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

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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

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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

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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!

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

Ingredients
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

Prep
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.

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Creatures of Habit

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During the weekdays, I make my morning coffee in my travel mug so I can take it with me on my way to work. On the weekends, I have a favorite coffee mug that I use. You know the kind. It’s a little over-sized. The handle fits perfectly in my hand. It’s so comfortable. It has one of my favorite childhood cartoon characters on it. I always hand wash it, not because it needs to be, but so it’s ready for the next time I need it. It’s my go-to mug and everyone in the household knows that it’s Mommy’s mug.

Last Sunday, I was in the kitchen making my coffee and I went to the cupboard to get my mug and it wasn’t there, and, honest to God, the first thought that popped into my head was, “Snap! I can’t have coffee!”

Really?!

And then it occurred to me to look in the dishwasher and, sure enough, it had been accidently loaded into the dishwasher. Coffee was saved. All was right in the world.

We are Such Creatures of Habit

When we’re planning our camp menus, how many times do we rule out certain dishes because we won’t have that go-to appliance in our camp kitchen?

Oh, I can’t make that, I won’t have an oven? I can’t make that, I won’t have a microwave? I can’t make that, I won’t have a food processor? And so on until, finally, all we’re left with is the same old, same old.

Where’s the fun in that?!

Kick those habits. Get outside your comfort zone. Think outside the box.

Don’t be limited by your home cooking habits! Just about anything you can make in your home kitchen, can be made in your camp kitchen. You might have to get a little creative. You might have to use a little elbow grease instead of using that food processor. You might have to use more traditional methods. But the finished dish will taste just as good, maybe even better.

Foods can be chopped by hand. I find there is something almost zen like when I’m cutting up vegetables, fruits or meats. Have a good board, a sharp knife, maybe some music, and get into a groove.

Butter can be cubed and then cut into flour using a pastry cutter or a fork or two knives. Recently, I started freezing my butter and then grating it. Wow! Wish I had learned that trick 30 years ago!

Instead of using a microwave, vegetables can be steamed or grilled or wrapped in foil and placed on coals or near the fire. Drizzle on a little olive oil and some seasonings and cook until tender.

Anything you would bake in your oven at home, you can bake in a Dutch oven or a box oven so don’t dismiss casseroles, muffins, biscuits, etc. And nothing beats a warm, fresh from the “oven” muffin.

Take Stock of Your Resources

What do you have in your camp kitchen? You probably have a propane stove with a couple of burners. Do you have a griddle/grill? Do you have any Dutch ovens? Just adding one Dutch oven will open a world of culinary possibilities. Can’t afford a Dutch oven right now? You could build a box oven for pennies.

For instructions on how to build a box oven, please see my blog post: “DIY: How to Build a Box Oven.”

You also can make foil wraps. You probably have more options than you realize.

So, when planning your camp menu, just think about what you want to eat and then figure out how you could make it in your camp kitchen. It’s easier than you think. And it will taste that much better!

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Categories: Cooking Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beef Stroganoff on a Camp Stove

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This beef stroganoff recipe is a nod to my grandmother’s eastern European roots. This is one of my son’s favorite dishes and was the first recipe he asked me to teach him how to make. It is fast and easy, and I can usually have it on the table in less than 30 minutes. This would make a great Friday night dinner after rolling into camp because it is so quick.

It’s a 2 pot dish so you’ll need a 2 burner camp stove. Traditionally, the pasta for this would be egg noodles, but I like to use rotini. You could also use bow tie, penne or whatever you like. You could even swap out the pasta and serve it over rice. Whatever floats your boat.

You could also jazz this up by adding mushrooms and/or a diced bell pepper. Just chop them and sauté them with the onion. I really want to try that but my son keeps refusing because he loves it just the way it is!

Serve this with a nice green salad or some grilled green vegetables like green beans, zucchini, or asparagus and you have a great meal.

Equipment
2 burner camp stove, 6 quart pot for cooking the pasta, 2 quart pot for the sauce, 2 stirring spoons, measuring spoons.

Ingredients
1 pound ground beef or cut of your choice cubed
1 pound (16 ounces) pasta of choice
1 (10.5 oz) can beef consommé
2 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 medium onion, diced, or 2 tablespoons minced onion
8 ounces sour cream

Prep
In 6 quart pot, start water for pasta. Salt the water. When the water comes to a boil, stir in the pasta, reduce heat and cook until al dente. While you are prepping the pasta, start the beef sauce. In 2 quart pot, on medium heat, brown beef and onion. Add dry ingredients and stir until paste is smooth. Add beef consommé. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until pasta is ready, stirring occasionally. When the pasta is ready, drain it. Stir sour cream into the sauce. Return pasta to the large pot, add sauce and stir to combine.

