Thursday, July 1, 2010


We didn't get any pictures of the set-up yesterday at camp, so I will try to recreate it here at home.  Tomorrow I will start posting more details with pictures. I'm serving them to my family this whole weekend  ;-?

I have been asked to feed a lot of groups over the years ranging from cub scouts, family get-to-gethers, girls' camp, retreats, and just camping as a family.  I realized that I was drawing from that when I put the camp cooking classes together.  The three main dishes all had choices for each person to make according to their appetite and taste.

With summer here, these would work so well at so many gatherings.   Just think of how happy it will make my family the rest of this miserable season (Southern Arizona has been hit with it's annual mug and it is miserable) when they will all get to make their own choices and it is cooked out on the BBQ or patio so they can eat in relative "less discomfort".


Rules for Success

  • Foil--Don't scrimp on foil.  I have seen more disasters because of this one mistake.  You need to be able to seal the dinner really well to preserve moisture, keep ashes, dirt, and whatever else is lurking around out of our food.  Even with this, you'll have plenty of grit for your gizzard, if you get my drift!  I have used regular weight successfully when there were no little piggies who made huge heavy dinners.  If you aren't sure about it holding up to the flipping and long cook time, go ahead and wrap a second time.  If you have a bunch of guys, go ahead and play it safe with heavy duty.
  • I never make mine 2" thick.  Inch and half at the most.  You'll be more likely top have it cook evenly.  Ever had one that is black half way through and then raw in the middle, YUCK!  Dangerous too.
  • Meat--I always cut or break up the meat and scatter it through all the other ingredients.  I know you have all seen the hamburger patty, bleeding in the center with blackened veggies all around.  A slab of chicken can leave you with the same e-coli or salmonella. with built-in charcoal to help with the problems.
  • Cabbage Leaves--  I know . . . . "I don't like cabbage!"  If you are making big foilies, these nice juicy leaves can go a long way in preventing food from burning or drying out.  They insulate, add moisture to help steam your meal and the flavors to blend do nicely.  IF you must, just chuck them when you eat, BUT, be brave, try them.  I have seen so many kids nibble, nibble, smile and eat them up!  I do love it when I'm right, or when I'm wrong and learn something new.
  • Sauces-- A lot of people like to use some of the good old canned creamed soups.  Since I do love gravy, I like this idea.  Since I need to watch the salt and the fat, I avoid them.  It's just another choice you can give everyone.  There are also gravies in cans, bottle or packs.  Another option would to put some liquid in it, very carefully and sprinkle in some powdered gravy mix. With the Pineapple Chicken, I mixed all the sauce ingredients in a bowl, added a little corn starch and poured it in the pouch just before I wrapped it up.  it thickened while it cooked.  Loved it.   It would have been easier to add and keep it in the pouch if I had cooked and thickened it first, but that would have been harder in the "wilds".
  • Seasonings--Salt, pepper, and Lawry's are the required ones of course.  I also like to use some imagination.  Try Cajun, Mexican, Italian, Mrs. Dash (there is a variety, have some fun), Spike (the precursor to Lawry's), maybe some garlic powder.  The sky's the limit!
Here are some good combinations:
  • Traditional--Hamburger (broken up), potatoes, carrots, onions.  Try adding some celery, peppers, mushrooms, corn, just about any veggies that you like.
  • Irish--Canned corned beef (broken up), diced potatoes, minced onion, cabbage, required this time {:-D  The cabbage could be leaves or chopped up to make it easier to eat everything all mixed up in each delicious delectable bite.  Oh boy, I 'm getting hungry . . . .
  • Ham--  Just substitute ham for the corned beef.  It can even be a canned ham.  If I was using a canned ham, I would dice and brown it first.  I suppose, if you were raised the way I was and you could actually stand the thought, you could use Spam  . . . . . I can NOT believe I just wrote that.  But camping is camping and I have been amazed how many people didn't consider being fed that was cruel and unusual punishment.  My own son went to Hawaii on a mission and came home warped and liking Spam.  He talked me into trying his favorite Ramen noodles with diced Spam and BBQ sauce . . . . .  AARRGGGGHHHH!  He's been home for 8 years and still insist it's delicious.
  • Pineapple Chicken  --  This seemed to go over big at Girls' Camp.  Our family is making it tomorrow for supper.  I will post it with pictures tomorrow night.
  • Home Cooking -- OK let's really think about getting our minds out of our little boxes.  How about taking care of all those little Macaroni Dinner lovers out there.  Cook some noodles or macaroni and set out the selection.  This would be a great time to use some "sauce" or cabbage leaves so the pasta doesn't dry out while the other stuff melts or cooks.  Think about it.  What are your favorite casseroles?  Oh, yum, wouldn't that be wonderful to dig in to that wonderful, gooey yumminess?
COOKING--Just lay these in the coals and turn once in awhile.  Use long tongs and be very careful so that you don't find your shoe melting . . . no, I haven't done that but I did have to pull a girl out one time before the heat melted through! 
Home Version or Get the Heat of your Kitchen--Bake all these in your backyard BBQ.  Don't have one?  Have you ever used your crock pot for an oven?  They work quite well.  Sometimes, I do put a little water in the bottom and use a rack to raise the food above it.  This is not the fast way to do it, but if you live in an apartment that has an "outdoor space", get that heat out of your kitchen!  Just plan on getting an early start.  An electric skillet (or griddle) would also work out there.  How about your favorite toaster oven, mine spends most summers on our patio.