Dynamics of a Dump Cake


Dump cakes are a classic Scouting Dutch oven dessert; however, most of the dump cakes I have encountered over the years have not been very successful. The cake mix doesn’t cook properly and there are pockets of dry powder and ugh! No, thank you.

However, back in June, I was prepping for a week at the Chisholm Trail High Adventure Camp in Texas with the older scouts of my son’s Boy Scout troop. At the end of the week, my scouts expected the Scoutmaster and I to enter the dump cake cookoff. I didn’t want to let them down so I spent some time wrapping my brain around the dump cake concept and I discovered a few things.

While it is, in fact, called a “dump” cake, I don’t believe that you literally just dump the ingredients in the Dutch oven. I believe a wee bit of mixing is still needed for a successful dump cake.

When making a dump cake, I believe there are 2 outcomes you are going for. One is more of a cobbler style with fruit on the bottom and cake on the top. The other is more of a crisp style with fruit on the bottom and a crunchy crumb mixture on top.

For the cobbler style dump cake, add your fruit to the bottom of the Dutch oven. In a bowl, mix your cake mix with whatever you are going to use for the liquid. You could follow the instructions on the box and use eggs, oil, milk or water or you can use a can of soda pop for your liquid. The soda pop is a fun way to introduce some additional flavor and it adds a weird element that kids find exciting. Pour your cake and soda mixture carefully over the fruit and bake.

For the crisp style dump cake, add your fruit to the bottom of the Dutch oven. In a bowl, using a pastry cutter, 2 forks, or your fingers, cut butter into the cake mix until it resembles course crumbs. You could also stir in some chopped nuts for additional crunch. Sprinkle your crumb mixture over the fruit and bake.

Making your dump cakes this way is going to be far more successful and provide a dessert that you actually want to eat.

So what did we end up making for the Dump Cake Cookoff at High Adventure Camp in Texas? Well, we had one can of Sprite that we’d purchased in advance at the Trading Post. We had to guard it for days to make sure it didn’t get drank! All we had for a measuring cup was a large paper cup. The pie fillings were in the big #10 cans and the cake mixes were likewise in bulk in 10lb bags, so the Scoutmaster and I worked together and we totally winged it.

I chose peach pie filling and he chose the yellow cake mix. We thought those would go nicely with each other and would be different from all the chocolate dumps cakes we were watching being made. While I spooned the peach pie filling into the bottom of the Dutch oven, he mixed the cake mix with the Sprite. I dusted the top of the peaches with our secret ingredient we’d packed from home, aka, cinnamon. We carefully poured the cake mix over the peaches and took the Dutch oven to the campfire to bake. Because we were using coals from the fire, we had to eyeball it, but I think we did pretty good. We were done in the allotted time with only a small burnt spot on top, which I scraped off before we served.

Unfortunately, the judges chose chocolate dump cakes as the winners; however, all the scouts who tasted our dump cake said it should have won, so we feel we won the popular vote!

Soon, I’ll post the Dump Cake I made at Summer Camp this summer. And, yes, it was chocolate!

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Camp Coffee Connoisseur


September 29 is National Coffee Day!

When you’re camping, there is nothing quite like the smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning. It’s one of the top reasons why campers crawl out of their sleeping bags in the morning. It ranks right up there with the warmth of a crackling campfire and the smell of bacon frying!

For coffee lovers, enjoying a good cup of coffee can make or break a weekend camping trip. However, between the single cup brewers for home and office, and having a Starbucks on every corner, many people don’t “make” coffee anymore. Then, when they go camping, and those luxuries are not available, they either go without (and we have to put up with their grumpiness) or they “settle” for instant coffee or a coffee tea bag.

Well, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to settle. You can brew a great cup of java in your camp kitchen. Here’s how to do it.

For equipment, you’ll need a camp stove and a coffee percolator. For the percolator, you’ll want one with a clear-glass percolator knob so you can see the coffee as it brews. Being able to see the coffee will help you decide when it is done. Your percolator will also include a metal basket with a spreader plate that sits on a metal straw (I’m not sure if it has an official name).

