Friday, August 6, 2010

Open Fire Cooking

The end of the summer brought new culinary adventures for us. We spent our family vacation camping on Cumberland Island, the largest and southernmost barrier island off the coast of Georgia. No matter where I am, I believe in eating well. The last time I was camping, I was single and very young. The food was not high on my list of priorities. Still, I had the where-with-all to know to bring Crystal Light for the nasty taste of the water, and the addition of a summer sausage and some cheese provided a delicious source of snacking that all the other backpackers envied. Years later, with my husband by my side, I decided to introduce the children to the great outdoors.

We had a remarkable time camping with the kids. Cumberland Island is teeming with wildlife and its' sub-tropical climate is one of the unique and diverse aspects of Georgia that I am most fascinated with. With Baxter working every day up until the day of departure, it fell on me to plan and pack for all four of us. One of the biggest concerns was decidedly food - especially since there is nowhere on the island to buy anything. What you take is what you have until you hop on the ferry back to St. Mary's. With this in mind, and with a lot of concern planning for four, I made a list 4 pages long and shopped for 7 hours straight. In the end, all was well.

Here is what worked (and what didn't)

Breakfast #1 -

Egg scramble with hashbrown potatoes, peppers, onions and ham. I purchased a bag of frozen fixings by Jimmy Dean. It comes with everything but the eggs. Thankfully, eggs come in milk-like 1-qt cartons. I froze one of these to pack and followed the directions on the Jimmy Dean label. It was a delicious breakfast along with a half bagel and fresh fruit.

Breakfast #2 - Cold rice pudding. While we all love rice pudding, either hot or cold, apparently it should never be frozen. It was chewy and alien - not at all as rice pudding should taste. Don't try this one.

Lunch #1 &#2 - I made a large baguette sandwich with butter, ham and cheddar cheese and cut it into 8 pieces. This, along with a vinaigrette pasta salad and fruit, fed us two lunches.

Dinner #1 -
"Hobo" Chicken Packs were a big hit with everyone. The smell of the chicken breasts, veggies and garlic roasting on the coals was absolutely heavenly. I also found a great product made by Uncle Ben's that is basically cooked rice in a microwave pouch. Of course we didn't have a microwave; but you can also just heat it up in the pan which is what we did. I selected a roasted garlic flavor that included quinoa. Delicious!

Dinner #2 - The good old fashioned weenie roast was the best meal of the trip. Nothing tastes as good as a hot dog roasted over an open fire. It's very tribal and the kids loved it. For dessert? You guessed it - roasted marshmallows!

When you're burning a lot of calories, drinks and snacks are also very important. Bring along something to make your tepid water taste better. Everyone will drink more fluids if it tastes good. We also brought along wine in a box for dinner and afterwards. It wasn't messy and easier to travel with than beer or anything else. For snacks, we brought cheese, crackers and summer sausage. Make sure you bring a pocket knife to cut it with for the full-on Boy Scout effect.

This post sat in my queue for almost a month! Glad I caught it. After reading through it again, I realize how much fun we had! We may have to go camping again this fall!