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blbst36

Cooking while Primitive Camping

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In an effort to save money, but still have getaways, I am going to be camping for the first time ever this year.  My state of NC has LOTs of parks with camp sites and hiking trails, so I am focusing on those for now instead of back country camping.  They are considered primitive campsites, but some of them have grills and all locations I have looked into have at least a fire pit.  I will have a backpacking-like stove with me, too.  All of them are drive up sites, so I don't have to worry about weight restrictions.  I am not looking to buy a whole bunch of equipment until I decide if I like it, so buying a portable grill is not an option

 

I've resigned myself to the fact that I'll probably have to go get bagged ice every day and use a cooler for fresh/leftover foods.   BUT, I am still looking to keep it mostly minimal.  I don't want to come back from the trail and worry about whipping up a four course meal.  It's only going to be me, so no leftovers or very few is preferred. 

 

I was thinking of trying to figure out some dried food that I can reheat in the morning with just some water for breakfast/lunch.  Like some canned meat and cous cous or something.  I'm ok eating the same thing for breakfast and lunch.  I have a food jar to put the lunch in, so it can be kept warm or cold as needed.  I am not stuck on "breakfast" foods.  Then, for dinner, cook an actual meal.  Maybe a foil packet or something simiilar. 

 

I am trying to think of veggies and fruit that don't actually need to be kept cold (not dried)

 

If there is anyone out there with any suggestions or tips on the food part of camping, I'd appreciate it. 

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When we used to camp with the kids, I would fill two-liter plastic bottles with water, freeze and cap. Use those in the cooler and they keep food colder for longer, plus you have fresh water to drink or cook with when they thaw.

 

I would, at a minimum, buy a stove-top percolator. Coffee is NEVER better than when perked and enjoyed outdoors in the early morning. A Dutch oven is a good multi-purpose implement, particularly if it's one of the old style ones with the lip and legs, so you can set it in the coals and pile coals on top. You can cook about anything in that, up to and including baking bread. It would be worth buying one of those should you happen across it at a thrift shop or some such.

 

If it were me at this stage of my life, I'd probably make up some single-serve meals and package in foil pans, freeze and take with me. Won't hurt them to thaw as long as they stay cold. The pans can go in the coals or on the grill, or inside that Dutch oven.  Big baker potatoes and canned chili or stew are a good choice, too. Wrap a potato in foil, nestle it in the coals, let it bake, split it, top with chili or stew. Fine dinner.


Edited by kayb to add left-out word. (log)
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Do not skimp on protecting the food and minimizing food odors, you do not want to be confronted by bears or mountain lions. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBnGe9HDGBI Some newer coolers do a much better job than older ones, check reviews before buying one.

 

 

For breakfast, old fashioned oatmeal (maybe with some chopped dried fruit) is good. What a lot of people don't realize is that the oats are ok, not great but edible, dry, from the package. I always use less water and a shorter cooking time on my oatmeal because I like it to have some texture. Anyway, oats provide an inexpensive and nutritious breakfast.

 

Another trick is to bring some hard boiled eggs, they'll last a couple of days in the cooler and are a quick, easy, non-smelly source of protein. That said, you'll probably be taking a hard look at cleaning out your fridge right before leaving, so cooking up anything which is decent when served cold is a good idea for the first days' consumption. (frittata anyone?)

 

Also, many fruits and vegetables don't really need to be kept cold. They may last longer when cold, but they won't rot in 3 days' time, either. Some herbs (and vegetables like celery and fennel) can be given extended life by trimming ends and placing in a cup of water, or, by trimming ends, wrapping the ends in wet paper towels and then placing the towel parts in plastic wrap or plastic bags with zipper seals -just close the sides tightly around the towel or use a rubber band.

 

Tomatoes do not need refrigeration at all, they loose flavor components when chilled. Same for peaches and apricots.

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Posted (edited)

I would encourage you to take seriously Lisa's advice about protecting your food (and yourself) from bears while camping. We spent many years car camping and backpacking in the Colorado mountains and securing food was always a high priority. It's a lot harder when backpacking--you have to rig up a rope around the food container and haul it up between 2 trees--but it was possible to do without too much trouble. Put all your food back in the cooler and put it in your car at the end of the day. Take your garbage to the campground dumpster, which should be bear-proof, every night. Don't leave any food lying around your campsite while you're off hiking. Not only might it encourage a passing bear to come back later but it could attract dogs or other critters who would have no shame in snatching that bag of potato chips off the picnic table.

 

That said, unless there are bears who have become accustomed to raiding trash cans in the area, you shouldn't have anything to worry about. In fact we've never actually seen a bear in a campground or back country site. We now camp, princess style, in a small RV so we aren't as rigorous about this as we used to be. As I told my husband, I'm too old to sleep on the ground anymore.

 

Have fun with this. It is wonderful to get away from the lights and sounds of the city. I assume you'll be doing this when the weather warms up. Winter camping is not for the faint of heart--we only did it once and did not enjoy it.

