Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Weekend in Food: Cooking Around the Campfire

This past weekend my husband and I spent a couple nights at Lake Kegonsa State Park, outside of Stoughton. One of my favorite things about camping is cooking over fire in the great outdoors. For me, camping isn't a time for complicated recipes or experimentation, but a time for the tried and true classics-burgers, brats, smores, etc.

Here's the story of my camping weekend-in food!

We started our weekend off with a delicious lunch at Springers on the Lake in Stoughton, near Lake Kegonsa State Park, where we camped. Go here for a more detailed review, but in a few words-great food, great view.

The first night for dinner we had hamburgers and corn-on-the-cob. I had grass-fed ground beef from Grassy Way Organics and topped the burgers with smoked cheddar cheese from Hook's Cheese, both purchased at the Dane County Farmer's market. I seasoned the burgers with salt and pepper and grilled them using a Coleman Extendable Broiler Basket. For dessert we had smores, because no camping trip is complete without them.

Saturday morning we had the required bacon and eggs breakfast (made over the fire, of course), along with some wheat toast made using the broiler basket (which I tried for the first time this year). The eggs came from Pecatonica Valley Farm and the hickory smoked bacon from Lodi Sausage Company and Meat Market. The whole wheat bread for toast came from Nature's Bakery Cooperative and the Hedgerow Jam from The Summer Kitchen (a DCFM vendor).

Lunch was the only meal I made using my camp stove, although I did use it to boil water to cook corn-on-the-cob Friday night. Ordinarily I would have cooked over the fire for all our meals, but with temperatures in the 90s and oppressive humidity, it was nice to use my Coleman camp stove that I haven't had an opportunity to use since I got it for Christmas. Grilled cheese (made with more Hook's smoked cheddar cheese and Nature's Bakery bread) with a salad on the side (mix of greens from Harmony Valley Farm) made a quick and delicious lunch.

Dinner was brats and beans, a classic combination I never get tired of and the most essential meal in any camping trip. Beer brats from Pecatonica Valley Farm topped with onions and sauerkraut with Bush's Steakhouse Recipe Grilling Beans on the side made the perfect meal to enjoy around the fire on our last night camping. This was, of course, followed up by more smores.

On our last morning, I made maple sugar french toast with a side of bacon. My normal french toast recipe using a mixture of spices, sugar, and vanilla, but I wanted something a bit simpler so I wouldn't have to bring so many supplies. I had some maple sugar from the farmer's market which I combined with the usual eggs and milk to make a simple, but wonderful french toast. I topped the french toast with butter and real maple syrup-no imitation products here.
Over the course of the weekend we enjoyed a number of different brews, mostly local. I picked up a party pack from Whole Foods, which contained eight different beers, including Fat Squirrel and Spotted Cow from New Glarus Brewing Company, Island Wheat and Autumnal Fire from Capital Brewery and Down Dirty Chocolate Oatmeal Stout from Tyranena Brewing Company. If you like to sample different beers and either don't have the time or have difficulty choosing individual bottles to try, I'd highly recommend the party pack from Whole Foods. I love trying different kinds of beers, but didn't have the time to go somewhere where I could fill a 6-pack with individual bottles. You can see all the beers in the pack to ensure you're at least getting a few you'll like, but get a fun variety with little effort. My favorite was the Tyranena Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, which was no surprise considering I tend to gravitate towards dark beers like stouts and porters with coffee notes.

I hope everyone gets a chance to enjoy a few days in the great outdoors the summer with some great eats cooked over the fire. Happy summer!

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