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Old 08-28-2016, 09:17 AM   #1
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New Cookbook! Camp Cooking from the Forest Service!

I am fairly excited, as I have a new shiny cookbook with a lot of ideas.

I found this in a set of books celebrating the 100th anniversary of our National Parks. If you know me, I am all about the outdoors, hiking, camping, etc... so this has been a big year, given all the celebrations and events around the NPS anniversary!

This cookbook was published in 2004 by the National Museum of Forest Service History.

To wit:

National Museum of Forest Service History. Camp Cooking: 100 Years (Salt Lake City: Gibbs Smith, 2004). [ISBN 9781586857615]

Camp Cooking: 100 Years The National Museum of Forest Service History by National Museum Of Forest Service History, The National Museum of Forest Service Hi |, Other Format | Barnes & Noble

So this is obviously a camping cookbook, but it also really hearkens back to days of yore camping, before everything was a pack stove and boiling water. This is the old dutch oven over a roaring fire school of camp cooking. While all of these recipes are designed about a campfire, if you have a dutch oven and a griddle they are, I think, also really suitable for home cooking.

Amidst the recipes, there are all kinds of lovely little anecdotes about lives spent in the woods, by four or so generations of Forest Service workers. Those alone are worth the price of the book. (It costs about ten bucks if you were wondering).

The recipes are utilitarian and awesome. Lots of hearty one pot meals, and baked casseroles, kind of stuff you want to eat after a long day in the woods. So I'm gonna give you an example from page 123:

Potato Chicken Cassarole

1/2 lb bacon, cut into chunks
8-10 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 medium onions, chopped
1 can mushrooms, drained
1-1/2 tsp poultry seasoning, divided
12-14 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 (10 oz) can cream of chicken soup
1 (10 oz) can cream of celery soup
1 cup sour cream
1 - 1/2 tsp seasoning salt
1/2 tsp garlic salt
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Hate a 12 inch Dutch oven until hot. Fry bacon until brown. Cut chicken into bite sized pieces. Add Chicken, onions, mushrooms, and 1/2 tsp of the seasoning salt. Stir, cover and cook until onions are translucent and chicken is tender. Add Potatoes. Stir in soups, sour cream, and remaining seasonings. Salt and pepper here to taste. Cover and cook 45-60 minutes. Stir every 10-15 minutes. When done cover with cheese and replace lid, let stand until cheese is melted.

So this recipe has everything I love in camp cooking, a good protein, all in one pot, and cheese. I would if I made this add more spices, but as it stands it is a perfect camp meal, and is a great exemplar of the cookbook.

Anyway, if you are planing a trip outdoors, or looking to bring the forest into your kitchen, you could do much worse than this book. I learned to cook when I was in the Boy Scouts, so for me, these recipes feel like coming home.

I think sometimes I've been too distracted by learning new techniques, fancy ingredients, etc... and need to remind myself of some awesome recipes that can be made in a dutch oven, on a grill, or in a cast iron skillet over a fire.

This one is gonna hang out in my kitchen and go in my backpack.

Cheers

TBS

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Old 08-29-2016, 12:04 PM   #2
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Nice! I'm going to have to check this out. I'm all for one pot meals, especially when backpacking.
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Old 08-29-2016, 01:00 PM   #3
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Thanks for posting this! DH and I are talking about doing an RV trip for at least a month next summer, and my sister and her DH just bought a pop-up camper. Guess what she's getting for her birthday next month?
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Old 09-02-2016, 11:28 AM   #4
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I always love a good cookbook to get inspirations from, particularly ones with historical recipes. I think you and your sis are going to find this a good mix of campfire recipes, and ones that can be adapted to the oven and home range quite well.

If you are going to be rv'ing, always good to build a campfire and do some campfire cooking. Make sure you bring along a dutch oven and a grill! Oh and be careful with firewood. Most National and State parks prohibit firewood from out of state, and often out of the area, on the East Coast and Ozarks at least, due to problems with parasitic tree killing insects. I usually wait until driving into camp before picking up a bundle or two of wood when car camping, usually try to pick it up outside the park, there are often locals with stands or honor boxes that have it cheaper than you can get in the park, if you are somewhere that is particularly paranoid about the tree borers or such, like Shenandoah, they will often even have a stamp with the address on the shrink wrap.

Maybe I'll run into you in camp next summer, look for us in the tent only area, and hike in tent camping if it is available. (usually in most NP and SP's a couple hundred feet or so away from everything else). I always make it a point to walk around camp after we have ours set up and say hi to everyone, even the RV folks ;). Always nice to see what everyone is up to.

Some of the 49'er and Cowboy recipes in this book are really cool. Shame I only get out in the woods once a month or so. My Apartment complex doesn't seem to like me building a fire pit, for some reason....

I'm going to though, adapt some of these for the oven, slow cooker, and pressure cooker (working on some of my medieval recipes too) so stay posted.

TBS
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Old 10-11-2017, 11:53 AM   #5
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Have any of you tried the thing called a can cooker? We learned about it from my BIL when they were camping out here in the hills. Couldn't wait to get one of our own and we use it often. I ended up buying the big one (for family get-togethers, block parties, etc) and the small one because there's just my DH and I left at home now and I can cook for just the two of us in the smaller one. I think there is a web site for these products, just do a web search for Can Cooker.

When we are out picnicking or away from the house using our large can cooker, we take our Coleman camp stove to use as the heat source. If we are home we use the gas stove in the kitchen or if it's a really hot day we use the big grill, however, we have to keep angling and moving the grill so that any wind doesn't "diffuse" the heat away from the cooker.

Our usual and most requested meal in the Can Cooker is just the general recipe for old-fashioned good food! I use corn on the cob (broken into half ears so they cook faster) and I set them upright around the bottom of the can cooker; then organic (fairly small) potatoes on the bottom (this will help hold up the corn), then a layer of carrot pieces cut into about 1 inch slices) a couple of whole onions layered on top of the carrots (we like vadalia), a whole head of cabbage cut into quarters, leaving in the core to hold it together better, on top of that we layer some lil smokies or cut up pieces of kielbasa or your favorite ring sausage, at the very top a stick of real butter (no margarine, please, not EVER). I pour in about 3/4 quart of water, put the lid on and get it started heating. When you see steam coming out the hole on top it needs to cook for about 50 more minutes.

When it's done steaming/cooking, I pour the whole thing into an insulated cooler (it also keeps things warm) and people just dish up their plates out of the cooler, keeping the lid on after dishing up so the food stays warm.

It is my understanding that you can also use this can cooker over a campfire but we have never tried that, so I couldn't attest to whether it works or not. It would have to be a totally quiet night, no wind at all, or I can't see this working.

My DH doesn't even like cooked cabbage, but in this dish he will eat it and actually likes it! The flavors from the sausages and butter funnel down through the layers of food as it steams and gives everything lots of great, smoky essence. Kids also love this, as a rule.

There are a lot of things you can do with this cooker thing but we stick with the tried and true. I do not like "steamed" meats except the sausages and maybe hot dogs or something, so we would never use this to cook chicken or shrimp or anything like that, although you can. You can even make desserts in it, but I've not tried that yet either.

Anyone else ever use a can cooker?
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