Fall symbolizes the turning of leaves, a chill in the air, and need for hearty comfort food. Camping in the fall is one of my favorites. There is just something about waking up to the cool morning air, sitting around a campfire to keep warm and eating that good campfire food.
Using a campfire for warmth, food and survival is a tradition that dates back to the earliest humans. For most of human history, over an open fire was the one and only way to cook a meal. Evidence of what is believed to be the first-known fire has been discovered in South Africa. There, charred antelope bones suggest that humans were cooking their meat over a fire as far back as 1.9 million years ago. Interestingly, it appears as though dried grass and leaves were used as kindling rather than wood.
You can find thousands of campfire meals on the internet. From meals cooking in foil packets, skillets and Dutch ovens to roasting marshmallows and hot dogs, there are so many fun options.
Here are a few for you to try.
Dutch Oven Beef Stew
2 pounds stew meat cut into small, uniform chunks
6 potatoes, cut into small chunks
1 cup baby carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 chopped onion
1 package dried beef stew mix
1 package dried beef gravy mix (if you can’t find both mixes, you can use two of whichever you can find)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Water, as needed
Add the beef, and just enough water to cover it, to the Dutch oven. Place oven on the coals, cook until beef is tender.
Add potatoes, carrots, celery and onion, cook until tender. Add stew and gravy mixes, combine well. If necessary, add more water. Simmer 10 minutes.
Take Dutch oven off of coals and serve.
Granny Smith apples
Use as many Granny Smith apples as you need for your camping crowd. Core the apple, leaving a thin layer on the bottom. In the cored out area, put a pat of butter and about a tablespoon of brown sugar. This will depend on how big your apples are, remember the brown sugar will melt down into the butter.
The rest is up to you, you can put in a few cinnamon candies, or a couple caramels, depending on the flavor you like.
Wrap apples in foil, (if coals are hot, double wrap, if they are cooler, single wrap). Place apples on the coals, and roll every 10 minutes. They usually take 30 minutes, depending upon heat of coals.
Campfire Smore Quesadillas
8 corn tortillas
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups mini marshmallows
8 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs
Lay corn tortillas on grill grate over medium flame. Immediately top four tortillas with chocolate chips, marshmallows and graham cracker crumbs. Allow marshmallows to begin to puff up then top with remaining tortillas. Cook 1 minute, transfer to plate. Let quesadillas rest 1-2 minutes, cut with a pizza cutter into four triangles. Serve immediately.
Campfire Chicken Pot Pie
Two 29-ounce cans mixed vegetables
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 large cooked chicken breasts, cut into cubes
One 10-ounce can refrigerated biscuit dough
Stir vegetables, soups and chicken cubes together in a Dutch oven with a flat lid. Cook over campfire coals until warmed through but not boiling, about 15 minutes.
Arrange biscuit dough segments in a layer atop vegetable mixture. Put lid on Dutch oven, carefully arrange some hot coals atop lid. Heat until biscuits are cooked through, 15-30 minutes.
Breakfast Foil Packs
One 28-ounce package shredded hashbrowns, thawed
1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup diced ham
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup milk
Prepare campfire or grill for medium-high heat.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Stir in hashbrowns, diced ham and 3/4 cup cheese.
Divide mixture among four 18-inch-by-12-inch pieces of heavy duty nonstick foil. Fold foil tightly around mixture. Seal tightly.
Place packets over campfire or grill; cook 9-10 minutes or until potatoes are tender and eggs are cooked through.
Open packets carefully and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Campfire Shrimp Boil
One 4-ounce bottle of concentrated shrimp and crab boil liquid
1 pouch shrimp and crab boil seasoning
5 tablespoons salt
2 pounds shrimp, deveined with the shell left on
2 pounds new potatoes, washed
2 pounds polish sausage, smoked and sliced
8 halves of sweet corn
Bring a large pot of water with a mesh insert to a rolling boil. Add in the seasoning liquid, pouch and salt.
Move the logs around to maintain a steady boil, but be careful as you add ingredients to ensure the water does not boil over.
Add potatoes. cook for 10 minutes, then test one for doneness. It should be nearly done. If it’s still hard, boil them for a few more minutes.
Add the corn, boil 2-3 minutes. Add shrimp, boil 2 minutes. Add sausage, boil 1 minute.
Carefully remove the pot from the fire, allowing water to drain.
Cautiously dump ingredients on a picnic or patio table covered in butcher’s paper.
MICHELE ATKINS is the director for the Henry County Extension Service. Her email address is email@example.com.