All campers seem to have their favorite food to enjoy outdoors. For some, it’s a hot, squishy s’more. Others prefer to break out the Dutch oven and cook up a batch of stew.
One of our car camping favorites is fresh-made doughnuts. We opt to bring along our electric skillet, also good for making pancakes, when we know we have access to electricity. This also would work with some oil in a cast iron pan on a camp stove.
They are a great treat, especially on a cold morning. We also cook them out on the picnic table – the oil doesn’t stink up the trailer if you have one.
The ingredients are simple: two tubes of Pillsbury biscuit dough, vegetable oil and sugar-cinammon mix.
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Before we leave home, we combine sugar and cinammon in a Ziplock plastic bag. You’ll want enough – one to two cups – to cover all the doughnuts, depending on how many you are making.
At camp, fill the skillet with oil and heat to 350 degrees.
Split up and place the biscuit dough on a clean plate, or piece of wax paper.
Use a water or pop bottle cap to cut the hole in the center of the circle of dough.
Place the doughnuts, and holes, into the oil several at a time. Turn over when golden brown.
Remove from oil and place on a paper towel to drain oil.
After a few moments, place doughnut in plastic bag and shake, coating with cinammon- sugar mix.
Remove and serve while still warm.
We sometimes use chocolate frosting to coat the doughnuts You could then let the kids dip them in sprinkles.
To make clean up easier, after the oil cools, we use a kitchen funnel to pour the leftover oil back into the bottle to take back home.
KEEPING IT SIMPLE
Amy Mann is a serious hiker. She writes our weekly Hike of the Week feature and also leads a camp food roundtable for the Tacoma Mountaineers.
Mann’s approach is to keep her food preparations to a minimum while in camp.
“Not having small children that I have to entertain and feed, my approach is to not have to do housekeeping when I am in the wilderness,” she said.
“I don’t go out into nature to do dishes. So, my approach is to dehydrate stuff. All you have to do to prepare a meal is boil water, add it to the zipper freezer bag, let it rehydrate, set the bag in a bowl for stability and eat it out of the bag with a spoon. Minimal cooking and cleanup.”
Two desserts Mann takes on hikes and backpacking trips – earning rave reviews – are dehydrated pie and dehydrated chocolate pudding with candied ginger in it.
Take a really good pie – Mann said Costco apple, cherry and pumpkin pies work really well – and blend it with enough water to make a slurry.
She then spreads out and flattens the mixture to an even thickness on Teflon sheets and places them in a dehydrator. The sheet technique then involves using scissors to cut it into small pieces.
For the pudding, Mann uses chocolate instant pudding. She blends candied ginger in the milk before adding the milk to the pudding packet and stirring. The pudding is then quickly spread out on Teflon sheets, dehydrated and cut apart with scissors.
Mann and her companions just eat them like a cookie. The key, she said, is to dehydrate stuff to a thickness so that it will hold its shape and not crumble as you are transporting it
FORAGING FOR GOODIES
Olympia resident Dixie Havlak said one of her favorite things to do is to gather berries and add them to her menu for the evening. A dietitian, Havlak also gives talks on backcountry foods for the Olympia Mountaineers.
She offered this wild berry cheesecake recipe for backpackers. She said you will need a 9-inch metal pie dish or its equivalent in backpacking dishes and a 2-4 cup pot.
1 Jell-O No Bake Real Cheesecake Dessert packet
1/2 cup powdered milk in a small ziplock
2 T. sugar and 5 T. margarine in another a small ziplock
3 T. sugar and 1 T. corn starch
Package these together without the box in a larger Ziplock bag and write the instructions on the large bag.
To prepare, gather 1 cup or more of huckleberries, salal, or any combination of salmon, thimbleberry, blackberry, etc.
Rinse them and mash them a little with sugar and cornstarch mix and a few tablespoons of water. Heat over high heat, stirring continuously. This will turn clear and thicken after a few minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
Follow cheesecake instructions, melting butter in pie dish and stirring in sugar and then crust mix. Pat evenly to cover pie tin.
Add 1.5 cups water and cheesecake mix to powdered milk and mix thoroughly. (You can seal ziplock and use hands to squish mixture until well blended)
Pour into crust and set covered in a cool place for about an our or until thickened.
Then top with berry sauce and enjoy!
FROM THE BOOKSHELF
In her latest cookbook, “Backcountry Cooking: The Ultimate Guide to Planning, Preparding and Packing Great Outdoor Meals (Skyhorse Publishing, $14.95),” Sierra Adare offers daily menus and recommendations for multi-day backpacking, rafting and car camping trips.
Adare’s suggestions are perhaps best described as middle of the road, using prepared items, or ingredients packed at home, as much as possible. Like Mann, quickness in preparing a meal is a key for Adare.
One such dessert recipe is her Boysen Banger. It calls for one pint each of blackberries and strawberries, washed and bagged together in a zippered vegetable bag. In camp, heat 12 cup of brown sugar and 12 cup of brandy in a saucepan over low heat. The berries should be divided into individual bowls. Once the sugar dissolves, drizzle the sauce over the fruit and stir.
Annie Bell has recipes for all types of camping scenarios in “The Camping Cookbook” (Kyle Books, $13.56). She incoudes recipes that focus on ingredients without frills and easy preparation.
One of her dessert offering “Bon-Bon Brulees” is basic, but sounds good.
Get the old-fashioned sugared bon-bons with toffee inside, counting on a couple for each person. Put them on the end of a skewer and cook over a fire or grill until the outside has carmalized. That means the toffee will be melted inside. Slip them on to a small cup of vanilla pudding to make this campfire-style crme brulee.
Comedians Mike Faverman and Pat Mac offer their epicurian take in “Ultimate Camp Cooking” (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $14.99). The pair have honed their act, and recipes, while on family camping trips and on the RV show circuit.
One of their recipes is “Dutch Oven Blueberry Cobbler.”
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup fresh blueberries
Powdered sugar, garnish
In a large bowl, combine the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, cream and butter, and mix until it makes a sticky dough.
Grease 6 individual ramekins. Drop about 1/4 cup dough into each ramekin and use your fingers to spread it evenly across the bottoms and up the sides to form a cup for the filling. Put a few spoonfuls of blueberries in each cup.
Put the ramekins in your Dutch oven and pour a little hot water in the bottom, so ramekins are half-submerged. Cover the Dutch oven and put 8 hot coals on top and 4 around the outside of the bottom, but not underneath. Cook for 35-40 minutes, or until the dough has cooked through. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.