Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Cooking in Camp Part 2

Part one can be found here.
The menu is planned, the food is packed. What do you cook on?  Copper? Tin? Cast iron? Yes. I use all three. More copper and cast iron than tin (it rusts so easy!). I have been able to get some cheap copper pots & pans at thrift stores and antique stalls. Cast iron is my go-to. I use it at home, I use it in camp. Cast iron is almost indestructible, which helps in a camp situation. I absolutely love cooking on my cast iron! It holds heat very well, and is easy to clean ( another camp plus)! Copper & tin do have their advantages in that they are lighter and easier to carry. Tin tends to rust easily if you do not take care of it.

Serving dishes can also be tricky when in a camping situation. I'm sure at some point we all want to make a pretty table with pretty china dishes, however, we have to look at practicality. Those of us who do cook in a camp setting usually do not have space for such, though it would be nice. China items are far too breakable to haul around, but if you find some appropriate ones for .25 at the goodwill, you won't be upset if they get broken. I tend to use ironstone and some wood pieces. I have lucked up and have been able to get some good iron stone cheap, either at yard sales, discount stores, etc. Wood serving dishes are another option. These can be over-used I think in some cases. I like to serve bread on my large wooden cutting board after cutting it. Sometimes I use small wood bowls for veggies, nuts, etc. Luckily a lot of places are starting to make/sell reproduction pottery pieces. While I love to use pottery, I also feel like I need to be careful while transporting it. I have had pieces get cracks, like my Williamsburg mug :(. Again, look in thrift stores, yard sales, even some antique markets have great, cheap finds!
Variety of dishes used in camp cooking

When it comes time to eat the meal, I depend on "the guys", or whoever I am feeding, to provide their own utensils. I keep a few extra bowls & forks around for those who are just starting out.  I usually serve soup/stew right from the pot on the fire so that it stays warm. Sides like potatoes, salad, fruit, veggies, cheese, bread, etc. are usually self-serve "buffet-style" on a central table. There is always water & lemonade available as well!  I try to keep camp meals simple, but still add variety. When feeding a large crowd, everyone has different tastes and there is no way to please everyone, but variety helps everyone get their fill!

Clean-up. The dreaded four-letter word...clean..... Well, we all have to do it. I try to keep hot water going all day for easy clean-up. If there are a lot of people eating, I have made "the guys" clean their own dishes. I provide the basins, water, soap, and towels, they provide their labor to clean their dishes.  I combine leftovers for mid-afternoon grazing. Usually leftovers are placed on the cutting board (bread, cheese, etc.) and a towel over them to keep fly's off.  Cast iron pots & pans are cleaned with boiling water and good wipe down with oil so they are ready for next time.

So, cooking in camp may seem like a big responsibility, but its not! Just take your time and remember, provide a variety of simple foods! Bake ahead of time & package everything before you leave home so you do not have to hide modern wrappings.

Happy cooking!!!

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