gourmet camp cooking

12:17 a.m. on March 18, 2010 (EDT)
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My wife uses recipes and considers my cooking rather"tribal" but I like charred flesh and steamed vegetables. By the way you can buy a folding steamer that will adjust to fit most medium sized pans and it greatly extends what you can cook or reheat over a campfire or camp stove. One trip my buddy and I each had Chinese food the night before our trip (we lived in San Francisco) and we each ordered on extra dish and brought it camping. I ordered short ribs and steamed it with the folding steamer. You could also do "Bow" pork buns, or a fried rice dish.

In my humble opinion you can cook most anything over a camp stove or camp fire that you could cook at home and generally I carry fancier food afield than I eat at home. Do your prep at home. The secrets 6:

1) take good food, not freeze dried, dried, instant or anything from a camping store or can, and put it in recycled peanut butter jars.

2) take an adequate stove that simmers and either take two of them or a two burner model. My favorite is the Coleman Powermax Xpedition 2 burner folding stove which works well even below zero for winter treats. Without two burners you cannot have hot pasta and hot sauce at the same time. Or you can melt snow on one and cook breakfast sausage in a skillet over the other. Do not expect to do gourmet cooking over alcohol.

3) Take adequate cook ware, not one wally's greese pot. I happen to own and use a lot of titanium stuff including the titanium skillet which I can do pancakes in over a campfire. Take two pots and maybe a skillet for two people. one over a liter.

4) turn often, stir often, at least once a minute.

5) control the heat, maybe hold the pot handle in your hand and wave it over the heat vs setting it on a tiny burner.

6) Steaks are great just thrown into the fire and turned often with a metal fork.

Jim S

7:06 p.m. on March 18, 2010 (EDT)
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Jim... While I agree that your cooking methods do have a place I also have to respectfully disagree about some of the things you've said. I'm pretty opinionated when it comes to food and gourmet is my speciality.

One... home dehydrated food can be just as good as the food you describe and on longer trips there is little risk of food borne illness. It takes a little work and planning at home but makes things much easier at camp - especially when one is in conditions such as a fire ban or in an area where campfire wood is scarce.

Two... you don't need a two burner stove. A little trick is to rehydrate beautiful homemade sauce with boiling water. Do this in a Nalgene or other screw top lid container that can withstand such hot water. Keep it in a cozy. Then cook your pasta over the stove. By the time the pasta is done the sauce is rehydrated plus it's still warm. Pour it on the pasta and serve. I can promise you that a really well made spaghetti sauce will dry and rehydrate beautifully.

Three... Titanium sucks when it comes to conducting heat well and I don't recommend it for anything more than boiling water or heating soup. If you have a stainless pot it will conduct slightly better but is also heavy. Aluminium is the best compromise between weight and good heat conduction. Have to agree with you about the Wally's grease pots though.

Four... if you read my response to number three this will negate the need to constantly stir and flip. Too much stirring often makes pasta gummy, is not great for rice and for pancakes and the like, well too much flipping can make them tough.

Five... a stove such as the MSR Dragonfly or Brunton Optimus Nova will provide the simmering function necessary to negate having to wave your pot over the heat... so will having cookware that is conductive as I mention in number three.

Six... I totally agree... and a lexan fork works well too if you are careful.

5:27 p.m. on March 19, 2010 (EDT)
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There a million ways to do things wrong. There are handful of very different approaches that work well. Where people who are very good at something may not agree on their methods, their methods work. We need to show the ones who can't do it, various methods that do work. So thank you for describing yours. (:->)

Most people go for tiny stoves which have too concentrated of heat for good cooking, keeping the pot moving will help them, but also using the moving pot technique works very well even with the VERY popular titanium cookware and as you point out, settig a titanium pot on a normal small stove does not work so well.

I don't eat much dried food at home and don't consider reconstituted anything to be gourmet. Just my atitude.

Jim S

2:28 p.m. on March 20, 2010 (EDT)
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I am anxiously awaiting YOUR orginal thread about your own methods of camp cooking and I am suggesting that the way to make a POSITIVE conribution is to tell us your own alternative methods and describing why they are a good way to go.


Jim S

9:47 a.m. on March 22, 2010 (EDT)
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I don't know if I could contain that to an entire thread... it took 298 pages of book plus a second book... lol. The thing is that we have our own methods and it can work with a little effort at home prior to one's trip. I can make what I would serve to guests in our home, for the most part, and recreate it in a lightweight fashion for the trail. To get things started here's how I do it...


