A camping trip can be a fantastic opportunity to spend quality time together as a family or make memories with friends.
When deciding what you need to take, most minds will automatically focus on the camping equipment like the tent, bedding, pegs and mallet. Often, the cooking side of things takes a backseat to everything else. Continue reading for everything you need to know about camping cuisine.
Photo by Cliford Mervil
Unlike in a regular kitchen where you can place things to the side and reheat later, campfire cooking usually causes a struggle in terms of everything being ready to eat at the exact same time. For children especially, it can be difficult for them to comprehend that different items of food will be ready at different times. That is the beauty of side dishes, which can be prepared in advance. Likewise, one-pot meals ensure that everything will be ready at once, and no waiting will be incurred. For the chef too, it allows the opportunity to eat at the same time as everyone else. Barbecued food often means grabbing a hot dog to eat while still tending to the final cuts of meat left on the grill.
The amount and type of equipment you need to take will depend on the number of people camping with you. At a minimum, you will need some form of stove (and don’t forget the fuel), a cooking pot, a chopping board, utensils (such as a wooden spoon and sharp knives), some crockery and cutlery. Instead of cooking on a stove, you may prefer to use a barbecue, which some campsites have available for you. Alternatively, open fire cooking is another option that is becoming more and more popular. If your site has an electric hookup or you are taking a portable power supply with you, you could consider other equipment such as a small refrigerator. To cater to a larger number of people, multiple sources of heat will be necessary as well as a selection of pots. Finally, do not forget your foil, particularly if you are planning barbecue meals.
One pot meals are perfect for camping cuisine. As the name states, you use just one pot in which to cook everything. On first listen, you may jump to the conclusion that the food will taste bland or one-dimensional. That couldn’t be further from the truth if you spend time researching the perfect recipe, and then adjusting the seasoning during the cooking process. Not only do one-pot meals mean you need less equipment and have less washing up to do at the end, everything will be ready at once.
For breakfast, a frittata couldn’t be easier. Buy eggs from the local farm shop and add a handful of fresh basil and some cherry tomatoes. Top with a good helping of cheese. For a substantial lunch or evening meal, consider a pasta dish like a mac n cheese or even a warming chilli dish to which you could add rice or serve with taco shells or fajita wraps. You can even whip up a tasty dessert with very little equipment. An apple cobbler has got to be a family favourite and it is so easy to recreate it.
A barbecue might seem like a dull option and just meat, meat and more meat. However, there are some wonderful things you can do with barbecued food. Plus, the addition of some spectacular side dishes can really transform the meal from standard to spectacular.
Honey and mustard chicken parcels are delicious. Add all the ingredients into a foil parcel and cook on the barbecue. Kebabs are an excellent idea. Skewers of pork or beef combined with a variety of vegetables such as bell peppers, zucchini and onion can taste amazing if you use a glaze.
In terms of side dishes, fresh salads, coleslaw, corn wrapped in foil with a knob of butter, and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper.
As with all types of cooking, it is imperative that you do so safely. This is even more important if you have children as some of your fellow campers. The flames of a campfire can be somewhat mesmerizing, so ensure that you spend sufficient time educating the youngsters about dos and don’ts around the camp. For some it may seem like overkill, however, we highly recommend you have a bucket of sand and a fire blanket with you in case anything becomes out of control.
Before you even begin making your fire, you need to find a prime location. Campfires should not be created too close to tents or caravans. It is essential to ensure there is sufficient space around the outside of fire, allowing people free access to move and escape if it does become out of control. If there is too much wind, that can also add complications. Escaping sparks can have devastating effects, especially if you are camped near to a forest.
Many campsites offer established firepits. If these are on offer, use them. They will be well-located as well as prevented excess charring from excess fires within the same area. Some people believe that any old wood will do for starting a fire. This is not true and using the wrong stuff could result in the camp being filled with fumes if you use green, fresh wood. Use dry, seasoned wood. Speak to the campsite ahead of arrival to see if they have any available for you. If not, you could always take your own or buy some on your way.
The type of food you cook can also create dangers within your campfire cooking. Avoid things like bacon and steak because the fat tends to drip. When that happens, it can cause the flames to flare up. Of course, you could cook steak or bacon within a foil parcel to avoid that being an issue. Any recipe calling for an excess of oil could cause you to bother, so steer clear wherever possible.