Camp cooking is, for the domestically inclined, one of the great joys of the outdoorsy lifestyle. Fresh air fragranced by campfires and a pot of beef stew or fruit-studded oatmeal — does it get any better?
For those of you who consider cooking to be a leisure activity, I have a few fun camp recipes to share. All are easy and require minimal prep work. All are delicious and hearty enough to fuel hiking, rock climbing, swimming, and a cutthroat round of Trivial Pursuit.
Also, for your health, remember to bring plenty of fresh fruit, and make your own healthy trail mix at home!
Want more camping tips? Check out my big list of camping do’s and don’ts.
Serves a variable number of campers
This recipe has very flexible amounts and ingredients. It makes a mighty tasty and very quick jam or syrup for toast or pancakes, and it’s the perfect sweetener for a big bowl of steel-milled oats or Greek yogurt.
Alls you gots to do is melt a couple tablespoons of butter in a skillet, add a cup of brown sugar, and stir it until it looks like the beginnings of candy. It’ll be at a rolling boil; go ahead and cook it like that for a couple minutes. Then, add your fruit — apples, pears, strawberries, blackberries, whatever — and just a shake or two of ground cinnamon. Keep on stirring and cooking until it’s as thick and sticky as you like. It will thicken more as it cools down, as well. The more brown sugar you add, the thicker it’ll be.
Two tablespoons of olive oil or butter
One red bell pepper
Half a red onion
A handful of baby portobello mushrooms
One can of vegetarian, turkey, or beef chili, no beans
One can of black beans, drained
One can of jalapeno-spiced chopped tomatoes or a jar of salsa
One can of jalapeno-spiced corn
Any leftover cooked meats: grilled steak, BBQ pork, roasted chicken, etc.
Dark beer, red wine, or a splash of whiskey
Heat the oil/butter in a Dutch oven. Chop the bell pepper and onion, and tear apart the mushrooms with your hands (you can also do this before you leave home and carry the veggies in a plastic baggie). Saute the vegetables until crisp-tender.
Add the rest of the ingredients and cook over a low-burning camp stove (or the less hot part of a campfire grate) long enough for the flavors to mingle well.
Serve with storebought or homemade cornbread, sliced and pan-fried in a small amount of butter until golden brown.
RUSTIC CAMP MASH
Serves a variable number of campers
Unpeeled red potatoes, cut in a 1/2-inch dice
Cheese, bacon, chives, shroomies, etc.
Heat water in a Dutch oven. When water starts to warm, add potatoes (chopped at home or at camp). Bring to a rolling boil, and cook for 10-15 minutes until very tender. Using the Dutch oven lid, cover the pot and crack it just a quarter inch. Tilt the pot over a far-away bit of dirt and pour out the water. With a wooden spoon, smash the potatoes against the side of the Dutch oven.
Once the potatoes are smashed, add the butter and salt to taste. Then, pile in the mix-ins of your choosing. Serve with grilled steaks, chicken, pork chops, or pan-fried slices of red-lentil “meatloaf.”
SPAM & EGGS
One container Lite Spam, regular Spam, Turkey Spam, etc.
Here’s a nice trick for traveling with eggs. Crack six whole eggs into a mason jar with a generous splash of cream, milk, or evaporated milk. Shake it like a Polaroid picture, then pack it into your ice-filled cooler.
At camp, cut your Spam into a 1/3-inch dice and brown in a skillet until it’s just a bit crispy on the outside. Pour the egg mixture over the Spam and stir until eggs are cooked but still moist. Serve with Tabasco on the side (no salt needed) and sourdough toast with Camp Jam.