Friday, July 20, 2012

Our favorite recipes-Breakfast

As I've said before, we are camp food snobs.  We do not do hamburgers or hot dogs for dinners while camping.  Hot dogs at lunch maybe, but not as the main meal.  Most meals are cooked on the fire in a big cast iron skillet that my husband's grandfather made or in a dutch oven we got at a local sporting goods store.  Once those get seasoned just right, they are a joy to cook in.

The easiest way to break it down is recipes by meal time- Breakfast and Dinner.

In this blog I present Breakfast.

I always serve a fruit with breakfast.  Fresh or frozen.  We will have some kind of juice or milk (freeze a half gallon at home before you go-it will thaw as you use it.).  We also have the most important part of breakfast-coffee.  We splurged and got a Coleman camping coffee maker.  It works on a small Coleman stove and makes real brewed coffee-not instant. We each have our own coffee mug (the kids get hot chocolate) If you love that morning cup of joe, consider it.  


Nothing beats the smell of bacon in the morning.  The sizzle it makes in the pan will wake everyone up and get them going.  We've tried the already cooked bacon that you just heat up...once.  It just wasn't the same.  While the bacon is cooking, wrap some flour tortillas in foil and place them on the fire away from direct flames.  You just need to get them warm and pliable.  Once the bacon is done, wrap it in foil and sit it by the fire to stay warm while you cook up some scrambled eggs.
Put the bacon, eggs, and tortillas on the table with some grated cheese, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, etc. and everyone makes their own breakfast tacos.  Easy to substitute sausage instead of bacon-if you cook it like ground meat, just stir the eggs into the cooked sausage and serve. Another option- cook some potato hash browns in the skillet after the meat.  Wrap in foil and hold for taco making time, or add the eggs and cook it together.

Biscuits and gravy-

My husbands favorite breakfast meal.  It takes a little prep work, but is worth it.  The night before, while you are sitting around a campfire relaxing and thinking about the day, cook the biscuits.  I use the refrigerator biscuits-easy.  Put them in the dutch oven.  Put some hot coals under the oven and some on top of the oven. They will bake just as if you had them in the oven at home.  When done, take the biscuits out of the oven, wrap in foil and store in the car until morning.  In the morning, put the foil wrapped biscuits near the fire to warm up.  Make sausage or biscuit gravy and serve.  Best tip on making gravy- warm up the milk before adding to the roux.  It won't lump.

French Toast-

We don't cook this one often.  It's good, but seems to take so much more attention while cooking.  Beat together 2 eggs, 1/2 cup milk, 2 tablespoons sugar, and a pinch of salt.  Dip bread (8 slices) one at a time into egg mix and place on heated skillet.  Bake about 10 minutes or until golden brown.


This one is usually our last day breakfast.  It's done on the Coleman stove, easy to clean up after, and done by my husband so I can start cleaning up camp.  Easiest recipe- one of the plastic containers with mix that you just add water to and shake.

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

One Hot Mama

My husband is king of the grill at home.  When we are camping, I am Ultimate Supreme Ruler of the fire.  I let him help keep it going and he gets to cut and split all the wood, but the actual fire and cooking is my job.

The most important part of the campfire happens before you set flame to it.  It has to be built right-and with dry wood.  One time I watched a group try to start a fire with wet wood.  They had enough smoke to signal the entire text of War and Peace.  Always bring some wood with you.  They may sell bundles at the site, but you can't guarantee it is dry.  You can also always get wood at a nearby store.

I was taught the Tepee and Log Cabin building forms.  I tend to have fires built as a hybrid. A tepee shape in the center made of medium to small  sticks, kindling, and tinder with some decent size logs around the base. Tucked into the center of the tender is my family's secret fire starting method.  Well, not that secret, we taught it at every Girl Scout camp we attended and I've shared it with fellow campers.  And, it doesn't involve any of that smelly liquid stuff.

TaDaa!  Dryer lint in an egg carton covered in wax!

Everyone cleans out the dryer lint trap (or should!)  Lint is very flammable.  As I take it out, I pack it into a cardboard egg carton-the styrofoam ones do not work.  When it's full, close it up and pour melted wax over the top.  The carton and the wax slow down the burning a bit so that the wood catches.  My mom use to buy wax from the store and melt it in a double boiler.  I use melted candles and pour the wax over as the candle melts away.  If you use a scented candle, the scent sometimes can be smelt as it burns in the campfire.  Nice.

When the fire is built, light the cardboard carton and wait.  It will take a minute or 2 to catch the wood.  Don't rush it.  My daughter is learning the ins and outs of campfires.  I have to remind her that the fire is like a small animal.  You have to be gentle.  It needs air and food (fuel).  If you take away the air flow, the fire will put itself out.  Don't be tempted to shove newspaper in there to hurry it along.  I've actually stopped taking any paper with us because my husband suffocated too many fires with newspaper.

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Some more S'mores

Okay-face it.  Easiest yummy over a fire is a s'more.  The pleasure of sitting by the fire after a long day getting that marshmallow a perfect brown.  Or, plunging it into the flames so that it gets done faster.  The funny squeal and dance everyone does trying to blow out the flames no matter the age, the experience, the "cool factor" they think they have.

The classic s'more is perfect.  Marshmallow, chocolate, and graham cracker.  Delicious.  But, when you feel like you are in a rut, there are options... consider these combinations.

  • Sometimes those chocolate bars are not that convenient. In the summer (or spring, or fall, or some winter days here in Texas) they melt.  If you put them in the cooler and they get wet, they get soggy and watery tasting.  For ease or in a pinch, chocolate frosting works.  It doesn't have quite the same melt factor, but tastes the same.  This is also easier if you are making lots.   An adult not roasting marshmallows (you may have to assign someone this or take turns) can get a lot of "sets" ready to go.
  • Feel the need to add a little protein to the dessert?  Add peanut butter.  We use to call this a "Robinson Crusoe."  I don't know why.  I don't remember that being cooked on the island.
  • Girl Scout cookies instead of graham crackers and chocolate.  Our council has some they call "Caramel Delites."  In the old days when I sold them, they were called "S'mores."  Two of these cookies that come covered with caramel, chocolate and coconut smushed around a roasted marshmallow and you will order an extra case of cookies just for this reason.
  • Instead of plain chocolate bars, try peanut butter cups, chocolate crispy bars, Andes mints.  Be adventurous.  Try your favorite.   If you are industrious, a sliced 3 Musketeer or Snickers is pretty good.
  • After Easter, buy some of the Peeps on sale.  Even if you are not camping anytime soon.  They have a shelf life of forever and actually work better if they are a little stale.  The trick to these is patience.  If you burn them, the sugar burns and can be bitter.  If you toast them slowly, the sugar will caramelize a little.  It doesn't matter the shape or color-they all taste the same.
  • Craving the treat at home with no campfire?  Use the microwave.  Put a graham cracker on a plate, top with chocolate bar and marshmallow and cook for a few seconds.  The marshmallow will expand and the chocolate will melt.  Take it out and press the other cracker on top.  The toasted flavor will be missing, but if you are craving a s'more it works.
I know there are other ideas out there and would love to hear them.

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