Serves 6-8 hungry campers.

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Categories: Main Dishes, Meals in 30 Minutes, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Santa Checks His Twice

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Our Boy Scout troop was camping a few weeks ago and a couple of our younger scouts had each forgotten a few important items. They were very frustrated with themselves and really beating themselves up and the Scoutmaster and I offered some kind words of advice. They didn’t need to be thumped on, they were doing a good enough job of that on their own.

One of the things I suggested was to use a checklist. I explained to them how, over the years, whenever I went camping and I had forgotten something or needed something I didn’t have, when I got home after the trip, I modified my checklist. It didn’t take long before I had some comprehensive checklists.

I’ve always been a firm believer in checklists. I use them at work, at home, in scouting, and for this blog. There is something very satisfying about being able to check a box that a task is done or an item has been packed. It makes packing for a camping trip go much smoother and faster because I don’t have to think about what I need. I just work from my list and my decisions are quick and efficient as to what I need to pack.

Checklists also provide comfort and take away a lot of worry. In the car ride, I don’t have to second guess myself as to whether or not I packed something. My camping trips are more enjoyable because I have everything I need. And, I’m better prepared for what Mother Nature throws at me because a Scout is Prepared.

So, after that camping trip, I came home and looked at my camping checklists with the intent of sharing them with my Boy Scouts and here on my blog. I fine tuned them once more and I gave them a face lift. I originally created them for my daughter’s Girl Scout troop many, many years ago and they were looking a little outdated and girlie!

 

Personal_Gear_Checklist_smPersonal Gear List

My personal gear checklist is geared for scouts and includes things like a handbook, uniform, etc., but I actually use this list myself when I’m packing for a camping trip. It’s not so much a checklist of everything I always take with me, but serves as a reminder for when I’m packing. I treat it like the Pirate’s Code, which “is more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules.”  I tell my scouts to consider the weekend’s planned activities and the weather forecast, and use common sense when deciding what to bring.

 

Cooking_Gear_Checklist_smOutdoor Cooking Gear List

My outdoor cooking gear checklist is also not so much a checklist of everything I always take with me when I’m cooking, but serves as a reminder for when I’m packing for a trip. And, some of the items on the list are there for when I’m cooking for a crowd and need things like chafing dishes to hot-hold foods. When people are relying on me to feed them, I hate getting to camp and discovering I’ve forgotten to bring an essential item that will compromise a meal or the whole menu!

 

Menu_Planning_Worksheet_smCamping Menu Planning Worksheet

This is a fun form to help you plan your camping menu and I actually use this form myself. I start in the left column and plan my meals and note in my Supply List and Prep List (right column) what special supplies I will need (like which Dutch oven I’ll be using) and what I will want to prep at home before I go (like dry mixes, chopping vegetables, etc.). I use the middle column to build my shopping list. I reference this form when I’m packing to ensure I don’t forget anything, which is easy to do when some of the food is in the freezer, some of it is in the pantry, and the rest is crammed into an already crowded refrigerator.

 

10_Essentials_System_sm10 Essentials System

Packing these items whenever you step into the backcountry, even on day hikes, is a good habit to acquire. True, on a routine trip you may use only a few of them. You’ll probably never fully appreciate the value of the Ten Essentials (or the wisdom that went into building the list) until you really need one of them.

 

How_to_Sleep_Warm_smHow to Sleep Warm

Whether you’re at home or out in the wilds, a good night’s rest is important. Here are some tips to help you sleep snug as a bug in a rug! This one isn’t a checklist, just some good tips to help you get a better night’s sleep when camping.

 

So, these are some of my favorite checklists and they are posted on the Resource Page. Feel free to print them and use them when planning and packing for a camping trip. Or use them as a base to make your own, personalized, checklists. And, if you think I’ve left off something important, let me know and I just might have to modify my list…again!

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DIY: How to Build a Box Oven

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A box oven is a cheap and easy way to add an oven to your outdoor cooking gear. They are simple to make and you can build as many as you want. If a Dutch oven is out of your budget, a box oven is definitely in your budget and they are so simple to make a Brownie or Cub Scout could build one. Even if you have one or more Dutch ovens, one or two box ovens can add that much more oven power to your camp kitchen. Here’s all you need to build a box oven: a cardboard box, heavy duty aluminum foil, 4 empty cans, and duct tape.

