Fire to Plate Camping with the 3Campers
Long ago, by a lake in the pines, a group of friends started camping together—the old fashioned way with tents, sleeping bags and campfires.
Hard to believe this all started nearly 40 years ago in the Gully’s, when two young ladies attempted chicken kebabs on the campfire, but forgot to soak the wooden skewers in water – the result? Gully’s Cajun Chicken Stir Fry – outstanding!
Times have changed, the group has matured and now the basic trio owns a Scamp camper and a 5th wheel RV.
Karl is the pyromaniac, he makes the fires. He makes fire rings dance to deliver the heat we need to create the “Fire Pit Perfections.”
So Kay and Ann are the recipe gurus.
They are always searching for new ideas—not just the typical campfire food. Kay and Ann like to do creative cooking while camping. Karl is the sous chef manning the fire pit. Karl gets the fire just right and does most of the cooking.
Fire needs to be right, grills need to be right, pans need to be right and so on.
Let’s back up.
We do our cooking over open fires camping in State or Federal Campgrounds ( or boon docking ) so fire rings are a challenge – Karl carries his own grates for different applications, he also carries angle iron so that he can level his cooking grates ( bubble level on the iPhone works great ) . You level the range in your house to cook on, why wouldn’t you cook on a level surface outdoors?
Next step is the right fire for the right meal. Sounds easy. Depending what the menu is, we mix a blend of hard woods and charcoal to generate the right amount of heat. Most Park wood bundles have hardwood – we carry certified wood just in case and we carry an axe to split it down to cook fire size. So between wood and charcoal we go for maximum heat and low flame and a 30-45 minute cook fire, sometimes we go longer and need to refresh as we go.
The other basic utensils are the cast iron pans and assorted spatulas and tongs needed to deliver the goods.
Why a gourmet meal? We pride ourselves at trying different parks; we look at amenities, trails and so on. We do a lot of hiking, so we love trails. Along with our outstanding meals, we have outstanding State and Federal Parks to camp at.
To reward ourselves after a great day of hiking and site seeing, we cook a great evening meal, sometimes leftovers make it into the next breakfast but, I get ahead of myself, that’s another chapter.
Let’s light the fire and find out what we’re cooking tonight….
Hayes Lake State Park—what a wonderful discovery—a gem of a park close to Roseau, MN. The campsites are large and wooded. The campground is next to a beautiful lake. We camped there in September—the weather had been cold and rainy but we had a beautiful weekend. Kay got up early Saturday morning to take a picture of a stunning sunrise over the lake.
We took a long hike (4+ hours) on Saturday. So Saturday night we rewarded ourselves with campfire lobster jambalaya. Recipe adapted from Campfire Cuisine Cookbook by Robin Donovan.
We used a pretty basic jambalaya recipe—with one major change. Karl is allergic to shrimp so we substituted lobster chunks for the shrimp.
Another addition to the basic recipe was wild lobster mushrooms.
Kay and Ann have foraged for morel mushrooms for years and years. Recently we all have started exploring other wild mushrooms. (Here is the standard warning—don’t eat any wild mushrooms that you are unfamiliar with or can’t identify 100%!) Harmony Foods offers wild mushrooms from a certified forager.
The jambalaya consisted of andouille turkey sausage (you can substitute any spicy or not spicy sausage). We cut the andouille in chunks and browned it first and set aside. Next we sautéed diced green and poblano peppers, onions, garlic and wild lobster mushrooms in oil. Then blended in a portion of the basmati to pick up these flavors. We added fresh thyme, cayenne pepper, chili powder, diced canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes (home grown), chicken broth and brown basmati and simmered that over the campfire for about 16 or so minutes. Then we added the lobster and andouille, a little more broth for consistency and finished cooking about 8 more minutes. Kay and Ann sautéed a few shrimp to go with their portions.
A great day of hiking, exploring, meeting new people and then creating a meal as adventuresome as the day.
What more could we want?