Monday Menus: Outdoor Cooking

—by Donna Mitchell

We just finished our third and final weekend of Wood Badge, an intensive and rather intense scout leader training, where each patrol had to make a presentation on some aspect of scouting. One that particularly interested me was titled “Minimal Mess.” It was about cooking outdoors, especially in a backpacking situation where it is preferable to eliminate pots and pans. The guys from the Fox Patrol informed me that they had brought no heavy pots for the dinner and breakfast they had to cook. They were definitely camp cooking on a higher plane than my patrol. They printed several recipe cards which they shared with anyone who wanted them; I took one of each. One useful suggestion for backpacking: Take the food out of its original cardboard container and transfer it to heavy-duty baggies; be sure to cut out and save the instructions (if needed), and bring them with you!

When my Owl Patrol learned that we would be permitted one vehicle to haul our stuff to our campsite, we changed our menus to include heavy cooking pots. However, our main dish at dinner featured boiling water poured into heavy-duty ziploc bags over dried Tortellini, which we let sit inside reflective insulated “cozies” for about 10 minutes to rehydrate. Then we mixed into each individual bag a tablespoon or so of pesto from a jar. Presto! Only forks to wash from that dish, and the food stays hotter much longer than without the cozy. This method can be used for rice, pasta, and other dried foods, which are cheaper to buy in the grocery store than in a sporting goods store or the camping department of WalMart, etc. Following is a link to the instructions for making a cozy from a reflective car sun screen and adhesive Velcro. You can also get the same type of reflective material in a roll at Home Depot. http://www.modernbushman.com/2012/02/21/diy-ultralight-cozy-for-backpacking-hiking/

Another ziploc recipe, which I got from the backpacking Fox Patrol, is for Zip-loc Omelettes. Each person gets a ziploc baggie and breaks into it two eggs (or one for younger children). Add ham bits and spices, close the zipper completely and shake until mixed. Clip the tops of all baggies together with a big paper clip so they stay in the middle of the pot and don’t touch the hot edges and melt. Place into hot water; boil gently until the eggs are firm and cooked. Retrieve with tongs. Open baggie and add grated cheese. Eat right out of the baggie.

After looking at all the recipes, I realized that 15 out of 17 came from one website, which I am passing on for the enjoyment of those who are seriously interested in kid-friendly foil dinners, interesting snacks, and delicious desserts: http://www.boyscouttrail.com. Click on the appropriate age group for your family in the upper left corner (cub scouts–age 8 and 9, then Webelos–age 10, then boy scouts–11 to 18). After you are on the appropriate age group page, scroll down to the bottom of the printing to find additional information. Pick the one that says Boy Scout [or whatever] Recipes. There are lots! Or below the age groups, click on Recipes. There you can search by age group (including tiger cubs, age 7), meal, and cooking method. However, you get more recipes onscreen at the same time if you go through all the age groups. Don’t be put off by some of the gross names; you can rename them.

Happy trails to you, and may your pack be light and your cleanup a breeze!

Donna

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