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Food for camping

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Going camping, need ideas for food.

Anyone?
Necessity is the mother of invention.
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Necessity is the mother of invention.
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post #2 of 15
Tell us more.

For how many people?
How big your cooler is.
For how many days.
Can you have fires,
Is it a developed camp site with a grill.
What kind of camp cooking equipment do you have.
How much time are you interested in spending cooking?
Any diet restrictions?

You can cook pretty much everything at a campsite that you would at home though it might take some special equipment for some things. The more problematic limitations are usually fire restrictions.

Premeasure and pack things before going. I'll mix up the dry ingredients for pancakes or whatever in a ziplock. Label it with a Sharpie for what you have to add to it. You can mix in the bag which is a bit tricky, or pour it into a bowl which is easier but one more thing to clean up.

The last morning, I usually do a boil in a bag omelet and use the clean hot water for cleaning everything up after breakfast. Take a ziplock baggie. It needs to be the press and seal type as the zipper tab types don't seal fully. Put in some eggs, cheese, vegies, ham/bacon, mix well. Seal partially, press out the rest of the air and finish sealing. Drop into a pot of boiling water and wait a few minutes for it to cook. You can eat right out of the bag when it's done to your liking. Use the hot water for cleaning up.

Tinfoil/hobo dinners wrapped in tin foil and laid on the coals are a classic camping meal.

Kabobs are usually well received.

Steaks of course as well as burgers, hot dogs, chops, cutlets....

Clean up is also a bit more tricky so many people choose dishes with minimal clean up. Cleaning is also one of the things most campers don't do well. They pour gray water in the bushes which attracts bugs and rodents. The discard grease in the bushes too.

Here's some better info on doing the dishes within the Leave no Trace ethic:
iliveoutdoors.com :: View topic - Land Use Ethics: Proper Cooking Waste Disposal
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Right on phatch, I went to the recipes section of iliveoutdoors, thanks for the link!

So there are no fire restrictions, it is in the bush, not organized camping, and there will be 8 people. My needs would be not a lot of dishes, but I do not care about the time it takes.

I like the idea of hobo meals.

Equipment is minimal: pots, pans, tin foil. Heat source is the fire.
Necessity is the mother of invention.
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Necessity is the mother of invention.
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post #4 of 15
Cooking with a live fire is one of the trickier things to do well.

The classic method is with a keyhole fire. You make your firepit in the shape of an old-fashioned keyhole. You build the fire in the circle and you rake coals down into the stem for cooking over. You can buy collapsible grates to set pans on or cook on directly and they're not that expensive. The main thing is to make them stable and level BEFORE you build the fire. Again, it's best to rake coals in under rather than a leaping fire.

Tripods for boiling and spits of course are what the movies always show. You can do a roast on a stake leaning diagonally out over the fire pit. Turn the roast manually every so often.

Another classic live fire tool is the cast iron dutch oven (not enameled). The lid will have a lip for putting coals on top and the bottom has legs to slip coals underneath. Soups, stews, roasts, biscuits, breads and such are all easy this way.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #5 of 15
I'll second phatch's "pre-package" approach - plan out every meal, portion and pack in reverse consumption order.
that way you are not digging through every sack in camp looking for something.

the problem with this approach in perfect anticipation of 8 peoples appetites - qty wise.

my experience has been one and two week backpacking - where:
- weight is a big issue
- there was _no_ option to duck out to the local mini-mart for more (whatever)

if you can drive up to the campsite in an SUV, you have lots more options than if the group has to carry everything 'into the bush'
post #6 of 15
The two issues, for any outdoor activity, are weight and bulk. The further you get from a vehicle, the larger they loom.

If you're car camping, there are no restrictions to what you can eat. Take a camp stove, all the cookware you need, and enough coolers and you're good to go.

If you're backpacking, on the other hand, you need to minimize both weight and bulk to the max.

Canoe camping lets you carry more than backpacking, but not as much as car camping.

And so on.

Something people often leave out is the number of people involved. The amount of gear you can carry with a group goes up geomentrically. This is often referred to as "community" equipment. Say you want to make a stew. It only takes one large pot---impractically for one or two backpackers, but not necessarily so with a large group taking a short walk into the woods.

Given your stated situation, there isn't much you can cook at home that you can't do in camp. Our forebears cooked everything on open fires and hot coals, and they certainly didn't lack for anything. As an historical reenactor, I do the same.

Make sure than anytime a fire is untended it is fully out!

I concur that pre-packaging ingredients makes sense. And keep in mind that people always eat more outdoors, particularly if they've been active, and particularly in colder weather. So make sure and account for that.

