Cookinar 2014

Cookinar is a portmanteau, but you likely do not care about that. What you want to hear about is Cookinar basics, and camp cooking ideas.

Cookinar Basics
Rovers met at Rover Sue’s house for the first ever 55th Cascadia cookinar. The weather was hot, but that did not deter the desire to cook with fire. To put on a cookinar, you have only to divvy up the event. Have each of the Rovers bring his or her own mess kit, a beverage, marshmallow skewer, length of stick the thickness of your thumb, and some chunks o’something to skewer–just enough for one serving as you will likely sample each others. Additionally, each Rover should bring one log and kindling for the fire; it’s fun to share the responsibility. Then it is time to share the culinary camp cooking!

Culinary Camp Cooking
Rover Sue shared several tantalizing techniques.

Now You’re in Hot Water! This category accounts for all things that involve boiling water, but are more than add-water, “Mountain House” meals. Nothing against backpacking fare, but when you have the opportunity to really cook, you should cook. We started with omelets in a bag and they were simply delicious, delicious and simple. Quart freezer bag + 2/3 eggs + any fixing you want to add to your omelet–may I suggest onions, peppers, cheese, and ham. Mix throughly and place in a pot of boiling water for 13 minutes. Another fare was More-than-Ramen. Boil the ramen noodles to soften, but instead of having soup, make Camp Thai–add green onions, peanut butter, and honey. Add peanut butter to taste and thickness. The resulting dish is hearty, flavorful, and meal rather than a soup. If you want to add the season packet, no worries.

Foiled Again! This category includes food packets which includes any number of options and foods. For the most part, anything can be cooked in foil if the foil is built well. We cooked fish and vegetables with lemon and butter. In foil cooking, some fat is needed to keep items from burning to the foil. The lemon provides flavorful moisture; adding any liquid–water or stock–will help the foil packet to cook with steam. We also cooked chunks of meat with BBQ sauce, in foil, to add to other dishes.

Cooking on a Half Shell! This was a particularly eye-opening experience, much like baking in a bell pepper, you can use a variety of “shells” and put a variety of “things” inside, wrap in foil, or place directly on coals. Cake in an orange rind was a treat. Cut an orange in half, take out the orange and eat it, leaving the rind. Fill the rind with cake batter. Put in foil for ease of transport and pulling out of fire. The cake will cook and rise in the orange, giving it a muffin top style, and a slight orange flavor. You can cook “prepared” cinnamon rolls in a similar way and get that slight orange flavor. The highlight of the afternoon was the pork sausage cooked in onion–so flavorful and juicy. Cut an onion in half, take out all of the rings except for the innermost one or two. Fill with ground pork sausage and cook in the same fashion as the orange cake. The result is the most delectable meat and onion (seen above). You can adopt this style for ground beef, add in beans or vegetables. This style of camp cooking got us thinking about cooking in a squash–carve out the squash, and add it and meats, and such back into the shell.

Stick to the Plan! Shish-kabobs of meats and vegetables, put over the fire or on a grill or skillet or span of foil on the coals, this category is about food on a stick. Charred meat with onion spaces fills a camper’s stomach like none other. While we did not get to making bannock, here is a recipe. This recipe works for cooking in a pan or oven with some fat, and you can wrap the dough around a thumb-sized stick and hold over the fire to bake. We did this early in our career as a scout group and it was well received. Another stick option goes back far into history–put meat on stick, hold over fire, cook, eat. Mmmmmmmmm.

Dutch Oven Baking! Sue baked cornbread, a cake, and chicken. The chicken was browned in oil and added to it was dirty rice and pureed broccoli (sen above). You could throw in any herbs you wanted. The trick to Dutch oven cooking is to (a) have sufficient heat, (b) balance the heat, and (c) not over cook on the top or bottom. Most Dutch over recipes give you an approximate count of coals for the top and bottom of the over.

At the end of the afternoon, the sun dropped a bit, and the sprinkler added to the cool. The kids in attendance had s’mores.

Rover Sue adeptly moved between all methods, throwing stuff here, piling stuff there, giving instructions. We all left with a favorite method and a full stomach. Rover Sue, thank you for the Cookinar, and for sharing your experience and knowledge. We are a stronger group as a result. We salute you!

We did not get to it this time, but next camp out, we will cook eggs and bacon in a paper bag.

And if you crave more photos, here you go.