Fire Up The Food
We recently went camping in Delaware for a long weekend. This was our first (successful) camping trip since my 11 year old was 2. So, yeah. It had been a while. Because it had been so long, I couldn't remember what kind of food we ate when we camped before. All I could picture was hot dogs. Ugh. I'm not opposed to an occasional summer dog on the grill but by no means do I get excited about it. Generally speaking, we eat pretty darn well at home so this time I was determined to make good meals but without a lot of hassle while camping. A few sessions on Pinterest was all it took to come up with a menu.
It's come to my attention over the past few years that some people call it camping even when they stay in a cabin. In my mind, camping involves a tent (or maybe a pop up. But cabins and RV's that have more luxuries than my home, not so much). Tenting is definitely more labor intensive but that's half the fun (*except when you have to hike it to the bathroom at 3 am in wet and or dirty flip flops. That is not super fun.). It was a learning experience for the kids (oh the things we take for granted!) for sure. We didn't get to our site at Cape Henlopen until after 7:30 pm so Nelsy got our fire going right away and while he put up the tent, the kids and I got to work on dinner.
I brought a handful of potatoes which were easy to peel and slice up as needed. I was pretty happy to have a water spigot on the spot, I guess I had forgotten what car camping was like.
Phoebe cleaned and trimmed the green beans (you can tell it was getting dark out) while Hayden rinsed potatoes and assembled.
I surprised the kids by making mini versions of my "famous" meatloaf. There was no fooling them! Despite the fact that I kept calling them "meat patties" (so generic), they knew after the first bite what recipe it was. I made the meat loaf mix early in the week before we left and froze them so they'd stay nice and cold in the cooler (and helped keep other stuff cold as well). You could really do any meat mixture you'd like, I'll probably do the turkey loaf or turkey burgers next time. So the meat and potatoes and green beans got layered in foil pie tins with a little butter here and there and placed on the fire.
There was a bit of a learning curve, figuring out the best placement of the pans over the fire and coals and shuffling them around so they all were heated evenly. Ideally (it wouldn't have been so late when we started) the meat would not have been completely frozen solid when we started but it all worked out in the end.
Because nothing looks super delicious under a flashlight, you may just have to use your imagination and trust me on this. The meat was nice and juicy, potatoes browned up on the bottom and the beans were cooked through but still had a bite to them. And we ate at 10 o'clock so there's that. Hayden has suggested that next time we do this with salmon. Good idea.
The next morning we got a very small fire going to heat the breakfast burritos I brought (made ahead and frozen as well) and some coffee. Somehow a few grounds in your cup is perfectly acceptable when you're living outdoors.
So the burritos were not the most exciting thing I ever ate. They had eggs, cheese, sausage and potatoes in them. Could've used some tomato and spinach or broccoli in there. Next time. Either way, it was a nice hearty breakfast before we head out to explore in the park and the ocean. (The kids have requested that I make a batch of these to keep in the freezer for school mornings which I will definitely do!)
I caught my first blue crab! That was pretty exciting. This was supposed to be a "Tide Pooling" adventure, however, there were no tide pools.
There were plenty of critters out there to check out, but this post is about camping food, so let's get back to that, shall we?
For our third and final camp cooked meal we had macaroni and cheese. Not from a box. We don't do that anymore. It was not at all difficult to make homemade mac and cheese while camping (Washing the cheesy dishes is another story. Next time try spraying the pot?). We brought a little onion, some herbs from the garden a cheese grater, a couple of tablespoons of flour, some butter and milk. No biggie.
The pasta was cooked at home the day before we left and just stored in a plastic bag and brought in the cooler.
The kids wanted hot dogs (because Phoebe likes to cook things on sticks) so I opted for kielbasa instead. Is this part of a real food diet, you ask? Hell no. But part of living a wholly healthy life is being OK with eating some not so great for you things once in a while. I wouldn't eat it often, but once every few months (we probably have it three times a year or less being realistic) is really not going to hurt anyone. The key here is getting a handle on "once in a while" (a.k.a. rarely).
But check it out, we brought zucchini from the garden to balance it all out. That's right my friends....it is all about balance.
The moral of the story is that you can eat (mostly) real food on any vacation if you give it a little thought. Especially on trips where you have access to a kitchen or like this, a campfire. The meals that you don't see here were made up of sandwiches, fruit, hummus and crackers and raw veggies on the beach. We had yogurt parfaits (with berries and granola we brought from home) for breakfast one day. We also had one fabulous dinner out at the Dogfish Head Brewpub in Rehoboth and a fantastic breakfast at a place called Honey's Farm Fresh in Lewes before we hit the road to come home. With a little planning and patience, it can be done. What will you make on your next camping adventure?