The basket for the grounds is not really a filter and you may occasionally get a few grounds in your coffee, but that doesn’t bother me. But if you’re bugged about those things, you could use separate disc-style filters or strain your coffee when you pour it.

How the percolator works is by forcing water up through the straw where it spurts out over the spreader plate and seeps through the coffee grounds. (see diagram)

Coffee_Percolator_Cutaway_DiagramNow for the ingredients. You’ll want to start with good beans, medium ground. Either purchase your favorite coffee beans already ground or buy them whole and grind them yourself at home. Either way, store the ground coffee in an airtight container and bring more than you expect to consume because coffee always tastes better in the great outdoors.

Fill the coffee pot with water. It is important that the water level is below the bottom of the basket.

Before loading your coffee into the basket, wet the inside of the basket to help prevent grounds from going through the holes. Scoop the coffee into the basket (do not pack it in), set the plate on the basket, and insert the entire assembly into the coffee pot. Put the lid on the coffee pot and set it to flame.

Once it starts to boil, turn the heat down. Brewed coffee left on high heat for too long will acquire a bitter taste. Keep an eye on the coffee bubbling up into the clear-glass percolator knob. Coffee is ready when it’s a nice rich brown to your liking.


My red coffee pot (pictured below) holds 48 ounces or 6 cups of water (pot filled to the bottom of the bottom hole of the pour spout). To the basket, I add ¾ cup coffee grounds (6 scoops). This makes 8 (6 ounce) cups.


And don’t forget to pack the coffee extras like sugar and creamer for those of us who prefer our coffee on the blonder side. I love all the flavored creamers available today. My favorite is Hershey’s Chocolate Caramel by International Delight. Last summer, on our 50-mile bike trip, a friend of mine brought a chocolate chip cookie dough flavored creamer and it was yummy. If you don’t want to keep it refrigerated, there are many tasty flavored coffee creamers in powdered form.

In addition to coffee fixin’s, remember to pack a good supply of hot chocolate, apple cider, tang, and a variety of teas for the non-coffee drinkers. For a great Russian tea recipe, see my blog post “Russian Tea is a Tangy Beverage Hot or Cold.”

Now you have a reason to crawl out of that sleeping bag in the morning. And the rule in camp is: First one up starts the coffee.

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Autumn Has Arrived

autumn_river_690pxFall tends to be the harbinger of change. Just as the leaves on the trees give up their green and begin to take on the vibrant reds and golds of autumn, the dog days of summer seem to slip away as school busses begin to roll down the streets.

Here in the northwest, the weather is changing, turning cold with more rain, and our meal planning is changing as well, turning to more comfort foods. We start thinking about stews and hearty soups, pasta dishes, and yummy casseroles. Recipes like meatloaf and scalloped potatoes get pulled out, chicken mini pies, macaroni and cheese, and beef stroganoff to name just a few.

Fall is also when we’re taking our last few camping and hunting trips and we’re switching from our lighter, summer weight sleeping bags to our colder, heavier sleeping bags or adding a wool or fleece blanket. On the really cold nights in October and November, we fill water bottles with hot water and toss them in the foot of our sleeping bags to keep our toes warm at night.

With the weather turning stormier, we also make sure we are prepared for winter emergencies. September is National Preparedness Month so we take some time now to make sure we’re prepared in the event of an emergency. We make sure all our propane tanks are full and we have a good supply of charcoal for cooking when the power goes out. We top off candle supplies and battery supplies for flashlights. We make sure our pantry and freezer is well stocked. If getting to grocery stores is difficult or the grocery stores are closed because they have no power, we can live out of our pantry and freezer for many days. We also check our stored water supplies so we have enough for drinking and cooking.

When the power goes out, it’s important to be able to cook warm meals and between my propane stove and my Dutch ovens I can do that. I do my cooking out in the garage or on my covered front porch. Remember! Never operate your propane stove or use charcoal inside your home or anyplace that isn’t well ventilated as it can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Be prepared and be safe!

So, are you prepared for what Ol’ Man Winter throws at you?

