Campfire Cuisine

Last week I hosted a campfire cooking class for the St. Paul community Education. This is a class I have done in the past and I really enjoy doing it. The class doesn't just focus on backcountry camping but that is a part of it. Basically I break camping down into three groups. Cooking over a campfire, cooking with a small camp stove and cooking at a campground or park with all the amenities. There are tones of different choices depending on what you are doing and where you are.

When you are at a park or campground and were able to drive your car right to the camp site you have the luxury of bringing all of your cooking gear with you. In situations like that you really aren't limited at all. You can grill, fry, roast, hell you can even bake if you want to. If you are going to hike 12 miles into the Boundary Waters you are somewhat limited in the amount of gear you can bring. It is my feeling though that you shouldn't be limited in the kinds of foods you bring.

We have all eaten freeze dried meals and plenty of ramen noodles but sometimes that just isn't good enough. I recently wrote and article about Good To-go gourmet dehydrated meals. They are unlike any dehydrated meal I have ever eaten and are legitimately delicious. You could very easily survive a week in the mountains eating very well with them. But sometimes I like variety and certain foods aren't always available. Luckily with companies like Camp Chef they offer the gear to help you with that variety. Their mountain series cook set and stryker 100 are indispensable and travel with me everywhere I go. Whether its into the wilderness or just out ice fishing there is almost no limit to what I can pull off with them. If I wanted spaghetti and meatballs from scratch I could pull it off. If I want to make a vortex egg for breakfast or a pasta carbonara for lunch or chicken and dumplings for dinner I can do it.

Camp cooking isn't hard it just takes some planning. I like to make Orange chicken when I go camping or venison quesadillas. If you do just a little planning ahead it is all very possible. If you have kids like mine they will only eat so many hotdogs before they revolt. I have included a few of my favorite camp meals at the end here give them a try and get outdoors.

Vortex Egg
¼ cup salt
2 eggs
Olive oil
Fresh Herbs

Beat the eggs completely. Boil the water in your stock pot and add the salt. When the water is boiling take a spoon and swirl it until a vortex forms. Drop the eggs in the middle and let is cook for about a minute. With a slotted spoon remove the eggs and drain. Top with one teaspoon of olive oil and fresh herbs.

Chicken and Dumplings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 shallot, diced
1 carrot, diced
16 oz chicken stock
1 pouch of chicken
Salt and pepper  to taste
For the Dumplings
½ cup bisquik
¼ cup powdered milk
½ cavendars greek seasoning
¼ cup water

Pre make the dumpling mix minus the water and store in a ziplock bag.  When you are out and ready to eat smash the garlic and dice the shallot and carrot. Heat the oil in your pot and add the veggies and cook for one minute. Add the stock and ring it to a boil. Mix the water with the dumpling mix and cut one corner of the bag open.  Squeeze the dumpling mix into the boiling stock and cook the dumplings for 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken and cook for one more minute. Season with salt and pepper.

Spam Musabi
½ cup sushi rice
1 cup water
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 tablespoon Aji-mirin (seasoned rice wine vinegar)
1 tablespoon sugar
½ tsp salt.
1 single serving of spam
1 sheet of Nori paper cut in half.

Bring the water to a boil on the jet boil and then add the rice. Cook for a few minutes then set aside with the cover on for 10-15 minutes. Mix together the wine, mirin, salt and sugar. Fold this into the rice and let sit for five minutes. Sear the spam in your frying pan and then set aside. Place  aquarter of the rice in the middle of the nori and top with the spam and then more rice. Fold the nori over the rice and spam and let sit for a couple of minutes.

Venison quesadilla
1 lbs ground meat
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
1  7oz. can green chilis

Season the meat with the seasonings and then brown the meat ahead of time, when the meat is cooked add the green chilis and store in a freezer bag until ready to use. When you are ready to assemble the quesadillas place cheese in the middle of a tortilla and top with some  of the meat mixture. Top with another tortilla and cook on a griddle with some butter until the tortilla is golden brown and the cheese is melted.

Orange Chicken
For the marinade
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons cooking rice wine
1 tsp minced ginger
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup corn starch
1 pound chicken cut into one inch pieces

Combine the soy sauce, rice wine, ginger, garlic, yolk and starch and whisk together. Once the marinade is combined add the chicken once that is done you can put it in your cooler until you are ready to make it.

In small batches take the pieces out of the marinade and fry the chicken in oil and make sure the pieces don’t stick together. Fry the chicken for 4-5 minutes until cooked through. Set the fried pieces of chicken aside and pour the oil out of the pan.

For the sauce
Zest one orange
½ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ tsp sesame oil
1 tablespoon sriracha or similar chili sauce
1 tablespoon corn starch

Combine all the ingredients for the sauce and whisk them together once they are mixed put them in a sealed Tupperware container and save for when you are ready. Heat the pan over medium high heat and add the sauce to the pan. Add all the chicken pieces back into the sauce and heat until the sauce thickens. Toss to coat all the pieces and serve with rice.

Maple toasts with soft cheese
1 piece of sour dough bread
1 ½ tablespoon of unsalted butter
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
Cheese of your choice

Melt the butter in a skillet and add the syrup. When the syrup is sticky and bubbling add the bread. The bread will absorb the butter and syrup mixture quickly so after it hits one side flip it over so the other side gets coated as well. Cook the toasts until lightly golden on both sides and serve with soft cheese. I like a stilton or camembert.