If you’re thinking about taking your family camping for the first time, you may wonder how you’re going to feed them nutritious and tasty dinners without the convenience of a kitchen. Can you really feed your kids hotdogs cooked on a stick for 3-4 days? But, it won’t come to that. With just a few basic kitchen supplies, you can become quite the campfire chef!
With the help of a few tools that are probably already in your kitchen, you can cook like a pro once you get to your campground. There’s no need to buy fancy camping equipment to make your experience more enjoyable, however, if camping becomes a frequent activity, you may want to invest in a separate set of these tools to keep packed away with your tent so don’t have to take your good cookware from the kitchen to the campsite.
Be sure you know what type of refrigeration—if any—will be available to you. Will you stay in a cabin with a refrigerator? Are you driving to the campsite and have space for a large cooler or two, or are you backpacking a long distance and can only carry a small cooler?
If you have a refrigerator, simply bring in a cooler whatever you would normally use at home. If your trip is short—a few days—and you drove to the campsite, ice and a cooler will be sufficient for keeping your ingredients fresh. If you are backpacking on a 1 or 2 day trip, opt for mostly foods that don’t need refrigeration and a smaller cooler you can strap to your backpack. Of course, just as you would at home, if you are working with raw meat, make sure you thoroughly wash your cutting board and any utensils that may have come into contact with the meat.
One fun recipe the kids will enjoy is to prepare fajitas (chicken or beef or veggie) around the campfire. Prepare the fajita filling at home, wrap it in foil, and bring a pack of store-bought tortillas. Put the foil-wrapped filling right on top of coals. Forthe tortillas, find a flat rock, clean it, and put it in the fire to heat it. Then, when the rock is warm, place the tortillas on top of it for a nifty way to warm them naturally .
In addition to the items above—and depending upon the scope of your camping trip—here is a great list of items to outfit your outdoor kitchen. Add or remove items depending on what you’ll be doing/cooking. Knowing you have the right tools will help you feel more comfortable and confident as you camp.
Since you brought your Dutch oven, it’s time to make the other campers jealous by preparing some homemade chili. This meal will take about two hours to cook, so plan it for a day when you won’t be staying out late on the trails.
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds lean ground beef or turkey (brown this in advance at home, if possible, for ease of preparation)
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
46 ounces spicy tomato juice
2 1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
15 ounces (1 can) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1/4 cup chili powder
Using your cast iron skillet, cook the onion in olive oil for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the red peppers and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes before transferring the veggies to a bowl or to the unheated Dutch oven.
In the same frying pan, cook the ground meat until it has browned.
Using oven mitts to hold the Dutch oven, carefully nestle it among the coals of the fire. Use a fire poker to clear out a space, if needed, to avoid burning yourself. Once placed, use the poker to build coals up around the sides of the pot.
Add the precooked meat and veggies to the Dutch oven and combine with the rest of the ingredients. Stir everything together and taste the broth. Adjust any seasonings as needed.
Cover the pot and allow your chili to cook for 10 to 20 minutes. Lift the lid using the poker to check the temperature. If the pot is bubbling gently, but not boiling, it is at the right temperature. If not, adjust the amount of coals to either encourage a bubble or reduce a boil before replacing the lid.
Check the pot every 30 to 45 minutes to stir and make sure it isn’t boiling. Once the chili is ready, ladle it into bowls and enjoy!
Fresh trout on the fire is a scrumptious breakfast or dinner.
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Oil for frying
In a medium bowl, mix the flour, cornmeal, salt, and cayenne pepper. Transfer to a shallow dish.
Dredge the trout in the flour mixture. Set aside.
Heat oil in a cast iron skillet. Fry the fish for about 4-6 minutes on each side, or until the meat flakes with a fork.
Remove from heat and serve immediately.