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Chicken Mini Pies

Chicken_Mini_Pies_IMG_1977_690pxThis has to be one of our family’s top 10 favorite things to eat. We don’t make them very often because they are a bit labor intensive, but they are well worth the effort. In fact, they taste so yummy that we nearly devour them as soon as they come out of the oven, piping hot and scalding our mouths in the process. But we just can’t stop ourselves. They are that yummy.

The cream cheese chicken mixture is well seasoned, but not spicy. It goes so well with the paprika seasoned pie crust. It’s comfort food you can hold in your hand.

To make assembly in camp easier, both the pie crust and the filling could be made ahead of time at home and ride to camp in a cooler. Here are a few more tricks we’ve learned along the way.

We chop all the vegetables really fine so every pie gets a nice variety of goodies. Dicing the veggies extra small also makes sure the filling is not too lumpy, which makes assembling the pies harder. When making the filling, we add the celery at the very last so it’s still a little crisp, but don’t forget to add it (like I’ve never done that before).

For the poultry seasoning, we prefer Johnny’s but you could also use Lawry’s or whatever poultry seasoning happens to be your favorite.

We make our own pie dough from scratch in 2 batches. I’ve tried to make one big batch, but it’s too hard to handle. For a flakier pie crust, make sure to refrigerate the dough before rolling out. So, making ahead actually works better for the pie crust.

If you choose to use store-bought pie dough, just give it a light, even, dusting of paprika as you roll it out. Use about a teaspoon of paprika and evenly distribute across your pie crusts. The pies won’t taste the same without the paprika pie dough. And you’ll need the equivalent of about 4-5 pie crusts.

To cut out the pastry rounds, we use Pampered Chef’s 4-inch round cut-n-seal or you can use a 4-inch biscuit cutter and then crimp the edges with a fork. I can bake 4 at a time in a 12-inch Dutch oven.


I can bake 7 at a time in my 16-inch Dutch oven.

Chicken_Mini_Pies_IMG_1973_690pxI can bake 8 on a 17¼ x 11¼ baking sheet in a box oven (apple box) or a regular home oven.

Chicken_Mini_Pies_IMG_1968_690pxFor instructions on how to make a box oven, see my blog post, “DIY How to Build a Box Oven.”

Any way you bake them, they will disappear as fast as you can make them. Make sure you get one before they are gone!

Dutch oven or 17¼ x 11¼ baking sheet, skillet, mixing bowl, pastry cutter, measuring cups and spoons, 4-inch round cut-n-seal or 4-inch biscuit cutter, and a 2-tablespoon ice cream scoop.

Filling Ingredients
¼ cup celery, finely diced
¼ cup onion, finely diced
3 tablespoons butter
3 cups chicken, cooked and finely shredded, fresh or 2 13-ounce cans
3 tablespoons chicken broth
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ cup cream cheese

Pastry Ingredients (make 2 batches)
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon paprika
1 cup cold butter, grated or diced
8-10 tablespoons cold water

Prep Work for the Filling

In a large skillet, sauté onion in butter. Stir in chicken, broth, seasonings, and cream cheese. To the chicken mixture, add the celery and just heat it through.

Prep Work for the Pastry

Sift together flour, salt and paprika. Cut in butter until it resembles small peas. Gradually add water until ball forms. Shape into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled. Roll out pastry to 1/16-inch thickness. Cut rounds.

Assembly of the Meat Pies

Mound 2 tablespoons of filling on half of the rounds you cut (we use a small 2-tablespoon ice cream scoop).

Chicken_Mini_Pies_IMG_1964_690pxMoisten edges with water; place another round on top and seal the edges either with the cut-n-seal or with a fork.

Chicken_Mini_Pies_IMG_1965_690pxPlace in ungreased Dutch oven or on ungreased cooking sheet. Prick tops with a fork. Bake in a 375°F oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

For a box oven, you’ll need about 15 coals.

For a 12-inch Dutch oven, you’ll need 27 coals, 9 underneath and 18 on the lid.

For a 16-inch Dutch oven, you’ll use 38 coals, 13 underneath and 25 on the lid.

Makes about 20 pies, which will feed 10 if everyone has 2 pies or 6 if everyone has 3 pies (it’s been known to happen). If there are leftovers, at home, they reheat very nicely in the microwave. In camp, we just wrap them in foil and warm them by the fire.


