01 May

Dutch Oven Breakfast Frittata, Courtesy of the Valley Forge Black Pots

Dutch Oven Breakfast Frittata

We had the very tasty privilege of hanging out with the Valley Forge Black Pots at the Hamburg Cabela’s store during last week’s Camping Classic event. We tasted way more than our fair share of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert samples.

These folks are not only great Dutch Oven cooks, they are also super generous about sharing recipes with wannabes like us. I’m going to share a couple of the recipes here on our blog, but you can also head over and follow their Facebook page for lots more inspiration.

The very first sample we tasted was the Dutch Oven Breakfast Frittata, and it is always awesome to see veggies show up in a style of cooking that often skews toward meat stews and desserts. I’m going to try a frittata the next time we are at the campground and cross my fingers it turns out this yummy.

Seasonal Breakfast Frittata


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16 Mar

RVFTA #133 2017 Spring Gear Guide, Part One: Kate’s Camp Kitchen

Download the Complete Product Guide that accompanies this episode! 

On this episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are bringing you the first part of our popular and much anticipated Spring Gear Guide!!! We always like to mix it up a bit with our gear guides, and this time we reached out to Kate Dunbar of KatesCuriousKitchen.com and begged her to develop a complete guide for building and stocking a camp kitchen.

Boy, did she come through on that request.

Kate dug deep into her trailers (Airstream and Vintage Shasta, folks), hauled out the bins, and catalogued all the products that she uses to make the magic happen at the campground.

Kate basically runs her camp kitchen like a catering service and provides restaurant-quality meals for her crew. So you might not need as many grills, cooktops, and ovens as she does, but you can be guaranteed that the products Kate recommends have been put through their paces and thoroughly tested.

And we wanted to make sure you could easily reference the dozens of items Kate recommends on this episode, so we put together a complete guide with links to every single product mentioned. Download the PDF and start building your own dream camp kitchen today!

Listen to the episode to hear Kate discuss:

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20 Nov

Thanksgiving at the Campground: Corn Casserole, InstaPot Mashed Potatoes, and Apple Slaw


In this series of blog posts, I am sharing my family recipes for enjoying Thanksgiving dinner at the campground. There are so many ways to bring festive holiday cheer on the road, and this year I am focusing on dishes that offer those classic Thanksgiving flavors, but can be made mostly in advance and with minimal fuss.

You can also check out my posts on Turkey and Stuffing Sandwiches and Pumpkin Bread Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.


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11 Aug

RVFTA #101 Sauces and Marinades with Evanne Schmarder


***first ever bloopers audio at the end of this episode, folks…Jeremy finally got some bad tape in***

On this week’s episode of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are talking to Evanne Schmarder, creator and cohost of the RV Cooking Show. Last time we chatted, Evanne taught us the basics of great campground grilling. Now she’s back to teach us the fancy stuff: sauces and marinades.

Evanne also schools us in stocking our RV pantries and whipping up flavorful dishes that will wow your family and friends. She was kind enough to pass along her own personal pantry checklist. You can download your own copy here. 


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03 Jun

RVFTA #91 Dutch Oven 101 with Mark Hansen

Dutch Oven Cooking 101with Mark Hansen

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10 Apr

Celebrating a Birthday at the Campground With Friends…and Bad Weather?


We used to scoff at camping close to home and would never have celebrated a birthday or holiday at the campground.  But things have changed.  Last year we realized that we could camp close to home and still get the kids to their baseball games (read about it here).  This year we realized that we could camp close to home and have a slam dunk birthday party with family and friends. When the campground calls us, we must go! Even when other responsibilities are calling our names.

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17 Nov

The Foods of Fall Camping: Dutch Oven Treats and a Classic Casserole

This week our article 3 Classic Campfire Cooking Recipes went live on the Progressive site, and it was perfectly timed for the month of November, when we all want to gather around a table with family and friends enjoying comforting and traditional dishes.

The blog post for Progressive included three of our favorite (and easy!) Dutch oven recipes, so head on over there for the recipes.

