Category Archives: Cooking

Recipe of the Week (#100DaysofScouting Day 870…Oops!)


Wow, first post back in a very very long time.  Fittingly, it is about food!

A couple of weekends ago, I went on a campout with Troop 18 (my son’s troop, where I am an Asst. Scoutmaster) to Put-in-Bay.  We all agreed we wanted to spend as much time kayaking, fishing, going into town and bird watching, and as little time as possible cooking.  So Saturday evening’s dinner was about as minimal as you can get, but it packed maximum flavor and the boys and adults all agreed it was just that. darn. good.  The boys dubbed it “Prison Slop.”  Here’s what would pass as a recipe:

Prison Slop

  • 2 gallons water
  • 1 box (6 lb) of instant mashed potato flakes
  • 3 pounds cheese (shredded, cubed, type doesn’t really matter)
  • 3 pillow packs (1.5 lbs) sliced pepperoni
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

(Equipment needed:  One turkey fryer burner with propane tank, one large stock pot with lid, big spoon for mixing and serving.)

Heat the water in the pot until just starting to boil.  Remove from heat and add potato flakes.  Stir until well combined and mashed potatoes are achieved.

Add in the cheese and pepperoni and mix thoroughly, stirring until the cheese is melted.

Serve to hungry campers as-is or with salt & pepper to taste.

Shiny of the Week, 2/17/11 (#100DaysofScouting, Day 10)


So if you couldn’t tell from previous posts, one of the things I like about camping is the outdoor cooking.  And that includes backpacking.  I’m all for lightweight, believe me, but not at the expense of MAH BELLAH! 🙂

So this week’s shiny of the week is my Jetboil.  I’ve had one for several years now, and it is one of my favorite pieces of gear.  Originally a backpacking buddy got the Jetboil PCS [Personal Cooking System] and I bought an extra cup for it.  But then I got a great deal on the GCS [Group Cooking System] (the version with the 1.5 liter pot) so I picked that up.  I am a huge fan.  It is relatively lighweight, packs down pretty small, and is well designed.  And it boils water LIKE A BOSS!  1 cup of water boiled in under 90 seconds, that’s insane!  And also pretty fuel efficient.  I’ve been able to do a 4-day, 50-mile trek on the AT through part of the Smokies and only used one tank of fuel…actually less than one tank as it lasted a couple more trips after that as well!

Okay sure, it isn’t superlight.  You want to worry about superlight, make your own alcohol stove with a soda can.  I can deal with the extra weight to get the performance I need.

The one thing that it has done is made me rethink how I cook when I’m on the trail.  Cleanup on a jetboil when you’re boiling water is a snap, and if you’re just reheating something it doesn’t take much more work either.  If you’re doing some serious cooking though, just like any backpacking stove it will take longer to clean than just heating.

So I tend to plan my meals based around foods that will only need heating, not cooking, when on the trail.  What’s the difference?  Well, a Lipton Rice & Sauce needs cooked.  But instant mashed potatoes just need heated.  And they’re much easier to clean up.   Some items that get cooked, mostly your soups (like ramen) are pretty easy on the cleanup too, but if you’re getting into sauces that thicken and can stick/burn onto the pot, that’s another story.  As you could guess by my Shiny of the Week for last week, I’m not a fan of cleaning up after meals so anything I can do through planning and preparation to reduce cleaning, I’m all for that!

I’ve used the small folding stoves with the trioxane fuel tabs, and cooking over a campfire, and been able to try out other backpacking stoves over the years.  But I really like the Jetboil best.

Now that Jon is about to cross over to a Troop and start backpacking more on his own, he’s going to need a new stove.  I’m considering giving him my PCS and buying one of the new Jetboil Flash systems…that wouldnt’ be wrong, would it?

So what do you guys use for backcountry cooking?

Recipe of the Week (#100DaysofScouting, Day 9)


So it seems like each Wednesday was the day to post something food related, so I’ll keep with that topic for this week.

At our district’s Klondike Derby each year, the adults from each unit who run the cities participate in a chili cook-off.  There’s a travelling trophy that gets engraved with the winner’s name and that unit holds onto it for the next year and it is handed in, re-engraved and handed out to the next year’s winner.  Neat idea.  Plus in the early January cold it is always nice to be able to get some warm grub at each station!

So last weekend was our district’s first ever Cub Klondike (see my previous post), and I decided at rather the last minute (10:00 PM the night before) that I was going to make chili at my city.  I ran Nome where we did the Good Camp / Bad Camp station (I set up the camp and made five errors that were either poor camping skills or violating Leave No Trace and the boys had to identify each to me for their nuggets), so I was already going to have a kitchen set up, why not cook?  So I threw together a chili which isn’t terribly original but turned out excellent if I do say so myself (and I do, as did several other people at the event who partook in it).  So I figured I’d share the recipe.

