Into the Wild

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This weekend, the 30/Week household is going camping with friends up in the Adirondack State Park. More specifically, we’re going camping on a little island in a big lake in the Adirondack State Park that we will be reaching by canoe.

Campfire cooking is one of my favorite kinds of cooking. For one thing, you’re outside in a (hopefully) beautiful locale. For another, it takes a while because you have to build and tend the fire, but that’s perfectly fine because you’re not rushing off anywhere anyway. And of course everything you cook gets that wood smoke flavor to it…sometimes because you end up getting a fair amount of flying ash in your food, but whatever.

This is one venue where our rule about investing time rather than money is especially true. Buying prefab freeze-dried camping food in fancy foil packages is super-expensive. Traditional camp cooking with basic ingredients and minimal equipment can be super-cheap and rewarding. The only packaged foods we tend to bring on camping trips are a package of veggie dogs and s’more fixins. Besides that, we usually bring seitan steaks and eggs to fry up in a skillet, potatoes to wrap in foil and bury in the coals (apples are great this way too), and we’ve had a couple of questionable experiments baking bannock on a stick. Basic salad ingredients are a good bet as well, since so much camping food is on the heavy side.

This time around, we are planning to try some lentils and couscous with caramelized onions. Maybe not so traditional (at least in the American camp cooking canon), but we think this is definitely a recipe that will work well with some extra smoke.

Anyway, we have until Friday to finalize our menu. Any suggestions?


12 Comments on “Into the Wild”

  1. Anna says:

    My husband claims that when he was in the boy scouts, they baked cake in a small pot of boiling water:

    1. Put all the ingredients to your chosen recipe in a zip-lock bag. Then, squish it in your hands until it’s all mixed.
    2. Drop the bag in the boiling water for… 20 min? (He can’t really remember how long it’s supposed remain in the water.)

    I’ve never tried it, but it sounds like an interesting experiment.

  2. P says:

    I agree that the plastic bag method is excellent for mixing ingredients (we did that for bannock, bringing all the dry ingredients pre-mixed from home), but boiling your food in a plastic bag? I mean, doesn’t the plastic melt at all?

    This is intriguing.

    • tinaspins says:

      I think it’s along the idea of sous vide (which is hilarious in the context of camping), but I think heavy duty plastic bags can withstand a simmer – although, I don’t think I’m into that. You can bake a cake in a cast iron pan on top of the fire.

      • eric says:

        my kids introduced me to the omelet in a bag, which means: throw eggs, cheese, veggies in a ziploc; suspend it in boiling water till the eggs set. the hard part is holding it in the water, because i don’t think it should touch the bottom of the pan.

        aloe vera is wonderful on the burns you will no doubt get from boiling water splashing on you.

  3. Maija says:

    I’ve heard of folks making omelets that way while camping. I think I’d probably try that before cake, but I’m not sure if I want to boil something in plastic really.

    The Tasty Bite Indian entrees are also good for camping – you can boil them in their foil bags. Another odd thing I take camping is canned potatoes. It sounds strange, but they are great for frying up for breakfast as they are already mostly cooked. Fresh fruit is always good, as I always end up eating too many potato chips otherwise! And, hummus or black bean dip is another must for me. I usually do a taco night, too, or breakfast burritos.

    Oh, and the best thing is corn on the cob, roasted over the fire in its husk! Such a great late night treat.

    • P says:

      Yes, corn on the cob in the husk! Forgot about that one, but we should be sure to bring some along this weekend.

  4. Mary says:

    One of my favorite and easy camping meals: Cook some instant mashed potatoes, then add chopped pepperoni and cheddar cheese to the pot. Please note that this is the only instance where instant mashed potatoes are acceptable.

    This is usually a cheap meal, but I could only find very expensive single-servings of the potatoes in New Zealand, so I had to rethink my camping food strategy.

  5. jen says:

    Oh, fun! If your library has “Simple Foods for the Pack” it has a ton of recipes for homemade alternatives to the freeze-dried stuff. I think there are a few fish recipes, but otherwise almost entirely veggie. Worth checking out in the future even if you can’t get it in time for the trip – it has a bunch of energy bar recipes and such.

  6. Why you’ll be in my neck of the woods! Have a great time camping.

    I’m not an outdoorsy-type myself so I have no suggestions for camp cuisine. It sounds interesting, though!

  7. When you think about it, cooking couscous and lentils by the fire is probably one of the most normal things in human history.

  8. Jen G says:

    Camping is all about hot dogs! Vegan or regular, as long as there is a weiner on a bun! I am jealous. Am going to my parents house in the Poconos and will be building a fire and canoeing. I need more info on where you are camping. We would love to do something like that. Seems like it will be mmore remote than car camping. Have a great time. Bring your dutch oven!

    • tinaspins says:

      Thanks Jen! I am a big fan of the tofurkey Italian sausages on a stick roasted over a fire. You should totally check this place out! It’s called Indian Lake Islands and it’s in the Adirondecks. Definitely more remote and more fun (I think) than car camping.


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