Monday, October 19, 2015

Camp Eats

As one adult Scout leader said to me: You're cut from a different piece of fabric when dealing with meals while camping.

That may be true. I am not your typical hot dogs, hamburgers, and PBJ sandwiches dude when fixing a meal while out camping.  Sure, for a day hike, make it simple: PBJ sandwich with potato chips. It's a light load on the back and the peanut butter is a great protein pick-me-up.


When at the camp, make a meal.  In the past, I've taught several Boys Scouts how to cook some tasty meals like Faux Red Wine Roast, twice-baked potatoes, spiced carrots and for dessert, Hawaiian baked apples. And, yes, it was done out in the open, over open fires and/or coals.

Just because you're camping, doesn't mean you have to give up healthy and/or tasty meals. There is absolutely no reason to resort to hot dogs or luncheon meat sandwiches as the fare of the day.  Don't think I'm a snob, either.  Of course, I know boys, and they enjoy hot dogs - I just don't plan on those being the meal each time we go camping. They learned how to bake a pizza in a cardboard box, do up stir fry and sometimes, create their own meals with just some given raw ingredients.

Let me move on.  That was a few years back (almost 2 decades!) when I was involved heavily into Boy Scouts.  Today, I am an avid RV motorhome camper.  That's right.  After several years - nay, decades, of sleeping in a tent, on the ground, I advanced to a popup camper for a short length of time for a few summers and then I retired.

My first purchase was a 28 foot Allegro motorhome.  It was a used beauty with 19K miles and 8 yrs old.  Now, nine years later, it has over 80K.  Some may not think that to be all that much, but one must realize, it is a "shared" amount of travel.  My brother-in-law bought a small motorhome the year before I bought mine. We often double up.  In other words, one time we will take his, the next time, mine. The four of us enjoying a trip together of 1, 2 or even 3 weeks while traveling this fantastic and beautiful US of A. We've been to almost all the states in the last 9 years except the New England states above NY and the 3 extreme NW states - Oregon, Washington and Alaska.  Oh, and Hawaii. By the way, he has almost 80K miles on his camper, too.

Last week my wife and I went to a local state park and just enjoyed the cool autumn weather, changing colors and the less hectic campground of summer's youth.  Of course, we still have our certain lifestyle commitments.  My wife had her church ladies' Wednesday afternoon card session. Since we were only 11 miles from home - but it seemed much further - she headed back into town for the social event.

I took that day to be my own special time and did some editing and writing.

My mind wandered. It was 1pm. I pulled out a bag of shrimp and a package of bacon from the freezer to start thawing. Supper was brewing in my mind.  I grabbed a couple of spuds and peeled them. A quick dice into cottage fries and they were ready to go into oil for the first crisping.  I decided to try a new technique I'd read about - pre-frying, allow to cool, then re-fry them for a crispy outside.  Here's what they looked like after the first oil dip.

It is now 4pm. The potatoes are cooling. The shrimp and bacon have defrosted.  I cut the bacon in half and wrapped up some shrimp.  I was a little ticked since I didn't have any ranch dressing to coat the shrimp or even some bleu cheese to stuff them before wrapping them up.  They were generic shrimp with bacon.  Oh well, here's what they looked like.  Remember, it is a small oven so I couldn't do all the shrimp.  It was a 1 pound package of about 30 shrimp - 16 got wrapped.

That meant, I had some shrimp left over. I knew my wife enjoyed when I'd do up my Easy Lemon Shrimp - so, I decided to make some of it. I thought my wife had a lot more pots and pans in the RV than I was finding.  I assumed she had taken them in to clean and just forgot to bring them back out. So I had to improvise. Normally this is done in a skillet, I had to microwave them. I should have put the butter on the top to allow it to melt down over the shrimp, but, well, we learn as we go when one decides to cook by the seat-of-his-pants.

Did I mention I discovered some sweet corn?  Yup!  We'd found a little roadside stand and bought a half dozen.  We had company coming to visit for supper the next night, so I knew I could sneak 2 ears away for this meal.

We had estimated my wife's return to be around 6-6:15pm.  I had everything on the stove or in the oven with a finish time of 6:15.  My wife pulled into the parking spot at 5:40pm.  Definitely ahead of schedule but I didn't get flustered.  I had cleaned the RV, taken out the trash, lighted a couple of candles and had a meal cooking that wafted on the air to tease and torment nearby campers.  At 6:15pm, we sat at the table and enjoyed the meal with a couple of slices of buttered "everything" Italian bread. For those who don't know what "everything" bread is: think everything bagel topping but on bread. That's right: garlic, onion, poppy seed, sesame seed, cracked pepper, coarse salt.  Mmm.

Cottage fries to left, bacon wrapped shrimp at top, lemon shrimp bottom right.

Need I say this meal was...   YUM!!

Of course, my wife loves me and she would have been thrilled with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Why?  Because she didn't have to make the meal.  Still, she loves her seafood and thoroughly enjoyed this meal.

By the way - clean up was very simple. The oven pan was covered with aluminum - trashed the aluminum foil. The lemon shrimp was done in one dish in the microwave. The corn was boiled in a pan. The fries were done in a small skillet with ONE cup of oil.  The dishes were paper plates.  So I had a few utensils and a couple of pans.  10 minutes, the kitchen was clean.

Oh, and the following night we made an old Boy Scout favorite - foil packs.  Yup!  That's a hamburger smothered with sliced potatoes and your choice of vegetables and condiments.  Me?  I had sliced carrots, celery, onion, soy sauce, mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, green peppers, salt and pepper with some pats of butter.  It is all wrapped up in aluminum foil and baked on coals in the fire.  We started in the fire since I'd spent most of the day creating a great bed of coals but the rain forced us to finish in the oven.  Oh, I forgot to mention, I'd saved some grease from the bacon I'd had for breakfast and put some of it on my raw hamburger to "flavor" it.  My foil pack was absolute heaven.

Our company had never had foil packs and enjoyed the fun of creating them and even more fun opening and eating them.

Camping can be about hot dogs but with a little flair, it can be a lot more fun.

Until next I ramble on...


  1. I am always amazed by the creativity of cooks. This made me hungry, and it's only 11 a.m!

    1. LOL. My granddaughter got upset and wanted a shrimp supper on Sunday night - so I repeated the above with one itty-bitty variation: I added a little smoked gouda cheese and a slice of apple to the shrimp before wrapping with bacon. OMG!

  2. Your food always looks so good to eat! I'm a fan of your recipes, as you know. Please take me camping with you! I'll watch the grandkids! LOL!

    1. Mosey along any time - I can sleep 8 in the RV motorhome and usually it is just my wife and I plus upwards of 4 grandkids, usually just 2. With the two of us cooking, we may have to stay an extra week AFTER the food runs out so we can get back out the door. LOL.