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Bakin’ Bacon in a Box Oven


Saturday was International Bacon Day! Did you fry some bacon while you were camping? I know, silly question. Of course, you did!

Making bacon in camp can be hard to manage because of all the bacon grease. Your griddle or flat-top grill just gets overrun with it. But did you know you can bake bacon in a box oven? Not only does this manage the grease a little better, but also frees up your griddle or flat-top for other fun, like pancakes, hashbrowns or eggs.

We knew bacon could be baked in the oven at home and we had baked bacon in the big camp kitchens, which is a great way to do it if you’re feeding a bunch of hungry campers; so why wouldn’t it work in a box oven at camp? We decided to try it on one of our Girl Scout campouts and it worked! Here’s how we did it:

We lined a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper. The pan must be rimmed or you’re going to have bacon grease everywhere! The parchment paper will help manage the grease. Lay your bacon out on the pan in a single layer. They can touch but not overlap.

Bacon03_IMG_1006_690pxIn a regular oven, you would bake at 375° for 18 to 20 minutes or until it reaches your desired level of crispness. There is no need to flip it. Just let it do its thing. When it’s done, use tongs to transfer the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate.

In camp, in the box oven, we found we needed a little hotter oven. We bumped it up to 425° using 17 coals. I’d also recommend soup or juice cans to elevate your baking sheet, which are shorter and will place your baking sheet closer to the coals.

Our box oven was an apple box, my favorite. For instructions on how to make a box oven, see my blog post, “DIY Box Oven.” An apple box will accommodate a standard 17¼ x 11¼ baking sheet, which will hold about 10 slices of bacon, depending on the size of your bacon. If you are feeding a crowd, you may want a second box oven or you may need to make a couple of batches. If making multiple batches, you can always wrap the bacon in foil and place it near the fire to keep it warm, although I don’t mind cold bacon. I mean, bacon is bacon, right?

Bacon03_IMG_1008_690pxSo, the next time you camp, try baking bacon in a box oven. You may need to experiment a little to find the temperature and time combination that will give you bacon to your desired doneness, but it’s worth every bake, because you’re making bacon! Don’t be so distracted by the magic in your box oven you forget you can have hashbrowns and eggs going on the griddle, while the bacon is baking.

Get out outside and cook something amazing!

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Trail Mix and Match

Trail Mix 03 690pxToday is National Trail Mix Day. Known by many names, I grew up calling it GORP (Good Old Raisins and Peanuts), trail mix is a type of snack mix, specifically a combination of dried fruit, nuts, and sometimes chocolate.

Trail mix is considered an ideal snack food for hiking and camping because it is lightweight, easy to store, and nutritious, providing a quick energy boost from the carbohydrates in the dried fruit or granola and sustained energy from fats in nuts. Trail mix is also perfect for sporting activities, field trips, and other high-calorie burning adventures.

The combination of nuts, raisins and chocolate as a trail snack dates back at least to the 1910s, when outdoorsman Horace Kephart recommended it in his popular camping guide. In the 1960s, trail mix was popularized by Paul Hadley of Hadley Fruit Orchards, who developed energy-boosting blends of dried fruit, nuts and seeds and marketed them to hikers in the neighboring San Jacinto Mountains.

However, in recent years, I feel that trail mix has become less of a high energy snack and more of a camp candy, which is a far departure from its original purpose. For trail mix to pack the energy punch that it’s supposed to, it can’t just be all candy. It needs to be primarily carbs, proteins and fats, with a little sugar for that sweet treat.

So long as trail mix includes the key three, the sky is the limit as to what to put in it. That’s another great thing about trail mix; it is definitely not a one-size fits all. It’s very customizable.

So, what makes a great trail mix?

Well, as we’ve already said, it needs to have carbs, proteins, and fats. It needs to have some crunchy bits and some chewy bits. It needs to have some sweet and some savory. And, above all, it needs to have flavor and stuff you like; otherwise, you’re not going to eat it no matter good for you it is.

Let’s explore the world of possibilities. When building your trail mix, include ingredients from each category and you can’t go wrong.

