We should all get used to it: No matter where you camp in the Western Mountain, you probably at least won’t be able to burn wood. Sorry not sorry, Smores.
And that’s a good thing in some ways: The smell of wood smoke may evoke your memories of camping, but it’s not good for your lungs and as our climate changes, it’s getting more and more dangerous when it comes to the potential for catastrophic wildfires.
So, let’s look at banning fire as a culinary challenge.
Here are some tips, along with five dinner recipes that can be precooked or prepared at your campsite with a propane stove or one of your new backpacker-sized utensils.
All are easiest with two burners, but one can be made – as long as it’s hot enough to boil the water. You will not need more than five cooking utensils. If you maximize the use of protein and already cooked food, throw in some canned or chopped essentials and remember to pack some cold and salty pickles and olives, you’ll be all set to provide you with some continued fun.
Think about sustainability
With reusable bags available, including a silicone set that can be dropped into boiling water to reheat, pre-cooking doesn’t have to be a waste of time. The nice thing about eating dinner in a bag is that you can freeze it and it will keep any perishable items cold. This saves space for cooler, water, and fuel: Preheat your meal, then use boiling water to cook carbs and/or wash dishes and utensils.
put a cover on it
When you’re filling, don’t forget the lid that fits the main pot and pan. If you don’t do much (or anything) of cooking or camp cooking, you’ll be amazed at how quickly a sealed cooking pot heats up.
Does the phrase “kitchen maid” sound fun to you? Then don’t feel guilty about taking shortcuts. After all, camping is supposed to be a vacation. Repeat that word: VAY. Kay. shun. Take a bottle of all-purpose dressing for bagged Cole Slaw (good on tacos, good with roast and hell, good with breakfast). We love Brianna’s Creamy Cilantro and Lime), or a bottle of homemade vinaigrette that can double as a pickle.
There’s nothing wrong with using instant brown broth or instant mashed potatoes—and they don’t weigh much either. We created these recipes from things like ready-to-eat rice in bags fixed on the shelves, noodles that cook in a jiffy (thin noodles, ramen or glass noodles) and dried fruits (apricots and cherries).
Best camping invention ever: a square foldable silicone dish washer sink. Anything GSI makes – kitchen sets, utensils, nesting utensils for eating. Compostable paper plates and bowls. Instant espresso powder. And olive oil in a small squeeze bottle – we got under 3 ounces of olive oil for four days and ate like kings (we were given some chocolate-walnut brownies beforehand, smeared them with sour cherry jam, and ate them with canned mojitos and daiquiris).
Shepherd’s Pie Camp Stove
This can be done entirely in advance and reheated. While it is easiest to do on two burners, it can be done on a single burner. And if instant mashed potatoes offend your food allergy, boil some baby potatoes and put them in a zip-top bag. Then crush them with your hands and reheat them over the soup. Serves 4
- 1 pound or more beef broth or diced grilled chuck chops
- 3 ounces dry red wine
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper or seasoned pepper mix
- 2 cans brown broth mixture, any kind (gluten-free brands available)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups of frozen vegetables: carrots, peas, and green beans are perfect
To prepare the potatoes:
- 1 pound small red or multi-colored potatoes, peeled, previously boiled or:
- Prepackaged instant mashed potatoes plus ingredients to make 4 generous servings (most brands require milk, butter, and water, but we skipped the butter and were fine)
Any or all of the following steps can be done in advance.
Cut any large pieces of cooked meat or chuck into bite-size pieces. Combine beef, red wine, salt, and pepper in a resealable bag or container and refrigerate 2 hours.
Mix brown broth according to package directions in a bowl or cup
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a skillet or Dutch oven. When shimmering, add the beef pieces one at a time using tongs until the pieces burn a little. When all the beef is added and stirred once, add the brown broth and reduce the heat until cooked through. Cover and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or until the beef is cooked to your liking.
(At this point, you can place the soup base in a bag and freeze, then reheat and combine with on-site vegetables.)
Or: add frozen vegetables. Cover again and continue to simmer over low heat until heated up and hot bubbles come out; Cover and set aside to keep warm.
(You can also freeze the soup at this point.)
At the camp site: Make potatoes. If using instant water, boil the water and add milk and/or butter according to package directions. Season to taste. Through heat, cover and set aside.