We included…

The yummy Breakfast Egg Scramble

The classic Dutch Oven Pizza

And the perennial favorite, Monkey Bread.

Now for another favorite camping dish for our family that isn’t prepared over a fire: All Occasion Chicken, as it used to be called in my house growing up. This casserole is about as old fashioned as it gets, but it is perfect for preparing in advance of a trip for an easy meal when you arrive at the campground.


Another thing it is perfect for? Using up some of that leftover turkey after Thanksgiving. Swapping out the chicken for turkey is perfectly acceptable this time of year.


  • 4 chicken breasts (I substitute boneless chicken thighs) poached in water and chopped.
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 can of cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped small
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped small
  • 1 cup frozen corn


  1. Mix all of the above ingredients and spread into a 9×13 pyrex dish.
  2. Then mix an 8 oz. bag of Pepperidge Farm Herb Stuffing Mix with 3/4 cup melted butter. Spread over the top of the chicken.
  3. Back at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes until hot and bubbly.

I serve this over plain rice and accompanied by a salad. This time of year, I love to make an Apple Carrot Cranberry Slaw on the side. Chop up a bunch of apples, use a bag of julienned carrots, and toss in a couple of handfuls of dried cranberries. Whisk together oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar to taste.


Enjoy at a picnic table, preferably surrounded by loved ones and some beautiful scenery.


12 Jun

RV Breakfast: Smoothie Stock Up List

smoothies at the campground

Sometime during our second year of RVing, we realized that we had been sucked into the vortex of unhealthy breakfast habits. Too many pancakes, too many bagels.

This was truly a puzzle because at home we ate very healthy breakfasts on a daily basis. Yogurt, oatmeal, and eggs were in regular rotation and popular with both kids and adults.

We knew we had to take back breakfast. One of the benefits of having an RV is that it is your home on wheels and you can bring your healthy habits with you on the road. No excuses. We could do quick, easy, AND healthy while we traveled.

I’ve shared some of our favorite healthy RV breakfasts before. But my favorite favorite? My favoritest of the favorites?

The smoothie.

The number one reason the smoothie is such a great option for families with young children is that you can jam it full of fruits, veggies, calcium, and protein and know your kids got a blast of nutrition early in the day.

Then you get to chill out a little on the food front.

So I decided to share my smoothie shopping list with our readers. I generally don’t follow recipes, but instead I stock a bunch of basics that can be combined in different ways to keep things tasty and interesting. I always follow the same basic formula: base liquid, fruits and veggies, something tart to balance the sweet, and a healthy protein or fat.

Smoothie Stock Up List:

The Base:

  • Quarts of Yogurt (plain or vanilla)
  • Almond Milk
  • Coconut water

Fruits and Veggies:

  • bananas
  • apples
  • cucumbers
  • spinach
  • frozen mixed berries (strawberries, cherries, blueberries, raspberries)
  • frozen pineapple/ mango

A bit of tartness:

  • 100% cranberry juice
  • lemons
  • limes
  • oranges

Protein/Healthy Fats:

  • Almond butter
  • Peanut butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Avocados

It might sound like a lot, but the list is easily tailored to the length of your RV trip and your own personal taste. It also includes items stored in the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer so you should definitely have room for everything.

Here’s your Smoothie Stock-Up Cheat Sheet for Pinning:

Smoothie Stock Up List


07 May

Unboxing the Toas-Tite Sandwich Grill

toas-tite product review

If you listened to our Spring Gear Guide Podcast, you know that Jeremy’s pick for best in show was the Toas-Tite. As soon as we started experimenting with this campfire cooking toy, we just couldn’t stop ourselves.


I’m going to admit it…we even had Toas-Tite tuna melts last night for dinner. And then there was the night we had Reubens. Oh, and the breakfast burritos…

breakfast burritos toas-tite

Trust us, this little cast aluminum treasure can be addicting.

Check out our most recent YouTube Unboxing of the Toas-Tite for all the details about this great item for the RV:

And make sure to check out our other Unboxing videos on our YouTube Channel! You might find some additional items to add to your RV shopping list.

24 Apr

RVFTA #32: Camp Food Rules!