For the cardboard box, all you need is a box that is large enough to fit a cookie sheet, muffin pan, casserole or baking dish, and is about a foot high. Go to your local grocery store and ask for an empty produce box. I prefer apple boxes, banana boxes, and pineapple boxes. You can also use the bottom portion of a box that held reams of paper or you can use any other regular box and just cut the top flaps off. Whatever you use, it will probably be free! The 2 best things about apple boxes are: they are virtually the perfect size for any kind of baking, and you can use the lid and bottom to make 2 box ovens or you can nest the bottom inside the lid for a double layer, making for a better insulated oven!

Use Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil. I prefer Reynolds Wrap 18-inch.

Your cans can be empty soda pop cans, soup cans or juice cans. You just need something that will elevate your baking dish above the coals. I have a little wire rack for cooking over a small campfire that just happens to be the perfect size. But if you don’t have one of those, cans will work perfectly. Keep in mind that the smaller juice cans will place your dish closer to the coals. Conversely, the taller soda pop will place your dish farther away from the coals. To keep your cans more stable, before you bake, fill them with sand.

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How to Build the Box Oven

Using the aluminum foil in large pieces, cover the inside of the box completely with foil, placing the shiny side out. I find that using the backs of my hands to press the aluminum foil to the inside of the box results in fewer tears as I’m working. It may take a couple of layers to get all the cardboard covered but it’s important that no cardboard is exposed. Otherwise, you risk it catching fire and going up in a blaze along with your blueberry muffins! Wrap the aluminum foil over the edge and secure it to the outside using the duct tape.

That’s it! You’re done! You now have a box oven. Let’s bake something!

How to Use a Box Oven

Find a non burnable patch of ground or concrete and lay down a piece of aluminum foil, shiny side up, that is larger than your box. In the middle, arrange your rack or your four cans so they can support your baking dish and elevate it on top of the coals.

Prepare your baked dish and prep your coals. Control the baking temperature of the oven by the number of charcoal briquettes used. The average briquette will supply about 35 degrees of heat (a 350°F temperature will take 10 briquettes). If you have to round, I would round up rather than down. If it’s cold outside, you may want to add a couple extra briquettes.

Arrange the briquettes on the aluminum foil under your rack or between your cans. Set your baking dish on the rack or on the cans and carefully lower the box so that it covers everything. Important Note: Use a small rock (about an inch in diameter) to prop up one end of the box to allow in the air that the charcoal needs to burn.

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Try not to peak at what you are baking, but if you absolutely must peak, lift the box straight up, peak, and go straight back down. You’ll lose the smallest amount of heat doing it this way.

Optional Extras

Add a window by cutting a hole in your box that is smaller than a Reynolds Oven Bag or take advantage of the hole in the top that is on most banana or pineapple boxes. Cover the box with foil as directed above, making sure to wrap foil over the edges of the hole. On the outside of the box, stretch the Reynolds oven bag across the hole and secure it with duct tape. Now you have a window for peaking.

Add an oven thermometer by punching a candy thermometer into the box so the probe is inside and the dial is on the outside.

As noted above, for added durability and insulation, use both parts of the apple box and tuck the bottom inside the lid for an extra layer of cardboard.

So, if you don’t have a Dutch oven, you can still bake in camp and, even if you do have a Dutch oven, this will add yet another baking option to your camp kitchen. Imagine the looks on your camper’s faces when you serve them amazing fresh baked muffins or biscuits for breakfast out of a discarded cardboard box!

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Cheesy Spicy Hash Brown Casserole

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We love hash browns for breakfast either in a main dish like a big breakfast skillet or as a side dish. This hash brown casserole makes a great side dish and brings great flavor and a little heat. When I made this last weekend for the first time for a mixed group of scoutmasters and scouts, I seeded my chiles because I was concerned that I might overwhelm some of the younger taste buds. The heat was very mild. If you really want to bring the heat, then leave the seeds in. You could also swap out some of the chilies for hotter varieties. My son tried to talk me into using a ghost pepper. I said no. I opted for Monterey Jack cheese but, again, if you want to bring the heat, you could step it up to Pepper Jack cheese. I used frozen southern style hash browns, but you could just as easily peel and dice fresh potatoes.

First thing in the morning, after I get my coffee, I’d start this one. It has about 30 minutes of prep (less if you chop your veggies and grate your cheese at home before you go) and then about 30 minutes of baking time. After 30 minutes, the potatoes were cooked through but you’ll notice in the picture below that they look a little pale. Next time I might let them brown a little in the Dutch oven before I put the lid on and add coals. After I put the lid on and add coals, I also might let them go longer than 30 minutes just to see if I can get a little more color on the potatoes.

I’d recommend a 12-inch or larger Dutch oven or 9×13 deep baking dish for a full batch. If you want to do a half batch, I’d step down to a 10-inch or 12-inch Dutch oven or an 8×8 baking dish. Remember to adjust your coals for the size of your Dutch oven. Here’s a link to my Dutch Oven Size Chart and Temperature Guide.

