Be Fearless and Have Fun

Julia Child once said, “Learn to cook, try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless and above all have fun!”

In honor of Julia Child’s birthday tomorrow, August 15, I’d like to encourage everyone to be fearless in the kitchen and to have fun.

Don’t be afraid to try a new recipe, a new food, or a new technique. Cooking does not have to be a chore. It can be fun and creative. It is science. It is math. It is art. Cooking represents all aspects of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics). Think about it.

With young cooks and picky eaters, I always encourage them to try something new. For my scouts, I remind them that a Scout is Brave. A Scout is Courageous and Strong.

I encourage you to get outside your comfort zone because that is where the magic happens! Try it! You might like it! There are many foods I eat today, that I didn’t like and wouldn’t eat when I was younger.

When my children were little, I challenged myself not to pass along my food aversions, my food baggage. I wanted them to try the foods and decide for themselves. I wanted them to be fearless and I tried to set a good example. I forced myself to try new things or re-try foods I didn’t think I liked. To my surprise, I found I liked a lot of them or they weren’t as bad as I remembered or I didn’t like them when I was younger because they hadn’t been prepared properly. Sometimes, how you prepare a food makes all the difference in the world as far as how it tastes.

With our children, the house rule was they always had to try it and they had to try it every time we made it. As children grow, their taste buds develop and what they don’t like today, they might like tomorrow or next month or next year. If they didn’t like it, we didn’t push it. If you force them, food becomes a form of punishment, and they will hate it the rest of their lives. We just invoked part 2 of the house rule, which was they had to try it again the next time we made it.

We also encouraged and allowed them into the kitchen with us. If a child helps prepare food, they are more likely to try it and eat it.

My children are now in their early ‘20s and I am pleased to report that, for the most part, they will eat just about anything. And they don’t shy away from trying something new. I couldn’t be more proud of them. When it comes to cooking and eating, they are fearless. I think Julia Child would be proud too.

Julia Child revolutionized American cuisine through her French cooking school, award-winning cookbooks, and world-renowned television programs by presenting an approachable version of sophisticated French cooking to her eager audience for four decades.

Her book and the popular television show that followed made the mysteries of fancy French cuisine approachable, introducing gourmet ingredients, demonstrating culinary techniques, and most importantly, encouraging everyday “home chefs” to practice cooking as art, not to dread it as a chore.

Julia made cooking fun and fearless. She was and still is an inspiration to all of us.

Julia also was fond of saying, “A party without cake is just a meeting.” So, always have cake! Or a crisp or a cobbler or pie. I like pie. Cookies are fun too! And Dutch ovens make the best brownies!

Bon Appétit!

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Upping Your S’Mores Game

Saturday, August 10, is National S’Mores Day! Who doesn’t love a warm, gooey s’more?!

For us, 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. Here are few suggestions for upping your s’mores game!

Outer Shell (the Graham Cracker)
Saltine
Chocolate Chip Cookie
Butter Cracker
Shortbread Cookie
Snickerdoodle
Sandwich cookies
Peanut Butter Cookie

Inner Melted Layer (Milk Chocolate Bar)
Peanut Butter Cup
Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread
White Chocolate
Dark Chocolate
Chocolate-Peppermint Candy

Marshmallow Layer
Marshmallow Spread
Flavored Marshmallows
Home-Made Marshmallows

Extras
Chocolate-Covered Raisins
Crispy Rice Cereal
Caramel Sauce
Raspberries
Blueberries
Strawberry Slices
Banana Slices
Apple Slices
Dried Cranberries
Candy-Coated Chocolates
Coconut Flakes
Sliced Almonds
Pretzels

We recommend starting your campfire with s’mores so that by the time the campfire is done, that sugar-high has worn off and everyone is ready for bed. For more s’more information, please read my blog post: “Let’s Talk S’Mores.”

So, what are your favorite ways to jazz up the s’more experience? We’d love to hear them.

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Chicken Chow Mein

When we go out for Asian food whether it is dine-in or take-out, chow mein is always one of the dishes we order. It is great as an entrée or as a side dish. It also makes a great camping dish because, for the most part, it is a one-pot recipe. And, I don’t think I’ve met a kid who didn’t like noodles.

