Sunday, September 29, 2013

Camp Cooking in the Wild: The Black Feather Guide to Eating Well in the Great Outdoors

It's right in the middle of summer, and it's camping time. At least for us, and while we don't rough it much outdoors (like driving miles and miles to hike out in the middle of nowhere) we enjoy setting up our tent in the many campgrounds around us. No matter where we camp, menu planning is somewhat a challenge at times: finding the right balance between great tasting meals and ingredients that can be packed and stored without much effort. Camp Cooking in the Wild (Mark Scriver, Wendy Grater and Joanna Baker) has great cooking tips as well as provides excellent menu ideas. It is based on the teachings and outings from the Black Feather Wilderness Adventure Company based in Canada.

Cooking Methods, Equipment, and Food Safety

Obviously, when you are away from home knowing how to cook and handle food in a safe manner is an important element to camp cooking. Camp Cooking in the Wild takes the guesswork out of different cooking methods (cooking sources - firebox, stove, or grill over fire, tinfoil cooking; ovens - Dutch oven, Outback oven, reflector oven, pot oven) as well as food safety (water treatment, preparing fish, cleaning up, storing food). If you've never worked with a Dutch oven before, there is a great step-by-step pictorial on cooking with one.

Menu Planning and Recipes

This was my favorite part as I had an issue with menu planning for five. I found solid answers to questions I previously had - mainly about timing and doing many things at once. The mixed use of dried and fresh items made a multi-day camping event tasty, and the tips for organizing and waterproofing food was really helpful. For longer trips that require hike in/hike out, this stuff is essential.

Most recipes were easy and made good use of staple ingredients. Each recipe has an Effort Level (I is the easiest; IV the hardest), tips for prep or garnish, list of ingredients and the method for cooking it. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and snacks are all covered. Many charts are sprinkled throughout the book: Grains and Legumes Cooking; Food Perishables; Food Quantities; Sample Menus and Staples List. Recipes ranged from gourmet (Rockin' Moroccan Stew) to ultra-comfort (Spicy Egg Burritos). For some reason Carolyn's Ice Field Ice Cream was the most intriguing - the kids and I have done this for a science experiment but I never considered taking this camping. What a treat to serve that with Fred's Spirit Cake after a long day of fishing, hiking, and playing. There is a recipe for Sushi and you'll find a great recipe for Yeast Bread if you are wanting to challenge yourself with something other than mixes or baking powder breads.

I've read other camp cooking books but this one provided so much more than just what to pack and how to cook it. The many tutorials and tips alone make this a valuable resource for the next hike (and drive) out to the campsite. Recommended for anyone even remotely interested in camp menu planning and ways to keep camp cooking safe.

Book Information:

Disclosure: This galley was provided by the publisher and any opinions are my own.

Renee Shelton
The Cookbook Papers


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