Camp Food rules

On Episode #32 of RV Family Travel Atlas, we are dishing on how we manage to feed our crew while traveling over 40 days a year in our RV. Listen to hear our 5 rules for Camp Food!

We love to eat, but planning, preparing, and cooking while on the road with the little guys can be a challenge. We talked about this topic during our presentations for GS Media, and it always started tons of conversations. So on this episode, you’ll discover the camp food rules that we have come up with over the last five years to keep bellies full and bodies healthy.

A sneak peak at the rules…

Eat outside whenever possible.

Eat Outside

Make pancakes breakfast a special occasion, not a regular event.Pancake breakfast

Go ahead…reward the kids for being great travelers.camp store ice cream

We also have a great interview with one of the founders of the Toas-Tite, a product we included in our Spring Gear Guide episode last week. Jan tells us all about the history behind this camp cooking gem, and shares some of her favorite Toas-Tite Recipes.


Fair warning, you WILL have the munchies after this segment.

And for our recommendation of the week, we are talking about a TV show that keeps Jeremy up late at night, Rollin’ on TV. If you need your fix of RV news and info in between listening to our podcast each week, this is the place to go.

One of the co-hosts of Rollin’ On TV, Evanne Schmarder, is also the awesome camp chef from RV Cooking show who always has great tips for making fresh, delicious dishes in an RV kitchen.

All of this, and so much more on Episode #32 of RV Family Travel Atlas, Camp Food Rules!
[contesthopper contest=”4864″]

17 Jul

Campground Shrimp Boil: An Easy Summer Dinner for a Crowd

While planning our trip to Cape Cod, I was lucky to connect with a dear friend from childhood. When Simone found out where we would be staying in Eastham, she booked a nearby campsite with her family, and they drove out from the Boston area to meet us.

I had invited them over to have dinner at our campsite one night, and I realized I needed to pick a meal that was easy to make so I could spend as much time with Simone and her family as possible. I also needed to pick something that could feed a crowd since I would be cooking for 13 people.

Immediately I knew I would do a Shrimp Boil, my go-to meal for easy entertaining in the summer. I make this dish often at home, and the recipe I used in Cape Cod is by no means original. There are many different versions, but my favorite is this one from the Food Network.

Why does this make a great camping dinner?

  •    Everything is cooked in one pot. (I use my outdoor kitchen stovetop)
  •    The ingredients are simple. (No long list of items that you don’t keep in your RV)
  •    The food is best eaten with one’s hands. (Fewer dishes equals more happy)

What will you need in the kitchen? (For those of us who don’t keep much in our campers)

  • A large stock pot
  • A good knife and cutting board
  • Slotted Spoon and Ladle
  • Colander
  • Large serving platter (if you don’t normally keep one in your RV, one of those large disposable foil trays will do just fine.)

How do you make a Shrimp Boil?

I eyeball everything in this recipe (no measuring) and it always comes out great. I also increase or decrease the amount of shrimp, potatoes, and corn depending on how many are eating.

1. Fill your large stock pot with 4 quarts of water. Cut two lemons in half, squeeze in the juice, then throw the lemons in the water with 1/2 cup of Old Bay, 8 crushed garlic cloves, one quartered red onion, and a bunch of sprigs of thyme. Bring it to a boil and let it cook for 5 minutes.


2. Throw in a pound of baby potatoes and cook for 10 minutes.


3. Throw in your corn on the cob, shucked and broken in half, and cook for 5 minutes.


4. Throw in your pound of shrimp (I also use much more!), and cook for 2 minutes.


5. Put a few tablespoons of butter in the bottom of your serving dish and place a few ladles of your cooking stock over it. Mix it together so the butter melts.

6. Drain everything from your stock pot in your colander and place the corn, potatoes, and shrimp in your serving dish. Mix with the butter sauce.

7. Dive in!



I usually serve this meal with grilled clams and watermelon, extra melted butter, hot sauce and slices of lemon.


If you have some none seafood eaters, you could easily throw a steak or chicken on the grill alongside the clams to make everybody happy.

