When it comes to camp cooking, you've got a couple of different options. Some people like to wait for a good bed of coals and cook over the fire. For others, fast-cooking propane or butane stoves are the method of choice. Either way, you'll want to practice good fire safety - always cook outdoors in a well-ventilated area, and keep your flame away from dry things that might accidentally go up in smoke.
If you're using a gas canister, you may want to test its connections for leaks before use. Simply cover the connectors with a thin layer of liquid soap and see if any bubbles appear - if none do, you're in the clear. If you're cooking with fire, be sure to keep the flames well-contained, either with a fire ring, a pit, or a grill of some kind.
Regardless of the route you choose to go to make your flame, keep these helpful hints in mind for quick, efficient camp cooking:
- Brush your grill grate with oil before cooking to help stop food from sticking.
- Use fireproof cooking equipment, and keep the handles away from heat and flame.
- Coffee pots with glass percolators are great for stoves or fires.
- If you're cooking with a campfire, be sure to wait for a good bed of coals to build up, which normally takes about an hour. The coals will provide steadier, more even heat, meaning your food will cook more evenly and taste better!
- Instant "just-add-water" foods are great for quick, easy meals!
- Aluminum foil is a camp cooker's best friend! Stuff a packet with vegetables, hamburger, butter, salt and pepper, and a few ice cubes, and set it to cook in a bed of coals for ten to twenty minutes. The ice cubes help to keep things from burning if the coals are too hot.
- When it comes to covering a pot full of veggies, consider where they came from. Vegetables that grow above ground cook better with the lid off, and those that grow below ground cook better with the lid on. In general, though, it's a good idea to cover your pots when cooking Ã‚Â– it's more energy-efficient, so the food will cook faster, and it helps to keep insects and dirt out of your food.
- To more quickly cook your burgers, put a finger-sized hole in the middle of your patty. This hole will close up during cooking.
- Use tube margarine instead of stick or tub butter. It's easier and cleaner to work with in a campsite.
- If a dish is too salty, add some peeled potato - the potato will absorb the excess salt.
As with normal cooking, most people's least favorite part of camp cooking is the cleanup. With no ready supply of hot water and no sink, it can be a real chore. Use these tips to make the process as painless and simple as possible:
- Using a sponge with a scratchy scrubber on one side will save you lots of time.
- Put liquid soap on the outside of your pots and pans before you cook over a fire. This makes for easier cleanup and saves the pots from fire damage.
- Place a pot or pan of water on the fire or heat source while you're eating to prep some hot water for cleanup.
- To help loosen burnt food from the bottom of a pan, drip two drops of liquid soap into the pan, along with enough water to cover the bottom. Then, boil over the fire.
- If your cooler is a little too "aromatic", wash it out with a mixture of warm water and baking soda to remove the odors.
Hopefully, these tips and tricks will allow you and your friends and family to eat well when you're in the great outdoors. With some simple preparation, a little planning, and a few good ideas, camp cooking can be just as easy and delicious as cooking at home.