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Equipment
12-inch Dutch oven, cutting board, chef knife, cheese grater, stirring/serving spoon.

Ingredients
8 slices bacon, fried and chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 large green chiles, diced
2 jalapenos, finely diced
1 poblano chile, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
4 pounds (2 bags) frozen southern style hash browns (diced potatoes)
Salt and ground pepper
2 cups grated sharp Cheddar
2 cups grated Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack

Prep
Dice the vegetables and grate the cheese. On a campfire, a bed of coals, or on a propane stove, fry the bacon in the Dutch oven until its nice and crispy. While the bacon is frying, load 27 coals into a chimney with 1-2 fire starters and, when the bacon is done, light your coals. Remove the bacon from the Dutch oven and set aside on a paper towel. You may want to critter and camper proof it or it just might disappear! I’ve had a number of scouts learn that lesson the hard way!

To the Dutch oven, add the butter and then add the chiles and onion, and sauté until well browned. Pour in the frozen hash browns and add some salt and pepper. Be generous with the salt; that’s a lot of potatoes. Toss everything together. Let it heat up for just a few minutes to steam off any excess liquid from the hash browns; you can crumble or chop the bacon while you wait.

Sprinkle on the cheese and top with crumbled bacon. Put the lid on and move it to coals.

Bake at 375°F, using 18 coals on the lid and 9 underneath, for about 30 minutes until hot and bubbly or until the potatoes are done to your liking.

Makes about 20 4-ounce (½-cup) servings or 10 8-ounce (1 cup) servings. And, c’mon, let’s be real. We’re all going to take a 1 cup serving and go back for seconds…. Just sayin’….

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Categories: Breakfasts, Dutch Oven, Recipes, Sides & Snacks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Spice of Life

Spice_Cupboard_IMG_1638_300pxTomorrow is National Herbs & Spices Day! What in the world would we do without this menagerie of flavors with which to season our food?! At home, it’s easy to season a dish. I open the spice cupboard (we all have one) and I spin one of my 2-tiered lazy susans and select what I want. I can add a little of this or a little of that. Sometimes, I open various spice jars and smell the contents until I find the flavor I’m looking for. I can be completely whimsical if I want. At camp, it’s not so easy…or, is it? It kinda depends on your camp prepping style.

Some campers like to do their prep work at home, packing a minimal pantry with only what they need for the trip. Other campers like to prep their meals in camp, or on the fly, and pack a fuller, more versatile, pantry. The rest of us are probably somewhere in the middle.

I prefer to pre-mix a lot of my dry ingredients and bring them to camp in a container or resealable bag. I also like to pack a few spices for jazzing up a dish on the fly or to taste. If it’s a hunting or fishing trip, I’ll bring a few specific spices for seasoning the “catch of the day.”

Spices pose a unique challenge in the camp kitchen. No one wants to pack a bazillion little bottles with them. Depending on your favorite brand, your spice jars may be glass and may not be able to stand up to the rough and tumble world of camping. Or, if you’re like us, you buy some of your spices in bulk because you use them a LOT.

Following are a few ways to solve this conundrum.

Make a visit to your local craft store and wander through the bead section to see what they have for organizing beads. Many of these storage devices would be perfect for spices provided the containers can be sealed well.

spice_storage_bead_jars

Likewise, make a visit to your local pharmacy and see what they have for pill boxes and medication organizers.

spice_storage_meds

These kinds of containers can be found with pill boxes, fishing tackle, and beads.

spice_storage_pill_jars

Do you have a Tic-Tac addiction or know someone who does? Here’s a great way to re-purpose those little containers.

spice_storage_tic_tacs

Sterilite makes a Large Clip Box (11×14). The shallow version (pictured below) is 3¼” high and the deep version is 6¼” high. The deep version could accommodate a full-sized spice jar.

spice_storage_tote

Remember Tupperware? These little gems would be perfect for spices with their small size and airtight seal.

spice_storage_tupperware_midgets

However you prefer to transport your spices to camp, make sure you label them well. On our last camping trip, I opened a container of salt thinking it was sugar and loaded a couple of teaspoons worth into my morning coffee. Blech! That was a rude awakening.

Now that you’ve figured out how to store and transport your spices, what spices do you take camping?

Salt & Pepper, of course. Although I’m surprised how often this gets forgotten.

Your favorite poultry seasoning?

Your favorite beef seasoning?

Red Pepper Flakes, which is a great add-on at the table?

Italian Seasoning?

Rubs. Perhaps your own secret blend?

Let us know.

Categories: Cooking Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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