Fire to Plate: October with the 3Campers
It’s time to wrap up another camping season. We enjoyed our escapes, but we didn’t get out as much as we usually do. Hopefully 2021 will bring more camping excursions!
The campers are “buttoned up” and plans are being made for the future. Some of you may be beginning campers or even just contemplating camping. Just a reminder—Minnesota has made some changes to their State Park/Recreation Area campground reservation system. In the past, we could reserve a campsite up to one year in advance. That has now been changed to reservations being accepted 120 days (4 months) in advance of the requested date. According to the DNR, this change was made to allow people more flexibility in planning vacations. Instead of making plans a year in advance, you can now start planning closer to the date you wish to camp. Of course many of the popular parks fill up quickly, so our advice is to make your reservations as soon as you are allowed to do so (just wait until we reserve pleaseJ). You can find State Parks and Recreation Areas at the DNR web page: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/index.html.
National recreation areas can be reserved up to 6 months in advance. Information on those campgrounds can be found at https://www.recreation.gov/.
It can be nice to research the camping areas before you book. The reservation web sites have limited information on each camp site. Another resource is https://www.campsitephotos.com/. You can search by state and many of the state parks are listed. There is a brief description of the park with recommended campsites. There is also a photo of each campsite. It helps to get another perspective. After all, you don’t want to reserve a site only to find out your camper won’t fit in it!
We are already discussing which campgrounds we should visit next year. And of course we will be thinking about our camping meals all winter. We like to try new and different recipes when we camp. How do we decide what to do? Well, Kay and Ann usually start emailing/texting and talking about ideas. Sometimes it comes from a meal we saw on a cooking show, or a recipe idea we found online or a favorite food that we haven’t prepared for a while. Some ideas work—some don’t! We rarely try the recipes at home first. We just wing it at the campground.
What ideas worked?
A couple of years ago, we found a recipe idea for Greek Yogurt Chicken Kabobs while searching for healthy meal ideas. The chicken is cut into cubes and marinated in yogurt, lemon zest, herbs and seasonings. Then the chicken is put on kabob skewers alternating with onion and pepper. We grilled the kabobs over the campfire and they were seriously delicious. This has been a “go to” recipe for us since the first time we made them.
Who doesn’t love pizza? We want to eat pizza while camping, but it’s difficult to get delivery when you are miles away from a pizza place. We could bake frozen pizzas in the oven in our camper, but we prefer to cook over the campfire. We adapted some pizza ideas from home. We decided to use the Flat Out Pizza Crusts. We just need some pizza sauce, a variety of toppings and cheeses. The Flat Outs are about 11 x 4, but a tortilla or another type of wrap or thin pizza crust would also work. We let each person customize their pizza. Then we place them on a large foil pan and cover the pan with foil (to create an oven like atmosphere). The pizzas are cooked over a medium hot campfire. Maybe not the same as your local pizzeria but they satisfy our pizza cravings.
Sometimes our ideas don’t work out exactly as we thought they would. When we were much younger campers, we decided to try to make Cajun Chicken Kabobs. We seasoned the chicken, alternated with onions and peppers on wooden skewers and placed the skewers on the grill over the campfire. The wooden skewers started to burn because we hadn’t soaked them in water first. We had to rescue the chicken, peppers and onions, so we put it all in a big cast iron pan and called it Cajun Chicken Stir Fry. It actually was quite good.
This fall we decided to try bison burgers. We purchased some bison burger from Harmony Food Coop. We made nice plump burger patties and placed then on the grill over the campfire. Imagine our surprise when the burgers started to drip through the grate. I’m not sure why that happened. Fortunately we were able to put the burgers in a cast iron pan and “fry” them over the campfire. Once again, everything was tasty, we just had to adapt as we were thrown challenges.
Another work in progress are breakfast egg rolls. I have made breakfast egg rolls at home, so we thought it would be a nice breakfast. But instead of making traditional egg rolls we decided to use egg roll wrappers in our pie irons (I call them Pudgie Pie Irons, does anyone else?). We scrambled up a mixture of eggs, onions, and veggies. Then we put an egg roll wrapper on each side of the pic maker and placed the filling on one side. We closed the pie makers and placed over the campfire. Mixed reaction—we had a difficult time getting the wrapper crispy and the egg mixture was over cooked. We might revisit this idea in the future. Still brainstorming on what to do differently.
So, experimenting is part of the adventure. Sometimes we have to adjust on the fly. Sometimes we have to admit the end result wasn’t quite as good as the concept. But, we have had many “hits”. So, we will never stop trying new ideas. Life is good—get out and enjoy the scenery.
See you next year!