I love camping…partially because it is so amazing to completely disconnect, be dirty and just not care for days at a time. But I also love it because I get to leisurely cook outside with the sun streaming down over me and a margarita in my hand. In my opinion, everything cooked over a campfire just tastes better so that’s the only way we cook dinner when we camp. I do allow a little camp stove for breakfast sometimes, but usually I’m a stickler about campfire cooking.
Since we’re heading up to Lake Tahoe to go camping for Labor Day weekend I thought I’d share the SavoryGirl approach to camping. If I do say so myself, we eat pretty darn well! We keep it relatively simple so clean-up isn’t too intense but we’ve certainly moved beyond the typical burgers & hot dogs every night that most people associate with camping.
First things first, you have to go camping prepared if you want to eat well. What you see above is my camping spice rack. My spices at home are in these little magnetic tins hanging on a wall in my kitchen so when we go camping I stack them up and bring them along. Luckily (or unluckily) we live in bear country so pretty much everywhere we go camping has a nice big metal bear locker that works just fabulously to stick my spices to. Seasoning at your fingertips!
We also bring along our good knives, cutting boards, can opener, wine key, aluminum foil, pot holders, tongs, camping pots/pans/plates/cups etc… so that we essentially have a fully stocked kitchen with us. Essential if you want to cook well over the fire…so what exactly are we cooking?
For breakfast we often do bacon & eggs with a nice local baked good we pick up in town, pancakes (Bisquick makes a nice “just add water and shake” product that we use when camping) and oatmeal. For coffee we bring our French Press and some of those shelf-stable creamers.
For lunch we keep it pretty simple. PB&J or wraps with fresh veggies and some snacks like pita chips or trail mix. We’re often hiking, biking or at the beach during the day so whatever we plan for lunch has to be portable and stable in the heat.
Dinner is where we spend the most time and energy since we’re usually pretty hungry, excited to cook over the campfire and have lots of time to kill until it starts getting dark…as you can see above where I’m starting to prepare dinner at our campsite in Big Sur. A few of our favorites:
Grilled sausages with peppers & onions and a black bean, corn and jalapeño salad (made with corn on the cob that was grilled over the campfire). Another twist when we grill peppers & onions is to cook up some seasoned thinly sliced chicken and make fajitas alongside this salad. We bring corn tortillas and throw them right on the grill so they get toasted and sometimes serve alongside re-fried beans or Spanish rice. Usually this is the night we make guacamole and margaritas to enjoy while cooking dinner as well!
If we’re feeling fancy, we’ll pick up some nice steaks and make a herb butter or some sauteed mushrooms to serve on top alongside some grilled corn or fire-roasted sweet potatoes.
In terms of veggies, there are lots of great options. One is the simple preparation of just throwing zucchini right on the grill over the fire as shown above. Sometimes we’ll chop zucchini up with some onions and butter and seasoning and wrap it up in foil and throw it right in the fire to cook up as well. We also just wrap sweet potatoes in some foil after poking them with a fork and push them right into the embers to make fire-roasted sweet potatoes. Grilled corn is another favorite. Simply peel back the husk (leaving it attached though) and remove all of the silks. Then re-wrap the corn in the husks and throw it on the grill. If you have flames in your fire (vs. embers) you may want to soak the corn in a bucket of water for 10 minutes or so first so that the husk doesn’t burn away before the corn is cooked.
In terms of late-night snacks, I ALWAYS try Jiffy Pop over the campfire…and ALWAYS fail. It never pops for me! I burn my hand, have tears streaming down my face from the smoke and refuse to give up, knowing it used to work when I was a child. But in the past 10 years camping as an adult I’ve never been able to get Jiffy Pop to pop over my campfire. I know in the photo above it looks like there was no fire, but I promise there was it’s just the angle…it was very hot, but still no pop.
But have no fear…there are always S’Mores! Which, to be honest, is the better late night camping snack anyway. I balance my graham cracker on the edge of the grill grate with a piece of chocolate on it while I patiently toast my marshmallow. This allows the graham cracker to get a little fire-roasted flavor and helps the chocolate melt a bit. Put it all together and you have a little piece of heaven oozing in your mouth. Did I say how much I love camping?
So that, my friends, is what to expect if you ever come camping with me. Which means that during the day you better plan to be active and go hiking, biking, running or kayaking (as I am above at Lake Tahoe) to help burn off all of those calories and work up an appetite. Happy camping!