Filed under: Family Camping, Menu Planning & Cooking, Nature & Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking, Preparation & Readiness, Scenic Byways/Historic Routes, State & National Parks
Campsite Style Gourmet Cookin’ – Ummmm Good!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.