This month we’ll be looking at how to explore some tasty meals that are ideal for camping in a van, a tent, an RV, or even in your backyard. Outdoor cooking is an area of culinary interest that is not often talked about, and even experienced campers can be guilty of simply bringing a bag of assorted snacks, a few simple ingredients, whatever cookware we remember or can fit, and hope for the best.
That may not be a problem for everyone, and depending on the nature of the trip we may not always have time to put much effort into food preparation. On the other hand, for those of us who would like to put a little more thought into the gustatory aspect of our van camping experience, there are some really great outdoor cooking recipes that are worth trying at least once. Best of all, none even require fancy equipment or ingredients. Using simple methods to get delicious results are the name of the game with camp cooking, so here are a few of our favorite recipes to achieve exactly that.
While not a meal per se, this is an excellent snack that is very easy to make, and one quick batch can easily last you your entire camping trip. Consisting of crackers essentially coated in oil and spices, its both simple, savory, and delicious.
- 1 2/3 cups of veg oil (or melted butter, olive oil, etc)
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp ground garlic (powder)
- 3 tbs red pepper (flakes)
- 2 ranch dressing mixes
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 pack saltine crackers (or cracker of your choice)
To make these delicious treats, simply get a large plastic bag, ideally a ziplock, and combine the oil and spices. Seal the bag, and use your fingers from the outside to thoroughly mix them, so that the spices soak up most of the oil and are completely saturated. Next, add the full box of crackers to the bag, and shake it up. Voila, you’ve got yourself some Fire Crackers.
Cheap-n-Easy Beer Battered Fish
Who doesn’t love fried fish? Whether you’ll be catching the fish on your van camping trip or bringing them in an ice chest, you might have thought that quality beer-battered fish was a bit outside your capabilities to cook on a campfire, but you’d be wrong. Here’s how you do it.
- 1 cup of beer, or as much as you need
- 7 ounces shake-and-pour buttermilk pancake mix
- 2 pounds fish fillets (trout or other)
- .5-1 cup frying oil
In this simplified version of beer-battered fish, you get the oil nice and hot, ideally in a cast-iron skillet for a nice rustic feel, and meanwhile add your beer to your bag of pancake mix. Add about as much as it says to add water or milk in the mix’s recipe on the package, and then close it, shake, and you’ve got your beer batter. Somehow or another (whether in the bag or in a dish), use tongs to put your raw fish into the batter and coat it completely, and then toss it in the hot oil to fry it. It’s as simple as that, and quite satisfying after a long day of hiking!
Fajitas may not be one of the first things that come to mind when you think of campfire food, but if you think about it, they’re basically just sauteed vegetables and meat, with a few toppings and some tortillas. That’s not hard at all to pull off with a campfire, and here’s how you can do it.
- 1/4 c veg oil (or cooking oil of choice)
- 1/4 c white vinegar
- 1/4 c Worcestershire
- 1/4 c water
- 2 tbs lemon juice
- 2 tbs lime juice
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 2 lbs meat of choice, cut into strips
- Assorted vegetables of your choice (bell peppers, onions, broccoli, etc.)
- Toppings of your choice (guacamole, sour cream, pico, refried beans, etc.)
In this method of fajita cooking, you take all of the sauce ingredients (vinegar, worcestershire, juices, etc.) and mix them together with the meat and chopped vegetables in a plastic bag. The best part is, you can actually do this before the trip, and keep it on ice, for easy cooking once at the campsite. To cook, either throw it on a large skillet over the fire, or put it into a large tin foil pack and place very close to the fire, frequently repositioning it for even cooking. Once done, bust out your tortillas and toppings, and go to town. Not literally, stay in the woods.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Melted Banana Boats
This recipe list wouldn’t be complete without a delicious dessert, and why not go full campfire delicacy with this amazing sweet treat? Here are the essential ingredients to chocolate peanut butter banana campfire heaven.
- Bananas (as many as you want)
- ¼ cup peanut butter per banana
- ¼ cup chocolate chips per banana
- Or as much peanut butter and chocolate chips as you want
The beauty of this dish is in its simplicity, which is always a key ingredient in campfire cooking. You take the banana, cut it in half lengthwise, fill the empty gap between with smeared peanut butter and chocolate chips, wrap it in foil, and throw it near the fire or on the coals for 10-15 minutes, flipping it over on both sides. The result will be a gooey, melted boat of deliciousness that will put even the best s’mores to shame. You can even dip into it with graham crackers like chips and salsa.