We’ve made this recipe a few times and we love it. My son has even gone back for thirds! It is loaded with healthy vegetables and the flavors, particularly the ginger, really pop.

If you need to cook gluten-free, you could easily swap out the Yaki-Soba for gluten-free spaghetti. The flavor and texture will be subtly different, but with all the other flavors going on, you probably won’t notice.

You could serve this as a stand-alone dish or as a side dish. As a stand-alone, it serves 4-5. As a side dish, you could probably double that. If you’re serving as a side dish, you could omit the chicken and do something else with it like Teriyaki Chicken or my Kung Pao Chicken.

You could also serve the chow mein (with or without the chicken) with my Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry. You could serve this with an Asian marinated flank steak. You could serve this with pot stickers, egg rolls or just a simple Asian salad. Really, the possibilities are endless.

A lot of the prep for this could be done at home before you go. In camp, you could make this in a cast-iron wok on a big camp stove or in a Dutch oven on the stove or over coals, or in a large, deep skillet. If all the prep is done at home, you can get this meal on the picnic table in less than 30 minutes, depending on what else you serve with it.

Ingredients
¼ cup soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger or ½ teaspoon dried, ground ginger
¼ teaspoon white pepper
3 (5.6-ounce) packages refrigerated Yaki-Soba, seasoning sauce packets discarded*
1 onion, sliced into half or quarter moons, depending on your preference
3 stalks celery, sliced diagonally
2 cups shredded cabbage
2 cup carrots , shredded or julienne sliced
4 green onions, sliced with whites and greens separated
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts , cut into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons sesame oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

Prep
At home before you go, prep the chicken and load into a resealable bag or container. Prep all your vegetables. If you don’t want to shred all the cabbage, you can purchase a bag of pre-shredded (the kind used for coleslaw). The amount of cabbage will look like a lot but it will cook down. The onion, carrot, and celery could all go into a resealable bag or container together since they will all be cooked together. The cabbage and bean sprouts could also be transported together. The green onion should be packaged separately. Mix together the soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar, ginger and white pepper and load into a container that can be sealed. Make sure you pack salt, pepper, and sesame oil. You should also pack some extra soy sauce and a hot sauce that folks can add at the table if they choose.

In camp, add some boiling water to a pot or a bowl and add the Yaki-Soba until loosened, about 1-2 minutes; drain well.

In your chosen cooking vessel (wok, Dutch oven, skillet) over medium-high heat, add a couple tablespoons of sesame oil. Add chicken, season it with salt and pepper and stir fry just until cooked through (it will continue to cook as you add other ingredients). Add onion, carrot, and celery, and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the cabbage and the bean sprouts until heated through, about 1 minute. Stir in Yaki-Soba, soy sauce mixture, and white parts of green onion until well combined, about 2 minutes. Total cook time in camp is 15-20 minutes.

Garnish with the green parts of the green onion.

Serves 4-5 as a stand-alone dish or 8-10 as a side dish.

*Yaki-Soba is ramen-style noodles and they can be found in the refrigerated aisle of your local grocery store. In camp, all you need to do is place them in a bowl and pour hot water over them and let them rest for a few minutes to “loosen up.”

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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Unpacking Your Gear

We tend to talk a lot about how to pack for a camping trip; however, unpacking after a camping trip is just as important. Unpacking your gear properly, can make packing for the next trip fast, easy, and hassle-free. It will also help your gear last longer because this is a valuable part of caring for gear.

The challenge is: we’re tired from the amazing weekend we just had and all we want to do is take a hot shower and plop on the sofa or in our favorite easy chair. But unpacking does not have to be a chore. Here are a few, simple tips for making it quick and easy, starting in camp.

Pack for Unpacking
In camp, wash your pots and pans, and put them back in your chuckbox clean, dry, and organized so you don’t have to wash them when you get home. There is a chance that you might forget and the next time you get to camp, you might find all manner of nasty molds and stuff.

Pack it Right, the First Time
Again, in camp, take the time to pack it right. Whether you’re rolling your sleeping bag or taking down your tent, take the time and the care to do it right. This will save time when you get home because you won’t have to redo it so you can put it away.

