Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Campfire Gourmet

There is a very distinct part of me that loves nothing more than feasting on processed hot dogs, cheap beer, and gas station donuts for days on end.  "Days on end" being somewhere along the lines of 4-7 hours.  As a child my tolerance was never ending- the more the better!  Unfortunately that part of me seemed to fizzle out around the same time I stopped styling my hair with Elmer's glue (yes really).  Although I guess I was more of a grumpy teenager than a child at that point.  Either way.

Some of my lovelies and myself are planning a long weekend camping at Bay View State Park on Padilla Bay in just over a week.  Aside from the hot dogs that we'll consume for nostalgia's sake (and also because they're totally delicious- don't deny it), I'm hoping to do as much creative campfire cooking as patience will allow.  And don't worry- Amy dubbed me "Two Match Mielke" a few years back- so I have minimal worries about a troop of halfway-city-girls trying to cook over hot coals.  We'll be just fine.  I'm going into this knowing that sturdy aluminum foil and a good pair of long-handled tongs are going to be our best friends- I have a ridiculous amount of faith in our ability to pull this off.  Ridiculous!

Pizza: I have been anxiously awaiting my chance to grill pizzas.  I know that this was trendy ohhhhh two years ago- but since when am I that cool?  I live in an apartment in the city- we had never had a patio until this year, so really I don't feel so bad about it.  Plus- there is something so much more magical about every type of food when you are lacking walls and running water.  Serious Eats has a good guide to the basics- although they are using a less temperamental charcoal or gas grill- we'll be using wood.  I think with a few packages of Trader Joe's dough, a lot of patience, and some basic toppings we'll be eating something that at least resembles pizza.  Maybe.

Potatoes: You can go the easy route- just throw them in the fire and let them do their thing (poke a few holes first), or you can go the "fancy" route:  Slice the potatoes almost all the way through- leaving the skin on the bottom half intact.  Put a thin slice of onion between each section of potato.  Top with butter and herbs, then wrap in foil and place in the coals.  Cooking time depends on the size of your potatoes- test with a fork, and pull them out once tender.

Eggs:  I have been struggling to figure out the best way to cook eggs in an aluminum foil packet without making a huge mess.  Then (no joke) I landed on an article put together by The Girl Scouts of Western Ohio.  Who are apparently all a bunch of little friggin' geniuses.  Hash browns!  You make a "nest" of hash browns, veggies, and sausage, then dump eggs into your little nest, so they don't go running all over the place.  Seal that sucker up and cook it for 5-10 minutes.  They are so smart. 

Seafood:  Yes, really.  First of all- prawns are the perfect candidate for kabobs- which are in turn perfect for grilling.  Salmon (skin on) cooks up quickly and easily wrapped in aluminum foil.  Mussels, clams, and scallops are easy to cook in foil as well- with a little red wine they'll be perfectly steamed and wonderful.  Unfortunately the area that we're going to doesn't permit clam digging, but we're lucky to have great access to fresh seafood regardless. 

Campfire cakes: How did I not know about this before?  You dump cake batter into a hollowed out orange, put the top back on, wrap it in aluminum foil, and stick it in the fire for 5-10 minutes- and you have fresh, hot, beautifully orange infused cake.  Bread and Honey blogs about her experience here.  I would personally lean more towards a vegan cake recipe- my favorite being this.  I'd suggest mixing all of your wet and all of your dry together beforehand- then combining them once you're ready to make these.

Cinnamon rolls:  These can actually be done in the exact same manner as your cake- or you can wrap them individually in foil.  Just use good ol' crappy store bought biscuit or croissant dough, and wrap them up with lots of butter and cinnamon sugar.  You can of course just use the straight-up cinnamon rolls out of a can- but it takes a little of the fun out of it.

The two most important aspects in all of this- are the ability to keep food chilled until cooked, and the patience to allow your food to cook thoroughly before eating.  Taking along an old pot from the thrift store isn't a bad idea either- especially if cooking in aluminum foil feels like too much of a hassle.  I'd also suggest practicing general fire safety guidelines as to avoid any unnecessary incidents (such lighting your pants on fire- as I learned at 4-H Camp).

What are your favorite campfire foods?


Also- please don't forget to go here and leave a comment to enter to win a selection of organic and heirloom variety vegetable seeds.  Tomorrow is the last day!


inaffets said...

We cook our eggs by putting them in a zip lock bag and putting that in boiling water over the fire.

Ellie said...

so excited!! got to remember the vegan optionz for our non-dairy friends...

Becca said...

This is way lame, but my favorite things ever camping wise - BLTs on white bread (I KNOW, but that's what I did as a kid. I'd probably fancy it up with turkey bacon and whole wheat at this point) and sticking a can of green beans in the fire until warm.

It just makes me think of camping while growing up.

Oh, duh, and smores.

K.E.N. said...

i love stew pockets! in some foil: get some of your favorite veggies sliced up, some vegan sausages (i made some homemade ones last time, so good. go check out Julie Hasson's Italian Sausage recipe, if you haven't!), and then cover with some soup (my favorite is the Pacific Cashew Carrot Ginger!), put on some hot coals til all veggies cooked. so tasty!

Hilary said...

I was JUST going to tell you about the 'in a zip loc' trick! Scramble the eggs in the bag, add whatever other ingredients you want and then boil for 5 or so minutes. SO good!

N Germain said...

I know this won't be one you'll want to make Renai, but I always loved the roasted bananas we made at 4H camp. Cut a slit from one end to the other of a banana, only part way through, being very careful not to break the skin on the bottom side. stuff the slit full of chunks of chocolate. Wrap the banana in foil and roast over hot coals till the banana is soft through. Open and eat, very carefully, with a spoon. Hot! and Delish!

Becky said...

One of my favorite books for campfire cooking was Roughing It Easy, by Dian Thomas. It was the bible on homemade camp stoves, ovens, grills, and various quirky but effective campfire cooking methods. Here are some of my favorite ideas:
Cut a strip of bacon and place it in a small paper bag covering the bottom. Crack an egg over the bacon. Fold down the top of the bag several times, then poke a sharp stick through the folds. Hold your bacon and eggs over hot coals. Be careful not to let the top of the bag get near flames. The grease from the bacon will keep the bottom of the bag from burning. Cook about 10 min. Roll down your bag to eat!
Not so quirky but really effective is a Dutch Oven. I love them. You can cook stews, breads, cakes in them by burying them in a pit with hot coals below and placed on the lid. Very effective - the traditional slow cooker!
And my childhood favorite recipe: split hotdogs lengthwise (don't cut all the way through) stuff with cheese, then wrap a strip of bacon around and secure both ends with toothpicks. Use a two pronged stick to skewer from the side and roast over hot coals.
So -there's some grease ideas for you... Happy camping

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