This week I thought I would mix it up a bit and do more of a general camping tip post rather than a specific trip review. I feel like camping without a stove is a dying art. The early American frontiersman didn’t have the luxury of pulling his wagon up to camp and busting out his Coleman Propane stove to cook his dinner. He had to rely on the land and the cast iron he brought with him. Like the early settlers, many college students don’t have the space or funds to buy a stove, and I am here to tell you that you don’t need one (well at least not right now). It is better to spend your money on a good tent, sleeping bag, and dutch oven, than on a camp stove.
Cooking without a stove gives me a strange feeling of empowerment, and 99% of the time I think it results in better tasting food. However, it’s important to remember that stoves may be necessary during certain parts of the year or in droughts when fires are not permitted or advised.
The Tale of the Breakfast Taco
It was late one Thursday night when my wife and I thought “we should go camping tomorrow“. We ran to the store and frantically searched for food for the trip. We did not yet own a camp stove and we were trying to think of what we could make for breakfast. I grabbed some Eggo waffles and found some pre-cooked “warm and serve” sausage in the freezer section. I figured I could cook the sausage on a stick like a hot dog, and then wrap the Eggo waffles in aluminum foil and throw them on some coals to heat them up. In execution the next morning, my breakfast plan worked perfectly aside from the fact that I had forgotten to pack the maple syrup for the waffles. I don’t know about you, but eating a plain waffle just sounds dry, gross, and unappealing to me. With a little quick thinking, I threw a sausage link in a waffle and dubbed it “The Breakfast Taco”. Thus it was born the world’s easiest, and very delicious, camping breakfast – no stove or clean up required.
Although the breakfast taco is good, you might be looking for something a little more gourmet for your next trip. This is where having a good dutch oven comes in handy. With a fire and a dutch oven you can cook anything. I even learned last year that the lid of a large dutch oven can be flipped over and used as a griddle, which is great for pancakes or french toast.
If you can’t tell, I love dutch ovens. I have even popped popcorn in one over an open fire, and I’ll tell you what, that was the best dang popcorn I have ever had. If you decide to try this, just remember to keep spinning the oven with your hand as you hold it over the fire to keep the kernels from burning.
If you are looking for a great dinner option, here is the recipe for dutch oven potatoes that I always make.
1 lb. bacon
6 russet potatoes, peeled
1 pint half and half
2 cups of cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Begin by chopping all of the bacon into 1-inch squares. Dice the onion and thinly slice the potatoes (a mandolin slicer works great for this, but a pocket knife will work too). Place the onions and bacon in a 12″ dutch oven and place it on the coals to cook until bacon is crispy, and the onions begin to turn translucent. At this point, add the potatoes, half and half, and seasonings. Place back on the coals with the lid on and place coals on the lid. Cook until potatoes are almost tender, stirring and rotating occasionally to ensure even cooking. Then add the cheese to the top and return the lid. Finish cooking until the potatoes are soft and the cheese is melted.