No crockpot? No camp??? NO WAY!

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It’s the crock addict again…

In a previous post, I mentioned that I’d give ideas for non-crockpot meals you can take on your camping trip, because I realize, A. not every campground or site offers electricity, and B. not everyone has or uses a crockpot. There are all kinds of meals you can bring with you that don’t require a crockpot or electricity.

We’ll start with the obvious: canned goods. We bring stew, soups and ravioli, and we just heat them up over the propane stove. It can be a bit messy but quick and easy trumps the cleanup. We also bring boxed macaroni and cheese (hence why I’ve mentioned a small strainer in a previous post). Very simple to do this over your propane stove.

Next up is your classic hot dogs over the fire. Just poke ’em with a roasting stick and hold ’em over the fire. Going one step beyond that is hamburgers over the fire. Now, I LOVE a good grilled burger… BBQed burgers are my favourite, but mark my words, there is nothing that tastes as good as a burger grilled right over a campfire.

I’m a planner, and hot dogs and hamburgers are no different. I save myself the work at the campsite, and I precut toppings to put on our hot dogs and hamburgers. Lettuce and tomatoes, unfortunately, just don’t survive the trip well. But, using small, zipper-topped bags to bag some diced onions, sliced pickles, hot pepper rings… it makes a big difference in meal enjoyment.

Roasted potatoes are another favourite of ours, along with corn on the cob. Corn can be roasted on the grate above the campfire, just be sure to turn them often so that they cook evenly, and don’t burn. Potatoes, for my family, get washed, pierced with a fork to keep them from bursting, and wrapped in foil, and I do this ahead of time at home. These can go right into the fire, just leave them on the outer edges of the fire, and turn these often as well. Check one for doneness before removing them all from the fire. Some pre-cut chopped green onion and a small container of sour cream dress these up nicely. And if you have any bacon leftover from breakfast… Wow is all I can say!

This year, I made an attempt at something similar to McDonald’s Egg McMuffin. I used one package of 6 English muffins, about 5-6 eggs, whisked with milk and S&P, processed cheese slices (no judgement please!) and some deli cooked ham. I cooked the eggs until done, and without toasting the English muffins, I laid one out on a sheet of foil, spooned some scrambled egg onto one side, topped it with ham and cheese before putting the other half of the English muffin on top. I wrapped it up in the foil, and went on with the rest until they were all done. These were frozen until it was time to leave for our trip. When we got up the next morning, we started a small campfire, and heated these up over the campfire grate, just flipping them back and forth until heated through. We had to test one first, but when it was fully heated, the cheese was gooey and delicious. Just add ketchup and a cup of coffee!

Premade & frozen, scrambled egg, cheese and ham on an English muffin

Premade & frozen, scrambled egg, cheese and ham on an English muffin

Muffins, cookies and breads, like banana bread, are all great ideas for snacks to be made and frozen ahead of time, pre-made sandwiches containing deli meats and cheeses all freeze surprisingly well.

What easy food items have you brought that has made your trip so much easier?

Setting up Your Camp Kitchen

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This is probably my favourite part of setting up… I love getting everything organized for our meals together. The more organized your kitchen area is, the easier and quicker your meals with come together!As a big Pinterest fan, I’m always on the lookout for ways to streamline this important part of camp set-up, and for new and cheap ideas to make it home-y, keeping in mind, we’re trying to get away from it all ๐Ÿ˜‰

I came across this blog page on Pinterest, and wow. The inspiration is incredible!

http://echoesoflaughter.ca/2013/08/organizing-camping-kitchen.html

Ideas I took away from this are the table solar light, a pretty basket for napkins and small things like S&P. I bought some pretty, coordinating oven mitts and dish towels, the S-hooks (a.k.a. “lifesavers”). The only problem I had with the solar light is making sure it was charged during the day. We camp in a campground that is fairly shaded and even sitting the solar light in the sunniest of areas, we had to keep moving it because five minutes later, the sunny spot was shaded too! But so handy to have this on at night!

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You don’t need to buy a camp kitchen (Coleman sells them) to incorporate these ideas into your own camp set-up. However, if you want to MAKE your own, out of PVC pipe, and a shelving unit, if you are creative and have some time on your hands. Even just looking at this, I’m excited and want to jump right into this project!

http://thewhoot.com.au/whoot-news/diy/diy-camping-kitchen

Of course, there is the hanging shoe organizer I mentioned in a previous post. It was so helpful to have this nearby, it truly felt like an extra set of helping hands, because it made everything so accessible.

kitchentent

Here are some important kitchen items to have while camping, that you may not even think about:

Can opener

Scissors
S&P
Foil, cling-wrap, zipper-topped bags, food storage containers
BBQ tongs and/or spatula if you intend to grill food
Table cloth
Disinfectant wipes
Dishsoap or camper’s soap
Paper towels