Nuts or Seeds

Good nut choices include almonds, pistachios, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts. Higher-calorie macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, pecans, and pine nuts are also good options in moderation. Nuts are loaded with healthy unsaturated fats, protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamin E, and other essential vitamins and minerals. Raw or roasted, go for unsalted, unsweetened nuts to keep sugar and sodium in check.

For those with nut allergies (or just looking to mix things up), seeds provide many of the same nutritional benefits as nuts and many are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, gamma linolenic acid, protein, zinc, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and calcium. Good seed choices include hemp, sunflower, sesame, flax, and pumpkin.

Fruits or Berries

Good choices include dried apricots, pineapple, cranberries, blueberries, cherries, figs, apples, dates, raisins, banana chips, goji berries, strawberries, and mango. Fruit can be a great source of fiber, antioxidants, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and K. Look for dried fruit options with as little added sugar and preservatives as possible (some varieties, like cranberries, are naturally quite tart and almost always sweetened with cane sugar or apple juice). It’s also pretty easy to make your own dried fruit at home in the oven.

Crunchy Bites

For that little bit of crunch try granola, toasted oats, sesame sticks, pretzels, tortilla chips, shredded wheat squares, air-popped popcorn, puffed rice, corn flakes, whole-grain cereals like Cheerios or Chex, bran flakes, and whole-wheat crackers. Grains add complex carbohydrates for extra fiber, which boosts overall energy and helps to keep you full. Choose whole grains whenever possible and avoid highly processed cereals that add unnecessary sugar and sodium.

Sweet Bites

Round out your trail mix with a sprinkling of something sweet, including M&Ms, chips or nibs (dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, peanut butter, carob, butterscotch), gummy candies, chocolate-covered coffee beans, yogurt-covered raisins, mini marshmallows. When choosing chocolate, remember that dark varieties have extra antioxidants. A little bit of sugar is perfectly acceptable and, according to Mary Poppins, “helps the medicine go down.” Just remember to add sugary treats sparingly. They should not be a main component.

Unique Mix-Ins & Savory Extras

Kick it up a notch with coconut flakes, wasabi peas, candied ginger, pork rinds, coffee beans, and seaweed rice crackers. Adding spices is a great way to change up the flavor a bit. Season the mix with sea salt, curry, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, or cayenne pepper.

Some Assembly Required

Start by choosing just a couple ingredients from each category. Keep it simple. Don’t pack too many flavors in, but have enough variety to make every handful a little different. Don’t be afraid to mix it up once and a while and add something new or come up with new combinations.

When you’re ready to assemble, combine ingredients and store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place to prevent spoilage.

When making trail mix for a camping or hiking adventure, sporting activity, or urban experience, allow each family member to build their own. Set out ingredients, grouped by category, and give everyone a resealable bag, mason jar, or plastic container. Guide little ones so they don’t load up on all the sugary stuff and leave out the nutritional building blocks.

Trail mix is a power hitter when it comes to snack food and is not just for hikers. I pack a little trail mix to work every day for a nutritious energy boost for when I hit that afternoon slump. And, yes, I have Craisins in mine! What’s in your mix?

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Baby Steps and Baby Bites


picky_eater_02_690pxLearning to like something can be hard for adults and especially hard for kids, whose pallets may not be fully developed. It could be taste, texture or, sometimes, it’s both. Take onions for example. When you bite into a large chunk of onion, there is a lot of texture and a strong flavor. It’s a powerful bite and can easily overwhelm a young pallet.

I spent many of my early years not liking onions but, as an adult, I was surrounded by many people who did like them, who wanted to cook with them, and who wanted me to cook with them. One day, I just decided that I was going to try to learn to like them. But where to start?

I started with baby steps and baby bites. I started by using a little onion powder in my cooking. This gave me flavor without the texture and I found I liked it. Gradually, I increased the amounts of onion powder until I reached full strength. Next, I started swapping out the powder for dehydrated minced, which is tiny, tiny bits of diced onion that have been dehydrated, which provided me with a little texture. From there, I started using fresh onions, dicing them very small (and I mean very small) at first and working my way up to larger dices.

