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Old 04-02-2005, 08:20 PM   #1
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Exclamation Camp Cooking

There's something special about camping food. Cooking turns into an adventure, and being in the outdoors seems to make everything taste better. The excitement and novelty of semi-primitive cooking conditions makes it fun to eat whatever you manage to flip out of the campfire frying pan. Of course, camping food has its own special set of circumstances and limitations, and it can get the better of even the most skilled and creative cooks when trying to dream up good, varied and fun meals day after day in the great outdoors when you're without the modern conveniences of a home kitchen.
Losing Your Cool
It's better not to depend upon foods that require refrigeration, unless your campsite is very close to a store that sells ice and you will be able to replenish the ice in your cooler at least once a day. This means relying on canned, packaged and dried foods, and supplementing with fresh foods that can manage without refrigeration. It may seem at first like your meal choices will be limited and bland if you have to get by without a refrigerator or an oven, but you'll be surprised when you begin to realize how many diverse and tasty meals you can concoct using non-perishable foods, a propane stove and a campfire. Many of your favorite recipes can be adapted for outdoor cooking, too. Use canned meat or vacuum-packed tofu in your entrees; get out that old Dutch oven substitute powdered eggs and water in your favorite baking recipes; soy or rice milk need no refrigeration and make great substitutes for cow's milk. In other words, don't be afraid to get creative -- everything really does taste better when you're camping!

The Camping Pantry
Here are some lists of ingredients that are great for camping: they're easy to cook with nothing but a propane stove and a campfire, and none of them need refrigeration. Choose the ones that appeal to you and mix and match them for fantastic breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks.


Baking mix
Instant hot cereal
Cold cereal
Pita Bread
Whole grain crackers
Ramen noodles
Angel hair pasta
Packaged pasta with flavor packets
Quick-cooking couscous
Quick-cooking rice
Quick-cooking grits
Cornbread mix
Soup in a cup
Canned or vacuum-packed tuna
Canned chicken
Canned ham
Dehydrated refried beans
Canned beans
Shelf-stable tofu
Summer sausage
Beef jerky
Peanut butter
Soy or rice milk
Powdered eggs
Hard cheeses (e.g., Parmesan)
Dried and Canned Fruits and Vegetables
An assortment of dried fruit
Canned tomatoes
Sundried tomatoes
Canned Olives
Canned Green Chiles
Dried mushrooms
Canned pineapple
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Bell peppers
Green beans
Corn on the cob
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Chile Flakes
Chili Powder
Dried Herbs
Soy sauce
Bouillon cubes
Dehydrated soup base or canned soup
Camp stove or backpacker's stove
Extra stove fuel
Oven mitt
Large metal spoon
Metal Spatula
Large plastic or stainless steel bowl to use for mixing and serving
Rubber Spatula
Dutch oven
Large enamel mugs that can be used as cups or bowls
Plenty of aluminum foil
Resealable plastic bags
Garbage bags
Paper towels
Plastic tablecloth
Biodegradable dish soap
Dish sponge
Lightweight flexible cutting board
Can opener
A Few More Tips Before You Hit the Road

Plan all your meals before you leave, making a list of every ingredient you'll need. This way you won't forget anything, and you'll be sure to bring the right amount of food.
Don't bring the more food than you need. Instead of bringing the whole bag of sugar, flour, rice, etcetera, just pour as much as you'll need into a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag.
Camping trips usually involve lots of physical activity, so everyone will be extra-hungry: bring plenty of snacks!
Put your food in the car or in a lidded box at night or whenever you leave the campsite in order to keep the forest animals out of your food supply.
Bring plenty of garbage bags so you can pack out every last piece of trash you brought in with you
Bring some firewood: you can't always count on being able to find enough around your campsite, especially if it's a heavily visited one.


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Old 04-03-2005, 09:35 PM   #2
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Being the old Boy Scout that I am, I whole-heartedly know what you are talking about. When we went backpacking, everything was canned or dried, usually dried. The canned stuff was always eaten first, to cut down on weight.

I learned that when you're out in the woods, physically exerting/exhausting yourself daily, you tend not to worry to much about what it tastes like. Just shovel it in, and try to get some more. Usually, we had an entree, vegetable, starch, dessert, and bev-base (drink). We would combine the entree, vegetable, starch, and sometimes dessert, mixes into one pan, add the totals for water needed for each item, and add that. Cook. The "one-pot" meal, less pots and pans to clean up. Hungry teens don't usually mind.

Of course, on the rare occasion you get fresh stuff, you REALLY notice. The best breakfast I ever had was brook trout, so fresh they were still flopping, scaled, cleaned, and pan-fried. And we usually could scrounge up some wild strawberries, which were like candy to us.

Peace, Love, and Vegetable Rights!
Eat Meat and Save the Plants!
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Old 04-07-2005, 05:38 AM   #3
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Rainee - You sound like quite the experienced and expert camper. I just happened upon your post here from a while back and was really impressed about your list of items for cooking you suggested to have on hand when camping. My husband and I have a motor home, so I don't actually do any cooking over a campfire, and just always have the motor home pretty well stocked with cooking supplies. One of the items I noted that you list to include is a spatula. I will put one today in our motor home. I generally cook either on a George Forman grill, electric fry pan, or the microwave (mostly homemade precooked items for reheating). I have never used the stove or oven in the Winnebago. We do, however, eat our meals outside at the picnic table, weather permitting. My husband and I are heading out in a couple of weeks for a trip down to NC and then on to Myrtle Beach for about two weeks. I note you are from NC and we are going to be staying at a Durham state park (I think it's Rolling Hills State Park). Our son lives in Raleigh and we have stayed at that state park previously. It is really beautiful with wonderfully large sites. Have you ever been there? Anyhow, thanks for your tips on camp cooking. Very good and helpful.
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Old 04-07-2005, 07:31 AM   #4
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We camp out sorta I guess, when we are at contests. We set up EZ-ups, have tables and chairs outside, cook outside, sleep in the truck. Then after we got the enclosed trailer, we packed all our cooking supplies and equipment in it. It is like a rolling kitchen, complete with sink, hot water heater, cabinets. Stocked with pots & pans, knives, mixer, slicer whatever we need for competition. That way we are not as likely to forget anything.

Some of the other teams, pitch tents or just sleep in sleeping bags or lawn chairs. Some have campers and motor homes.
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