When in Doubt, Air it Out
When you get home, if you know or suspect any of your gear is wet or even damp, pull it out and let it dry before you pack it away. Pull out your sleeping bag and hang it. Set up your tent outside on the lawn or inside the garage or house and let it dry while you unpack the car and stow all your other gear. Otherwise, you’re risking mildew and mold.

Clean and Dry
Take the time to clean and dry items before you put them away. Empty your cooler, rinse it out, and wipe it down with disinfectant so it’s clean and sanitary for the next trip.

Everything in its Place
Have a spot for your backpack, tent, sleeping bag, cooler, food tote, etc. When you know where everything belongs, it makes it easier to put away and easier to pull out for the next campout.

Don’t Unpack EVERYTHING
Some items can just “live” in your backpack, food tote or gear box and don’t need to unpacked. Things like your first-aid kit, flashlight, work gloves, etc. can stay in your backpack. Things like salt and pepper, food handling gloves, resealable bags, etc. can stay in your food tote. Things like extra tent stakes, mallet, lantern, etc. can stay in your gear box. Things that always go can stay packed where they belong.

Segregate Gear
Have separate compartments or sections for items that stay packed and items that don’t so you can quickly unpack the items that need to be unpacked.

Restock
As you’re unpacking, check consumables like batteries, baby wipes, salt and pepper, first-aid supplies, etc. and replenish right then or make a note to purchase and replenish before your next trip. This is also a perfect time to reflect on the trip and add items to the list that you wished you had. If this is the last trip of the season, you’ll want to remove things like batteries that might go bad or won’t winter well.

Trash Your Trash
Make sure to throw away or recycle all unwanted items. If something broke or just wore out on the trip, make a note to replace or repair it before the next trip.

Just Do It
Unpacking needs to be done and now is the time to do it. You have to unload it from the car anyway, you might as well do it right so it’s all ready to go for the next trip. You’ll feel better and will be able to truly relax in that easy-chair.

Make it Fun
Turn on some music, crack open a cold beverage, have a plate of snacks handy, and use this time to reflect on the weekend. You could even be looking ahead to your next trip.

When everything has been cleaned, dried, restocked, and put away, you can hit the shower, kick up your feet, and watch some TV or pick up that game controller for some well deserved couch-potato time.

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Stroganoff Meatballs

I love the flavors of beef stroganoff. It’s one of my favorite dishes and I have been known to have leftover stroganoff for breakfast and lunch the next day, I love it so much. So, I decided to take my Swedish meatballs recipe and tweak it to a stroganoff and it’s now my favorite meatball recipe.

Stroganoff or Stroganov is a Russian dish of sautéed beef served in an onion, mushroom, and sour cream sauce. The dish is named after one of the members of the influential Stroganov family. I don’t make it with whole mushrooms because a family member can’t have them; however, you could add whole or sliced mushrooms to yours.

For my beef stroganoff recipe, please read my blog post: “Beef Stroganoff on a Camp Stove.”

At home, these can be made in the slow cooker. Meatballs can be served with any kind of rice, rice pilaf or traditional egg noodles. When I made this for adult scouters for an outdoor training weekend, I served it with Uncle Ben’s Rice Pilaf and it was really tasty. I used 12-inch Dutch ovens for both.

You can use store-bought meatballs or you can make your own. For meatball making ideas, please read my blog post: “Make Your Own Meatballs.” I recommend mirroring the flavors that are in stroganoff so you could add paprika, minced garlic, grated onion, and parsley.

Equipment
Pot for the rice or noodles and a pot, skillet or Dutch oven for the meatballs.

Ingredients
26 ounce bag of frozen meatballs
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can beef consommé
8 ounces sour cream
1 medium onion, diced, or 2 tablespoons minced onion
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, on medium heat, mix together all the ingredients except the meatballs. A whisk works really well for mixing. It might be a little lumpy and that’s okay. The sauce will smooth out as it cooks. Add the meatballs. Cover and cook 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally until meatballs are heated through. Start water for your rice or noodles and prepare those as you normally would. In the time it takes for you to make rice or noodles, the meatballs should be done.