This same method could be done for many other foods. You may not be able to find the food in a powdered version, but you can still mince it or chop it very small and use it sparingly at first. Allow everyone to become comfortable with it before stepping up to the next size.

Over the years, I have made great strides toward liking onions and, while I’m not quite ready to have a thick slice of raw onion on my burger, when we went out to dinner a couple of weeks ago, I actually ate a couple of onion rings, and I liked them!

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Let’s Talk S’Mores


Today is National S’Mores Day! Who doesn’t love a good s’more?!

Some time ago, I ran across this infograph on s’mores by REI and I loved it so much I saved it to share here.

20160810 smores_infogram

For most folks, it’s just not camping without at least one evening campfire and s’mores, songs, skits and stories.

While the classic s’more consists of graham crackers, chocolate squares and toasted marshmallows, it’s okay to break from tradition and put your own spin on it.

We love to swap out the chocolate bars and graham crackers for hazelnut chocolate spread and shortbread cookies (yes, we use Girl Scout shortbread cookies). We’ve dubbed them gourmet s’mores.

My daughter loves to add a layer of peanut butter to hers or swap out the chocolate bars for a peanut butter cup. Do you have a favorite candy bar that would get all melty and gooey and compliment the marshmallow and graham crackers?

Adding a layer of sliced strawberries to your classic s’more is simply divine. Blueberries and raspberries are yummy, too.

Channel your inner, evil mad scientist and experiment once in a while. Besides it gives you an excuse to have s’more than one!

Now the question is: When do you pull out the s’more supplies?

I think a lot of people make the mistake of saving s’mores for the end of the campfire and I understand why. The campfire has died down and you are left with a nice bed of embers on which to roast your marshmallows, but now we’re sending everyone off to bed on a sugar high and expecting them to settle down and go to sleep. Uh, ya, not gonna happen.

I would recommend starting your campfire with s’mores. One way to do this is to ignite a small bed of coals on the outer edge of the fire for toasting your marshmallows. This provides your campers with their choice of glowing embers or full on flaming fireballs!

Once everyone is all sugared up, begin the skits and rowdy songs. You know the ones: The jump up, dance around, make crazy hand motions songs.

As the sugar wears off and the fire starts to die away, shift into the quieter, softer songs. On scouting campouts, we love to end our campfires with taps and vespers. Now everyone is ready to go brush their teeth and shuffle off to their tents for a good night’s sleep.

If it’s going to be a cold night, we might include a little protein snack near the end of the campfire. A little protein before bed can help you sleep warmer because your body stays warmer digesting the protein.

All this leads to a perfect campfire on a perfect campout and sends them home wanting to do s’more camping and cooking outside!

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Fresh Herbs or Dried Herbs


I love to cook with fresh herbs and spices whenever I can; however, on long camping trips, sometimes it’s just not practical to pack and store a bunch of fresh herbs. Can you substitute dried herbs for fresh? In most cases, you can and the conversion of fresh to dried is super simple.

On the flip side, if you have a recipe that calls for dried herbs and you’d like to use fresh instead, it’s easy to substitute fresh herbs for dried herbs using this same conversion.

When cooking with fresh and dried herbs, there is a general rule when it comes to the ratio of fresh to dry. Because dried herbs are generally more potent and concentrated than fresh herbs, you’ll need less so the ratio of fresh to dry is approximately 3:1 or 3 portions of fresh herbs to 1 portion of dried herbs. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of fresh oregano, you need only 1 teaspoon of dried, since 3 teaspoons equal 1 tablespoon.

For the most part, this ratio works for all herbs across the board; however, there are a few where the ratio needs to be adjusted or they have their own, unique conversions.

Basil: 2 teaspoons finely chopped basil (about 5 leaves) = 1 teaspoon dried basil

Bay Leaves: 1 fresh leaf = 2 dried leaves

Garlic: 1 clove = 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic or 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Ginger: 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger = 1/4 teaspoon dried ground ginger

Onion: 1 medium onion = 1 teaspoon onion powder or 2 tablespoons dehydrated minced onion (to rehydrate minced onion, soak in twice as much cold water for about 10 minutes then drain)

Parsley: 2 teaspoons finely chopped parsley (about 3 sprigs) = 1 teaspoon dried parsley

Sage: 2 teaspoons minced fresh sage (about 7 leaves) = 1 teaspoon dried sage

And, just like the pirate’s code, these are “more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules.” It is always important to use your taste buds and adjust the seasoning when necessary. Add the minimum amounts; let them work in for a few minutes and taste. You can always add more, but if you over season at the start, it’s hard to back it down.