Make lists. If you don't, I guarantee you will forget a crucial ingredient of six. Write out your menu, make a list of ingredients needed (x 8), and make sure you have it all. If others will be responsible for group needs, make sure who does what is written down. And check with each of them before leaving to assure they've got what they're supposed to have.

You need more fats and oils in cold weather, so plan on that. Go with jowl or slab bacon, rather than presliced, as it keeps better without refrigeration. And plan a meal or two that involves frying: pan fried chicken breasts, perhaps.

One thing to keep solidly in mind is the ethics of camping. Do not build a rock fire ring, as was so common in the old days. Instead, dig a hole---either a keyhole, as Phil suggests, or a trench. Confine your fire to it. When you're finished with that camp, assure the fire is fully out. Then backfill with the dirt and turf that came out of it.

Carry out all your trash. Take only photos. Leave only foodprints; and not many of those.

Did I mention to make sure your fire is fully out!

BTW, you might want to check out the camp cooking section of my outdoor webpage, www.the-outdoor-sports-advisor.com. Might be some ideas there you can use.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #7 of 15
cool site KY.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #8 of 15
Camping can mean a lot of different things. There's quite a range between those childhood evenings on Grandpa's farm when we'd go out to the woods and roast ( okay, scorch and destroy ) hot dogs on a stick and something like that 3 week mountaineering trip into the Wind River mountains I did a few decades back. Different foods involed.

Decent advice from folks so far, I'm just going to relate a particular case. Yep, settle in, get comfy for another one of my pointless ramblings.

I was working as a land surveyor some number of years back, and we were subdividing a large ranch outside of Coalville, Utah, into 10 -20 acre recreational parcels. Rather than drive 60 miles in the morning, work for a few hours, pack up everything and drive back to Salt Lake we ended up doing a few weeks where we'd drive up monday, camp out on site all week and drive home friday. The two most memorable meals from that time were the pot of chili I made and the rib roast. The roast is the one to talk about here.

We purchased a large standing rib roast, 6 - 7 bones worth. And lots of foil. Most of our meals involved opening cans, a pot or two and a propane stove. The rib roast was different. Erik and I quit surveying at lunch time and got to work on dinner. The roast was seasoned with lots of salt, pepper, garlic and some green herb I've forgotten, probably sage or thyme. Wrapped in foil, then wrapped in foil, maybe 4 good layers worth. We dug a hole off center of our usual fire pit just big enough to hold the roast. Loosely packed in the dirt around and over it, then started a fire directly over it. We tended the fire for a few hours, not exactly difficult work. As I recall, Erik and I were both into chess at the time so no doubt we played a game or two that afternoon, no doubt beers in hand. Nice work if you can get it.

Later that afternoon we wrapped some potatoes in foil and placed them around the edges of the fire, which by then was building a nice bed of coals. The first crew came back and we sent a couple of them into Evanston for libations. Being in Wyoming it didn't have the clueless, anti-alcohol restrictions found in Utah. We had some good wine and beer that night.

So eventually everybody is back in camp, it is getting dark and we are all hungry. Fish out the potatoes, then push the coals off to the side and dig out the roast. Brush off the dirt and unwrap the foil.

Heaven. It was SO good. Sure, there wasn't a nice crisp crust from high direct heat roasting or searing. I was afraid that after 6 - 7 hours in the ground it might be overdone, but such was not the case. Rare to medium rare, some well done bits on the side - something to keep everyone happy.

Rib roast, potatoes, sour cream, butter, horseradish - a great meal all done with a basic wood fire.

THAT was camping.


mjb.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #9 of 15
>cool site KY. <

Thanks, Shroom. It's only been up about a month, and everyday we learn something new about making it better. If you have suggestions or comments, don't hesitate to let me know.

I started it, at my eldest's urging, because there are so few content-driven outdoor sites. Most of them are overt, or thinly disguised ads is all.

I don't know much about e-techology, but the site already is indexed at Google---which they tell me is incredibly fast. But I have no idea what the criteria are for that happening.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #10 of 15
Do a search...I had a whole post with meals I cooked camping....but I had a grill. I was equipped, but in a wilderness area 1.5 hours from the nearest paved road.

After the week was over, I felt I could have cooked anything on the grill and my single burner stove thing.
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the ideas. About the hanging cauldron thingy for the fire, I want one of those since I went camping in Ukraine, everyone seemed to have one and they work pretty good. Good novelty item too ;)
Necessity is the mother of invention.
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Necessity is the mother of invention.
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post #12 of 15
There are two approaches to camp cooking: one it to plan out every meal the other is to plan based on the number of people and the number of days and bring ingredients to make your meals as you need.

