Sunday, August 21, 2011

Camp Food: eating in the wild

Eating outdoors is as primal as it gets. After all, our ancestors did it for thousands of years. It's a great way to commune with Nature, while feeling the sun on your face, watching a sunset, or just hearing the rustling of the wind through the trees. For those as well as a myriad of  other reasons eating outside can be fun. Plus, if you’re doing it while camping, you can get a little dirty while doing it. I mean, what does it matter if food falls to the ground or you splatter it all over the place or you get a bunch on your t-shirt? Who will care?

I just made reservations for camping this fall. Naturally thoughts turn next to "do I still have all my camping gear" but also to "what will we eat"? In the past, the food issue would send me into a state of panic: my kitchen and all its gadgetry won't be available to me. If I forget something, too bad.  What if I leave out something important and my meal is ruined? When out in the middle of the forest, running to the market is simply out of the question.

In order to avoid any future panic, I decided there are really just two things to do here: 1) keep it simple, and 2) prep as much as I can at home. If meals could consist of things made in advance and then assembled on site, life would be easier.

When I think of camp food, the first thing that comes to mind is grilling. Typical fare is hot dogs and baked beans, and while those can be tasty, let's face it, they're pretty boring (and likely not that healthy). Dinner can be so much more than that. You can marinate cubed meat, peppers and onions at home in a zip-lock bag and then assemble skewers on site when your grill is hot. By the way, I recommend bringing your own grate to place on top of the crusty barbeque at your campsite. God only knows what's been there before you!

If grilling on any foreign surface worries you, wrap your stuff in foil and place it on the "Q" for not only sealing in juices and speeding the cooking process, but for ease in clean up, too. Other meals that make life easier are one-pot dishes such as Indian curries, Asian stir-fries, arroz con pollo, and risottos. Great ideas as they require little in the way of pots and pans and therefore less clean-up. I mean, who likes doing dishes outdoors in the dark? I've been there and it's no fun.
S'mores: melted chocolate,
gooey marshmallows,
and crunchy
graham crackers
Make desserts ahead of time, such as individual "hand" pies, cookies, or simple cakes, or bring stuff to make s'mores, the quintessential camp dessert.

“Everything-under-the-sun” raw vegetable salads (without lettuce) are a good way to eat your veggies, provided you eat these early in your stay while they're still fresh. Serve them alongside wraps and sandwiches for lunch, eat them alone or with some crusty bread.

Frittatas are great for breakfast. Sauté your veggies in a skillet first and then add the eggs, covering the lot with foil to get the top to set. I know it's cheating, but packets of oatmeal are super easy (all you do is boil water) and have that along with some cut up fruit for a hearty breakfast before a day hike.

And don’t forget snacks for along the way: fruit that doesn’t easily bruise (apples, oranges), trail mix, and granola bars.

Most people pack processed food because it's easier, but it most definitely isn't healthier. I am convinced that eating well and camping are not mutually exclusive. All is takes is a little advance planning and you're ready to enjoy outdoor cooking in the world's most beautiful setting: Nature.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Print Friendly