Last month, I went camping at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park with three girlfriends. In addition to hiking, we ate a lot, and we ate well. I admit, I felt trepidatious when we initially planned the trip. It wasn’t my first time camping, but I’ve always been fairly passive (read: lazy) when it came to camp cooking. So, I was counting on our ability as a group to brainstorm and figure out a menu for the weekend.
Breakfast and lunch were straightforward: bagels, cream cheese and avocados for breakfast, and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches for lunch. Snacks included trail mix, fruit, hummus and pita. And of course, there was booze. To save cooler and bladder space, we brought whiskey instead of beer. What can I say? We’re rugged outdoorsy women! (That said, we did mix the Makers Mark with Vernors ginger ale to make a most excellent cocktail…)
But then, there were the dinners! What is it about cooking by a campfire that makes everything taste so fantastic? Is it the wood/smoky flavor? Is it “primal” process of cooking food over a fire? I think my friend WD had a great theory about this when he said, “I think it’s because you’re out in the middle of nowhere. You don’t think you’re going to eat anything, let alone something hot. And if it tastes good… then it’s going to be the best meal ever.”
Friday night, we made foil packets with chicken and onions. Even though it wasn’t the most visually pleasing meal, it was delicious. It was like hearty chicken soup in a foil packet, and the chicken was so moist and tender. We also made potatoes in a cast-iron pan that we borrowed from JG and AW. This pan was the best — it made everything taste wonderful. For dessert, we had s’mores, of course! This was the first time I took the time to actually melt the chocolate, and it was worth it (even if I did end up with chocolate all over my face and fingers…what can I say? I’m a slob). We implemented a key deviation from the traditional s’more recipe: we used Trader Joe’s dark chocolate instead of Hershey’s milk chocolate and it was a million times better.
Saturday night, we went with the sausage/hot dog theme and fancied it up with some peppers and onions off the cast iron skillet. We also threw the corn into the fire. The peppers and onions were so good that we all kept sneaking extras from the pan until it was all gone. We all had such a great time; I hope we go again soon!