Camping Cuisine

Last weekend was spent at one of our favorite summer getaways: the campground on the old family farm where my husband’s grandfather grew up. And when we camp, it’s old school. We sleep in a tent on a queen-size air mattress that we share with the dog. There’s no electricity or running water, the toilet is an outhouse with a hole in the ground, and we cook over an open fire.

Despite these primitive conditions, some of our best meals have been out at the campground. No hotdogs on sticks for us. (Okay, maybe we have hotdogs sometimes, but we generally cook them on the grill, not sticks.) This weekend was no exception, and a lot of the food came from my garden (including the eggs we had at breakfast each morning but, sorry, no pictures of those – I’m not a morning person).

Cooking over a campfire

Cooking over an open fire

Here are a few photos showing how I created great camping cuisine using the stuff in my garden. As a bonus at the end of the post, I’ll give you a list of basic supplies to keep in your camping box for making great outdoor meals.

The ingredients:

Camping cuisine: Veggies for foil packCarrots (the biggest we’ve ever grown, which I attribute to all the rain we had earlier in the summer), zucchini, onion, peas, and garlic will go into a veggie pack with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, which I keep in my camping box. You also can use butter, but that’s just one more thing to pack in the cooler.

Here’s the cooked veggie pack (just stick in a serving spoon and serve right out of the foil for easy clean up):

Camping cuisine: Veggie foil packThis is what I call tailgating:

Camping cuisine: Cucumber and tomato saladUsing the truck tailgate as a work station, I chopped up some cucumbers and tomatoes and threw them in a salad bowl with some crumbled feta and chopped kalamata olives (from the cooler), tossed them in olive oil, salt and pepper and, voilà:

Camping cuisine: Cucumber and tomato salad

It’s a super-easy Greek-style salad.

Create your own camping kitchen in a box

Here are the things I keep in my camping box for making great outdoor meals:

  • 24-piece enamelware dining and cutlery set (plates, bowls, mugs, knives, forks, spoons): Had it forever; it cleans up easily with no need to waste paper plates and plastic cutlery)
  • Plastic cups from Pal’s in New Orleans: Okay, you don’t need Pal’s cups specifically; pick your own plastic barware that you will rewash and not throw away.
  • Small cutting board
  • Sharp knife with a cover
  • Small rectangular storage bin to hold cutlery, sharp knife, and these other essential kitchen utensils: metals tongs, vegetable peeler, can/bottle opener, cork screw
  • Longish metal spatula and spoon for cooking over the fire
  • Leather grill glove or hot pad
  • Small kettle for boiling water for coffee/tea and heating water for dishes
  • Coffee or tea bags
  • Small bottle of dish soap.
  • Dish cloth and towel
  • Plastic bag for waste
  • Small bottle of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper in shakers (store these in a small plastic ziplock baggie)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Large plastic salad bowl: This doubles as your sink for doing dishes
  • Heavy-duty skillet, such as cast iron
  • Marshmallow sticks
  • Lighter or matches

Once you’ve gathered all the essentials, pack them in a large plastic storage bin. Having everything together means you can pack for your camping trip quickly without forgetting any of the essentials. Just remember to restock as necessary.

I will leave you with a few scenes from the campground:

Prairie Creek

Prairie Creek

In late June, Prairie Creek flooded the campground up the the outhouse door and ruined our Fourth of July camp out. Plan B was 22 people “camping” at Nerger Acres for the holiday weekend. (For those of you who don’t know, Nerger is a contraction of Bob’s and my last names that sounds even worse than Brangelina.)

The campground entrance

The campground entrance

The farmer dug out this huge rock from the farm field in the spring. The rock now marks the entrance to the campground.

Iowa farm field

The bean field

Because it’s a (soy)bean year and not a corn year (the two crops grown here in rotation), we have a view of the farmstead in the trees at the end of the field. In a corn year, we don’t have much of a view.

Do you camp? If so, do you have a special place you go? Favorite camping meals? Please share in the comments.