 

Nancy in Pátzcuaro


Edited by Nancy in Pátzcuaro to add content (log)
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8 hours ago, blbst36 said:

In an effort to save money, but still have getaways, I am going to be camping for the first time ever this year.  My state of NC has LOTs of parks with camp sites and hiking trails, so I am focusing on those for now instead of back country camping.  They are considered primitive campsites, but some of them have grills and all locations I have looked into have at least a fire pit.  I will have a backpacking-like stove with me, too.  All of them are drive up sites, so I don't have to worry about weight restrictions.  I am not looking to buy a whole bunch of equipment until I decide if I like it, so buying a portable grill is not an option

 

I've resigned myself to the fact that I'll probably have to go get bagged ice every day and use a cooler for fresh/leftover foods.   BUT, I am still looking to keep it mostly minimal.  I don't want to come back from the trail and worry about whipping up a four course meal.  It's only going to be me, so no leftovers or very few is preferred. 

 

I was thinking of trying to figure out some dried food that I can reheat in the morning with just some water for breakfast/lunch.  Like some canned meat and cous cous or something.  I'm ok eating the same thing for breakfast and lunch.  I have a food jar to put the lunch in, so it can be kept warm or cold as needed.  I am not stuck on "breakfast" foods.  Then, for dinner, cook an actual meal.  Maybe a foil packet or something simiilar. 

 

I am trying to think of veggies and fruit that don't actually need to be kept cold (not dried)

 

If there is anyone out there with any suggestions or tips on the food part of camping, I'd appreciate it. 

 

Peanut butter.

 

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I've done similar excursions, most often with my ex and our two big dogs.

 

We/I found that having a quick way of sourcing hot coffee in the morning was REALLY important. He was always the early riser and got a fire going first thing, but later when I was solo (plus dog), a Turkish coffee pot with a small butane camp stove did the trick.

 

What worked best for us/me was a staple list of bacon/summer sausage/cheddar/eggs/rice/potatoes/frozen broccoli/frozen spinach. Kind of monotonous in the long term, but tasty and satisfying. I also brought a small kit of spices/herbs/hot sauces. The frozen veg helped in the cooler, and none of them are susceptible to short term spoilage.  Sometimes we splurged with a steak on night one, which was always wonderful.  Once I tried gumbo, which was a total fail because I got the reduced proportions totally wrong

 

I would recommend a (fire safe) small cast iron skillet, 1 qt pot, and a kettle/caffeine generator. as a minimum.

 

Booze, of course, and s'more fixins if you have a sweet tooth (I don't, but I remember them being good).

 

Reinforcing that ALL FOOD and FOOD TAINTED DISHES should be bear/wildcat-secured before bed time. In my experience, no dishes that are camp-washed are exempt.

 

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I haven’t camped in a while, but couscous is easy. Boil some water and soak the couscous while you cook something else. 

 

 

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20 hours ago, heidih said:

You might want to take a look at Linda Ly's new book. She and her husband are frequent rugged campers so I think she speaks from experience.

 

The New Camp Cookbook: Gourmet Grub for Campers, Road Trippers, and Adventurers

 

 

 

I will check it out - thanks!

 

19 hours ago, kayb said:

When we used to camp with the kids, I would fill two-liter plastic bottles with water, freeze and cap. Use those in the cooler and they keep food colder for longer, plus you have fresh water to drink or cook with when they thaw.

 

I would, at a minimum, buy a stove-top percolator. Coffee is NEVER better than when perked and enjoyed outdoors in the early morning. A Dutch oven is a good multi-purpose implement, particularly if it's one of the old style ones with the lip and legs, so you can set it in the coals and pile coals on top. You can cook about anything in that, up to and including baking bread. It would be worth buying one of those should you happen across it at a thrift shop or some such.

 

If it were me at this stage of my life, I'd probably make up some single-serve meals and package in foil pans, freeze and take with me. Won't hurt them to thaw as long as they stay cold. The pans can go in the coals or on the grill, or inside that Dutch oven.  Big baker potatoes and canned chili or stew are a good choice, too. Wrap a potato in foil, nestle it in the coals, let it bake, split it, top with chili or stew. Fine dinner.

 

Good idea about the 2 liter bottles.  I was going to have some water gallons - not frozen - for random usage like hand washing/rinsing things, etc.  Frozen ones would be good, too.  Especially to refill my hiking water bladder

 

I don't actually drink coffee, but I do have a camp stove for water for tea in the morning if I wanted to indulge.

I have a cast iron dutch oven but I don't have the tools to use it in a fire.  I think I'll look into that more when I've gone a few more times and decide that I like it :)

 

Single-serve sounds good.  For some reason, I didn't think of freezing them, but that's a great idea.   OOooh fire potatoes.  Nice!!  Thanks for the suggestions!

 

18 hours ago, Lisa Shock said:

Do not skimp on protecting the food and minimizing food odors, you do not want to be confronted by bears or mountain lions. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBnGe9HDGBI Some newer coolers do a much better job than older ones, check reviews before buying one.