An alternate method would be to add the meatballs to a 12-inch Dutch oven, mix the sauce in a medium bowl, and pour it over the meatballs. Bake in a 350°F oven, using 17 coals on the lid and 8 underneath, for 1 hour. Refresh coals as needed.

Garnish with a little chopped parsley or green onion.

Serves 6-8

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How to Pack Your Cold Foods

In our post two weeks ago, “Summer Chilling in Your Cooler,” we focused on the cooler and how to help it do its job. Today, we’re going to focus on the food that gets packed into the cooler.

In order to keep foods out of the “danger zone” we need to keep them below 40°F. We also want to prevent containment failures, which can lead to cross-contamination. We want to pack as efficiently as possible and, in camp, we want to quickly find what we want without too much digging and keeping the cooler lid open.

Food Prep
Prep as much as you can at home before you go. Pre-chop vegetables, and mix marinades, sauces, wet ingredients, and dry ingredients. Portion out condiments into smaller containers if you don’t need the whole bottle. Don’t bring a whole carton of eggs if you only need a few.

Check Packaging
Remove excess packaging, which can take up a lot of space that could be better filled with ice. Most packaging is not resealable, so you’ll want to transfer food to a container or resealable bag if you’re not planning to open it and use all of it at once. A lot of packaging is cardboard (egg cartons, milk cartons, etc.), which is not meant to get wet and, in your cooler, it will be sitting in water and over the weekend will slowly turn to mush. Transfer all those foods into reusable, leak-proof containers.

Cold Foods Only
The loaf of bread does not need to be kept cold and does not need to be packed into the cooler. The cooler is for cold foods only; not all your food items. In addition to your cooler, have a tote for your ingredients that don’t require refrigeration such as bread, spices, dry mixes, chips, etc. Don’t take up valuable cooler space with foods that do not need to be kept cold.

Freeze Foods
Freeze as many foods as you can. If you don’t need it the first night and you can freeze it, then freeze it. You can also freeze water bottles provided you allow room in the bottle for expansion.

Refrigerate
All foods going into the cooler that are not frozen should be pre-chilled in the refrigerator. Never put room temperature foods into the cooler. You will waste a lot of ice cooling things down instead of just keeping them cold.

Ice it Large and Small
Place block ice on the bottom of the cooler. It will melt slower. Add cubed ice in between layers of food, being sure to fill all air pockets with ice. Air pockets will accelerate ice melt.

Prevent Leaks
Containers with liquid should be leak-proof; however, as an added precaution, place them in the cooler vertically.

Reverse Load
Load the last day’s last meal into the cooler first and work backward from there until the first day’s meal is sitting on top. You can also differentiate between meals by packing the day’s breakfast foods on the left and dinner foods on the right, leaving the middle area for lunch foods.

Make a Map
If your cooler is large or you are using multiple coolers, make a cooler map so you can easily and, most importantly, quickly find what you need. Minimizing the time a cooler is left open is critical. Clearly mark the beverage cooler so folks know which cooler to open to find a beverage, eliminating the risk of someone opening and digging through a food cooler by mistake.

Pack it Last
Make packing the cooler(s) the last thing you do before you hit the road. Have all your other gear loaded into vehicles. Right before you’re ready to walk out the door, ice and pack your cooler.

Check it’s Temperature
If you’re still at all wondering how cold your foods are, and you should be wondering, consider buying a small food thermometer and attaching it to the inside of the cooler. Every time you lift the lid, you can take a quick check that you’re safely below 40°F.

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Easy Peasy Peach Crisp

My sister is going peach picking soon, so now I’m dreaming of peach pie, peach cobbler, and peach crisp. I made this peach crisp about a month ago and it was so yummy, I made it again this past weekend!

This peach crisp is sweet and delicious. The topping is light and crispy. It’s the perfect dessert on a warm summer night. Pack along some vanilla ice cream in a cooler with a lot of ice and/or dry ice and you have a match made in heaven!