Let us know if you try it!

Happy camping. Happy Eating.



22 Apr

7 Rules for Feeding Your Kids on the Road and at the Campground

Let me start by saying that there has been a whole lot of trial and error in the road food department over the last 5 years. We took our first 12-hour road trip when the twins were 3 months old. Since then we have spent well over 100 nights in our RV.


So although we have had some epic food prep fails, I do feel like we have a working set of rules in place. If we follow the system, everyone tends to stay happy and healthy. Veer off the path too far, and we tend to have sugar highs and crashing melt down lows. Or worse yet, our vacation can become a series of power-struggle eating standoffs with the tiny totalitarians.


In order to avoid such a state of affairs, here are my current food commandments:

1. Do eat on the road similar to how you eat at home. Familiar foods will make traveling easier for your kids. I meal plan for the entire trip no matter how long it is, and then my grocery shopping trip looks a lot like an average weekly haul. Our breakfasts include yogurt, oatmeal, and cereal with fruit. Lunches are hummus with veggies, good ole’ PBJ, and tuna sandwiches. For dinners I think in terms of quick working night meals, easy grilling kabobs, or my favorite crock pot recipes. I don’t want to be worried about getting back to make dinner while I am on vacation. Rolling into the campground after a long, fun day of activity calls for low-key and easy meals.

photo 2


2. Do feed your kids lots of fruits and veggies. If you are not careful while traveling, you can get to the end of the day and realize you didn’t put anything green into your body. A change of routine can be hard enough on some kids. When you change their diet dramatically as well, you can get those highs and lows that parents dread. One of the best ways to make sure that kids are eating well on the road is to pick whatever local produce is in season, or just visit the local farm stands. Our boys adore visiting a farm and stuffing as many blueberries/strawberries/raspberries/apples as they possibly can into their mouths. And there you have it folks– activity and nutrition in one fell swoop!

101 P1030504

Vermon+Maine July 2011 069

3. Do make compromises for convenience. I am one of those shoppers that HATES paying more for individually wrapped items. I think, why buy a cooked rotisserie when I make it myself for half the cost? I have learned that loosening up on this can actually help my family eat better while traveling. If I buy those salad kits with everything already chopped and diced, then I am more likely to get that salad on the table at night (this was a recent aha moment). If I get small cups of applesauce or packages of baby carrots, then our picnic lunches are easy and healthy. I earn my carbon credits at home using lunch boxes and tupperware. Then I spend them all on small baggies of Pirate Booty for the road.


4. Do reward your kids for being troopers in the world of family travel. Kids are creatures of habit and it can be a challenge to experience new and different things every day of a vacation. I promise you that you will never find a cheaper way to reward your kids than with camp store ice cream. When Max and Theo climb to that summit with us, they know what is waiting for them back at the campground. It keeps them motivated and excited, so that is worth it to us. They know that this is something special that only happens when we travel, and boy do they look forward to it.


5. Do experience the local food culture. We generally plan on eating out for dinner one night during our stay at any given place. Oftentimes, though, we end up eating out a few lunches instead. We try to make these meals really count, hoping that they highlight the best that the region has to offer. Another trick is to shop at local farm markets and festivals and bring the treats back to the campground. I have enjoyed artisan cheeses and homemade fudge around the camp fire at night. To be honest, they probably tasted a whole lot better since the kids were in bed.



6. Do eat outside whenever possible. This should be a no brainer, but I feel compelled to list it. If a place has picnic tables, it is for you, oh parent. If you want to really enjoy your food, then your kids need a little room to breathe [i.e. act like wild animals].



7. Do NOT make breakfast into a Thanksgiving dinner event. I had to include one negative, and this is worth it. I’m not sure why camping is associated with large breakfasts that take tons of time to prepare and even more time to clean up. We fell into the eggs, bacon, and pancake trap back in the early years, too. Then we realized half our day was gone, our bellies felt like lead balloons, and we were supposed to go for a hike. We will usually do the big breakfast deal one morning on each trip, but for all the other times, oatmeal, fruit, and nuts gets us out of the RV and exploring our surroundings without all the hoopla. And that’s why we do what we do in the first place.

photo copy

Happy camping. Happy chowing.

