Tag Archives: camping food

Big Bang Burgers: Four Ingredients, Deliciously Juicy

7 Jun

Do you buy frozen beef patties for summer grilling? Really? Please tell me you don’t. Or at least, please tell me that you have done it for the last time! When you see how easy it is to make tasty, juicy burgers that are infinitely superior to those tasteless wooden slabs, and only use four ingredients, I know you will make your own next time. And your family and guests will be glad you did.

Destined for the freezer

Destined for the freezer

We certainly were. Several days before our recent beach camping trip to Hither Hills State Park here on the East End of Long Island, I made about a dozen burgers (which took all of five minutes, even with Leandro doing the burger formation), cooked a couple for dinner, then wrapped and froze the rest. Ours are a variety of sizes, as a certain almost-six-year-old was in charge of forming the patties. I like having many sizes actually, because it suits different appetities. Adjust cooking times accordingly.

Here's one we ate at home

Here’s one we ate at home

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A Camping Week Come-a-Cropper…And What We Cooked

8 Jun

Some camping trips are divine: perfect weather, happy children, equipment fully-functional, bugs bugging someone else, and The Great Outdoors is, well, great.

The Montauk Lighthouse.

Then there are the camping trips that are more, shall we say, character-building.

A tick-free hiker is a happy hiker!

We’ve just come back from a trip that was a bit of a mixed bag. We were on the beach at the East End of Long Island in Spring, which can be a hit-or-miss deal. You might have sun and breeze. Or you might have 30 mph winds, cold temperatures, and chilling rain. We mostly had the latter, but in the end, managed to pull out one spectacular beach day, the requisite s’mores, several yummy, grilled meals, and a couple of tick-free hikes. And anyone who has ever camped by a body of water will understand the sheer joy of spending a week living outdoors Without One Single Mosquito Bite. (Even if you had to freeze your miserable ass off, huddled around a smoky damp wood fire gripping desperately to a plastic tumbler of boxed Malbec to achieve it).

There were other umbrellas that might have come in handier on this trip, but funnily enough, these were the only ones I had!

I like to say that the best friendships are forged by shared suffering, so Ashley, Marianne, and I have done yet another round of forging and are already planning for next year! (Leandro may have other ideas, but I have the deciding vote as long as I am paying.)

This trip was rather light on cooking – it happens when you are hit with gale force winds, blustery rain, and a shitty, shitty, shitty propane stove which is headed straight for the Island of Misfit Toys even as we speak.

Look out, Bobby Flay…here comes Leandro and His License to Grill

But, cook one must and following  are two of the recipes that came up during this trip. I hope to post a couple more in the next few days, but I am still doing laundry and catching up with the wreckage that is post-camping! And really, I am deciding whether to ‘fess up on how we cheated on the camping thing, discuss Leandro’s stomach issues; and am hoping to sort out a nifty vodka cocktail we adjusted our attitudes with…we shall see…

(for other camp-friendly recipes, see Spaghetti a la Carbonara, Spider Dogs (the coolest hot dogs EVER), Spanish tortilla with zucchini, Quesadillas, Scrambled Eggs, Aglio, Olio & Peperoncino – Pasta with Garlic, Oil and Hot Pepper, Grilled Tomato Pasta Sauce, Cannelini and Tomato Salad, Black Bean and Sweet Corn Salad, and Five Minute Black Beans).

Goat Cheese and Crackers – with Cucumber or Green Grapes!

Spread your favorite crackers with goat cheese (which keeps very nicely in a cooler). Top with cucumber slices or halved green grapes and served. Apple slices would also be lovely.

Skewered Vegetables

Fire up the grill. While the coals are heating up, soak ten wooden skewers in water for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut up a mix of vegetables – figure about 4 cup, but this is a very flexible recipe

(Notes: Peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, are especially recommended. Eggplant is not, as it takes so long to cook through that everything else will be burnt if you put them together on a skewer. Grape tomatoes should also be skewered separately, as they cook faster than anything!

Also, try to cut the vegetables so that they cook evenly: denser vegetables should be smaller; more porous vegetables should be thicker.)

Skewer the vegetables, leaving a bit of space between them so they cook evenly.