When I’m teaching and/or cooking for a large group, I often need to accommodate food allergies. That was the case a few weeks ago when I was teaching outdoor cooking to Cub Scout and Boy Scout leaders. I wanted to make a Dutch oven dessert that was gluten free. Crisps are a great way to do that because they typically require very little flour or what flour there is can be easily substituted with almond and/or rice flour. The almond flour will add just a bit of nuttiness and the rice flour will bring a bit of snappy crispness. Both are a straight across 1-to-1 substitution for all-purpose flour. I made this one with almond flour.

If you don’t have any nut allergies in your group, add some chopped walnuts or pecans to the topping for added crunch and flavor. About a handful ought to do it. Eyeball it. You can’t go wrong!

You can use fresh, frozen or canned peaches for this recipe. If using frozen peaches, thaw, and drain any excess liquid. If using canned peaches, use peaches that are canned in juice (not syrup) and completely drain them first.

If you don’t have a Dutch oven, you could make this in a pie or baking dish and bake in a box oven.

A lot of the prep for this crisp can be done at home before you go. When you get to camp, all you have to do is assemble and bake. Easy peachy peasy!

Equipment
10-inch Dutch oven, 9-inch pie plate or an 8×8 baking dish. You could double the recipe and use a 12-inch Dutch oven.

Ingredients for the Topping
½ cup almond flour, rice flour or all-purpose flour
¾ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup cold unsalted butter, cubed into small pieces
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

Ingredients for the Filling
5 cups peaches (about 6-7 medium peaches), sliced or diced
⅓ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup almond flour, rice flour or all-purpose flour

At Home Before You Go
For the topping, mix together the dry ingredients and load into a resealable gallon freezer bag. Cut up the butter into small cubes and load into a small plastic container. Toss it into the freezer to get it extra chilled before loading it into the cooler.

For the filling, combine the sugar and flour into a resealable gallon freezer bag. The topping dry ingredients bag and the filling dry ingredients bag can ride to camp in your food tote. The butter and peaches will ride in your cooler. Pack something to grease your Dutch oven or baking dish.

In Camp
Grease your Dutch oven or the foil lining, or your pie plate or baking dish. Start your coals or preheat your oven (if making at home). You’ll need about 21 coals for a 10-inch oven, 25 for a 12-inch Dutch oven, or about 14 coals for a box oven.

For the filling, add the peaches to the freezer bag with the filling dry ingredients, seal the bag, and mix it up until all the peaches are coated with the sugar and flour. Dump the peaches into the prepared Dutch oven or baking dish.

For the topping, add the cold, cubed butter to the freezer bag with the topping dry ingredients, seal the bag, and mush it together until it starts to come together and is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the peaches.

Bake in a 350°F oven for 40-50 minutes or until the topping is lightly golden brown and the juices are bubbling around the edges. For a 10-inch Dutch oven use 14 coals on the lid and 7 underneath. If you’re doubling and using a 12-inch Dutch oven, use 17 coals on the lid and 8 underneath. Refresh coals as needed.

How easy was that? Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Serves about 6.

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!

Categories: Box Oven, Desserts, Dutch Oven, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Summer Chilling in Your Cooler

In the Northern Hemisphere, summer officially began June 21. Summer is the best time to go camping, but it is the worst time for keeping cold foods cold. In order to keep foods out of the “danger zone” we need to keep them below 40°F. Our coolers are our best friends when it comes to keeping our cold ones cold, but we need to help them out as much as we can. Here are some tips to help coolers do their job.

Pre-Chill the Cooler

The day before you go, pull your coolers out of hot sheds, attics or garages and store them at room temperature. Pre-cool them with ice overnight before packing them the next day.

Load Cold

Make sure all foods and beverages are chilled or frozen. Typically, we tend to pull canned beverages out of the garage or pantry and load them into coolers; however, it can take more than a pound of ice to cool a six-pack that started at room temperature. So, chill everything before you load it into coolers. Freeze meats and any foods that you won’t need right away and load them frozen. They will function as ice as they thaw.

More is Better When it Comes to Ice

Try not to overload your coolers, leave plenty of room for ice. The ideal ice-to-contents ratio is 2:1. It’s better to use more coolers so they all can be adequately iced.

