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How to Cook When Camping

Camping cooking

Food never tastes better than when prepared and eaten outdoors. This year, more families than ever are discovering the pleasures of camping out and learning how to cook when camping. Whether it’s a day’s outing with a picnic lunch, a weekend spent “roughing it” at a nearby lake or woodland stream, a vacation at one of hundreds of state parks across the country, “back-to-nature” living takes on added appeal in the face of economic uncertainty and the energy shortage.

Good camp cooking doesn’t just happen. Plan simple, well-balanced meals which are both interesting and nutritious. Shop carefully for those food items which are versatile and can be made into a variety of dishes. Take basic equipment and learn to improvise when cooking. You really need to learn how to cook when camping if you want your weekend to be a pleasurable experience.

Nothing helps eliminate a generation gap as readily as camp life. Mealtime should be a happy time at camp, not a burden for anyone. So share responsibilities with every member of the family taking part in some area of the meal preparation and cleanup. Plan menus the family will enjoy but be sure to include the “basic four” foods in each day’s meals.

Outdoor activities consume large amounts of energy and well-balanced meals are a must for active outdoor living. Chicken is a good source of protein and affords many opportunities to vary the usual camping dish. “Back To Nature Chicken” is a simple, yet fun recipe for barbecuing where several members of the family can become involved by preparing the fire and basting the chicken.

Keep the camp cooking menu simple with “Ravioli Gurnbo,” a tasty combination of vegetables and canned Mini Raviolis, which serves as both pasta and vegetable. And, the “Western Tossed Fruit Salad” of crisp western iceberg lettuce and fresh fruit also serves double duty as salad and dessert with the fresh California nectarines, strawberries and blueberries contributing most of the sweetness with their own natural sugar.

Whether cooking in a well-equipped luxury camper or over an open fire, have fun with these recipes, which meet all the requirements of ideal camping fare – good taste, nutrition and simplicity.

Back to Nature Chicken

4 to 6 broiler-fryer legs (drumstick with thigh)
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons powdered instant orange drink
1/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons butter salt and pepper to taste

Wash legs, dry, and sprinkle with soy sauce. Let stand while mixing sauce. Dissolve the powdered orange drink in water. Add honey slowly. Melt butter and add to sauce. Pour honey mixture over legs in soy sauce and let stand until ready to cook. Place chicken on grill, skin side up about 8 inches from heat. Cook about 40-45 minutes (or until fork can be inserted with ease) turning very often to keep from over browning (this needs constant watching on grill). Baste generously with sauce as legs are cooking. When done, remove from grill and salt and pepper generously. Makes 6 servings.

Ravioli Gumbo

1 cup diced onions
2 cans (15 oz. each) Mini Ravioli
1 cup diced green pepper
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon cooking oil
few drops hot pepper sauce
1 can (15 oz.) okra, washed and drained
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 can (12 oz.) corn nibblets, drained

Saute onions and green pepper in 1 tablespoon cooking oil until tender. Mix sauteed vegetables with remaining ingredients and simmer 5 minutes. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Western Tossed Fruit Salad

1 head western iceberg lettuce
1 package (3 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups fresh California nectarine slices
2 cups fresh California strawberries, whole or halved
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Prepare lettuce at home as instructed in camping tips and keep chilled in ice chest. Place nectarine slices in mixing bowl. Blend sugar and ginger. Mix with nectarines; cover and refrigerate about 1 hour. For dressing, drain syrup from nectarines into small bowl. Add lemon juice and cream cheese. Beat to blend. Prepare berries. To serve, remove a few outer lettuce leaves from chilled head and line serving platter. Shred remaining head and place on platter. Group the fruits decoratively atop lettuce. Serve with cheese dressing. Makes 6 servings.

Marinated Mushroom Salad

1 head western iceberg lettuce
1/4 teaspoon tarragon, crumbled
1/4 lb. fresh mushrooms
Tabasco Pepper Sauce to taste
1/3 cup clam juice
1/3 cup salad oil
1 cup sliced red onion
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 tomato
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt

Prepare lettuce at home as instructed in camping tips and deep chilled. Rinse and scrub mushrooms; cut off dry tips of stems. Slice mushrooms lengthwise. Combine clam juice, oil, vinegar, salt, tarragon and Tabasco in large jar or juice container; cover and shake well. Add mushrooms and onion; shake to coat. Chill. To serve, tear enough lettuce to make 5 cups; chill remainder for use another time. Cut tomato into wedges. Combine with lettuce and mushroom mixture in large salad bowl; toss lightly. Makes 5 or 6 servings.

