Posts Tagged With: propane stove

Fantastic French Dip Sandwiches

This roast was fall-apart tender and soaked with juice and spices. The French dip sandwiches we made were so flavorful. It was hard not to go back and make a second sandwich, but I knew, if I did, I’d be groaning all afternoon.

In March, we were teaching outdoor cooking to adult volunteers at our annual Girl Scouts of Western Washington Outdoor Learning Weekend at Camp Robbinswold. Right after breakfast, we heated up a 12-inch deep Dutch oven on the propane stove, added some olive oil, and seared off the beef chuck roast. Then, we added all the spices and liquids, put on the lid, and set it on the fire.

I used my 12-inch deep because I wasn’t sure how much volume I was really going to have between the roast and the liquid. Our fire was a little hot and the deep oven allowed for some bubbling up room.

We let it simmer all morning. At lunchtime, I pulled it out and sliced it, but it really wasn’t necessary. I could have just pulled it apart in the Dutch oven. I returned the meat to the Dutch oven and the juice, and it was time to assemble our sandwiches. Because the meat is so juicy, I recommend a sturdy roll. If your roll is too soft, it will soak up all the juice and turn to mush. I would also recommend toasting the rolls on a grill or griddle. We did not, and I wish we had; it would have kicked it up yet another notch.

We split our rolls, piled on the juicy beef and topped the sandwiches with 2 slices of Provolone cheese. You could also layer on some sautéed onions, bell peppers, and/or mushrooms. You can ladle juice out of the Dutch oven for dipping, too, but we found it wasn’t necessary at all.

At home, you could make this in a slow cooker. Start it in the morning and just let it go all day on low. If you need to size up this recipe, just add a half pound of beef per extra person and then size up the other ingredients accordingly. I also wouldn’t worry too much about being exact. If you end up with a little more juice, who cares?!

Equipment
12-inch deep Dutch oven or a slow cooker

Ingredients
1 3-pound beef chuck roast
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cans (10.5 ounces each) beef consommé
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 cup Coca-Cola (or just add the whole can)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 cup onions, dried, minced
1/2 teaspoon oregano, dried
1/4 teaspoon thyme, dried
1 tablespoon beef bouillon, granulated
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 French rolls or hoagie buns
12 slices Provolone cheese

Prep
In camp, in a hot Dutch oven or, at home, in a hot cast iron skillet, add a little olive oil, and sear the beef on all sides. If you’re making this at home in a slow cooker, transfer the beef to the slow cooker. Add all the liquids and spices, put the lid on and cook low and slow. There really isn’t much more than that. Super simple to make. After hours of simmering, slice or pull apart and serve on sturdy French rolls or hoagie rolls with Provolone cheese, and/or grilled onions, peppers, and/or mushrooms. If desired, ladle au jus into bowls for dipping.

Serves 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: Dutch Oven, Main Dishes, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Camp Coffee Connoisseur

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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.

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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.

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

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.

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

Are You Prepared?

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It is a dark and stormy night. Rain pelts the windows as tree branches scrape along the side of the house like fingernails down a chalkboard. The howling wind outside sends shivers down your spine. The lights flicker once, twice. Suddenly you are engulfed in blackness. Inside, the house has become silent as a tomb.

Where do you keep that flashlight?

Winter is definitely here. We’ve had a lot of windy, rainy weather lately, and snow is probably not too far away. Winter storms often bring frequent and sometimes lengthy power outages.

Recently, I was having a conversation with a coworker and I asked her, “What do you do when the power goes out? How do you feed your kids? What do you eat?” Her answer was, “We don’t eat.”

Really?!

My outdoor cooking skills are great in spring, summer and fall when we’re camping, but in winter they become a life saver.

When the power goes out for more than a couple of hours, knowing how to whip up a hot meal without a stove or a microwave comes in pretty handy. When we lose power, we don’t miss a beat. Out comes the propane stove and/or a Dutch oven and in no time at all we have a piping hot meal to warm our bodies and our spirits.

In addition to keeping our camp cooking equipment handy, we also keep a well stocked pantry so that we can last a while without having to buy groceries in case stores are closed. It’s also good to keep a supply of water for drinking and cooking in case those systems are compromised due to storm damage.

