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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Camp Cooking-

My present camping situation is simply staying in a parking lot for my work week, eating one camp meal per day. My job provides a meal as part of my twelve hour work day. I work the night shift and camp so I don't have to commute when sleepy. My breakfast (immediately following work) is generally a bowl of cereal.

The meals I select are generally whatever I can find for about a dollar a meal, give or take a few cents. Canned, dried, or whatever looks interesting. Some of the packaged noodle meals have proved surprisingly tasty. Some of those are microwave meals, and are not true camp fare simply due to the difficulty of finding electrical power in most camps.

Fortunately, I have access to a microwave much of the time.

Still, I try to tailor my meal selection to reflect truck camping, and spend some time thinking on just how I would feed myself on any protracted road trips. Quite a number of the packaged noodle meals have both microwave and hot water preparations. So far they have proved quite palatable.

Canned foods have proved good for camping. I can eat the contents of a can and be generally content. Last night, for example, I had a chunky Hormell chili. I added some Safeway Ritz knock-off crackers and a bit of Tapatio salsa. The Safeway crackers are not particularly interesting by themselves, but as added fodder for canned chili they serve quite well. They are half the price of Ritz, and so I dropped maybe a quarter's worth into the chili. It was surprisingly good, and satisfying. A good meal for less than a dollar fifty.

I contemplate the prospect of fresh foods prepared on the road, and find that the cost of meals goes up considerably. If I need only part of an onion I now have a storage issue to deal with. What do I do with the rest of a cut onion? I don't even know the cost of a large onion.Perhaps a bag of smaller onions would work better, where whole small onions are used. It is not easy coming up with meals for one or two people that are tasty and road able.

Eating from cans and boxes could become tedious, and less nourishing than fresh foods. Fresh foods are easily consumed close to sources, even if those sources are just stores. They don't travel as well, and spoilage and waste become issues. I suspect that meal selection and preparation would often be decided by how close a store might be.

Dried trail foods are expensive. Powdered foods purchased in bulk can be less so, but still quite costly compared to canned foods on sale. Generally, a stock of canned foods for periods away from stores and recipes for simple fresh meals for those times nearer stores appear to be the way to go.

Grilling fresh fare or cooking in a Dutch oven seem to be best. A charcoal starter chimney can serve as a small grill for one or two people. That same starter chimney could provide the coals needed for Dutch oven cooking. It is adjusting such cooking for one or two people that proves a bit of a challenge.

I seem to have a good opportunity to meet that challenge. I am camping three or four days each week. I can eat from cans or boxes, and probably will quite often. However, I can also take the opportunity to experiment with creating meals that are healthy, tasty and road able.

This could prove rather fun.

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