Summer Camp Lasagna

1 cup diced zucchini
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 cup diced onion
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup diced celery
2 cans (15 oz. each) lasagna
1 cup diced carrots

Saute vegetables in butter in medium skillet. Add nutmeg and lasagna. Cover and cook over medium heat 5 to 10 minutes. Makes 4-to 6 servings.

Campers Lemon Chicken

1 broiler-fryer chicken, cut in parts
1/2 teaspoon marjoram leaves (dried)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon basil leaves (dried)

Wash chicken and wipe dry. Place in shallow dish or pan. Melt butter in a small saucepan; add lemon juice and spices. Pour over chicken. Light fire and let chicken marinate until fire is ready. Place chicken on grill, skin side up about 8 inches from heat. Grill the chicken about 45 minutes (or until fork can be inserted with ease), basting with lemon marinade and turning every 10 -15 minutes. Remove from grill and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Makes 4 servings.

Camping Tips

1. Make up permanent “emergency kit” containing camping necessities. Include: matches, aluminum foil, cutlery, basic tools; i.e., can opener, canned goods such as spaghetti, ravioli and beans, basic cooking pots and canned heat. Arrange in lightweight foam plastic box with well-fitting lid which can be used as a cooler later on. Store plastic box in station wagon or camper for instant meals on the road.

2. Use lightweight nested aluminum or molded plastic plates and cups. These do require washing but are much more satisfactory to eat from than their paper counterparts. Ecologically speaking, they help to cut down on litter, too.

3. Make use of dehydrated products which are light-weight, combine well, and perk up other foods. Include: soups and gravy mixes; milk, cream, onion, garlic, cheese, seasoning and broth and drink powders.

4. Coat outside bottom of cooking pots with bar soap before using on campfire or stove. This will eliminate tough cleaning jobs when you cook while camping.

5. Load canvas duffle bag with: first aid and snake bite kits, 25 feet of rope, a plastic drop cloth, plastic garbage bags. These items serve well for emergencies.

6. Use emptied tin cans – they’re versatile. (1) Fill cans with stones, arrange in circle or oblong around fire, place grill on top for broiling or barbecuing. (2) Wash thoroughly; store left-overs, matches, rice, by covering with aluminum foil and taping around bottom edge of foil. (3) Warm up small amounts of food in them such as gravies and sauces.

Camping Food Tips

1. Chicken is perishable food but may be kept one to two days in an insulated cooler or refrigerated camper unit. To keep longer, freeze before leaving home, then refrigerate. Plastic sandwich bags are ideal for freezing individual servings whether a chicken half, quarter or cut-up parts. Gather the plastic bags together and wrap frozen chicken in heavy duty foil before placing in cooler.

2. Thaw frozen chicken in refrigerator or cooler (12-16 hours for whole bird; 4-9 hours for parts). Or thaw in cold water, changing often to hasten thawing time (about one hour). Or use a combination method and partially thaw in refrigerator, completing in cold water. You can also cook chicken in frozen state but longer cooking time is needed.

3. If you are buying cut-up chicken, plan on these as minimum individual servings: one breast half; one leg; two drumsticks; two thighs or four wings.

4. To ensure “ultra-crisp” western iceberg lettuce for a campout, core, rinse and thoroughly drain lettuce heads after marketing. Place in plastic bags, tuck in a paper towel to absorb any moisture, close tightly and chill in refrigerator until departure – then into the camp cooler or ice chest.

5. Add this hot salad-in-a-cup idea to your camping recipe collection. Mix 1/2 cup mayonnaise with a 15-ounce can of chili without beans and beat slowly. Fold in 3 cups crisp shredded western iceberg lettuce and serve at once in paper hot cups to accompany barbecued chicken.

The above tips on how to cook when you are camping will surely help make your camping experience way more enjoyable.

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