bags and having it ready so that all you need to do is get it out and cook it. Here are some helpful hints and tips to make your next camping trip a success and leaving them wanting more of your gourmet meal.
When you are done preparing the meal everything should fit neatly inside a cooler so you can tote it around without making a mess. Make sure you count the number of meals that you need to prepare for so you won’t go hungry.
- Take the usual hamburger and hot dogs and spice them up. First, realize that aluminum foil is your friend. Press out hamburger patties and wrap each individual ones in an aluminum pouch. Don’t forget to add onion, carrots, celery, and your favorite spices and seasonings. You can also replace the beef and pork with chicken. Take the average hot dog and place it in the pouch with some potatoes and beans. Season to taste and then your family can enjoy it.
- For breakfast, you want everyone to enjoy the taste of a hot breakfast before you get your day started. Precook sausage patties and eggs before you leave and place them on a biscuit that has already baked. Individually wrap each one so that they can eat what they want. Purchase or make frozen potatoes which can also be put in aluminum pouches and season to taste before adding them to the fire. Everyone can enjoy a nice hot breakfast to get everyone started on the right foot.
- Snacks are going to be in demand because your family will burn more calories when they are outside. They can’t watch television or listen to music so they will be exploring more and becoming active. You will need to provide something that will hold them over until the next meal. Snack foods such as granola bars, trail mix, crackers, and popcorn are just some of the snack foods that you can have ready. These do not require too much preparation so you will be able to purchase them or fix them up before you leave. They will last during your trip without being refrigerated.
- Drinks are another thing you may want to consider. Everyone will probably drink water but they will want something different with their meals. Take advantage of the outdoors by brewing up some sun tea. This is easy to do and tastes so good. Your family will enjoy a tall glass of ice tea with their meals.
It’s not always easy to prepare for camping but this year the meal will be more enjoyable for you and your family.
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.