Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Camping, Rapids and the Best S'mores Ever

Welcome to the blogging world, Casey from Tiny Brooklyn Oven! Visit her blog, say hi, and marvel at her delicious dishes!

I think meals served while camping should be treated with the same love and respect as the meals you serve around your dinner table each night. They should be well planned, well balanced and delicious. Campfire Cookery: Adventuresome Recipes and Other Curiosities for the Great Outdoors took this idea to the extreme. They suggest a boeuf bourguignon for dinner and wild blueberry steamed pudding for dessert, among dozens of other delicious suggestions. While their ideas are charming, I tend to look for camping meals that are flavorful and special, but that don't require tons of special equipment.

Who wants to lug a dutch oven into their canoe? Or traverse through rapids with fragile teacups for a proper afternoon tea? They certainly won't survive if your canoeing partner purposefully steers you toward rocks.

We went on a canoeing trip recently to the Delaware River. Everyone had a job. I was in charge of the menu. I wanted our meals to keep us energized over 25 miles of water and rapids, but still be rustic, authentic camping meals. I planned a mostly vegetarian weekend, and then Alex went shopping with me and made sure I got plenty of meat.

Here are our meals from the trip last weekend, and some favorite meals I've had during recent camping trips in the Adirondacks.

Hobo Dinners (or Foil Dinners): These foil dinners are a delicious way to invest everyone in the cooking process. Build a fire and let coals gather at the bottom. Chop up any vegetables you enjoy into small pieces. We used potatoes, onions, carrots, red peppers, asparagus, green beans, mushrooms and garlic. We had baked tofu, as well as sausages and hot dogs (all precooked). Make some quick vegetarian brown gravy. Assemble your own dinner on a tinfoil square, and then top it with gravy and seasonings (We used pepper, salt, cayenne, Old Bay). Seal it up tightly, write your name on top in permanent marker, and put it in the fire. Flip the foil packets every 5 to 10 minutes. Ours were done after about 25 minutes.

Before Cooking
After Cooking
Tomatoes and Mozzarella: While these are not the easiest camping snacks since the tomatoes require really careful transportation, they were delicious on our recent canoe trip. Slice fresh tomatoes, top them with slices buffalo mozzarella, and top with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Enjoy. 

Homemade S'mores: These were the most delicious s'mores I've ever had in my life. They were made by Casey from Tiny Brooklyn Oven. The marshmallows were from Smitten Kitchen, and the graham crackers were from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. The chocolate was just plain Hershey, but next time I'll go for a delicious dark chocolate with sea salt. A store-bought ingredient s'more will never taste the same again.

Breakfast Burritos with Scrambled Eggs and Hash Browns: These burritos are just perfect for a long day of canoeing or hiking. Grate pepper jack cheese and slice avocado. Heat up a can of black beans with a can of salsa. Make scrambled eggs, mixing in some pepper jack cheese and a splash of cayenne pepper. Assemble burritos to your liking. We also sauteed up some hash browns (with the leftover potatoes and onions from the hobo dinners) that were delicious in the burritos. 

Cold-brewed iced coffee: While it's not quite iced by day three of a camping trip, Smitten Kitchen's recipe for cold-brewed iced coffee is a winner. We in Brooklyn get used to having high-quality coffee at our fingertips, and it can be hard to do even a few days of Nestle's instant brew. I used paper towels to strain the coffee, but next time I will bring a fine mesh sieve to make the process easier and save quite a bit of time. Forget sugar? Just throw in a marshmallow to lighten and sweeten the coffee. 

Buckwheat with mushrooms and garlic: This recipe is simple and hearty. Boil packages of buckwheat in a covered pot over the stove. At the same time, saute garlic and mushrooms in olive oil. When the buckwheat is finished, combine the two mixtures. If you've got any freshly caught fish, saute it up to have on the side. 

Pizzas: Pizzas cooked over the fire are one of my favorite camping meals because they get everyone involved in the cooking. Wrap the grill grate with aluminum foil before starting the fire. We used garlic naan as the base of our pizzas (we learned after using tortillas last year that burned before the cheese could melt). Top the pizzas with your favorite toppings. Ours were simple with pizza sauce, shredded cheese and tomatoes. This summer, I think I'll bring some homemade pesto with me. 

Couscous with shrimp: Couscous is another one of those grains that cooks up ridiculously easily with little fuss. Boil water, add the couscous and set aside. In another pan, saute shrimp with garlic and top with a little lemon juice. Combine the two to serve. We added a nice, light salad to balance out the meal. 

Sunny-Side Up Eggs with Lox and Goat Cheese: This breakfast was certainly a splurge in terms of the time it took to make, but what else is there to do when you're up with the rising sun? We toasted baguettes lightly over the fire, topped them with goat cheese and lox, and fried up some eggs to finish them off. This was the best breakfast I had enjoyed in a long time, camping or not. 

 Middle Eastern Feast: We brought store-bought hummus and pita with us. We whipped up a batch of Fantastic Foods Falafel Mix, 10 oz., and we made Tabouli Mix (Casbah) 6oz (170g) to accompany it. The tabouli came together quickly, and we added spring onions and tomatoes for taste and texture. The falafel sauteed somewhat evenly in a large pan over the fire. This meal was full of protein, and the leftover falafel were great in sandwiches the next day. 

What's your favorite camping meal? I'd love more ideas for delicious meals this summer!


  1. The food looks amazing. As does the hand in the 5th photo.

  2. What a fun read...gorgeous photo of the river and the food photos are wonderful as well. You all had such a variety and such style in those meals. I think those people who lug the dutch oven/china/crystal/silver/candelabras, etc. have support vehicles on the side meeting them at destinations, don't you? lol Tell Alex the hand in the 5th photo is absolutely stunning.

  3. Thanks Kayte! I think they must have help getting all of those gadgets and serving dishes with them. My camping trips must be a little more rustic. I'll certainly pass the message about the hand on to Alex!

  4. Wow! Great camping meals! How on earth did you fit all 3 days worth of food in the canoes?! (Plus cooking gear, sleeping stuff&clothes&towels!) I assume there was at least one eski for meats&milk? Interested to know! :)

  5. Thanks Jodi! The pictures you see are from a few different camping trips. The first was only two days, so we could fit everything we needed in the canoes (We had three canoes). The other trips were a little longer but we packed much lighter and managed to get everything into a canoe. We also didn't have meat (other than shrimp and the fish we caught) or milk, so that helped!