Posts Tagged ‘camp cooking’

The Magic of Ziplock Bags®

This “extra” and 3 others PLUS 26 recipes are available in the eGuide: “Camp Cooking with Joanne Fitterer”

Camp Cooking with Joanne Fitterer

Every camping trip should include a selection of sizes of Ziplock Bags®. These great plastic inventions are great for storage, make for easy cleanup, and are always useful.

Tip #1: Dry Ingredients
Most of the time, you’ll be able to combine all your dry ingredients into a Ziplock Bag® at home, before the trip. Just measure into the bag like you would a mixing bowl, remove the air when you seal the bag and ta-da! Your dry ingredients are ready – pre-measured, pre-mixed and already contained.

Tip #2: Disposable Mixing Bowl
Ziplock Bags® make great mixing bowls because you can just drop everything in, seal the bag and mix with your hands through the plastic. When you’re done, just throw it away! This isn’t recommended for warm or hot ingredients. But, for things like pancake batter, coating potatoes in oil, or dips, it’s perfect!

Tip #3: Directional Pouring
Okay, you’ve made pancake batter and you need to get the batter onto the griddle. Pour the batter into a large Ziplock Bag®, cut off a corner and squeeze the batter through the hole onto the griddle.

You don’t need to take entire boxes of Ziplock Bags® with you- a handful of each size: sandwich, quart, and gallon should be fine. I don’t find a lot of use for the snack or 2-gallon sizes in the kitchen, so I don’t recommend them.

Readers Weigh In:

  • What camp-cooking tips make your life easier?

Product Review: Bisquick Shake ‘n Pour

Yummy Pancakes

If you’re anything like me then pancakes are a must-have camping breakfast staple. There’s just something about sitting on a cold cement picnic table in the early morning snarffing down hot, fluffy pancakes that is just perfection.

Of course, I’ve always found the MAKING of pancakes in camp to be messy and difficult! If you’re talented in the kitchen you can always make them from scratch OR even bring a powdered mix and add the wet ingredients. The issue is then having a big enough bowl for mixing, bringing a wire whisk so the attempt is made to have the pancakes fluffy, a large spoon to scoop the batter. And then the cleanup!

And if you don’t deal with pancake batter right away… Well let’s just say that it can do a pretty good job of FIXING that cement picnic table after it dries in the bottom of the bowl!

Enter: Bisquick Shake ‘n Pour Buttermilk Pancake Mix

Bisquick Shake 'n Pour Buttermilk Pancake Mix
I had seen it in the stores but was certain that it wouldn’t live up to the reputation: light, fluffy pancakes with no mixing mess. It couldn’t be THAT good, right?

Ha! It was better!

Code Wolf & I had the 10.6 oz container which promised 12-15 4-inch pancakes. All we needed was some cold water, shake and ta-dah! (Of course, I forgot my measuring cup so I estimated with a water bottle…)

It did take some shaking and tapping to get all the batter mixed in so make sure that you have somebody really shake the jar hard. I was impressed that the lid didn’t pop off the container or have any leakage AT ALL.

pancake batter
Then pour a dab of batter into a hot, greased skillet and INSTANT fluffy pancakes!

There was no way that just two of us could use a whole bottle of batter in just one sitting. But the left-over batter is good for up to 3 days refrigerated. So I just popped it back into the ice chest and we had pancakes the next morning too.

And as for the 12-15 pancakes, we ended up with 17 between the two breakfasts. If I had gotten really aggressive with the bit of batter left in the bottle, I think I could have made one more.

Browning pancakes

The only thing that is a bit of a negative is the price: $2.99. I expect to pay a bit more for the convenience for when I’m cooking outside. You’d need multiple bottles to feed a larger family or a whole host of kids. But the trade-off in easy: that’s priceless!

Readers Weigh In:

Links are to my affiliate account.

7 Steps to Perfect S’mores

The Perfect S’mores Technique

The Perfect Smore

S’mores are a quintessential part of any camping trip. And they seem really easy to make right? Toast a marshmallow and smash it between two graham crackers and a half of a Hershey’s chocolate bar.

While that is the basic theory, the reality is so much more!

And, as I learned on last weekend’s camping trip with Code Wolf, writing a whole article about the best way to prepare a s’more really isn’t an unneeded topic. Code Wolf is a camping newbie so it’s really been instrumental to figure out how to fill in the gaps in his outdoor-life knowledge. And s’mores… well, let’s just say that he took to making s’mores like he’s been doing it all his life.

Personally, I think it’s because he had a great teacher!

Do me a favor and FORGET thinking you can make s’mores in a microwave or over a gas stove.


Give it up: Go camping! Get dirty! Make s’mores like a Princess: over the fire!


Fake Smore

Do you see any melted chocolate? No? Then it's NOT a s'more!



Step 1: The fire.
You’ll want an established fire that isn’t too smoky. I like to have it going for at least twenty minutes before I try to make my s’more. That way, the coals are nice and hot and you’ve progressed past the burning kindling and newspaper stage. (Very gross-tasting smoke!)

