Tag Archives: Camping Cuisine

Great American Backyard Campout 2011

Even though it was a night in advance, Jason and I took part of the Great American Backyard Campout with our niece, Reagan, on Friday night. It was Reagan’s first time “camping,” and it has been something we’ve promised to do with her for several months now.

Our campsite for the night.
Backyard Camping

Inaugural use of our new fire pit.
Campfire

Nothing like hot dogs roasted over a campfire.
Dinner Time!

Bailey joined us in the campout. She has camped a couple of times with Jason and I, so we knew she’d handle it well. Thea, our flight risk, had to stay inside and miss the festivities (more on that later…). Bailey was in all of her glory. Typically, Reagan gravitates to Thea since Bailey can be a bit much with the licking and need for attention. With Thea out of the picture, Bailey took full advantage.

Focused on a bug.

Campin’ Buddies
Buds

I have to say, our backyard is ideal for camping. Even though we live in town, the wooded creek area along the backside of our lot means seclusion from houses on the other side. None of our neighbors ever seem to use their backyards, so it’s perfect.

Looks Like We're in the Woods...Kind Of

We had a couple of “wildlife” sightings. First, Bailey and Reagan spotted a cat a few yards over. The cat disappeared into the wooded area of the yard…and then we heard the insane meowing. The cat was obviously battling something. The cat won – we saw it headed back to its house a bit later.

The other prominent wildlife were birds, particularly a pair of bluebirds nesting in our neighbor’s birdhouse. We all enjoyed watching them fly around.

Of course, no campout would be complete without s’mores. I really enjoyed REI’s The Art & Science of S’mores, and I was sure to share my favorite variation: fudge stripe cookies in place of graham crackers and chocolate. I found the idea online a couple years ago, and I have to say that I prefer this version to the original. I’ve never been a big fan of graham crackers, but fudge stripe cookies…that’s a different story 😀  Reagan likes these “marshmallow cookies,” too.

Marshmallow Cookies!

Once it got darker out and we had our fill of s’mores, it was time to catch fireflies. Reagan started out wanting to catch 49 of them…but she settled for five.

Catching Fireflies

Our Bounty

Jason and I were a little perplexed. The fireflies wouldn’t light up while they were in the jar. We remembered catching fireflies as kids, and the bugs always continued to blink in their prisons our containers. Anyone know what would be going on there?

We headed back inside to clean up and, by that point, I just wasn’t feeling it anymore. I felt terribly guilty leaving Thea by herself in the house while we were having fun outside 🙁  We considered leaving Bailey inside with her, but I think part of Reagan’s excitement was over Bailey camping, too. Since today was Thea’s birthday, so I wanted to be good to her. Jason, Reagan, and Bailey got settled in the tent while I headed into the house and up the stairs to my bedroom.

Jason and Reagan woke me up around 6:00am. Jason was freezing all night – Reagan was perfectly comfortable with only her thin sleeping bag. Lying niece or wimpy husband – You decide  😉

Overall, Reagan did great! We’ll try another couple of backyard campouts with her (and me), and we might try taking her on an actual camping trip sometime if she’d like to go.

Question:

Did you get out camping this weekend?


Camping Cuisine: Bannock

One of our must-make foods when camping is bannock. Bannock is camp bread, and it is both ridiculously easy to make and really, really yummy.

Here’s a little background from Let’s Get Primitive: The Urban Girl’s Guide to Camping:

Bannock is as beloved among campers as jerky. It’s easy, quick, hot, and good. It’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack. It’s camp comfort food. First noted in Scotland and also a Native American staple, it’s a multicultural, antique recipe for simple unleavened biscuits.

One of the amazing things about bannock is that you can prepare it in any number of ways. Fry it, toast it, bake it, even make dumplings. It’s great! We’ve tried both frying it and baking it. In our opinion, fried is best – hands down.

Basic Bannock (Serves 1-2 people)

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • water
  • oil

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a plastic bag (like a Ziploc bag). This is your basic mix. When you’re ready to cook, slowly add water to the mix – about 1/2 cup should do it. Squeeze and knead the bag as you go, and stop adding water once you have a firm, sticky dough. Add too much water, and you’ll wind up with wet mush – not good.

To fry your bannock, drop spoonfuls of the dough into hot oil and fry until golden brown.

To toast it, wrap the dough around a stick and roast it over the fire.

To bake it, place hunks of dough into an oiled, covered pot, pan, or skillet.

To make dumplings, drop bits into boiling water.

Bannock is that easy, but it doesn’t stop there. You can create your own versions of bannock by building upon this basic recipe. Experiment by adding powdered milk, grated cheese, oats, dried fruit, or even vegetables. You also can’t go wrong with adding herbs or spices.

I created a breakfast version of bannock by adding cinnamon to the mix, frying the dough, and then sprinkling the finished pieces with cinnamon sugar. It’s like a camp doughnut. Along with bacon, it’s the breakfast of camping champions 😉 .

For a given camping trip, I will prepare as many bags of the mix as we will need for the trip before leaving home. For example, I prepared two bags of the basic mix and three bags of the breakfast mix for our recent Peninsula trip. All we have to do on site is add water, fry, and enjoy.

Camping in Comfort: Campsite Cooking

When Jason and I go camping, we like to do a combination of campsite cooking and eating out. Cooking over an open fire enhances the camping experience, but it’s also a time-consuming process. Having a good kitchen set-up makes it much easier.

Our New Camp Kitchen!

My splurge before this year’s Door County trip was a camp kitchen. I have been looking at camp kitchens since my first camping trip with Jason, and now I finally have one!

Leading up to the trip, I had been looking at the REI Camp Kitchen. Unfortunately, it was out of stock at the point when I needed to order it. I started looking at alternatives and found Cabela’s Standard Camp Kitchen. Once I saw it, I already liked it better than the REI option.

With two “pantries,” the Cabela’s Standard Camp Kitchen offers a lot of storage space. The paper towel holder is very convenient. At first, I thought two lantern hooks might be a bit much, but it worked great to use one for a lantern and the other to hang a garbage bag. Finally, what put it over the top was the built-in sink. Sold!

Camp Dining Quarters

Last summer, Jason and I added a screen room to our camping set-up. On our 2009 trip to Door County, I spotted another camper’s site with a screen room set up as a dining room. This year, we pushed the provided picnic table off to the side and set up the camp kitchen, our small table, and two chairs inside the screen room. It made the perfect breakfast and dinner nook.

I’m all about making a campsite feel like home, and adding a camp kitchen is one more piece of that puzzle.

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