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Campsite Style Gourmet Cookin’ – Ummmm Good!

June 2, 2010 by · 7 Comments 

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When Nancy and I are at home, the question “What do you want for dinner?” is frequently asked.  Neither one of us seem to have much imagination for the microwave or stove top.

But, when we are camping,  I become the chief cook and bottle washer responsible for the meal planning and preparation – and I know I must get it right.   Nancy gets treated like a guest at meals and doesn’t need to worry about shopping, cooking or planning (unless she wants to).   I have a few specialties we traditionally fix, but I relish in coming up with a menu that contains delicious morsels that we do not usually try to fix at home.  Besides, foods cooked at home never taste as good as foods prepared while camping.

I recently received a copy of the Woodall’s Dutch Oven Cookbook.  I spent several hours reading every recipe and the details of using a Dutch oven.  We have owned cast iron pots, but never a true Dutch oven with a tightly sealed lid and provisions for placing coals on top of the oven.

When I finished reading the cookbook I immediately purchased a true camping style Dutch oven.  It was pre-seasoned, which saved me considerable time in preparing the cast iron surface for cooking and avoiding rusting of the metal while in storage.

Two extremely delicious meal events took place this past weekend while we were camped at Big Meadows on the Skyline Drive in Virginia.

Dutch oven sitting on a bed of charcoal. Note the charcoal on the lid of the oven.

The First was my stew prepared in the Dutch oven.  It consisted of a chunk of Chuck Roast that had been placed on the grill for about five minutes per side.  I did this because my wife said I need to sear the meat for some special reason.  I followed her directions because I know what is best for peace, tranquility and an enjoyable evening together.

The seared Chuck roast was placed in the Dutch oven along with potatoes, onions and carrots.  I added enough pre-heated water and a packaged beef stew seasoning mix to cover all of the contents.

I had previously dumped half a bag of charcoal into the campground fire grate and allowed it to turn to ash grey, indicating the charcoal was burning properly.

I then placed the Dutch oven on top of the hot charcoal and scooped up enough from the outside edges to lie on the top.

Meanwhile, inside the camper Nancy had just finished pitting about 1/2 gallon of bright red pie Cherries I had picked from a tree in our yard.  She mixed in the other ingredients and turned the filling into a deep dish pie shell covered with the contents of another frozen pie shell sprinkled with sugar.

The part that I find remarkable was that we were able to bake the pie in our RV gas oven.  Those who use these ovens know that they are notorious for burning the bottom of anything placed on their racks and thus just forgo use of the oven.

The baking stone that makes everything in the RV gas oven come out perfectly without buring the bottom.

Nancy had found a baking stone this past winter that fit the oven perfectly.  We had tried the oven with the stone a few weeks earlier with a cookie sheet of rolls and were pleasantly surprised to find out that they cooked evenly without burning on the bottom.  So, the test with the cherry pie was the next logical step.

With the stew in the Dutch oven and the cherry pie in the RV oven, we returned to our comfortable outside chairs to wait for dinner to be ready.

Home made cherry pie bakes in the RV gas oven.

The pie came out of the RV oven baked to perfection.  Topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream it was the perfect dessert as the sun went down.

Finishing up a good book while relaxing in an outside recliner and waiting for dinner to be ready.

The stew in the Dutch oven was equally perfect.  The vegetables were soft and extremely tasty.  The chuck roast was so tender all we needed was a fork.

I have fallen in love with the Dutch oven as a cooking tool and look forward to using it for many more campsite dishes.

We both served ourselves seconds and Oscar even received a plate of carrots with a little sauce and a small piece of lean chuck roast.

Dinner on the table in the RV. Oscar is asking Nancy for his plate of stew.

It is true, food prepared at camp does taste better than if it were prepared at home on the stove top or in the oven.

Comments

7 Responses to “Campsite Style Gourmet Cookin’ – Ummmm Good!”
  1. butterbean carpenter says:

    Howdy Professor & Nancy & Oscar,

    That cherry pie looks scrumptious and probably takes that way… Joyce has a baking stone and didn’t know what how to use it..thanks!!!