Short-term emergency preparedness experts recommend 3 days, but we’ve gone without power for a week sometimes and we have family and friends in other parts of the country who have gone without power for more than a week at a time.

Going into winter, we make sure our propane tanks are full, the camp stove is handy, and we have a good supply of charcoal for the Dutch ovens. 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.

So, are you prepared for when Old Man Winter comes a calling? Just like if you get lost in the wilderness, your top three priorities are: shelter, and water and food.

Shelter is easy, you’re home, but make sure your camp clothing (polypropylene, fleece, and wool) are handy and layer up as temperatures inside your home start to dip. Remember to put on a warm hat. Sleeping bags can be pulled out and used to sleep warm.

Water and food are also easy, if you are prepared. You should have one gallon of water per day for each person in your household. That’s just for hydrating. Water used in cooking, cleaning, and bathing is extra. 55% of Americans have less than a 3-day supply of food in their homes. Is your pantry well-stocked? You should plan on eating 2,220 calories per day per person.

But don’t eat out of stress or boredom. Manage your supplies and be responsible and avoid eating just to pass the time.

So, what do you do to keep yourself and your children from going stir crazy without the television, DVD-player, and game console? How about pulling out your camping rainy day box of games? You do have one of those, right? Mine is stocked with traditional playing cards and poker chips as well as specialty card games like Uno, Skip-Bo, etc. How about chess, backgammon, cribbage? You can also head to the game closet and pull out Monopoly, Sorry or Life.

Just like camping, power outages can be beneficial in that they force us to unplug from all the electronics and reconnect to each other as a family. But the better prepared you are, the better you will be able to weather whatever nature throws at you.

Your camping skills and your outdoor cooking skills aren’t just for camping. They are good skills to have for survival.

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

Convert or Starve!

recipe-box-612wHow do I convert home recipes for camp cooking?

Between a camp stove and a Dutch oven, you can convert just about any home recipe into a camp recipe. Why rely on cookbooks that are strictly for camp cooking? You can convert recipes from any cookbook, including your family cookbook, for cooking in camp.

Camp Stove

Anything you can cook on your stove top at home can be cooked on a camp stove at camp, but managing the flame on a camp stove can be a challenge. Too low and it will take forever to cook. Too high and your food will be burnt on the outside and raw on the inside. My son’s common complaint is that our camp stoves don’t come with the fancy numbered dials like our home stoves do.

When adjusting the flame on a camp stove, you need to bend down so that you can see the flame and you need to listen to the hiss of the propane gas. As you gently turn the knob and lower the flame, look and listen. Over time, you’ll get a feel for how low you can go before it extinguishes. It takes a really light touch, which you will develop with patience and practice.

To judge the temperature of an open flame, cautiously hold your hand, palm side down, over the fire at cooking height. Count the number of seconds you can hold that position and you will have an indicator of how hot the fire temperature is:

5 seconds = low

4 seconds = medium

3 seconds = medium-high

2 seconds = high

After a while, you’ll probably just be able to eyeball it.

A common mistake I see with young camp chefs is they plan a menu that requires too many things to be cooked at once. They are so used to cooking on their home stove, which has anywhere from 4 to 6 burners, they forget that their camp stove only has 2 burners and if you’re using your griddle, that consumes both of those burners. So I can’t fry bacon on the griddle and cook oatmeal at the same time.

To minimize the number of pots and burners you need in camp, you can pre-cook in your home kitchen things like sauces, noodles, meats, etc. Just remember to slightly undercook them because they will cook more at camp. When you get to camp, perhaps all you need is one pot to assemble and heat everything.

If you add a Dutch oven or two to your camp kitchen, now you’ve increased your cooking capacity.

Dutch Oven

Anything you can cook in your oven, slow cooker or bread machine at home can be cooked in a Dutch oven.

Dutch ovens are cast iron with tight fitting lids and they make excellent vessels for cooking over the campfire. They can handle high temperatures and long cook times. They are excellent heat conductors and champion slow-cookers.

Campers usually use charcoal briquettes with Dutch ovens to get the best results. For more information on charcoal, please see my blog post: “I Want Coal in my Stocking!

With a few easy modifications, you can turn any home recipe into a camp recipe. The first thing you need to determine is what size and type of Dutch oven will be most suitable for your recipe.