In a separate bowl, whisk  – or use a fork! –  2-3 Tbs olive oil; 1-2 cloves garlic, minced fine; a pinch of salt; the juice of half a lemon; 1/2 tsp sugar; and 1 tsp oregano (or your favorite herb).

Brush the skewered vegetables with the oil mixture, using a brush, paper towel or your fingertips, or use a shallow plate to dip them lengthwise.

Place on grill and turn every two minutes or so, depending on your grill. When the vegetables exchange their crisp look for something more translucent and maybe even a bit charred, serve!

Spider Dogs – a kid-cool way to grill hot dogs

1 Aug

Hot dogs are quintessential BBQ and camp favorites – easy and convenient, tasty and filling. But we stepped the fun up a notch at our latest beach camping adventure with a recipe culled from a most excellent camping prep book called Camp Out! The Ultimate Kid’s Guide by Lynn Brunelle.

Called Spider Dogs by Brunelle (and Octo-Dogs by us when we are making them at the beach)  they are skewered hot dogs skewered, sliced and cooked so that they become eight-legged spiders (or in our recent case of camping: octopii).

Your kids will really dig them, you will raise your cool quotient and they are still as easy as throwing a few dogs on the grill.

 

(Note: There is quite the fire storm about the relative healthfulness of hot dogs. Nitrates and nitrites may or may not be bad or good for you…I really don’t know. We use Applegate Organic hot dogs, which apparently have as much nitrite and nitrate as conventional brands, but are made with organic meat and “natural” curing sources. Does it make a difference? Who knows? But Leandro likes them. I find the whole thing confusing, so I can’t offer solutions, but here’s a New York Times article that can at least explain the source of the confusion: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/02/business/02hotdog.html?_r=2&ref=health)

Grilled Spider-Dogs

Packaged hot dogs

1 skewer for each hotdog

You’ll want a hot grill going for this.

Stick a skewer halfway through each hot dog lengthwise.

Carefully cut the free half into quarters, lengthwise.

Lay the sliced ends of the hot dogs on the grill. The slices will curl back away from each other as they cook. When the sliced end is cooked and curled, carefully remove the dogs from their skewers, skewer through the cooked end and slice uncooked half into quarters lengthwise. Lay the uncooked ends of the dogs on the grill and cook until they are also curled back and you have a spider (or octo-) dog!

You may also like:

A Camping Week Come A Cropper – And What We Cooked

Spaghetti A La Carbonara for camp stoves

Spanish-style Tortilla adapted for camp stoves

Quesadillas adapted for camp stoves

Aglio Olio et Peperoncino (simple garlic and hot pepper pasta dish) for camping

Better Scrambled Eggs for a Camping Trip

Zesty Zucchini and Sizzling Squash with lemon and oregano

21 Jul

This is a simple seasonal recipe that highlights the flavors and freshness of summer (and can be done in a jiffy at a campsite).

Summer squash refers to vegetables such as zucchini and yellow squash, that look like gourds, but have thin, tender skins. Right around this time of summer backyard gardeners start to harvest so many of them, they will be giving them away. This is a fast and easy way to take advantage of the bounty without working too hard!

How this dish looked at our campsite on the beach

Sauteed Summer Squash with Oregano and Lemon

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1/2 medium onion, peeled and diced

2 medium summer squashes (yellow/zucchini), quartered lengthwise and sliced

Tsp dry oregano

Juice of half a lemon (you may add by teaspoon to taste)

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a skillet at medium high until liquid and fragrant. Add onions and stir to coat. Add zucchini and stir to coat. Lower heat and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add oregano, lemon and salt to taste and cook until flavors are blended, just a minute or two, longer if you want it very tender. Serve over rice, with pasta or just on its own.

¿Que qué? ¡Quesadillas! (Camp stove friendly)

9 Jun

Finger food supreme

One day I will be an eater of sandwiches.

But for now aside from the odd grilled cheese, I am not a sandwich girl. Just don’t like all the bread, the sliced deli meats, cold salads inside…I just don’t get it. Unless of course it is a pressed Cuban sandwich, con todos los poderes, de Elegguá pa’bajo…you know, like real bread, toasted, mad quantities of stuff, greased up…I can do that. In Miami. Or San Juan de Puerto Rico (ah, Kasalta). Occasionally.

