Camping Meals- Your Ultimate?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

camping funThis last weekend, Sweets and I joined our motorcycle friends out camping under the beautiful starry nights of a clear Oregon sky. We’ve been looking forward to this trip for quite sometime and weren’t going to let a bit of jet lag drag us down! Fortunately, a couple days camping turned out to be the perfect cure.

In addition to clearing out our routines with some tent time, Sweets and I worked with a friend to put on the Friday night dinner for 115 of our friends. This meal has been a drawn out set of planning adventures, estimating crowd food preferences, and organizing shopping lists.

We planned our meal around a Mediterranean theme- a salad base upon which grilled meats and hummus could be enjoyed. Dolmas, olives, marinated onions, and roasted peppers rounded out the meal. The Friday night desert of baklava and coconut panna cotta was a sweet finish, errr make that beginning to the night.

There are definitely some meal standards that come to mind when it comes to camping… hotdogs and steaks are two meaty favorites that immediately rise to the top of my experiences. We were interested in planning a meal that moved beyond tradition, yet would be ultimately tasty out in the woods.

What camping meals are your tradtions? What meals would curl your toes in delight?

More to come… meal planning specifics when cooking for over 100.

7 Comments

posted August 31st, 2006 at 9:48 pm

Best camping breakfast:

Corned beef hash (straight out of the can!), charred nearly to death in a cast iron skillet over the fire, with an egg cooked over the top. Served with a mess of ketchup and a triple bypass.

I guess you could probably make a fancy gourmet version of this, but I don\’t think it would work the same way.

  • I don\’t think it needs a fancy version either. I had my first and best corned beef hash breakfast at a friend\’s in Indiana. Served with grits and our eggs runny… it was heaven! And to think I thought I didn\’t like grits…

    –McAuliflower

- Dave
posted September 1st, 2006 at 1:06 am

Haven\’t done that much camping myself, but if I was to, this here (http://thestonesoup.com/blog/2006/08/cooking-round-the-camp-fire/) sounds LOVELY! But for a 115 people? Yikes!:-)

  • Oh that does look great! Thanks for the drool enducing heads up on that one Zarah.
    –McAuliflower
posted September 1st, 2006 at 2:54 am

I just recently went on a trip with my brother and our kids. The big meal was the steak, which was awesome in the evening, but was more so the next morning with eggs and salsa: camping steak and eggs

  • Oh, you bring up a most excellent point about camping meals: the potential leftovers at breakfast or lunch the next day.
    Mmmm steak and eggs… look great!

    I had a great sandwich on our trip made out of leftover bread, tzatziki, and steak. It was suberb!

    –McAuliflower

posted September 1st, 2006 at 7:06 am

My camping meals, both here and Alaska, are freeze-dried pouch meals. I pack extra salt- they aren\’t gourmet, but pretty good considering how difficult it is to camp and cook off a single motorcycle.

  • Hey Ted…
    What did you think about the muffler cooking trick on Alton Brown\’s
    Feasting show? I wouldn\’t be surprised to see you spring that one on your next trip!

    –McAuliflower

posted September 1st, 2006 at 10:29 am

My experiences cooking for a single crowd that big have only been when I’ve had a camp dining hall kitchen to use. My camp cooking experience is split between camp dining hall, backpacking and “car camping” where weight isn’t an issue so I can haul out my three-burner Coleman stove, two 16″ Dutch ovens, etc..

On a small scale:
- Pre-made polenta in a tube travels beautifully.
- Baking in a camp Dutch oven (they have little feet on the bottom of the pot) works well, but it’s not very space efficient unless you’re making biscuits or something that goes straight into the Dutch oven instead of inside a smaller container that goes in, like a small six-muffin tin or loaf pans.
- If space is at a premium, powdered buttermilk, sour cream, cheese, etc. is a space-conscious if pricey convenience. I buy mine from the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Catalogue. I’ve had dried refried beans bought from a specialty store that caters to backpacking meals and they were pretty disappointing. Dried TVP and the like was an unexpected hit when I cooked for a backpacking crew of Boy Scouts. Same goes for reconstituting dried fruits.
- If you have a lot of coffee drinkers, flavored artificial creamers are appreciated in the morning.

Another hit with backpackers is individually packeted specialty condiments. Some restuarant supply stores that sell to the public offer assortments, but single-variety boxes are great for crowds or splitting up among friends and family. I buy a single-variety box of Cholula hot sauce every few years that I split with my family and we’ve been working on the same box of Dijon mustard packets for several years.

posted September 3rd, 2006 at 7:04 pm

My favorite camping/backpacking meal is a Thai green curry served over rice. Canned coconut milk, spiced with green curry paste, lemongrass, lime leaves. Add peppers, zucchini, onion, mushrooms or other veggies. I’ve used chicken if it’s the first night out (chop in pieces and frozen, it will stay cold until dinnertime), or boxes of tofu that don’t need to be chilled.

But cooking for over 100? Yikes. We used to do that at a summer camp I worked at. My favorite was chili over split open potatoes, with all the fixin’s on top.

Did you really make baklava for 100? Wow.

- Tea
posted October 8th, 2006 at 8:24 pm

I love traditional meat and potatoes while camping. There’s just someting about the glowing coals of a campfire that calls for steak.

Cooking for crowds? No sweat! It’s been my career.

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