In most cases, you can substitute dried herbs in recipes that call for fresh herbs; however, there are some exceptions. If a fresh herb is a focal point of the dish or the main component, then it is not a good idea to use the dried version. For example pesto, which requires large amounts of fresh basil leaves, cannot be made with dried basil.

It also matters if the herb is going in the dish or on top of the dish. When I make my scalloped potatoes, I sprinkle dried parsley in between the layers of potatoes and béchamel, but if I want to sprinkle some parsley on top before I serve then I would definitely want to use fresh.

Dried herbs tend to do best if they’re added during cooking so their flavor has time to infuse the whole dish. Fresh herbs are best when used at the end of cooking, to finish a dish. This way the flavors are still fresh and bright when you start serving. I also like to use fresh herbs in sauces, salad dressings, and other quick dishes since dried herbs don’t have enough time to really infuse these kinds of dishes.

Whether you’re using fresh or dried herbs, packing and storing your herbs for camp is really not that hard. Fresh-cut herbs can be wrapped in a paper towel, stored in resealable plastic bags, and then put into the cooler. Place them on top or, if your cooler has a tray, put them there. You don’t want them to get crushed by the ice or other foods. Dried herbs should be stored out of the light and in a cool, dry place. So a clear plastic tote sitting in direct sunlight is not the smartest choice for your dried herbs.

Being able to cook with herbs, fresh or dried, allows for more scratch cooking possibilities in camp. You’ve heard me say this many times: For the most part, whatever you can make in your home kitchens can be made in your camp kitchens. Sometimes you just have to be a little creative and figure out how to do that.

So, get outside and cook something delicious!

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Cran-Apple Coleslaw


I grew up on a cranberry farm and, every once in a while, I get a craving for cranberries. I also like to find excuses to add cranberries wherever I can, so I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to enjoy them with apples.

This non-traditional coleslaw is perfect for when you’re looking for something a little different. The apples and cranberries are a classic pairing of sweetness and tartness. The almonds add just a bit of crunch along with the cabbage and carrots. And the dressing is both sweet and tangy, and brings it all together.

As the base for the dressing, I used Fage Greek yogurt for its richness and thickness. Whatever brand you choose, be sure it is Greek; otherwise, the yogurt will be too thin and your dressing will be too sloppy.

I’d recommend assembling and serving immediately to keep everything as crisp as possible. The dressing could be made ahead and brought to camp for when you’re ready to assemble.

As always, tweak it to your liking. If you’re not a fan of dried cranberries, you could substitute raisins. You could use a different variety of apple. We like gala apples.

I love the fruity freshness of this salad. You could easily pair it with most anything. Last weekend, we served it with our chipotle pulled pork and it was fantastic. Look for the chipotle pulled pork recipe soon!

Large mixing bowl, small mixing bowl, whisk, knife, cutting board, measuring cups and spoons..

¾ cup Greek yogurt
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
6-7 cups cabbage, shredded (about 1 small cabbage)
1½ cups carrots, sliced into matchsticks
3 cups gala apples, sliced into matchsticks (about 2 apples)
½ cup green onions, sliced (about 4 stalks)
1 cup almonds, sliced or slivered
1 cup dried cranberries

At home or in camp, in a small mixing bowl, whisk together Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, honey, apple cider vinegar, and salt and pepper until smooth.

In a large bowl, toss together cabbage, carrots, apples, green onions, almonds and cranberries. Add the dressing and toss to evenly coat.

Serves about 8.

This post has been shared at Homestead Bloggers Network. If you like this blog and don’t want to miss a single post, subscribe to Chuck Wagoneer by clicking on the Follow Us button in the upper right corner and follow us on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest updates and more stuff!

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