But not being a sandwich person in this American life is to miss out on a lot of convenience and portability. So, I have discovered the quesadilla. Take whatever you’ve got in the fridge, spread it over half of a tortilla toasting in a skillet, sprinkle melty cheese, fold it, flip it, and allí está…a sandwich worth eating. Slice it like a pizza and you can dip it into hot sauce too.

It worked very well on our camping trip. Leftover black beans, some Monterrey Jack and sriracha and go, baby, go. Other things I have stuffed into quesadillas include pollo guisado; cheddar cheese and tomato slices; leftover sliced steak; roasted vegetables; sundried tomato and smoked mozzarella…all awesome and all done in no time, sealed with a kiss of cheese. You can slip avocado in the middle where it won’t get hot to give a lovely creaminess (plus health benefits, I am sure, but who cares?)

Quesadillas (with your choice of stuffing)

1 package of large soft tortillas (flour or corn)

a spritz of cooking oil on a good iron skillet or nonstick

1-2 cups filling (LEFTOVERS! cooked beans, cooked veg, stewed meat, sliced cooked meat)

couple of fistfuls shredded meltable cheese

1-2 Tbs herbs/hot red pepper flakes/salsa – it’s up to you to make the matches

Heat the skillet and the oil to medium. Lay a tortilla on it. Cover half with filling (Not too thick! Maybe 1/4 inch – you don’t want a mess). Sprinkle cheese (especially around the edge to make a seal). Fold the empty tortilla half over. Allow to cook a minute, then flip with fingers if you are daring, or a spatula. Turn a few times until a bit crispy and transfer to a plate. Start again with another tortilla. You can slice into wedges and serve with whatever condiments go with your filling.

Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino (adapted for campsite family meals)

5 Jun


Disclaimer: This is in no way an authentic version of the Roman classic dish of spaghetti with garlic, oil and hot red pepper flakes. I have lived in Italy, I have had (and made) the real aglio- olio….and it is sublime in its balance and simplicity. I am not trying to improve on perfection. I am just adapting it to my imperfect life!

My adaptation is also pretty sublime, simple and balanced, but it is definitely not the original. So with apologies to Patrizia and Sandro (whose agonized “No!” when he saw me add cheese to the dish once still reverberates in my head) and any other Roman who happens upon this recipe…here we go!

This is a version that I cooked up in 15 minutes this week at a windy beachside campsite on a propane camp stove for me and my pre-K camper (who has just — thank heavens — made the breakthrough to spicy food). So convenient and successful, I made it twice over the week. I also sometimes add broccoli crowns to the pasta water when there are about four minutes left in the boil

Aglio, olio e peperoncino (adapted for camping)

The classic Roman versión uses spaghetti, but that is currently too messy for my kid. I like a tube-y or curly pasta. For the purposes of our camp kitchen I used three-minute rotini – a pasta that boils up in three minutes. It is decidedly flabby compared to regular pasta, but was adequate for the less fussy camping life. I actually prefer Bionaturae’s organic whole wheat pastas in this dish; they add a nutty flavor that I like very much. This is also a one pot dish (except for the colander) which is great when you haven’t got running water!

Serves two, but is quite easy to double up

½ lb pasta of your choice (preferably spaghetti or something long and lean rather than scoopy. If you choose the broccoli option, penne is a good choice)

(one or two handfuls broccoli florets; optional)

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/8 to ¼ tsp hot red pepper flakes

1/4 cup grated grana padano or parmigiano reggiano

Boil the pasta according to package instructions, making sure to salt the water well. If using broccoli, add to the pasta water 3-4 minutes before the pasta is fully cooked. Drain and reserve in a separate bowl or the colander. In the same pot that you cooked the pasta, add the olive oil, lowering heat to medium. When the olive oil is loose and fragrant, add the garlic and red pepper flakes (to taste) and stir around until the garlic is golden (not brown). Add the pasta (and broccoli) back to the pot and mix well, adding grated cheese. Serve!

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