Summer’s officially here, and these warm, light-filled weekends call for one thing: camping. While we’re not knocking the classic tent-life eats, there really is more to campfire cuisine than burnt hot dogs and burgers.
Of course, in nature, even soggy-in-the-middle grilled pancakes can be delicious. But if you’re down to dine on something a little more special, here are four great ways for you and your kiddos to elevate your campfire-cooking game without too much effort.
Cinnamon rolls baked in an orange
Slice the top off of a navel orange, scoop out the guts, and nestle a canned cinnamon roll inside. (If you’re feeling ambitious, make your own overnight cinnamon rolls before you leave and store them in a cooler until the next morning.) Place the top back on the orange, wrap well with foil, and toss those balls directly into the campfire coals.
After 15 to 20 minutes, use tongs to retrieve your silver orbs and then carefully peel back the hot foil to reveal an orange-scented pastry. Tutorial here.
Fancy foil-packet meals
Most summer camp or Scouts veterans are familiar with “hobo stew” (chopped meat and veggies wrapped, cooked, and served in a foil packet). Increase the odds your kids will actually eat it by letting everyone build their own from an ingredient bar—here’s one way to do it, but other great add-ins include peppers, cubed potatoes, celery, onions, cheese, or salsa.
The packet concept also works for breakfast scrambles, cilantro-lime shrimp with corn and zucchini, or even a seafood paella.
Good ol’ fashioned crawfish boil
Camped out by a river or lake? Show your roughin’ it chops by catching dinner. In Oregon, my family uses an inexpensive crawfish trap that we bait with hot dogs and leave overnight, but kids often love catching the critters by hand or with a baited rope.
To cook, set a stockpot of water over a campfire to boil, and rinse or soak the crawfish in clean water while you wait. When the water is ready, add seasoning (such as Old Bay or Tony Chachere’s), halved corn on the cob, new potatoes, sausage, or shrimp. Boil until the crawfish turn red and float to the top, strain (pouring onto a cleaned campfire grate works), spread the goods out on a picnic table lined with newspaper, and enjoy.
Roasted banana “sundaes”
Cut an unpeeled banana lengthwise about ½ inch deep, leaving ½ inch uncut at both ends. Place the banana on a small stack of foil sheets, remove a little fruit flesh, and fill the crevice with goodies (e.g., peanut butter, chocolate chips, cinnamon, granola, coconut flakes, pistachios, crumbled bacon, raspberries, butter, honey, marshmallows, etc.).
Wrap the banana tightly in the foil and place on the coals until heated through, about 10–15 minutes. Unwrap, let cool slightly, and dig in.
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