17 July 2011

Camping Food: Part I

This part one of a three-part series about the greatest summer food of all: the stuff you cook by the campfire...or in this case, over the campfire.

The first of our camping trips this summer brought us to Tucker Park, about six miles south of Hood River, Oregon. I found the park by doing some Internet research on lesser-known camping spots and found an Oregonian article from 2008 profiling just such areas. Granted, three years after the article was written it was bound to have increased in popularity, but I figured it was worth a shot. We had been searching for a campsite we could reserve for so long without any luck, I was willing to take the risk.

Like any other weekend, my first thoughts of planning went straight to the food. We started with Shawn's favorite: foil packet dinners. I first heard of these potato-ham concoctions at one of my first overnight trips while I was away at sleep away camp in fourth or fifth grade. Back then it was probably pre-shredded potato and deli ham provided to us by the CYO kitchen. Nowadays, we've gotten ever-so-slightly more sophisticated. I actually shred my own organic potato, use Tillamook sharp cheddar cheese, and (admittedly) buy cubed ham. I know, I know....I don't even want to start to think about what happened to that poor pig when they slaughtered him. Anyway...we learned our lesson about using the proper foil and not overstuffing a packet years ago when we first made them at Olallie Lake. Undercooked potato on top, burnt and stuck to the foil potato on the bottom. Ick.

Using nonstick foil and adding a little butter helps the end product not stick to the foil. For our packets, we using potato, ham, green onions and salt and pepper.

Our cooking source for the night.

Do NOT overstuff these or you'll end up with some nasty raw potato.

Add enough layers to keep the insides from burning.

A nice, hot fire is key...and if you don't have a grate to put over the fire, that's ok, it's cool to stick them right on the fire. Just make sure you use enough layers so it doesn't burn through the foil.

While in the past I've put cubes of cheese right into the packets, this time I bought shredded cheese, added it after they were done and just let it sit for a minute until it melted. 
Of course after a great meal and some beers, it was necessary to make my famous s'mores. Not sure if they've actually become famous yet, but I have some fans.

The key to perfect s'mores? Lots of patience toasting the marshmallows and putting the graham cracker and chocolate near the fire to melt the chocolate before adding the perfect marshmallow.

Pardon my unwashed hair...enjoying my creation.
Next camping trip is at the beach. Shawn has promised that I can cook hot dogs over the fire even though he doesn't love hot dogs. What a guy.

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