Camp out cooking made easy
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent June 11, 2012 3:08PM
Indiana Dunes State Park interpretive naturalist Becky Hughes demonstrates how to make fried doughnuts over a fire using a tube of store-bought dough to make the treats. | Michael Gard~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 14, 2012 6:03AM
Everything is better over a campfire.
Just ask Becky Hughes, an interpretive naturalist at the Indiana Dunes State Park in Chesterton, who offered a program on campfire cooking with fellow naturalist Jessica Rosier.
“It’s the time and effort and love you put into it,” she told Michael Lakin, 9, of Michigan City, who attended the program with his grandmother, Nancy Lakin of Chesterton.
Lakin, who’s going on a two-week camping trip to Yellowstone National Park, said her husband prefers cooking over a wood fire “because it’s more of a true camping experience.”
Lakin and the naturalists shared tips and tricks for cooking over an open flame while Hughes made doughnuts with canned biscuits and Rosier made omelets in steamer bags. Lakin, not to be outdone, brought along a pizza she made at her campsite, half topped with goat cheese and spinach, the other half with more traditional cheese and sausage.
“We use cast iron on an open fire,” Lakin said, adding she also likes to make cherry cobbler in a Dutch oven. She butters the pan, adds canned pie filling, and tops it with biscuit mix combined with milk.
Another one of Lakin’s favorites is combining meat and vegetables in foil packets and putting them on the fire. She also uses a Dutch oven to make pork loin seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic and fresh rosemary, adding vegetables halfway through the cooking time.
“You can enjoy yourself and let your Dutch oven do the work,” she said.
To make pancakes without a mess, Rosier mixes the batter at home and freezes it in a zip-close bag. It thaws safely in a cooler, and then she cuts a corner of the bag to squirt the batter into a buttered skillet.
‘”It’s less mess while you’re there,” she said.
The doughnuts, fried to a golden brown in a large pot of oil over the fire, bring back memories of Hughes’ childhood.
“The reason I started making these is because it was a special treat in my house,” she said, adding she would wake up to her mom making them on the stove. “I figured, it’s just so easy.”
She and Rosier also suggested a s’more bar, offering flavored marshmallows and peanut butter cups, caramel-filled chocolates and other goodies to shake up the graham cracker-chocolate bar-marshmallow routine. Strawberry-flavored marshmallows work well on strawberry-flavored toaster pastries, too.
“I like that you don’t have to bring a gallon of milk and a box of cereal” for breakfast while camping, Hughes said. “There are so many other things you can do and they’re relatively easy and taste so much better.”
EGGS IN A BAG
Chopped mushrooms, onions and peppers
Ziploc brand Zip ’n Steam bags
Crack two eggs in a bag. Add desired extra ingredients. Squish everything together. Place the bags in boiling water. Put the lid on and boil bags about 13 minutes. Eggs filled with more ingredients will take longer to cook. When done, slide out of bag onto plate.
Source: Jessica Rosier
Canola oil (enough for frying)
Place the biscuits on a cutting board. Take the lid from the oil bottle and cut out the middle of each biscuit, for a doughnut hole and doughnut from each biscuit. Place the dough in sufficiently heated oil. Fry until light to golden brown. Place on a paper towel and drain, then place biscuits in a bowl of cinnamon-sugar to coat.
Source: Becky Hughes
1½ cans of crescent roll dough
1 jar spaghetti sauce
Cheese and other toppings
Spread the dough in a cast-iron skillet or ceramic pizza stone for cooking on an open flame. Cover with sauce and put on fire for about 20 minutes, until the crust begins to brown and the sauce isn’t runny. Top with cheese and other toppings and cover with foil; return to fire for about 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
Source: Nancy Lakin