If you use boiled potatoes at home, give a zip-top bag of cooked potatoes to your favorite child or child-like adult and have them crush the potatoes with their hands through the bag. Add milk, butter or oil, and salt and pepper to taste (avoid salt, as most brown broth mixtures are too salty). Put the potatoes in a saucepan or skillet and warm it over a low heat. Cover and set aside. (Or, if the potatoes are in a submerged bag, just toss the bag into the boiling water.)
Return the soup to the stove and heat it to a boil. Serve the stew over the mashed potatoes.
tuna terrine pasta
A cold pasta dinner requires boiling some pasta and opening a pint pot. If you have access to quality canned tuna in oil, feel free to substitute it—and if you prefer serving it on crusty bread instead of pasta, go for it. Serves 4.
- Two 7-ounce cans of the finest quality tuna, packed in oil or water
- 1/2 cup high quality olive oil
- 2 packages of tomato paste or 2 tubes of sun-dried tomato paste.
- 1/2 cup fresh herbs, coarsely chopped and loosely packed (parsley, dill, fennel, basil, rosemary, marjoram, thyme, thyme or chives)
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped green olives
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved, or 2 garlic cloves (optional)
- 3/4 pound uncooked macaroni noodles
- Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Before leaving, open cans of tuna. If packed with water, dry the tuna (reserve the juice for later use or as a treat for pet dogs or cats). Break the first can of tuna into a glass jar and, using a fork, break it into smaller pieces, laying it slightly flat. Add a quarter of the chopped herbs to each jar (leave half the herbs for the second layer). Coat with a quarter of the olive oil until you reach the top of the tuna and herb layer. Add half a can of tomato paste to each jar. Repeat the layers. Put half the amount of green olives on each jar. Add garlic to taste. Cold.
At the campsite: Cut the spaghetti noodles in half (to fit a small cooking pot). boil until cooked; sink.
To serve, divide cooked noodles into bowls. Layer the olives, tomatoes, herbs, and tuna on top of the noodles. Add Parmesan cheese to taste.
Nuggets pieces with apricot rice
This recipe works well with cuts of beef or chicken, marinated meatballs or, we think, vegetarian alternatives like falafel. If you make a lot of pilaf, you can add chickpeas and pieces of feta cheese to it on the second day for a light, cool lunch. And if you forgot apricots, you can substitute currants, raisins, or even grape halves. Serve with cucumber and dressing, green salad, or both. Serves 4.
- 1 pound of lamb broth
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
To prepare the rice:
- 1 package 8.8 oz basmati rice ready to eat
- 1 6-ounce package dried apricots, diced or scissed
- 1 and 1/2 cup frozen baby peas
- 1 bunch chopped Italian parsley
- 1 bunch fresh chopped chives
- juice of one lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
The following steps can be performed before your flight.
Chop any large stew pieces into bite-size pieces. In a resealable bag or bowl, combine meat, cumin, pepper, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom. Refrigerate for up to 4 hours – or freeze to cook at the camp site.
Heat the olive oil over a medium heat until it shimmers. Add the marinated lamb and cook until cooked to your liking. You can freeze the lamb at this point to reheat it at your camping site.
At the camp site or at home: In a large bowl or zip-top bag, combine rice, apricots, herbs, and lemon juice. Salt and pepper to taste. Feet warm or cold.
Fried Chicken Sausage
This recipe works with any type of sausage, although it is most easily navigated with fully cooked sausages or those that have already been grilled or cooked. You’ll also work with vegan sausages or vegan versions, and if you’re really missing a wood fire, heat the vegetables to your heart’s content at home and reheat at your camp site. Do you have leftovers? This breakfast. Serves 4.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large or 2 small zucchini, cut into small pieces
- 1 large or 2 small yellow squash, cut into pieces
- 1 green or ripe bell pepper, sliced wide
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper or a spiced pepper mix
- 4 to 6 fully cooked chicken sausages, cut into ½ inch thick pieces
- 1/4 cup shredded cheese or crumbled cheese, any kind, optional
Heat olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the vegetables in one layer. Sprinkle the seasoned pepper mixture over the vegetables. Cook until it becomes a little brown.
Add chicken sausage. Keep cooking until the sausage turns a little brown and everything is heated through. add cheese and remove from heat or turn off the heat; Cover to melt the cheese and keep the dish warm. Feet it right away.
Susan Klotfelter ([email protected]) cooked for 185 campers for three days at 8000 feet without electricity or modern plumbing. She’s had a lot of help – and has completely regained her sanity ever since. Somewhat.