If you’ve ever found yourself in the middle of a grueling hike without any power snacks, (cue hangry, trail-side rage rant) or if you’ve ever awkwardly made sandwiches on your knees because you ran out of table space, (there were so many ants on the ground!) or if you couldn’t figure out how to cook eggs and prepare coffee at the same time because you only brought one cooking pot (throws hands up in frustration) then Don and Pam Philpott’s Campfire Cookbook: The Complete Guide to Eating Well in the Wild (Thunder Bay Press, August 11, 2015) is for you. All of the above has happened to me and I can tell you right now that figuring out the answers to these problems can be very frustrating when you are:
A. Hungover or
B. Sleep deprived after tossing and turning on the hard ground in a very hot tent.
Here’s a few of the best tips and recipes from the book that I wish I had known before I went on my first camping trip.
There is a section devoted entirely to this and it is invaluable. You and your friends might think that you covered your bases with a few measly sandwiches and some extra water, but you need to keep a few things in mind when hiking.
- Nature is unpredictable and you never know when you might take the fifth wrong turn or get entirely rained out and have to sit trailside and wait it out.
- Bring “surprise” treats that are high energy for high morale. These include licorice, peanuts, raisins and candy.
- There are easy ways to make your own sports drinks (1 cup natural fruit juice + 1 cup water + a pinch of salt and shake well).
Conserving Fuel and Charcoal
I almost cried when I finally figured out how to cook bacon on our charcoal grill without burning it (hint, tin foil is your best friend) and then we ran out of charcoal. Basically, cook meats first and don’t waste your fuel and charcoal on vegetables. Save fuel by undercooking food just a bit (best with veggies) and let them sit for a few minutes – covered – to finish cooking.
Cooking Efficiently by Doing Two Things at Once
Whether you are hard core camping or glamping (glamour camping), one of the hardest things to do is cook quickly and easily. I can’t tell you how many times I had to figure out how to cook three different things using one pot. There was a lot of head scratching and wandering about. Most of the time I’d throw together the first two components of the meal and then wrap them in tin foil to keep them warm. Here is an amazing recipe where you can cook your eggs and coffee at the same time and then another recipe that I did in fact try while camping—that went terribly wrong.
Scrambled Eggs n’ Coffee:
Cook your eggs while you make your coffee. It’s simple and economical on fuel and time. When your eggs are cooked, place them onto a plate and pour a cup of coffee. This is the fastest way to cook breakfast and the best thing about it is that it makes great, fluffy scrambled eggs.
Serves 2. Prep Time: 5 minutes. Cooking Time: 10 minutes.
4 eggs or egg powder equivalent
3 tbsp/45ml milk or reconstituted powdered milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil water in a pan or coffee pot. Crack the eggs into a plastic bag, add the milk, and season to taste. Be sure to use a plastic bag rated for high heat.
Pop the bag into the boiling water for a few minutes and then remove and check your eggs. If the eggs look cooked (i.e., there is no liquid in the bag), keep the bag closed and use your fingers to scramble them through the bag. Open the bag and serve. You could add a little cheese to the eggs in the initial mix or sprinkle some on the eggs on the plate.
*Disclaimer: My unpeeling process was completely off and I cooked these for waaaay too long until they were brown and smushy. I also didn’t know about this secret brown sugar/rum/cognac idea and I really wish someone had told me beforehand.
Serves 6. Prep. Time: 5 minutes. Cooking Time: 5 minutes.
½ cup/125 ml chocolate chips
1/3 cup/75 ml brown sugar
2 tbsp/30 ml rum or cognac
Peel back one flap on each banana so that the whole of one side is exposed. Make sure the flap is still attached at one end. Make a slit lengthwise down the banana, being careful not to cut all the way through. Then gently lever the cut apart to make a cavity.
In this slit, sprinkle chocolate chips, top with brown sugar, and drizzle over 1 tbsp/15 ml rum or cognac. Repeat with the other bananas.
Replace the flap of peel and individually wrap the bananas tightly in foil. Place in the embers of the fire for about 5 minutes or until the chocolate and brown sugar have melted. Pull away the foil and use this as dishes to serve.