Jon and I camp a lot. Obviously, but I mean a lot. In preparing for even a weekend camping trip, food is a major point of planning. The words “camping food” can conjure up images of hot dogs and burgers on the grill, and simple one-pot meals or cold sandwiches. Not always so in our world. Jon and I have made some pretty incredible dinners, especially given that until last week, we were cooking on a two burner Coleman camp stove, and a homemade table that extended out from under our bed. While many of them are unfortunately lost to our bellies and time, there are a few we captured on film, or have incorporated into our regular rotation.
The first meal I thought worth mentioning was the bulgur tacos we made while camping in the La Sal mountain range above Moab, Utah this past fall. They have since become a favorite, since they’re easy to cook and spice and the leftovers, assuming there are any, are good as a lunch wrap for the next day’s hike. We start by cooking up some bulgur, which is a really versatile grain for those of you unfamiliar with it. We simply boiled it with a smattering of spices thrown in about midway through, using a 2:1 ratio of water to grain for about 10-15 minutes. A bit more seasoning added in to taste once the grain was fully cooked finishes it off – my usual go-tos are cumin, paprika, ground chipotle pepper, and salt.
On the side we sautéed up some onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno, and added this into the bulgur mix with a half a can of black beans. Once complete, it is served as the “meat” filling in corn taco shells with avocado, lettuce, and in this particular instance, homemade salsa Jon and I made from the fruits of his labor of love – the garden he and friends put together in Moab this past summer. With a few blue corn tortilla chips for some “crunch in the munch” as Jon likes to put it, it was a meal that really hit the spot.
Bulgur has since become a favorite of mine for oatmeal, instead of the usual quick cook oats, for those mornings when we’ve run out of eggs, or aren’t up for the pancake routine. I like to use ginger spread by The Ginger People, shredded coconut, and chopped dried apricots in mine. Bulgur is great for slow cooker vegetarian chili in the front country too.
Soup is another choice Jon and I tend to lean toward. It’s a one pot meal, which is nice, but also during our fall and winter traveling, warm and comforting is key. We usually take a “kitchen sink” approach to our soup. Everything is fair game in our veggie soups, but the standards are usually potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic and then any other veg we have on hand, like brussels sprouts, cabbage, zucchini, dried tomatoes from Jon’s garden, etc.
Bouillon cubes are a staple in our camper pantry. Obviously much easier than carrying tons of vegetable broth. We use them for soups, cooking up grains or rice with flavor, etc. I like Rapunzel Pure Organic Vegetable Bouillon personally. They’re lower in sodium than many other brands, and have a good flavor and ingredients I recognize in the label. Wine and a good crusty baguette generally round out our soup nights.
In addition to vegetable soups, we make a pretty delicious asian-inspired udon noodle soup. We’ll start by sautéing onions, garlic, and if we’re pressed for time, our carrots. Then in the pot goes water, bouillon cube, turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger spread, and sriracha sauce. We then throw in the udon noodles to boil up as everything softens. Top off with some green onion tips, and serve. It’s warm, noodle-y, and fun to slurp up. Yummy and a no-brainer meal we’ve made for dinner many times, and even one enjoyable lunch on the drizzly shore of Lake Coeur D’Alene watching bald eagles hunt.
Perhaps our most memorable meal was the trout we caught and cooked in the backcountry of Glacier National Park this past summer. The trout itself was over-seasoned in the end with lemon pepper. Probably because we were still both so amped on our close call with a grizzly bear that had been attracted by the smell of the trout being cleaned and filleted by Jon. That’s a story for another time though…