26 Sep

Campfire Cuisine Giveaway (You can use this in the regular kitchen,too)

A few weeks ago Stephanie reviewed a cookbook that she really loved called Campfire Cuisine published by the adventurous Quirk Books.  She found the recipes to be excellent both for camping and for home.  Here is a quote from her review:

Campfire Cuisine doesn’t just appeal to me as a ‘camper’, it also serves as a great resource for weekday meal planning. Even if you are not now (or ever!) heading out in the RV, you could use the make ahead tips for the nights you have to get dinner on the table fast.

I reached out to Quirk Books last night and asked them if they would “cough up” a free copy of Campfire Cuisine for our dear readers.  Their response?
 Sure! How’s about… five copies? :-).”
So here’s how we’re rolling this time.  Like us on Facebook to enter the drawing.  If you have already liked us (Thank you so much!) then simply like the post about the giveaway.
We will assemble our crack security team again next Wednesday night immediately before story time to pick not one, but FIVE winners of a complimentary copy of Campfire Cuisine.  Many thanks to Quirk Books.
Good Luck and God Speed.
11 Sep

Campfire Cuisine, by Robin Donovan (this is for you kitchen dwellers, too)

Honestly, I rolled my eyes when my husband handed me this book.

Four years ago, when we first started camping with the boys, I did a little research on ‘camping’ recipes. It wasn’t like I was planning on cooking over the campfire or anything…two babies on a campsite kept us busy enough without having to worry about open flames and charred meat. I was just looking for some tips for planning simple meals that traveled well.

I quickly found out that if you search for camping recipes you basically find recipes for stews or a combination of ingredients to throw in a foil packet. Neither of these categories sucked me in, so over the past three years I have developed my own way of meal planning for the road: I throw meat into marinades before we leave and then later grill it with lots of vegetables and fruit, I put everything over a salad, and I throw in a couple of crockpot favorites like pulled pork and white chili. In short, tasty yet uninspiring. I mean, I’m not impressing anyone here. I’m just serving solid, fresh, tasty food. Good, not brilliant.

Well, Campfire Cuisine inspired me to kick it up a notch this past summer. When I was skimming the recipes, I found myself wanting to try things for our everyday table, not just on the road. There is Indian-Styled Yogurt Chicken and Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese and Basil. There is a Jambalaya in lieu of the boring old stew, and Barbecued Peking Duck Wraps to replace your campfire fajitas. The book manages to offer up its ‘gourmet recipes’ without being obnoxious or ridiculous. You can actually skim these recipes and think, sure…we can do that.

For many of the recipes the author offers make ahead tips and prepping advice. The more I used the book, the more it reminded me of those 30-minute meal books, only with really great ingredients and imaginative recipes for people who like to eat well while camping.

My favorite things so far are the “Make-Ahead Mulitpurpose Baking Mix” which serves up thick, hardy pancakes or flavorful biscuits, and the various spice rubs which can be made ahead in plastic baggies and thrown on whatever cuts of meat you might happen upon on the road.

Campfire Cuisine doesn’t just appeal to me as a ‘camper’, it also serves as a great resource for weekday meal planning. Even if you are not now (or ever!) heading out in the RV, you could use the make ahead tips for the nights you have to get dinner on the table fast.

I’m certainly not one to want to be gazing at a recipe when I’m at a campsite with my family. But this book definitely tempts me to try new things even with three kids under four.

And that’s saying something.

25 Apr

The Saddest Weenie Roast Ever: Rolla Roasters Backyard Debut

I am so anxious to get back out there under the stars again.  My family’s season opening trip to Western North Carolina did nothing to soothe the camping beast inside of me–instead, it only made me hungry for more. Unfortunately our next trip to Westchester PA is still three weeks away.

So when my set of Rolla Roaster camping forks arrived from L..L Bean on the front porch it felt like my destiny was unfolding before me like a whole wheat hot dog bun. I rummaged through the refrigerator and found a pack of organic weenies and headed into the backyard to roast one up.  There was only one small problem with my spontaneous weenie roast. I was completely alone–no friends or family in sight.  There was no one to share the sizzle with!