Method one is fine if you are going for 1-2 days and you just want to pack your jet boil and some oatmeal etc. hit the trail and then your done. However I find if you are doing extended trips the second method is better as it allows for more flexibility in your meals. I actually learned this method from NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) and they have an excellent book that teaches this method (NOlS Cookery NOLS :: Books :: NOLS Cookery) . Instead of planning each meal you bring everything you will need (a portable pantry if you will) fuel, flour, spices, cheese, granola, powdered milk, etc etc based on the number of people and days. What this does is it allows you the flexibility to cook based on your conditions. If you and your group have just done say 20 miles of cooking it is highly likely that the really nice meal you planned is more complicated than anyone has the energy to cook. It gives you more options in my experience and with a few recipes you can have some really excellent meals.

The NOLS method takes some getting used to and I suggest planning a small few trips and breaking it in and getting used to it. However the book gives some excellent ratios for what you will need based on the type hike, number of days etc etc and they are pretty accurate in my experience.

The other thing I would suggest is taking some edible plant classes. When I am on the trail I find it very easy to snack as I hike on what is available and a great way to have fresh greens and berries (depending on the time of year) when your in the back country. It really is not as intimidating as many think to learn say five decent edible plants that you can supplement your meals with. Start with the mint family it is the easiest and safest (IMHO). Two books I would recommend are: Botany in Day by Tom Elpel (Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification. (a.k.a. Thomas J. Elpel's Herbal Field Guide to Plant Families of North America)) and Peterson's North American Guide (Amazon.com: A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and central North America (Peterson Field Guides (R)): Lee Allen Peterson, Roger Tory Peterson: Books)


Lastly PRACTICE!!!! So many people read something, plan something and then head out into the woods to try it out. Terrible terrible idea use your backyard let your neighbors say your weird but practice. One week I made all of our dinners on my new camp stove keeping track of the utensils, ingredients used, cooking times etc so I was ready for my next trip. Nothing worse than breaking in a stove you have never used with a group of hungry people standing around.

Hope that helps.
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
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Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
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post #13 of 15
>About the hanging cauldron thingy for the fire, I want one of those.....<

They're fairlyi common, Neeps. I find mine (I've got five of them) at flea markets, garage sales, and antiques malls.

Before buying one, take it outside in the sun and look through it from the inside. Any pinholes and cracks usually show up that way. If possible, ask the seller if you can fill it with water, too. That'll tell you real quick if it leaks.

Many of these kettles, particularly the larger ones, were used as planters, and are all but rusted out. So watch for that, as well.

Something for your trivia collection: A cauldron is a pot with a capacity of 13 gallons or more. Less than that and it's a kettle. Cauldrons were mostly used for doing laundry, rendering lard, and making large quantities of food that was going to be put by---such as apple butter.

Plus, if we can believe Mister Shakespeare, for mixing a witch's brew. :)

Cauldrons usually sat on the ground, and a fire built around them.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #14 of 15
I second kabobs - they're easy to make, and you can control how much each part is cooked if you pay attention.

Also great is quick sauteeing fruits lie apples and pears, even melons. Add a dash of salt and pepper, maybe a splash of white wine - toss in some onion while you're at it. Delish!

Pamela
post #15 of 15
Seeing "camping food" and "British Columbia" together reminded me of one of my greatest outdoor experiences ever. It was in Bowron Lake Provincial Park, in BC. A few friends and I did a weeklong canoeing trip in a spot that nature made perfect for canoeing--in the wilderness, in the lower western ranges of the Rockies, and with a circuit of lakes so that you could start and end your trip at the same place.

This is probably not where you are going, but anybody who loves camping should do it some time :)

There were four of us and 2 canoes. We rented wheels to strap onto the canoes so that for the portaging parts the canoe became a long cart--strap on the wheels, fill it with stuff, and push it along the trail. We carried nothing on our backs.

We went luxury for the dining part. We took one big cooler of cold stuff, with extra ice so it would stay cold for most of the trip, and another big cooler full of frozen stuff and dry ice. The dry ice (wrapped in paper) kept the frozen stuff frozen for the full week. We took camp stoves.

We had feasts, as far as camping goes. After 4-5 days we were out of fresh fruit and camped at one of the gorgeous campgrounds, which was stocked with chopped wood as they all were. There was about a half acre of wild blueberry bushes loaded with berries. Did that hit the spot or what!! All this in one spectactular piece of wilderness.

We should have taken fishing gear, but we didn't. There were a lot of trout in those lakes. We watched with envy as other people caught them.

I'll never forget that experience. If I do it again, I'll take a Hobie kayak with their "Mirage" pedal drive. And fishing gear, for sure.
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