Mosquito coils (when those little critters find a way in, if you have one of these burning on the ground, it keeps them at bay)

We used to have a traditional kitchen tent, with the green and white stripes and the long, awkward poles… wow. That thing was such a pain in the butt to set up. You truly needed a TEAM of people to set it up properly. Since then, we have purchased A First-Up gazebo. You know, the ones that you can set up in about ten minutes, with maybe one other person? It reminds me of an accordion, the way the metal structure is, two people pull on opposite ends to expand the structure. Then you attach the top, secure it with the velcro loops, and raise it up to the height you want (there are three selections on ours). Lastly, you put up the screen walls, to “keep the bugs out”, but somehow they always find a way in… We also purchased a privacy screen for our gazebo. We put both up on the gazebo, and leave one or two sides open for ventilation, depending on how warm it is.

A kitchen “tent” is not necessary. I have seen many people simply put a tarp up, tying the corners to trees nearby, tilted on a slant so that if it rains, the slope will keep the water from collecting and pulling the tarp down. We prefer an actual tent because we like a little bit of privacy with our (my) bedhead while sipping coffee or cooking bacon. Plus it’s nice to hang stuff up and out of the way, and keep it there during the duration of your stay!

What helps you keep your camp kitchen area organized?

Not Without my Crockpot!

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I don’t know what it is about the great outdoors, but my family and I are ALWAYS hungry when we go camping.

If your campground offers electrical sites (usually these are for RVs and campers), spend the extra money and get one of these sites! Yes, you are roughing it, yes, I understand it’s considered ‘glamping’, but Benjamin Franklin wouldn’t object, and neither would I. Just do it! You won’t regret it.

The food part of your camping trip requires some planning and thinking ahead. I start putting together food items 4-6 weeks before our trip. I stock up on non-perishables, snacks, marshmallows, peanuts, drinking boxes, Koolaid Jammers, etc. and I freeze things like bacon and hot dogs. I’ll also package up enough hamburger patties for two meals.

We usually camp for 5 full days, so two of these meals I plan to have crockpot meals. You can plan one for every day if you want! The choices are endless, and even if you don’t use a crockpot at home, you should definitely have one for camping. You can do stews, soups, chili, lasagnaโ€ฆ the list goes on. Whatever your family likes most, it can be adapted to the crockpot. There are two great reasons for doing your meals this wayโ€ฆ one, it’s easy to just dump the contents into the crockpot and you’re set, but the frozen meals will also keep other things in your cooler, cold. Win, win!

crockpot

I buy two, whole, large chicken breasts, and line my little crockpot with a jumbo ziplock bag. I put the chicken in with a block of cream cheese, 1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Chicken sauce, 1/2 cup ranch salad dressing, pepper, and half a cup each of diced onion, carrot and celery. I seal it up, removing as much air as possible, and I plop the entire thing into my freezer. I don’t know if you’re supposed to put the crockpot in the freezer or not, but I have never had any problems and I’ve had this crockpot forever. Freezing it INSIDE the crockpot ensures that when you want to cook it, it’s going to fit without having to fight with it. Set it on low in the morning, and go about your day. With so many things to see and do, it’s nice to not have to worry about cooking when you come back tired. When it’s time to eat, shred the chicken with two forks and serve on your favourite sandwich buns. This meal is my husband’s favourite.

Another meal I do ahead of time and freeze in the crockpot is meatloaf. I combine two pounds of lean ground beef (you could use turkey or chicken) with one package of onion soup mix, half a can of tomato soup (no water, do not dilute) and breadcrumbs if mixture is too sticky. Line the crockpot with a ziplock bag, and press the mixture into the crockpot. Seal, remove as much air as you can, and freeze. Same thing as the chicken, set on low in the morning. Serve with potatoes cooked in the fire.

I also like to make up Bisquick pancakes ahead of time and freeze the mixture in a ziplock, so it’s nice and flat for the cooler. When it’s thawed, snip off a corner and drizzle it onto a hot griddle.

This year I tried something new, and it required getting a morning fire going. I made up breakfast sandwiches (like McDonald’s egg McMuffin) and wrapped them in foil and froze them. When we wanted to eat, we put them on the grate over the fire and kept turning them, until the middles were warm and the cheese was gooey. It was seriously delicious! I’ll be doing those up again, for sure!

The trick to camping food is to do AS MUCH as you can at home before the trip. With limited resources, you want it to be as easy as possible. Cutting up veggies and fruits, baking muffins and cookies, all of these things will help your trip to be enjoyable because you’ll spend less time preparing food and more time enjoying your trip, which is how memories are made.

And of course, this doesn’t just apply to a camping tripโ€ฆ these ideas can also be used for road trips and tailgating!

I’d love to hear your ideas and tips! Please feel free to share!