Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Camp Cookin’

Where o’ where have I been? Sadly, not keeping up with the Thrifty Kitchen!

During the last several weeks I learned many things about myself; one of which is that I cannot take care of two kids full time and adequately chronicle my cooking adventures.

I did however dream of an alternative technological future. Numerous times in the previous weeks I composed a post or recipe in my head only to be separated by distance and free time from my computer (and glasses – doh! I am going blind). What I needed was a telepathic link to my computer, a way to download my brainwaves, if you will. What do you think? Is it the future? Bluetooth turned brainwave?

But back to wondering, where have I been? We actually have been doing a bit of adventuring this summer, starting off with a couple nights camping at New Brighton State Beach in Santa Cruz. The highlights included Cole playing a seemingly endless game with our tent stakes, Lane bundled like an Eskimo, and creating a sand dude named “knock” who we gleefully knocked over shortly after he was created.

Before heading out I did some quick web searching for camp cooking suggestions. Reading a post from Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks about camp cooking led me to the Food & Wine website and a number of camp recipes, most of which we made. My favorite was a recipe for Corn Cake with Dried Cranberries. We thoroughly enjoyed two full recipes one morning for breakfast. I did make some modifications, below. It was kinda like a fuss-less pancake, and it tasted better too. Win-win for camping I would say.

Camping is a thrifty vacation option though a night’s stay costs at least $25, and reservations are insanely hard to get. I have to admit, I like to indulge a little on the food end while camping … I mean you surely aren’t indulging in many of the “typical” vacation accoutrements. This trip I packed in a cast-iron skillet, which we cooked every meal on. My inner river guide recoils at the amount of “stuff” you can bring car camping, but a good skillet is surely worth the space. Now the air mattress, I am still working on that one…

Corn Cake with Dried Cranberries ~ Modified

One cake will probably feed two people breakfast. Cole, Jon and I ate a double batch, though we are notoriously “big eaters”. This recipe has an increased amount of milk and doubles the amount of dried fruit compared to the F&W version. I also made a substitution of butter for oil which helped with the flavor ~ though of course don’t bother if it is too fussy to melt the butter on the camp stove! I also pre-packed all the dried ingredients in a ziplock bag before heading out … this way there wasn’t much measuring to do and we were only moments away from breakfast. Lets see what else ~ F&W recommends serving with butter and maple syrup. Hot with butter sans syrup was good with us. And yes, everything does taste better camping.

Servings: 2 modest appetites
Cost: ~$4
Time: 10 min prep, 12 min cooking, 22 min total

1 cup all-purpose flour
½ stone ground cornmeal
3 Tbls (packed) light brown sugar
Pinch salt
4 Tbls coarsely chopped dried cranberries (or try apricots)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
2 Tbls butter or vegetable oil
soft butter and (warm) maple syrup for serving

Whisk together dry ingredients and fruit before heading out and place into a ziplock bag. On morning of use, in a small bowl mix egg, milk and 1 tablespoon melted butter (or vegetable oil). Combine with dry ingredients, careful not to overmix.

In your favorite camp skillet, melt ½ tablespoon butter. Scrape batter into the skillet, spreading evenly. Cook over medium heat until, like a pancake, surface looks dry and bubbles have formed on the surface, about 5 minutes. Boldly flip with a spatula. Add remaining ½ tablespoon butter to pan, and cook another 5 minutes until cooked through and top springs back when pressed.

But really, is there such a thing as a “brainwave”?

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