Ovens with shallow sides of about 4” are called “bread” ovens and the deeper sided ones are known as “stew” or “meat” ovens. The 12-inch to 16-inch regular ovens are excellent for baking pies, cakes, breads, biscuits and rolls.

The “deep” ovens can more easily handle turkeys, chickens, hams, and even standing rib roasts!

If you’re converting a casserole, quick bread, or dessert—anything that calls for a specific size of pan—you’ll want to compare the area and get as close a match as you can. This will involve a little math. Let’s convert brownies out of the box. Directions call for an 8 x 8, 9 x 9 or 7 x 11. To determine the area, multiply width by length. I’ll “show” my work below:

8 x 8 = 64

7 x 11 = 77

9 x 9 = 81

I should note here that I’m only interested in the area so I’m only working with 2 dimensions. For our brownies, we need a Dutch oven with an area between 64 and 81. Smaller area means thicker brownies; larger area means thinner brownies. So, how do we figure out the area of a round Dutch oven? I have to admit that I had to go ask my resident math geeks for how to do this, but I’m sure that once I give you the answer, like me, you’ll slap your forehead and say, “Oh, ya, I remember that!” We need to use the math formula πr2 (read: Pi times radius squared).

Pie?! I Like Pie!

Yes! You could bake a pie in a Dutch oven, but I digress. Back to our math homework. To simplify my math, I’m going to use the rounded version of π (Pi), which is 3.14, and multiply it by the radius squared, which is half the diameter of my Dutch oven multiplied by itself. With me so far? I’ll start with my 10-inch Dutch oven and show my work below:

First, I will find the radius of my oven by dividing its diameter – its size – in half. For my 10-inch oven;

10 / 2 = 5

So my radius, r, is 5. Easy!

Next, I need to “square” the radius by multiplying it by itself,

5 x 5 = 25

Now it’s time to multiply my squared radius, (r2 = 25), by π (for which I am using the simplified value of 3.14),

25 x 3.14 = 79

Bazinga! The area of my 10-inch Dutch oven is 79, which is really close to the area of a 7×11 baking dish.

Just for giggles, I used the same formula for my 12-inch Dutch oven and it has an area of 113, which turns out to be a little too big and would make really thin brownies that will likely burn – and nobody likes burnt brownies! So, it looks like my 10-inch Dutch oven is “just right” for the box of brownies. (I should add here that a double batch of brownies would fit just about perfectly in a 14-inch Dutch oven, which has an area of 154.)

If you’re cooking a stew or something that needs volume, the recipe will most likely tell you what size pot (in quarts) you’ll need. The chart below will show you (in quarts) how much a Dutch oven can hold.

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Betcha didn’t think you’d be doing so much math, did ya?! Well, a lot of cooking is a science as well as an art.

Cooking Temperature and Time

Check your recipe for baking temperature. Using the chart below, find your required oven temperature and then run down that column to the size Dutch oven you’re using. This is how many coals you’ll need. The first number is your total number of coals. The numbers inside the parenthesis is a breakdown of how many coals go on top and how many coals go underneath. This is a typical distribution of coals. Some recipes may require a slightly different distribution of coals depending on whether you want more heat on the top or the bottom. Make a test batch and adjust your distribution if you need to. If you are cooking in really cold temperatures, you may want to throw a few more coals on, but try to maintain that 2:1 ratio or two-thirds of your coals on top and one-third of your coals underneath.

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Refer to the recipe for the length of cooking time. If you’re camping in high altitude you may want to cook things a smidge longer.

Prep Work

Now you just need to decide how much prep you want to do in camp versus at home or are there ways to simplify the prep for camp? Does the recipe call for noodles or meat that could be pre-cooked at home? Could you cook the noodles in the pot with the rest of the ingredients and just add water or more liquid for the noodles to absorb? Are there dry ingredients that could be pre-mixed at home and sealed in a bag or container? Determine how you want to prep it and then I would recommend prepping it like you would for camp and doing a test batch at home before taking it to camp.

So that’s really all there is to converting your home recipes to camp recipes. Now you can take that favorite family recipe and make it in camp! How cool is that?!

Let’s get outside and get cooking!

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

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