Cooking in the Great Outdoors

Hickory Hollow Campground makes camping easy, but it takes a bit more planning if you are going to be cooking in the great outdoors.  Cooking over an open fire is great but can be an entire adventure in itself, but one definitely worth the effort. With the proper planning and prepping, a scrumptious meal can be easy, and enjoyable for everyone.  It’s important to remember the best food for camping is non-perishable, sturdy enough not to get squished in the cooler, nutritious, and filling. 

Unlike your kitchen, the open fire doesn’t come equipped with a 350 degree oven and a timer set for 30 minutes.  Instead, this form of cooking requires gauging and controlling the level of heat for the best results.  Prepping is key, the less chopping and mixing that needs to happen at the camp site the better.  This will present less opportunities for cross contamination or foodborne illness, and definitely less mess to clean up.  Heavy duty aluminum foil can be a camper’s best friend when cooking over the open coals, so make sure you’re stocked well. If not, check out the camp store for a wide range of non-perishable camping necessities.   

Outdoor cooking can be experienced in many different ways, you can make it quick and simple or plan it as a family event for the day.  Most people agree, no matter how you cook it, the food cooked at camp always taste delicious. With so many methods to choose from, maybe you want to try and experiment with a few different methods to see what kind of fun creations you can come up with.  Everyone’s familiar with the propane grill, but have you tried using charcoal lately, or a wood fire? You can’t go wrong with the purchase of a Dutch-oven, long handled cast iron pie maker or extendable skewers. If you’re on a budget, teach the kids a new trick and try foil cooking or the tin can method for a tasty layered meal. Get creative with your cooking, try various seasonings and BBQ sauces, and don’t be afraid to experiment with something new. Use the pie iron to make tasty tacos. Just spray the iron and fill with small tortillas then add 2 tablespoons each of prepared taco meat, refried beans and shredded Monterey jack or cheddar cheese. Add jalapeno peppers for a little zest, then trim off any excess tortilla with a knife after closing the iron, cook over the open fire and voila, Mexican made easy.  Try it with fish for a healthier fish taco alternative.   For a breakfast alternative try making some French toast in that pie iron also.  Just dip bread in egg batter and cinnamon then spray the pie iron with nonstick cooking spray and heat over the coals left over from the late night campfire. So easy but so delicious.  Check out the recipe attached for easy campfire doughnuts, something else you may never have tried but worth attempting. 

Taste of Home recommends foil packet meals as one of the best camping hacks because they taste amazing and cleanup is a snap.  Individual meal packets can be prepared at home prior to camping and stored in the cooler until ready to cook.  One of my favorites is grilled sausage with potatoes and green beans, try it using the recipe from allrecipes.com

Use your grill and an old muffin tin to make simple poached eggs. Coat the muffin tins with cooking spray and crack an egg into each hole. Place on the grill and grill over medium high heat for 2 minutes or until desired doneness.  Try adding some chopped peppers and onions to spice them up a bit.

Treat the kids to banana splits before bed in place of the traditional s’mores.  Cut a whole unpeeled banana halfway through from end to end. Place marshmallows and pieces of chocolate bar in the slit. Wrap banana in the foil with the cut end up. Place in coals for 10 to 15 minutes until chocolate and marshmallows are melted.  Open foil carefully and scoop from the banana peel the delicious treat.  For an even faster dessert try Skillet Bananas.  All you need to do is melt some butter in a skillet, add some frozen orange juice concentrate, and some cinnamon and stir to mix. Slice some bananas into the warm sauce and toss gently.  Yummy!!

I’m sure you have roasted a marshmallow, but have your tried roasting an apple over the fire? Place an apple on a cooking stick and roast over hot campfire coals until the apple peel splits and ‘sizzles’. Carefully peel away the skin (adults should help kids with this) and roll the apple in cinnamon-sugar for a tasty alternative.  Instead of the traditional graham cracker and chocolate bar s’mores, be a little creative and try fudge-stripped cookies with a marshmallow in between. Or how about using peanut butter cups in place of the Hershey chocolate bar layered between chocolate graham crackers instead of the plain ones.  

Outdoor cooking can really be a fun adventure for the entire family but with the right equipment, it can be so much easier.  Don’t be fooled into thinking you need a bunch of fancy gadgets to cook delicious treats while camping, but Shekitchen.com recommends starting your camping journey off with one or more of these handy essentials. Campfire tripod and Dutch Oven and lid lifter, cast iron skillet or loaf pan, pie iron, campsite popcorn popper, portable grill, and extendable skewers, and of course a good cooler  —  packed correctly.     

How to pack a cooler to keep food fresh longer according to allrecipes.com* 

  • Chill all food and drinks before packing them.
  • Seal food in waterproof container to keep it dry and uncrushed.
  • Pack food in layers, with ice between the layers
  • Keep the cooler as full as possible.
  • If possible, have a separate cooler for drinks so the cooler doesn’t lose its cool every time someone opens it to get a drink.
  • Keep the cooler in the shadiest spot you can find.
  • Don’t drain melted ice water – it actually helps keep food cool longer.

Hickory Hollow Campground doesn’t care what your preferred camping cooking method may be, but we would love it if your shared some of your favorite camp recipes with us on our Facebook page. 

Julia Child once said “the comforts of life’s essentials are food, fire, and friendships”. 

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