Top Off Your Coolers

If you have any extra space in your cooler, add more ice. Extra air space will accelerate ice melt because a portion of the ice will be used to cool that air.

Not All Ice is Created Equal

Ice from your refrigerator is not as cold as ice from a commercial freezer. An ideal combination is dry ice mixed with regular cubed ice. The cubed ice will chill the contents faster and the dry ice will last longer. If dry ice isn’t available, block ice will last longer than cubed ice. Be advised that cheaper plastic coolers can crack if used with dry ice. Check with the cooler’s manufacturer before using. Always wear gloves when handling dry ice.

Keep Coolers in the Shade

When setting up camp, try to find a shady spot for your cook shelter or position your pop up to provide shade all day long. Always have an extra tarp with you so you can hang it off one side of the cook shelter to make more shade. If you can’t do this, you’ll need to be moving your coolers throughout the day to keep them in the shade. When purchasing coolers, choose coolers that are white or that have light colors as these will absorb less heat from the sun.

Don’t Drain the Water

A lot of folks believe draining the water from the cooler will help, but it doesn’t. The water is almost as cold as the ice and can help insulate the remaining ice. Make sure all your foods, especially raw meats, are not exposed to the water. When packing, transfer foods that are stored in cardboard to plastic containers that will not turn to mush in the cold water.

Keep the Lid Closed

Each time the lid is lifted, warm air enters the cooler, which speeds up ice melt. When you need to open the lid, quickly grab everything you need and then close the lid tightly. When packing your coolers, designate one cooler just for beverages, knowing it will get opened more frequently. You can also pack your coolers by meal. For example, all items for Sunday morning breakfast are loaded into their own cooler, which doesn’t ever get opened until Sunday morning.

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Apple Cinnamon French Toast Casserole

French toast casseroles are perfect for a Dutch oven breakfast in camp. They go together pretty easily. You don’t have to stand at the griddle flipping French toast and everyone gets to sit down together and share the morning meal—together. That’s what camping is all about—spending time, unplugged, together and reconnecting with nature and with each other.

To round out your breakfast, you could serve this casserole with bacon or sausage, scrambled eggs, fruit, and, of course, some maple syrup. If you really wanted to get wild and crazy, you could include an apple syrup and/or a caramel syrup.

At home, this makes a great, easy family breakfast that you can prep the night before, store in the refrigerator, and bake in the morning. It’s perfect for a holiday morning meal or brunch. You could even take it somewhere and bake it there.

When I make this, I use French bread but you could also use sourdough if you’re looking for a bit of tang. I use golden delicious apples but you could choose sweeter apples or granny smiths for their tartness. For the egg mixture, I use whole milk because it makes it more like custard. I mean, come on, this is meant to be yummy, rich, comfort food.

So, here’s how we prep and make when camping.

Equipment
12-inch Dutch oven (use a 9×13 casserole dish at home), large mixing bowl, whisk, measuring cups and spoons

Ingredients

Casserole
1-pound loaf sourdough or French bread, cut into chunks
3 cups apples, peeled and chopped (2-4 large apples)
8 large eggs
2 cups milk (whole or 2%)
½ cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar, unpacked
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

Streusel Topping
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ cup salted butter, cut into pieces

Prep at Home Before You Go
Cut the bread into cubes and load into a large resealable freezer bag (minimum 2 gallon).

Peel and dice the apple and load into a smaller resealable freezer bag (2 quart oughta do). If you suck all the air out of the bag before sealing, the apples won’t oxidize as much.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining casserole ingredients and pour into a bottle or container that you can tightly seal.

In a 1-gallon resealable freezer bag, combine all the streusel ingredients except for the butter.

When packing for camp, the bread and the streusel topping mix go into the food tote. The apples, custard mixture, and butter go into a cooler.

Assemble and Bake in Camp

First thing when you get up (yes, even before you make coffee), prep the casserole mixture. For easy clean up, line your Dutch oven with foil. Grease the foil. Add the cubed bread and diced apples, toss together, and then arrange in an even layer. Evenly pour the custard mixture over the bread and apples. Pop the lid on and just let it sit for 20-30 minutes, which will allow the bread to absorb all the custard mixture.