Step 2: Lower the grate.
This is why I LOVE making s’mores in a campground’s fire ring: the grate! I like it so it’s about 3-4 inches above the top of the flames. I lower the grate early so it starts to get hot.

Step 3: Prepare the toasting boat.
Make a “boat” out of tin foil. I take about a foot-long piece, fold it in half and then fold up the edges. I want a flat-bottom boat that is a bit rigid.

Step 4: The s’more bases
You’ll want a full half of a graham cracker. The closer you get to a complete half, the easier it is to assemble the s’more later.

And do yourself a favor: get the good ones! Please, PLEASE don’t settle for the tasteless store brand! Just like you wouldn’t make a steak with a cheap cut of meat, make your s’mores with the best ingredients!

S'more Boat

Top each base with 1/4 to 1/2 of the Hershey’s chocolate bar. I prefer to use 1/4 (that’s 1 row of 3 pieces) because then the whole s’more isn’t so sticky sweet.

Step 5: Melt the chocolate
With the bases in the boat, you’ll place the boat on the heated grate. I like them close to the flames but not directly OVER. I’m trying to get it so my chocolate is a bit melted at the time the marshmallow is toasted.

S'more boat over fire.

Step 6: Toast the marshmallow
I know there are people who like their marshmallows burnt black. And while I do enjoy a turn-your-teeth-black, make-every-dentist-in-the-world-cringe charred marshmallow occasionally, that isn’t how I like my marshmallow for a s’more.

Toasting Marshmallows

I toast mine until they’re evenly browned.

Here’s the trick:

  • no more than 1 marshmallow on the stick at a time
  • keep it moving (rotating)
  • keep it just above the flames so it’s HEAT not FIRE that does the cooking

My friends Les & Kathy gave me a set of Mallow Masters by Barr Brothers. These things are GREAT! The plastic keeps your hands from getting hot and the double tines (retractable) keep the marshmallow in place. Heat doesn’t seem to travel up the prongs. Get Mallow Masters from! (Affiliate link)

Perfect Color

See how these marshmallows are the perfect COLOR? But how do you get just one into a s'more? It's better to toast them one at a time!

Step 7: Assembly
This is where it can get tricky because everything is hot and melting and sticky. It’s okay to ask for help here because you don’t want to get a sugar burn from anything — they’re VERY painful and can be really dangerous!

Transfer the foil boat to a paper plate or picnic table to make life easier!

Place the roasted marshmallow on top of the chocolate and top with the other half of a graham cracker. While gently squeezing the two halves together, slide the stick out of the marshmallow.

This is where the plate comes in handy so when the chocolate oozes out it doesn’t get onto clothes, hands, or the dog!

Let cool just a bit (a burnt tongue interferes with eating a s’more!) and enjoy!


Readers Weigh In:

  • What’s you s’more making technique?

How To Camp-Cook With Unusual Ingredients

EatStayPlay’s popular eGuide, “Camp Cooking from the Newsletter” is full of easy, yummy recipes you can make on your next family trip. But, when I was working on the guide, a few of the recipes called for more unusual ingredients.

So, I thought I’d better give you some advice on how to Camp-Cook With Unusual Ingredients!

So you understand the problem:

  1. You’ve got a great camp recipe that calls for 1 tablespoon of teriyaki sauce
  2. You weren’t planning on taking a bottle of teriyaki sauce with you on your camping trip
  3. You have no idea what you can substitute for teriyaki sauce
  4. You REALLY want to make this recipe

Guess what! There IS a solution!

With a little pre-planning, you should be able to make just about anything at the campsite that you would at home. All you have to do it have a nice selection of small Ziplock Bags and small plastic containers with lids.

If your recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of teriyaki sauce you can measure that into a small plastic container with a tight-fitting lid before you leave home. At the campsite, you know that you’ve got just the right amount of teriyaki sauce for your recipe and you know that if you end up not making the recipe, you can just dump out the sauce, wash the container and you’re done. You don’t have to lug your (glass!) bottle of sauce out to the campsite and back again!

Now, if your recipe calls for 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, just measure it into a small Ziplock Bag! You will want to label the bag- especially if you’re taking more than one bag or the same ingredient for different recipes.

Funny Story:

While I was growing up, every October, we went camping with our good family friends Patti and Eddie Gray. Each trip, we made Navajo Fry Bread. Each year, Patti used a Ziplock Bag to pre-mix and pre-measure the dry ingredients. One year, we were making Indian Fry Bread and Patti told me, “Grab that bag of white stuff, it goes into the fry bread mix.”

Turns out it WASN’T fry bread mix- it was Eddie’s powdered coffee creamer!

The moral of this story: label your bags!

Readers Weigh In:

  1. Have you ever had an “unexpected” ingredient in your camp food?
  2. How do you transport and use “unusual” ingredients while in camp?

Camp Cooking Utensil Checklist

Now that you’ve read up on camp stoves and have some basic fire-making ideas, I wanted to share with you my checklist for camping cooking utensils. I’m not covering what I recommend you take for food, but what I recommend that you take for supplies.