    Getting to the new favorite cooking pot, a friend gave us a Dutch oven recipe for ‘Enchilada cornbread’
    that is GREAT!!! you mix a package of cornbread by directions and grease the bottom of the pan, pour it in. Brown ground meat (venison or chili meat etc,,I guess chicken would do too???) with a little salt and pepper and chili powder if desired, drain and layer on top of the Uncooked cornbread, add a layer of chili, onions , top with cheese and jalapenos if desired. Bake in oven using directions for cornbread.
    The cornbread will rise Over the other ingredients…Delicious and not messy. You could add chili powder to the cornbread mix or delete it from the ground meat if you are using reg. chili.

    I am going to bake a Corney Dog Casserole with cornbread, wieners, mustard or catchup or chili or all…maybe jalapenos too I’ll let you know how it comes out. Then, of course, there is Italian Polenta recipes… Just made the Corney Dog Casserole for supper and it was great!!! I used whole wieners but could have used halves or “rounds”. I added chili powder and a little garlic powder and put a strip of prepared mustard on top and added jalapenos and baked….this could be a “have it your own way” with or without mustard or catchup or whatever…Simple…CHEAP…easy and we added onions and cheese after baking. Ok.. I guess I have to start thinking Italian now…///or Chinese???These casseroles Look pretty too.

  2. Carrie Lynn says:

    Can I get you to talk to my husband? When we go camping he still expects me to shop, cook and clean up. The stew and cherry pie look fabulous. Nancy is a luck lady.

  3. Susan says:

    Tell me how you used the baking stone. Did you just put it in the oven and set the pie plate or cookie sheet on top of it? Do you preheat the stone with the oven? This sounds like a good idea. I baked a pan of cinnamon rolls this morning, and guess what? They were overdone on the bottom. I’ll try a stone next time!

  4. Randy says:

    Susan,
    The baking stone was just set on the camper oven rack and the pie on a cookie sheet. The stone is preheated with the oven.

    It IS a great idea and makes the oven usable. Nancy bought our stone last winter at a Celebrating Home party. The stone on their web site is here: http://www.celebratinghome.com/PWPSearchProduct.ashx
    Pampered Chef also sells a similar baking stone with handles. Be sure and measure your oven so you do not get one too large!
    Just an interesting note – Nancy made a second cherry pie when we returned home in our fancy Kitchen Aide convection oven. The pie did NOT turn out nearly as well as the one in the camper. Nancy believes the difference was the stone.
    A long standing “10-Minute Tech” tip has been to buy 4 – 6″ UNGLAZED tiles at a home store to do them same. I have yet to find unglazed tiles at HD or Lowe’s.

    Randy (Professor95)

  5. teervee says:

    If you invest in a second Dutch oven, you can take that cherry pie filling and a box of cake mix and make the best cherry cobbler you’ve ever had (unless you are a Boy Scout). Melt 1/4 cup butter or margarine in bottom of Dutch oven, mix 18 oz box cake mix (yellow, white or even chocolate…depending on your taste) with 1 cup of milk and spread it evenly on bottom of pan over butter. Spoon 21 oz can of fruit pie filling or 1 1/2 cup of fresh fruit over cake batter. Cover Dutch oven, and place on top of coals, or on top of other Dutch oven already in coals, then cover lid with coals and bake for about 50 minutes. Cobbler is finished when a toothpick inserted in cake (which rises through fruit to top and browns nicely) comes out clean. If toothpick doesn’t, put lid back on and finish baking. Some people add sugar to top of fruit before baking. Can make Black Forest cake using Devil’s food cake mix with this recipe. Fun to use the second layer of Dutch oven and not use the RV oven at all.

  6. This is a wonderful site. I love all of the amazing comments and have learned so much since I have been checking it out. It is amazing to me how many great cooking ideas are exchanged. Can’t wait for next camping trip to come up.

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