Now, you can make coffee, start a campfire, and prep other breakfast items. About an hour before you’re ready to eat, start your coals. You’ll need 25 coals. When the coals are ready, move the Dutch oven to the baking area, and place 8 coals underneath and 17 coals on top. Bake for about 35-40 minutes.

While the casserole bakes, cube up the butter and add it to the dry ingredients for the streusel. Seal the bag and mash the butter into the dry ingredients until it forms a crumbly mixture. When the timer for the casserole goes off, lift the lid and quickly sprinkle the crumbled streusel over the top and put the lid back on. It helps if you have a buddy to either manage the lid or the streusel. Bake another 5 minutes or until the streusel is melted over the top. Serve the casserole warm with syrup.

Prep for Making and Baking at Home

Prep the bread and the apples and arrange in an even layer in a greased 9×13 casserole dish. In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining casserole ingredients and pour evenly over the bread and apples. Cover the casserole and store in the fridge overnight.

When you’re ready to bake the casserole, preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the casserole for about 35-40 minutes.

While the casserole bakes, in a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the streusel. Cube the butter and mash into the dry mixture until it forms a crumbly mixture.

Remove the casserole from the oven and crumble the streusel over the top. Continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the streusel is melted over the top. Serve the casserole warm with syrup.

Serves about 12.

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Categories: Breakfasts, Dutch Oven | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Camp Kitchen Safety and First Aid

Tomorrow (June 13) is National Kitchen Klutzes Day. While I’m not a klutz in the kitchen, there have been a few times when I have brushed against something hot and burned myself or, while working with a knife, I have nicked myself. Nothing serious mind you (I still have all my fingers), but sometimes it does require a band-aid and wearing a glove while I continue to prepare food. I did have to go to the emergency room once in college when I sliced open the end of my index finger on the sharp edge of a can lid.  It required a couple of stitches and a tetanus shot. I still have a small (1/2-inch) scar.

Where I do tend to “get” myself a lot is when working with a grater. I have to be very careful when the piece of cheese or the vegetable starts to get small and my fingers get close to the grater. I always have to remind myself to move slowly and carefully and pay attention to my finger placement.

Following are some of the most common types of injuries that occur in the kitchen and how to prevent and treat them.

Burns
We all like to joke that it wouldn’t be camp food if something wasn’t at least a little burnt, but you can burn more than just your food in the kitchen. One of the most common kitchen injuries is damage to the skin from hot liquids such as hot water, grease, or other substances; or by touching or brushing up against something that is hot like a hot pot or hot coals. While causing the same type of injury to the skin, contact burns are more severe than liquid burns because the heat is more direct, causing a more painful and serious burn. However, if the liquid is thick or sticky like a cheese sauce, it will cling to your skin and continue to burn until you get it rinsed off.

Caution is the best practice for avoiding burns. Always be aware of hot substances and hot surfaces, and keep the flame at a reasonable level to avoid splatter burns when frying food. When moving things, instead of hot pads, use oven mitts because they cover more of your hands and wrists. Keep the handles of your pots on the stove-top facing in or toward the back to avoid knocking them over.

Whenever you burn yourself, run your injury under cold water for as long as possible. The cold water cools the skin and stops the burning from causing more damage to the skin tissues. Harder burns to treat are grease burns, because they can be hotter than water, and other liquids such as caramelized sugar, because they stick to your skin and are harder to remove. If there are no open blisters or wounds, you can probably avoid a doctor’s visit, but make sure to treat it with ice and Neosporin. Remember to keep the wound clean and to change your dressings regularly in order to avoid infection.

This simple treatment can be a challenge in camp because water is not always readily accessible. If the water spigot is not close to your camp or your cook shelter, fill a bucket and keep it close by just in case. If an injury occurs and the water isn’t cold enough, have someone grab some ice from a cooler and throw it into the bucket.

Eye Irritation
Believe it or not, but eyes are at risk when working in the kitchen, especially when working with ingredients such as chile peppers or spicy ingredients. When substances with heat get into the eye, it can cause irritation and sometimes even infection.