Now the above recipes aren't gourmet and are rather everyday... but that is to get people started.

I would disagree on the gourmet not being possible with dried foods. You can dry most foods, take boeuf bourguignon for example. That's pretty gourmet and with a slight modification to the size of the pieces of meat, it can be dried and reconstituted nicely and even be done on the trail with an alcohol stove.

I'll post a few recipes to illustrate over the next little while. That's probably the best way to show you that there are other methods and that your way isn't the only way to go gourmet.

9:07 p.m. on March 22, 2010 (EDT)
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Thanks Laurieann (:->)


9:42 p.m. on March 22, 2010 (EDT)
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One thing me and my friends discuss is the quality and texture of the ingredients available for cooking on the trail.

To me there is a big difference between fresh ingredients, especially stuff straight from a garden, vs. processed or freeze dried.

While you can't carry all fresh food on a multi day trip, I often carry some fresh vegetables and meats (frozen steak) for a real meal my first supper or breakfast. The rest of the trip we eat a mixture of grocery store dry goods, freeze dried, dehydrated, or just snacks.

I dehydrate several meals at home, some simple, some more complicated, and although I can replicate gourmet cooking on the trail, it is not quite the same as cooking from scratch with fresh ingredients.

By day three I am just happy to have tasty nutritious meals, putting my picky palate to the side.

I will though, argue to the death, that there is no better tomato than one fresh from a good private garden.

11:51 a.m. on March 23, 2010 (EDT)
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I agree and disagree with the "dried foods" idea. Personally, I have an intolerance to MSG (It's landed me in the hospital twice). The problem is that it has a thousand different names and it's in just about everything these days. I can handle it in small quantities but I need to drink plenty of water. If it were not in some the the stuff found pre-prepared in various stores, those entrees would probably taste like sand. I agree with Laurie and her article in that gourmet food can be prepared at home, dehydrated, and brought along with you. Knowing what is in my food is important to me.

However, I will admit that I have a slight weakness for the pre-made dehydrated neopolitan ice cream. MSG free, and I eat them like candy.


7:20 p.m. on March 23, 2010 (EDT)
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That ice cream is pretty yummy. I'm diabetic so the only time I get treats like that is on the trail when my blood glucose is too low and then I need a pick-me-up. I hate MSG and it makes me feel have some issues but I can have a little bit - like in Maggi seasoning - just not often or in quantity. Sometimes I wish I was born in a simpler time when we didn't have all these processed foods and additives.

5:16 p.m. on March 24, 2010 (EDT)
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O.K. . . . back off on Laura! She's one of my "guiding lights" when it comes to interesting ways to use non commercial meals!

Just kidding on the threat.

The wonderful ideas on the Trail Cooking site, and her comments here are fun, creative ways to use things found in asian, mexican, health stores, and regular (down the street) markets.

I get hungry just reading some of the ideas in this forum.

9:15 p.m. on March 24, 2010 (EDT)
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I have four 4x4 square foot gardens. I always end up with extra food. I toss the extras in the dehydrator and run it for a while. It won't go bad on the trail. It also comes out pretty good after you add some water to it.

11:06 p.m. on March 30, 2010 (EDT)
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"However, I will admit that I have a slight weakness for the pre-made dehydrated neopolitan ice cream. MSG free, and I eat them like candy."

I have seen him tear through a package like a coon on a campsite raid. I must admit, they are quite tasty after a long day on the trail.

"Sometimes I wish I was born in a simpler time when we didn't have all these processed foods and additives."

Laurie Ann - Mee too! I can't handle the processed junk companies pass off as food, but every once in a while I'll go for a spam single for breakfast with my eggs! My father was the cook in the family, and I was lucky, never had much of a chance to eat pre-packaged foods in my youth.

12:30 a.m. on March 31, 2010 (EDT)
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I have a 350 square foot gardn this year. How can I dry some of the food to save? I mean I'm gonna have a ton of beens...


I hope we're still friends. You are the published expert, I'm just a guy known for great fresh dinners cooked over campfires in titaium. I pretty much always take fresh whole food camping because I love to cook while camping, but at home I eat a lot of junk. My complains that all I ever cook is steamed fresh vegtables and braised flesh.


8:22 p.m. on May 12, 2010 (EDT)
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barbecue chicken in a hole seasoned with oranges was the last attempt, I made an error and put some unburned wood ontop though, so when I took it out of the hole it was burnt, next time i wont make that error.

June 24, 2018
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