At the end of a long day of hiking, fishing, or chasing the kids around camp, the last thing you want is a big production at dinner. On the other hand, beans and wienies aren't exactly a cheery prospect, either.
But you can eat well, without an excessive amount of work, if you plan ahead and follow these recipes by Berkeley resident Carole Latimer, author of the backpacker's bible, Wilderness Cuisine. As the owner of Call of the Wild, she's been leading women's trips around the West (and cooking on them, too) since 1978. Latimer loves to cook almost as much as she loves to camp, but over the years she has learned to be practical. And when we tested her recipes on our Coleman two-burner camp stove, the results were delicious.
Make a chart. To avoid the camp cook's most common mistake―bringing too much food―list the number of meals you'll be preparing, then make a shopping list.
Prepare ahead. A refrigerated or frozen one-pot meal reheated at camp makes a great first-night dinner. For recipes that require cooking in camp, mix dry ingredients at home.
Bring "bailout" foods. These include instant noodle soups (miso is good when you're cold or wet). Fresh pesto and tomato sauces can be frozen, which also helps keep your cooler cool.
10 camp-kitchen essentials
Nonstick frying pan. Ever try cooking scrambled eggs in a cast-iron pan? 'Nuff said.
3-quart aluminum pot. If you are planning to use it for pasta, get one with a nesting strainer.
Can opener. You'd be surprised how often this gets left behind.
Oven mitt. Towels burn; damp ones don't protect your hands. A fireproof barbecue mitt is best.
Headlamp. It leaves both hands free when you're cooking after dark.
Nalgene containers. You'll find these leakproof bottles and jars at most outdoor supply stores.
Plastic bags. From zip-locks to 30-gallon trash bags. You can use them for food storage or, in a pinch, as rain ponchos.
Plastic insulated cups. They're better for drinking hot liquids than metal Sierra cups. Use 16-ouncers for measuring.
Biodegradable soap. For washing (use your aluminum pot as a sink).
Cotton gardening gloves. To protect hands around camp when cutting firewood, etc.
Wilderness Cuisine, by Carole Latimer (Wilderness Press, Berkeley, 1991; $12.95), is available in bookstores. Or you can call (800) 443-7227 to order. For information about Call of the Wild, call (510) 849-9292 or check out the Web site at www.callwild.com.