Camping Food Evolution
I’ll admit, growing up, when I thought of camping food it was the usual fare. Hot dogs, sandwiches, chips, marshmallows and pop. Basic American crap. Of course we live in the Pacific Northwest, so there was a decent amount of fresh caught fish added to that menu. But, for the most part, crap.
Occasionally, there would be some cowboy beans cooked over the fire in a cast iron pan, but other than fish and marshmallows, I don’t recall using the fire for cooking. It was pure Coleman stove for this crew. Nonetheless, I have fond memories of the many camp trips our family took throughout the years. Food was just not that important to me then.
Food With Reservations
That last line couldn’t be further from the truth now. It took me a couple of decades to change this truth in my life. When I was twenty and moved across the country to attend school in NYC, food was still pretty far down on the scale of importance. I think it went something like; friends, fashion, exercise, water, dance, cigarettes, coffee, sleep, food.
In an effort to decrease a New York Minute to 45 seconds, I would down Tiger Milk bars and slices of pizza while hustling from work to school. Since my tiny studio apartment in Mid-Town Manhattan didn’t have a kitchen, I would muse to friends that “I didn’t make food, I made reservations”. I bought full on into the idea that The City was my living room and my kitchen. Eating out at restaurants or ordering take-out to consume with friends while watching Melrose Place was standard at that time.
Evenings would usually bring me in contact with some of New York’s finest dishes, at any number of swanky, hip or old school eateries. Each morning, before dashing into the N/R subway line, I would grab a large “regular” coffee(which means light and sweet) and a toasted bagel with butter on my way to the office. I really didn’t give food much thought. I was living the single girl dream in NYC. As long as I stayed thin, who cared?
My Oregon Trail Adventure
Fast forward a few years. I’ve moved back to Oregon. I feel frustrated because I’m an adult, but I can’t prepare food for myself. Well, at least not in the style that seems appealing. So, I start out on one of the biggest and most pleasurable undertakings of my life. I learned to cook.
Unaware of cooking shows, without a collection of cookbooks, pre-internet recipes and too broke to afford classes; I just looked for whichever recipe was on the box or package and made that. Needless to say, my food standards were pretty low. But, with time, as I honed both my skills and my knowledge of ingredients, my food bar was set pretty high.
Impress Yourself (and others too)
And I don’t lower the bar when I’m out and about….anywhere. When we started in on our camping kick a few years back, we brought our love of food with us. Enjoying a delicious, thought-out meal while in nature feels like the perfect expression of my love for those with whom we make camp.
If your thinking you’re ready to use food to express yourself fireside, a paella is the perfect way to start. Whether out on a multi-day group camp trip or just having a nice family dinner in the back yard. Where there is a fire, a paella can be. Enjoy!