When cooking outdoors, I tend not to do a lot of measuring. Camp cooking should be spontaneous, showcasing the natural flavors of just a minimal amount of ingredients. Chunky, gnarley, rough cut, bite-sized pieces of meat and veggies are easy to harpoon with forks or Swiss Army Knives. Seasoning is always done to taste. Dutch ovens and open fire grates are really all the equipment you’ll need with the exception of perhaps a metal spatula and a pair of tongs. Simplicity at its best! The following scrumptious meals were prepared with little more than that on a recent camping trip to Red Feather Lakes, CO.
Bacon, Eggs, Hashbrowns, Toast and Coffee
(or Tea) (Remember Tang?)
Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
Coffee, Tea or Tang
Cook bacon in Dutch Oven (it will double as a frying pan). Place cooked bacon on paper towels to absorb the excess grease. Pour all but enough bacon grease to coat the bottom of the Dutch Oven into a metal container and reserve.* Get coffee (or tea) started. Crack eggs into Dutch Oven, salt and pepper, and scramble with a spatula. When the eggs are almost done, they will be firm but still have a sheen to them. Serve them up now as they will continue to cook and be just right by the time you sit down to eat. While the eggs are cooking, place slices of bread on the parameter of your fire grate or camp stove toaster. Keep an extra careful eye on them as not to let them burn. Butter and jelly toast and enjoy with eggs, bacon, fresh fruit and your favorite camp beverage.
* Use bacon grease as needed and dispose of the unwanted portion in a bear proof trash container (as with any food trash) or pour on the fire.
Yukon Gold and Sweet Potato Hash Browns
1 Med Yukon Potatoes
1 Med Sweet Potato (or Yam)
1 sm Onion
1 Colored Bell Pepper
Olive Oil (or any leftover bacon grease)
1 Pinch Chili Flakes
to taste: Salt and Pepper
Scrub, rinse and pat dry potatoes. Grate into a bowl. Mince the onion and colored bell pepper and place in bowl along with grated potatoes. Add chili flakes, salt and pepper. Mix well. Heat skillet or Dutch oven with enough olive oil or bacon grease to coat the bottom. When pan gets hot, put in the potato mixture. (you can test by pitching in a pinch of the potatoes and if it sizzles but doesn’t burn, the pan is ready) Let it brown before turning with a spatula. Turn several times to make sure all the mixture is cooked and most of it is golden brown.
Beer Beef Stew with Veggies
Stew Beef (cubed)
Onions (coarsely chopped)
Summer (Yellow) Squash (cubed)
Carrots (coarsely chopped)
Tomatoes (seeded, drained and coarsely chopped) Optional
1 24 0z.. Can Beer
Fresh Chopped Herbs (of your choice: oregano, basil, flat leaf parsley, etc.)
Salt (see July 10, 2010 blog: “Salt of the Earth”)
Fresh Ground Pepper
Heat olive oil in Dutch Oven (over campfire or camp stove) and sauté onions until translucent. Add beef cubes and turn occasionally to sear all sides. Add garlic then veggies being careful not to let the garlic burn. Deglaze with beer, cover and cook under med-low heat. There is no real time frame other than when the beef is thoroughly cooked (at least one half-hour). Add the herbs and seasoning to taste about 10 minutes before serving. (The lower the temperature is the longer it needs to cook but the better tasting and tender it will be.)
Fire Baked Potatoes
Yukon Gold and Sweet Potatoes
Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
Scrub, rinse and pat dry potatoes. Coat with olive oil and sprinkle with a liberal amount of salt and pepper. Double wrap each potato in foil and place in the glowing embers of your campfire. Turn with tongs every 10 min. or so to assure even baking. Check after about 30 – 40 min. by sticking a fork in the potato. When the fork goes in easy, the potato is done. Sweet potatoes will generally be done about 10 min before the Yukons, so you might want to put them (Yukons) in the embers about 10 min. before the sweet potatoes. Serve with butter.
Campfire Roasted Cornish Game Hens
Cornish Game Hens
Salt and Pepper
Fresh Chopped Herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme) Optional
Half each bird and remove thighs and drumsticks from hen(s). Coat all of the pieces with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and any herbs you might have. Place the poultry on the grate over glowing embers. (You don’t want outright flames.) Cook about 3 – 5 min. on each side. The hens are done when the juices run clear.
Note of interest:
Ganesha is the Hindu God that removes obstacles. We brought a small statue of Ganesha with us for good luck and to assure an auspicious retreat.