 

 

For breakfast, old fashioned oatmeal (maybe with some chopped dried fruit) is good. What a lot of people don't realize is that the oats are ok, not great but edible, dry, from the package. I always use less water and a shorter cooking time on my oatmeal because I like it to have some texture. Anyway, oats provide an inexpensive and nutritious breakfast.

 

Another trick is to bring some hard boiled eggs, they'll last a couple of days in the cooler and are a quick, easy, non-smelly source of protein. That said, you'll probably be taking a hard look at cleaning out your fridge right before leaving, so cooking up anything which is decent when served cold is a good idea for the first days' consumption. (frittata anyone?)

 

Also, many fruits and vegetables don't really need to be kept cold. They may last longer when cold, but they won't rot in 3 days' time, either. Some herbs (and vegetables like celery and fennel) can be given extended life by trimming ends and placing in a cup of water, or, by trimming ends, wrapping the ends in wet paper towels and then placing the towel parts in plastic wrap or plastic bags with zipper seals -just close the sides tightly around the towel or use a rubber band.

 

Tomatoes do not need refrigeration at all, they loose flavor components when chilled. Same for peaches and apricots.

 

I am not venturing into bear territory yet.  It is also required that all food is secured in the car when not eating it at the mountain site I booked.  I will definitely up my protection if I get more into mountain camping.

 

I am trying different ways of making oatmeal, but it seems to be that I only like oatmeal in the form of cookies.  I haven't given up yet.

 

Thanks for the tips for the veggies, I'll give it a try.  And it looks like I need to try some stone fruits again.  I think I did that once, but I don't remember where I wrote it down....  Thanks!

 

18 hours ago, Nancy in Pátzcuaro said:

I would encourage you to take seriously Lisa's advice about protecting your food (and yourself) from bears while camping. We spent many years car camping and backpacking in the Colorado mountains and securing food was always a high priority. It's a lot harder when backpacking--you have to rig up a rope around the food container and haul it up between 2 trees--but it was possible to do without too much trouble. Put all your food back in the cooler and put it in your car at the end of the day. Take your garbage to the campground dumpster, which should be bear-proof, every night. Don't leave any food lying around your campsite while you're off hiking. Not only might it encourage a passing bear to come back later but it could attract dogs or other critters who would have no shame in snatching that bag of potato chips off the picnic table.

 

That said, unless there are bears who have become accustomed to raiding trash cans in the area, you shouldn't have anything to worry about. In fact we've never actually seen a bear in a campground or back country site. We now camp, princess style, in a small RV so we aren't as rigorous about this as we used to be. As I told my husband, I'm too old to sleep on the ground anymore.

 

Have fun with this. It is wonderful to get away from the lights and sounds of the city. I assume you'll be doing this when the weather warms up. Winter camping is not for the faint of heart--we only did it once and did not enjoy it.

 

Nancy in Pátzcuaro

 

 

I will definitely clean everything up before sleep and hiking, thanks.  I have one site booked in April and one in May.....so far :)  I would like fall hiking, but I don't think I'd fare well in winter hiking.  I moved south for a reason :D 

 

12 hours ago, bokreta said:

I've done similar excursions, most often with my ex and our two big dogs.

 

We/I found that having a quick way of sourcing hot coffee in the morning was REALLY important. He was always the early riser and got a fire going first thing, but later when I was solo (plus dog), a Turkish coffee pot with a small butane camp stove did the trick.

 

What worked best for us/me was a staple list of bacon/summer sausage/cheddar/eggs/rice/potatoes/frozen broccoli/frozen spinach. Kind of monotonous in the long term, but tasty and satisfying. I also brought a small kit of spices/herbs/hot sauces. The frozen veg helped in the cooler, and none of them are susceptible to short term spoilage.  Sometimes we splurged with a steak on night one, which was always wonderful.  Once I tried gumbo, which was a total fail because I got the reduced proportions totally wrong

 

I would recommend a (fire safe) small cast iron skillet, 1 qt pot, and a kettle/caffeine generator. as a minimum.

 

Booze, of course, and s'more fixins if you have a sweet tooth (I don't, but I remember them being good).

 

Reinforcing that ALL FOOD and FOOD TAINTED DISHES should be bear/wildcat-secured before bed time. In my experience, no dishes that are camp-washed are exempt.

 

 

I have a small butane stove for the express purpose of throwing something together in the morning.  No coffee, though.  Possibly tea.

 

Thanks for the food suggestions, there's some stuff I can use!!  I do have a whole set of cast iron that I can use, but I might try the grill first.  I can have summer sausage and cheddar for breakfast!

 

No booze.  It's not permitted in the parks.  It's a good chance for me to stay dry.  I may have to get s'mores fixins just for posterity.  I don't actually like them, but I've never made them over a fire.  It has to be better, right?  LOL :)

 

11 hours ago, pastrygirl said:

I haven’t camped in a while, but couscous is easy. Boil some water and soak the couscous while you cook something else. 

 

 

 

That was one of the first things that came to mind.  Thanks for the suggestion!

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