My wife had left for book club and the campers were snoozing away in their cribs. Something didn’t feel right. I faintly remembered reading a maxim from the Trailer Life Directory that commanded, “though shalt not have a weenie roast alone,” but I opened up my package of camping forks and soldiered on anyway. My evening was guaranteed to be emotionally unsatisfying but I wanted to test the product out and get a short review posted for our readers.

So here it is: The Rolla Roasters worked great. They have a telescoping fork that extends out over three feet and they have a knob that allows you to rotate your wiener or marshmallow over the fire. Pure genius! I only stuck one weiner on the end of the fork and I think that sticking two there would definitely cause it to bend. But you could easily fit two marshmellows on each prong.

L.L. Bean sells themhereand Rolla Roaster sells them directly from their sitehere. The world’s most glamourous and powerful people are using these camping forks–for proof please click here!  If you want to impress your fellow campers and be the talk of the campground then they are a must have.

These solidly built camping forks are sold in packs of two for a good price, and they are sold in packs of two for a good reason…. I wholeheartedly recommend them for your next family campfire.

12 Aug

Where I Part Ways with the New York Times…

NYT Camp Cooking
Stephanie’s Camp Cooking

This article on camp cooking was published in the Times just days before we left for our Maine trip:
On the Road Again, and Cooking, Too.
I will admit that the smaller part of me was either chuckling or rolling my eyes the entire time I read it.

This article is definitely not for those who have little tykes running around while they are preparing camp food. And that’s okay. Not all articles have to be. But kids or no kids, you cannot call a recipe simple if the first step is shelling fava beans, boiling water, blanching fava beans, putting them in a cold water bath, then taking the skin off the peeled, blanched, and cooled fava beans.

I am not kidding you. This is all in the first step.

What really got my eyes turning somersaults in their sockets was the pictures:

Is that a folding bar stool, or did they strap it to the roof using bungie cords on the way to the campground?

So enough of my jealous sniping at people who prepare figs on camping trips. Here is a little contrast for you. I was really, really proud of my new camp-cooking technique on our last trip and it didn’t involve blanching of any sort. In fact it didn’t involve much because I figured out that I could put everything into a crock-pot in the morning and dinner (Viola!) would be magically ready when we got home later that day.

I did beef stew with potatoes and a big loaf of sourdough bread one night and pulled pork sandwiches with homemade coleslaw on another night. Next week when we camp, I think I will do a white chili with tortilla chips and corn on the cob. Think of things that you do not need a recipe for and make those your camping crock-pot go-tos.

So would it be kind of nice to be chopping chives and drizzling honey over an open fire, a glass of wine in one hand and a wooden stirring spoon in the other, discussing a New York Times editorial using complete sentences and not stopping once to say, “You may not wrap the pool noodle around your brother’s neck?”

Yes, that would be nice.

But instead of nice, I have heaven and this is what it looks like:

See those adults in the background eating beef stew while the kids play in the dirt? They are not worrying about tonight’s cleanup or tomorrow’s meals. Because they have the crock-pot. Score.

08 Jun

A New Camp Chow Staple: Pasta Salad that Actually Tastes Good!

    In my effort to expand my arsenal of good meals that require no time in front of the camp stove, I decided to try a pasta salad this last weekend. I figured this would make a great Friday night dinner, and also a good side for our packed lunch the next day.    The only problem? I have no pasta salad recipe of which I am particularly fond and most pasta salads I have had in the past taste like rubber covered with Italian dressing.I came up with this recipe using just what I had in the refrigerator and pantry and my new obsession with roasting vegetables . I made it in about 30 minutes on Thursday night and it was the gift that kept on giving all weekend. I’ll creatively call it…

Tortellini (or whatever pasta you have in the pantry) with Roasted Vegetables and Pesto

Cook two pounds of pasta–I used a pound of tortellini and a pound of penne
Thinly slice one red onion and two red peppers
Cut a bunch of asparagus into one-inch pieces

Toss the vegetables with salt, pepper, and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and roast for about 15 minutes in a 430 degree oven. Give it a good stir after 8 minutes.