Always be conscious of the food you’re working with when you’re in the kitchen, and never rub your eyes if you’re handling hot spices or pepper seeds. After working with those ingredients, wash hands really well. When frying food, be sure to keep your face as far away from the hot grease as possible, to avoid getting grease splatter in your eyes.

If there is irritation caused to your eyes, flush them out immediately with water and have someone take you to the emergency room as soon as possible, where you can be treated for possible infection.

Knife Cut
Cuts are probably THE most common type of kitchen injury and can range from small nicks to deep lacerations. And, you can cut yourself with more than just a knife. I’ve caught myself with cheese graters, vegetable peelers, sharp edges on can lids, and Cuisinart blades, which are wicked sharp.

Always be your most serious and most focused when working with a knife or other sharp tool. Never be casual and don’t allow yourself to be distracted. Always hold your knife with a firm grip to prevent it from falling out of your hands and keep the tips of your fingers curled while holding something in place to be cut. And, always use a cutting board. We’ve all held the roll or bagel in our hand and sliced it. Don’t. Use a cutting board.

As soon as you cut yourself, wash the wound immediately — no matter how painful — in order to prevent infection to one of your body’s most important assets. Dry and apply a dressing and hold pressure directly to the wound. Do not elevate or use a tourniquet unless the bleeding is very bad, in which case you should go to the emergency room immediately. You should also visit an emergency room if the cut is large or deep, is on the palm or underside of the fingers, or if you think you will need stitches; and it’s very important to visit one within the first 12 hours of cutting yourself.

Because the hand is such a complex structure, it’s important to be aware of where you’ve cut yourself and how deep because you may have punctured a tendon or an important muscle. Cuts on the tips of fingers and tops of knuckles will not cause too much serious damage, whereas anything to the palm or finger could be detrimental to your hand movement and have long term effects.

After the bleeding has stopped and you’ve applied a bandage, if you need to continue working, use a food handling glove to ensure that food you are handling will not become contaminated. Also, throw away any food that came in contact with blood and thoroughly wash and sanitize your cutting board, the tool that caused the injury, work surfaces, and anything else that might have come in contact with blood.

Bumping Your Head
With cooks constantly on the move in the kitchen, it’s easy to catch a lantern hanging in the cook shelter or stand up and catch the edge of a table, which can lead to blunt force trauma to the head.

Slow down. Everything will get done and out on the picnic table on time, so take the time to look where you’re going and pay attention to your surroundings.

If you think you have a concussion, you should have someone take you to the emergency room right away, otherwise, a good old ice pack to the head will do the trick.

Tripping & Slipping
As silly as it sounds, tripping in the kitchen can lead to some pretty serious consequences, some of which we’ve already discussed.

Never allow small children in the kitchen while working, as they tend to linger around the cook who often forgets they’re there, and while the pooch may serve as a great sous chef in the form of clean up, best that they stay out of the kitchen as well.

Cooks can be a bit messy in the kitchen and we’re not blaming them but spilled liquids or food on the ground or the floor can lead to falls which can lead to bone fractures and concussions. If something spills, clean it up right away, no matter how big of a hurry you’re in. A burnt piece of chicken is way better than having a broken arm.

If it’s raining, the ground in your camp kitchen can become muddy and slippery, so watch your step.

Tripping usually leads to minor injuries that can be treated with an ice pack or a couple of aspirin, but it can also be compounded by a burn, cut, bump to the head, etc.

Contamination
While not an injury, food poisoning can still lead to a trip to the hospital. Dirty sponges, not washing cutting boards and knives, not keeping hot foods hot or cold foods cold, and more can contaminate your food. Always be sure to use proper food handling in the kitchen to avoid food contamination.

Prevention
The biggest way to prevent injuries in any kitchen is to simply slow down and eliminate distractions. Be aware of your surroundings and stay focused on the task at hand.

And, always carry food handlers gloves in your chuckbox. In the event of an injury on your hand, clean and bandage the wound and slip on a glove to prevent contamination. Food handlers gloves are also great for messy jobs like making meatballs, handling raw chicken, and handling spicy peppers.

When you’re in the kitchen, stay focused and stay safe.

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