Like all checklists, this isn’t the be-all, end-all list. You need to be sure to bring the items that make YOUR life easier. And, by the same token, you can leave things at home that you never use.

The best way to use a checklist is to print it out and not only use it, but take it WITH you. Then, when you think of something that you wish you had, you can put it on the list right away. When you get home, evaluate what you took and decide if each item has its place.

I am not a huge fan of made-for-camping utensils. I prefer to use regular kitchen gadgets. Of course, when the “Royal” family camps, we take a huge RV so space isn’t much of an issue. If I’m car or tent camping, then I do think about what can do double duty.

Don't skimp on the can opener -- get a quality one.

If you’re planning on using paper plates and bowls, and plastic eating utensils be sure to bring ENOUGH. I went on a camping trip with a friend who counted exactly how many meals we would eat and then only brought that many plastic forks. The problem was that no COOKING forks were brought. Needless to say we were out of forks about three meals early and had to go to town for more!

Plastic, washable plates and metal silverware is a plus since they hold up better and you can wash them if you run out. Of course, then you have to wash them!

I always recommend setting up a big plastic container with a snap-on lid for your kitchen supplies. It keeps everything clean and together. If at all possible, I recommend having this kitchen kit separate from your house’s kitchen. That means that you’re not robbing your kitchen drawers for a can opener; there’s a camping can opener that just stays in the kit.

The Queen Mother did this with her RV kitchen over the course of several years. During that time, she refined what camp cooking tools and utensils she wanted AND she didn’t break the bank as she acquired them!

We have a set that never leaves the RV.

  • Big spoon for stirring and or serving (you might want more than one!)
  • Bottle opener
  • Bottled water – both individual bottles and large jugs of potable water for cooking
  • Bowls (eating and mixing)
  • Can opener
  • Clothes pins (for closing bags of chips, holding down tablecloths, etc)
  • Coffee supplies (pot, filters, cups) and/or a tea kettle
  • Cold-drink cups
  • Collapsible dish drain
  • Containers for food storage that have lids
  • Corkscrew
  • Cutting board
  • Cutting knife for food prep
  • Cutting knives for eating (like steak knives)
  • Dish pan
  • Dish rags and towels
  • Dish soap
  • Forks, spoons, and knives
  • Heavy duty aluminum foil
  • Ice chests
  • Large pot with a lid
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Mugs
  • Napkins
  • Paper plates / cups (we always bring both paper and plastic plates and cups)
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic silverware
  • Plastic tablecloth
  • Potato Peeler
  • Potholders
  • Scrub pad
  • Skillet
  • Small pot with a lid
  • Strike-anywhere matches
  • Tea kettle
  • Thermos (so you can take the coffee with you!)
  • Tongs (plastic tips can melt!)
  • Trash bags
  • Utility lighter
  • Ziplock bags in a variety of sizes

I know this is a pretty big list. But, let me explain a few of my choices:

A big pot with a lid AND a smaller pot with a lid – there’s nothing worse than boiling water to wash dishes and not having enough hot water at a time. I recommend a BIG pot with a lid so you can heat quite a bit of water. Just remember, it will take longer to heat the water than it does at home!

The smaller pot is for cooking. If you can, get pots with two stubby handles on each side rather than one long handle. That way, they can nest inside of each other and save space!

The Queen Mother LOVES her coffeemaker!

Coffee pot AND a tea kettle – if you are serious about coffee, then I recommend this coffee maker from Coleman. It sits on a propane stove and does a fantastic job! If you’re like me though, I don’t want my water for tea or hot chocolate tasting like coffee so I bring a separate tea kettle.

That tea kettle can also be used to heat water for washing up.

Strike-anywhere matches AND a utility fire lighter – if matches get wet, you’re stuck. The utility lighter can get damp and still work. By the same token, a utility lighter can run out of fuel and matches can’t. The other reason I recommend both is the reach of the lighter is farther. My camp stove doesn’t have a self-ignition so I have to turn on the gas and then light it. I prefer NOT to do that with a match since I have singed my fingers before!

Plastic silverware AND real silverware – have you ever tried to eat steak with a plastic fork and knife? I bring both types since plastic is perfect for snacks and real flatware is better for meals.

Paper plates AND plastic plates – same reasoning as the silverware. Paper is perfect for snacks but I prefer a real plate when I’m eating a meal. Now, when I say plastic, I don’t mean plastic disposable, but plastic washable.

If you're going to use disposable, be sure to bring enough!

Some other things I like to take:

  • Colander (if you’re making pasta, this is a must!)
  • Griddle (pancakes just taste better when cooked outside)
  • Basting brush (we were making shrimp on the barbeque and had to make a basting brush out of pine needles!)
  • Fish basket
  • Marshmallow toasting forks

Give Me Your Feedback:

What are the must-have camp cooking tools that your family takes? What can you just not live without?

Want a .pdf download of this checklist?

Click here. You’ll need Adobe Acrobat to open the checklist.