Combine the vegetables with the pasta and then toss with some olive oil (to moisten) and a couple of tablespoons of bottled pesto (I had Trader Joe’s pesto in my fridge). If you are awesome and want to make you own, so much the better…
If I had lemons, I would have juiced one, but instead I used a little apple cider vinegar.
I also cubed up some mozzarella because we had four kids eating and if you include cheese in something they are more likely to eat it.

Last addition? I had a pound of frozen shrimp that I put in the cooler thinking they would defrost by dinner and be a nice, classy addition. Well, they were still frozen solid a few hours later, so there went my piece of flare. Nonetheless, I used the shrimp for a yummy shrimp salad on Sunday.

Seriously, the next time I use the camp stove for anything other than coffee, I promise to let you know.

01 Jun

What about the Chow? (or Stephanie’s camp stove confessions)

I know many people think you can’t have an authentic camping experience without doing things like slow roasting potatoes in the fire. I beg to differ.
But before I go any further, I must first state some facts in my own defense. 1. I love food. Good, wholesome, preferably fresh and local food.
2. I prepare meals for my family at least five nights a week. Good, wholesome, fresh meals.
3. My two year old boys eat, with great relish, foods like fish, garbanzo beans, and kale.Now onto some other facts.4. I go on camping trips with my family in order to have a fun, relaxing experience.
5. Camp cooking is actually quite a difficult thing to do well. The cleanup can be rather extensive also.
6. I am not a masochist.

Numbers 4-6 generally inform the system of meals that we have developed over the last year for our trips. I assuage any feelings of guilt by referring to numbers 1-3. I highly recommend this system for other areas of your life as well…

Here are the basic things that I do food-wise to make sure that we have a good time and good eats with minimal preparation and cleanup.

First of all, while we occasionally indulge in the desire for the large eggs, bacon, toast, and pancake breakfast, most of the time we keep it pot and pan free. I bring oatmeal, yogurt, and berries. The boys have developed a fondness for granola, and while I don’t let them have it at home, I have been pulling it out as a special camp-weekend treat.

For a morning snack on the road, I pack cheese sticks and bananas in a cooler along with our lunch of peanut butter and jelly, grapes, and pretzels or chips. It probably takes us about 10 minutes to make a packed lunch and this saves us from having to spend 30 dollars on overdone chicken fingers and soggy french fries from whatever snack bar we happen to stumble across. An additional benefit–anyone with children under ten knows a picnic in an open field is far more enjoyable than any meal involving highchairs and cutlery. Carrots, hummus, and various Trader Joe’s packaged goods are great for later in the afternoon.

So what of dinner?This is where we really become camping apostates. If we are only going away for the weekend, we almost always eat out on Saturday night. In fact, we had pizza delivered to our campsite in West Chester a few weeks ago. And it wasn’t bad for PA pizza. If it is a longer trip, I will make things like Chicken Caesar Salad. Or grill just about anything. Then add salad. Cleanup? Wash cutting Board and knife. Brush down grill.

For a longer trip, I also like to bring along one prepared meal like chili, beef stew, or pulled pork. My rule for these dishes? Must be prepared in crock pot during prior work week with minimal fuss. Do you see the theme here?

Here is a recipe (if it can be called that) for the easiest thing in the world to bring camping for your Saturday night dinner…

Pulled Pork
1. Put a few pounds of pork in the crock pot (butt, shoulder, loin, whatever you got).
2. Thinly slice 5 onions and add to the crock pot.
3. Throw in a couple mashed garlic cloves.
4. Pour a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce over the pork and onions. I like my pulled pork more vinegary, but if you are more of a tomato person, you can add some paste to get that flavor.
5. Cook on low for 8 hours. Then let it cool and store in airtight tupperware.
I like to serve it with my own cabbage slaw. But you should probably just buy a quart of coleslaw and be done with it. Because seriously, you are on vacation. Dig in.