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Camping Food II

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Cooler Camping

If you car camp, you can bring along a cooler for your food. This allows you to eat pretty much anything you would normally eat at home.

To maximize the effectiveness of your cooler, keep it stored in the shade. Pre-freeze foods that can take it, including breads, sauces, beverages, etc.

Ice: Crushed ice works very well for several reasons. First of all, it fits well around any shape of food you pack so you will be able to fit more ice in and keep it where you need it. It also tends to melt slower than cubes. Sometimes you can get some simply by asking at your local grocery store.
For longer trips, you may wish to try dry ice. This can be found by looking through your local phone book. Medical supply companies and party supply companies are your best bet. Be sure to follow all recommended handling proceedures as dry ice can burn. The benefits of using dry ice are that it is much colder than water ice, it doesn't get wet as it melts (actually, it doesn't melt, it sublimates), and it lasts longer than water ice. Because it is colder, you will have to be careful not to freeze foods that shouldn't be frozen.

Desserts and Other Treats

For some of us, it just wouldn't be a camping trip if there weren't any smores. To make an ideal smore, take two square cookies (graham crackers are the most traditional cookie). On top of one, place a piece of flat chocolate (flat, plain chocolate bar piece). Now roast a marshmallow until it is perfectly cooked--golden brown on the outside, a bit gooey on the inside. Use the cookies to squeeze the marshmallow off the stick, making the whole thing into a goey, sticky sandwich. Eat and enjoy!

Variations: try using the President's Choice Concerto cookies instead of graham and chocolate as these already have the chocolate attached; try using different varieties of chocolate / chocolate bars; for uncooked vegan smores, spread marshmallow Fluff on your cookie.

Banana Boats

This is a foil food.
With the skin still on, slit a banana lengthwise along the inside of the curve. Wedge in your choice of the following ingredients: chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, peanut butter (chips or spread), mini marshmallows, and/or chocolate bar pieces. Wrap the entire thing in foil, and place in the coals of your fire for 2-5 minutes, depending on the size and heat of your fire. Carefully remove from the fire, let cool a few minutes, open the foil and use a spoon to scoop out the insides of the banana.

Other Dessert Ideas:

Bannock and jam: make bannock (see recipe below or cheat and use Bisquick mix). Take a small handful and form it into a thin snake. Wrap the snake around a stick at least three times, being sure to push both ends into the dough next to it to keep it from unrolling and cook over an open fire. Over your camp stove, pour in a handful or two of small dried fruit (berries, chopped apples, etc.). Add a tablespoon or two of brown sugar, and just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat, stir and cover. Let sit for ~10 minutes, then use this as a fruit "fondue" for your bannock. You can also add a handful of dried berries to your bannock mix before forming it.

Uncooked chocolate macaroons: in a freezer bag, place 2 tablespoons of grated or flaked coconut, 1 teaspoon dry milk, 1 teaspoon cocoa and 2 teaspoons of sugar (or use 2 tablespoons hot chocolate powder and coconut). To reconstitute, add a small amount of water to the bag, close the bag and work it through the mix, add in more water as needed. Form into a ball, or eat with a spoon from the bag. Serves one.

Also see campfire cooking below for more dessert ideas.

Easy Bannock Mix
This isn't quite as authentic as the bannock of the Voyageurs and Coureurs de Bois. For true authenticity, omit the sugar and milk powder and substitute lard for the oil. Do your mixing in a small fire-blackened pot with a wooden spoon.
4 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
2 generous tablespoons baking powder (don't level the measure out--allow a little hill on your measuring spoon)
2 tablespoons skim milk powder (optional)
1/3 cup of sunflower oil (omit if cooking this on a stick)
2 cups of water

Measure all of the dry ingredients into a large freezer bag before you leave on your trip. Write the directions on the outside of the bag with a permanent marker. At the campsite, add the oil and water right into the bag. Seal the bag and knead the mixture right in the bag until it forms into dough. Form it into a snake for cooking on a stick as above, or into thin patties for frying like pancakes. Cook as desired.

Pumpkin-Pie Fruit Leather

Prepare this dried recipe ahead of your trip.

You will need:
1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened
1 large can of pumpkin
pumpkin pie spices to taste--best to be generous with the spices in this recipe (suggest: 1 tsp each of cinnamon and powdered ginger and nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. each of allspice and cloves, a pinch of salt)
1 tablespoon of blackstrap molasses
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup or brown sugar

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Spread evenly on a silicone-lined baking sheet and dry for 3-4 hours at 125 F in the oven, remove, turn over the leather with a spatula and continue drying until it is of a grainy fruit leather consistency. For a chewier, more "fruit roll-up" consistency, add more sugar, maple syrup, honey etc. before drying.

If you have a camp fire, fire-baked apples or pears are a yummy dessert option.


Outdoor activity requires you to drink more than you normally would. Pure, clean drinking water is a must. Best is to use a fine filter, such as a Katadyn or MSR. Do not rely on Brita or other home filters designed for municipally treated water--they will not filter out viruses and unhealthy bacteria. For shorter trips, boiling your water and/or treating it with purification chemicals is another option, or bring it along with you from home.

