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Everyone knows that food tastes better when cooked and eaten in the great outdoors, especially after a day of hiking, swimming, or playing ball. But for some reason, even the most avid at-home foodies seem to fall apart when it comes to cooking outside. After an eye-opening (or should I say tummy-satisfying) camping trip with friends, Donovan began developing classic recipes "that are not only easy enough for camping but delicious enough that you would be proud to serve them at home."
Granted, the type of camping Donovan is talking about is what I call car camping, meaning you are not too far from your vehicle so you can pack coolers, a camp stove, and other kitchen supplies that would be impracticable for the backpacker. Her recipes work for any kind of outdoor cooking, from wood fires to charcoal and gas. And the majority of them also include instructions for making the dishes at home in your air-conditioned and mosquito-free kitchen.
I love the size of Campfire Cuisine (about 7 inches by 5½ inches), which makes it easy to slip this gem of a cookbook into a tote bag or kitchen-supply box.The clean green and brown color scheme with easy-to-read fonts and pencil drawings make the book a joy to use, and the tips and variations have their own special design, so you won't miss any of Donovan's good advice. The paper is heavy enough to withstand outdoor reading but not so heavy to make the book unwieldy.
So what will you find in Campfire Cuisine? Both useful information about cooking outdoors and delicious recipes you'll use even when at home. Part one is devoted to introducing us to the notion of camp cooking. Donovan talks about equipment, food safety, cooking techniques, do-ahead tricks, menu planning, and shopping. She even gives us instructions for building a fire, whether we're using wood or charcoal briquettes.
I particularly love the charts and lists. The two most useful are the food storage chart, so you can see at a glance how long eggs and meat will last in a cooler, and the cooking times chart, so you can feel confident about how long to cook that chicken.
One very clever thing that campers will appreciate: Donovan's recipes require only two types of pans: a 2-quart lidded pot and a 10-inch lidded skillet. How's that for keeping your packing simple? Of course, you'll likely want to bring along some of the suggested extras, such as a grilling basket, but you can make do if you're a minimalist.
On to the recipes, which are what you've all been waiting for. As I mentioned, the recipes are designed to provide maximum flavor with minimum fuss, which is what you want when camping or cooking at the park. Do-ahead ideas, such as mixes, and quick and tasty sauces and marinades are just some of Donovan's tricks. Here is the breakdown of the chapters:
- Salad Dressings, Sauces, Marinades, and More: Besides what's listed in the chapter title, you'll find spice rubs and condiments; the Greek marinade and chipotle aioli both look good.
- Breakfast: Eggs and French toast are nice, but fresh-baked scones, breakfast wraps, and polenta with sausage are nicer.
- Sandwiches, Salads, and Such: The curried chicken sandwich, couscous salad, and gourmet grilled cheese variations are my top picks from this chapter.
- Snacks and Appetizers: Here you'll find salsas, crostini and bruschetta, dips, and even savory s'mores.
- Entrées: Donovan supplies recipes for fancy burgers but also includes recipes for stews, jambalaya, barbecued duck wraps, shrimp, vegetarian quesadillas, and meats of all kinds.
- Cooked Vegetables, Grains, and Other Sides: From simple grilled veggies and baked potatoes to cheesy biscuits and roasted beets, this chapter provides easy sides to round out your dinner.
- Desserts: There are only a few desserts here, but the cooked fruit, hot chocolate, and magic pie all sound yummy.
This is the perfect excuse to bring along a bottle of bourbon for a late-night warm-up. You can substitute red wine, port, sherry, or balsamic vinegar for the bourbon. Or use flank steak instead of chicken.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
- ⅓ cup bourbon
- 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- Juice of ½ lemon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
While the chicken is cooking, pour the leftover marinade into a pot and bring to a boil on a camp stove. Boil the marinade for at least 5 minutes (for food safety). Continue to boil until the sauce reduces and thickens. Spoon a little of the glaze over each chicken breast. Serve immediately.
Buy Campfire Cuisine at an Indie or a bookstore near you. This link leads to an affiliate program.
Quirk Books, 2006
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright 2013 cbl for www.BethFishReads.com