Drink crystals make ordinary water more appealing, especially to kids. Gatorade and other sports drink crystals have the added bonus of replacing necessary electrolytes lost through sweat.
Try to remember that salt is a necessary dietary requirement. With all the hype about overdoing it, you may be tempted to cut back on your salt intake. But during strenuous outdoor activity (especially for the kids), you need some to help you maintain healthy fluid levels. Also consider fruit drinks, iced tea, powdered milk, hot chocolate, hot apple drink, tea, and instant coffee. Tea and coffee will not rehydrate you well as both are diuretics, so use them sparingly. Powdered mulled wine (by Harvest Foodworks) is a nice treat if you can find some, and the kids can have some too as there is no alcohol in it.

If you are car camping. or canoe camping with little portaging on the first day. you may wish to bring along a plastic or tetra pack of juice for the first day.

Campfire Cooking

Cooking over a campfire is not "foil-proof" as it is much harder to control that cooking on the stove or in the oven. Despite that, some of the meals our family has enjoyed best have been cooked over the coals. Maybe it's the adventure that adds the flavour!

Also see "desserts" above for ideas for cooking over the fire.
While many people prefer to cook on a grate over an open fire, this section refers to recipes that can be cooked without a grate, either by cooking on a stick (or wire), or by wrapping in foil and placing directly in the coals. The foil-cooking recipes can also be placed on a grill to be cooked, but will need a slightly longer cooking time if cooked this way.

Stick Cooking

Lots of food lends itself to being cooked on a stick. If young children are doing the cooking, be sure to tell them not to shake or wave the stick, even if their food catches fire. No one wants burning food flung at them; it is safer to have the kids blow on the food or just dump it into the fire.
For your stick, use a commercial wire marshmallow stick, a clean unbent wire coat hanger (one without paint or varnish coating), or a found stick. If you use a found stick, widdle away the end to a point, and/or insert the end into the fire to sterlilize the cooking end.
Try cooking some or all of the following: hot dogs, sausages, marshmallows, bannock, bisquick, any cake or muffin batter (make it extra thick by adding 1/2 or less of the recommended water), root veggies, apple and/or pear wedges.
If you want to get a bit fancy, try making some bannock or bisquick and add some of the following to the batter:
  • grated cheese
  • minced garlic
  • chopped onion
  • sundried tomatoes
  • mushrooms
  • herbs (cilantro, basil, tarragon)
  • dried peppers
  • seeds (sunflower, poppy, sesame, pumpkin, etc.)

  • Sweet:
  • dried fruit (smaller pieces)
  • brown sugar and cinnamon
  • chocolate and/or butterscotch chips
  • apple butter or jam (spread these on after the bannock has been cooked)
Kids may enjoy making their own "pogos" by wrapping a hotdog or piece of cheese in bannock and cooking it on a stick over the fire.
Anything you can cook like a shish-kebab can be cooked on a stick over the fire in much the same way. Try the following shish-kebab foods: meat chunks, tofu cubes, zucchini wedges, peppers, cherry tomatoes (these cook quickly!), cubed squash, onions, corn on the cob slices, and mushrooms.
Dessert kebab foods might include: melon cubes or balls, apple and pear chunks, pineapple wedges, grapes, strawberries, marshmallows, etc. These aren't to be cooked though, and are best left for car-camping trips.

Foil Cooking

Basic roasted potato: Wash potato, cutting away any eyes etc.. Cut a slit along the top (to let steam escape) and wrap in foil. Set on the coals for 10-25 minutes or until fully cooked (time will vary depending on the size of the potato and the heat of the coals).
Possible additions: widen the slit you cut and stuff with one or more of the following: butter, grated cheese, chopped onion, bacon bits, and/or sun dried tomatoes before wrapping and placing on the coals.

Corn on the cob: Peel but don't remove completely the husk from the corn. Remove the "hair" and rinse the corn with cold water. If desired, butter and salt the corn, then replace the husk. Wrap the corn in foil and place in the coals for 5-12 minutes or until fully cooked. This can also be done without the foil by tying the husk together agian using moistened cotton string, but will need to be watched very carefully (cooking speed is harder to regulate without the foil).

Roasted root veggies: Sweet potatoes and yams can be cooked in much the same way as regular potatoes above. Carrots, turnips and beets should be peeled, cut into similar sized pieces, then wrapped in foil. Potatoes and yams can be cut into chunks and added without peeling. Brushing them first with a little olive oil and adding a sprinkle of tarragon and/or a few garlic cloves (whole or minced) is a nice touch. Cook them all together so the flavours combine.

Personal Panzerotti: Use a pita for this. Cut off the end so you can stuff the filling ingredients inside the pouch. For the sauce use traditional tomato sauce or one of the following: barbeque sauce, alfredo sauce, teriyaki sauce (a thick variety works best), plum sauce, or thai peanut sauce. Add your favourite grated cheese, and toppings. Try out unusual ones if you dare, such as: artichokes, shitake mushrooms, zucchini slices, roasted garlic, feta cheese, marinated tofu, bean sprouts, snow peas, diced eggplant, jalapeno peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, peaches, raisins, almond slices, walnuts, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds. Once your panzerotti has been stuffed, wrap it in foil then place in the coals for 2-5 minutes or until any cheese is melted.

Roasted apples: You can roast apples whole by first washing them then poke a hole in the top to let any steam escape. Wrap in foil then cook as for potatoes. Eat these with a spoon. The consistency is like applesauce, but much yummier. Pears can also be baked this way and add a decidedly gourmet touch to your campfire.
For a sweeter dessert, cut out the core 3/4 of the way down the apple, so that the bottom is still intact. Fill the cavity with a mixture of butter, brown sugar and cinnamon, or experiment with butterscotch chips or raisins. Wrap and cook as above.

Quick and Easy Camping Main Courses