(I should note that my “recipe” was basically to take the instructions from the back of the chili seasoning packet and modify it with some extra stuff, so McCormick’s should get some of the credit I suppose.  What can I say, it was 9 hours before the event and I needed to get some sleep, I didn’t have time to come up with my own seasoning mix!  Next time I’ll be more creative, and I’ll be sure to share the results with you too!)

Middletownscouter’s Special Valentine’s Day “Hearts on Fire” Chili

  • 2 packages McCormick’s HOT chili seasoning mix
  • 1 package McCormick’s original chili seasoning mix
  • 3 pounds ground beef
  • 2 8-oz cans Tomato Sauce
  • 2 15-oz cans chili ready diced tomatoes (with onions)
  • 1 15-oz can hot chili beans
  • 1 30-oz can regular chili beans
  • 6 cups water
  • kosher salt
  • ground black pepper
  • garlic powder
  • Diced white onion (optional)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
  • Sliced pickled jalapeños (optional)
  • Sour Cream (optional)
  • Crackers (optional)

(Note: I cooked this recipe over a propane camp stove.  You could also do this over a campfire but be careful to monitor constantly to ensure even heating and no burning.  You also will want to soap the OUTSIDE bottom and sides of your pot so they don’t get permanently carbon scored.)

Season the ground beef with salt, pepper and garlic powder, then brown in a large stock pot.  Once there is no longer any visible pink in your ground beef, drain off the fat and return the pot to your heat source.

Add in the seasoning mix, tomatoes, tomato sauce, beans and water.  Stir until everything is completely combined. (Note, if you are doing this at camp, it helps to bring a can opener.  Opening six cans of stuff with a pocket knife takes a lot of effort and a lot of time)

Bring chili to a boil, stirring occasionally (making sure to hit the bottom of the pot so nothing sticks and burns on).  Once the chili is boiling turn down the heat (or move to a cooler area of the campfire) and allow to simmer until at the desired thickness / consistency.

Serve to hungry campers as-is or garnished with onion, cheese, jalapeños, sour cream or crackers.  Makes a LOT of chili, at least 12 full meal size servings.

Shiny of the Week – Feb. 11, 2011


(As in “oooooooh, shiny! I must have this!”)

So I’m going to try out an idea to do a post a week on some sort of piece of gear that I really enjoy using while camping or for other Scouting purposes. We’ll see how it goes.

For the first one, since I’ve got the dutch oven thing going on for the last post and a few previous to this, I’m going to make this my first “Shiny of the Week.”

The Coleman Parchment Paper Dutch Oven Liner
Coleman Dutch Oven Liners

These things are the bomb! They make the worst part of dutch oven cooking (clean up) the best part! So worth the cost. I know lots of units will use aluminum foil to line their dutch ovens and that works but whatever you’re cooking (say beans or chili) could get through where the foil overlaps or stirring can destroy the foil and then you get baked on bean residue in your dutch oven (and possibly a little extra aluminum in your diet if you don’t watch out). These liners are so much easier than that. When you’re done you just lift it out and the already clean dutch oven is ready to be oiled and put away. Just like that! I am now a fan.

I’ll even go to the Walmarts to buy them, and I make a point to never shop there normally! So kind of a short post today, but that’s my first “Shiny of the Week.” What do you guys think about the liners, or what method have you found that works well on making dutch oven cleanup easier?

PO-TA-TOES


What we need is a few good taters…

Song virus achieved?

Anyway, goodness knows I love me some taters. Especially on campouts. And I have to say that the newest addition to Scouting Magazine over the last few issues has been the article on Dutch Oven cooking and it is great! I previously posted about the Kalamata Roast recipe that we made back at John Colter in November 2010. This post is about the Udder Potatoes recipe found in the most recent issue.

For Christmas my Jen-nay (we’s like peas and carrots) got me a Lodge 12″ Cast Iron Camping Dutch Oven. What’s the difference between a camping dutch oven and a regular dutch oven? Nothing outrageous. But the camping dutch ovens have the three peg-legs on the bottom and the lid has the lip on top – both made to more effectively deal with charcoal. And they’re great! Even with all the technological advances in cookware over the last couple of centuries, cast iron still remains as the king of the hill, and for good reason. It works!

I *heart* my dutch oven, it is great! I’ve already used it a few times since Christmas and it is also the nifty BSA logo branded one. You can buy your own at your local Scout Shop (here is a link to the Scoutstuff.org page on it), or via Lodge’s website here. I’d suggest going through your local Scout Shop to save on shipping (it is heavy) and because the price is about $70 compared to nearly $100 at other places. The pricetag seems steep but it is worth every penny.

So anyway, back to the taters…

I saw the recipe in the most recent issue of Scouting and decided that it would be a great dish to try for the Pack Winter Campout in January. I had all the Webelos with me in a primitive cabin area of Camp Birch while the rest of the pack was in the comfort of the brand new Turner Building. Here’s the recipe:

The Udder Potatoes

Ingredients

½ pound of bacon, chopped
2 30-ounce packages frozen shredded hash browns
4 large green onions, chopped
½ teaspoon Morton Nature’s Seasons Seasoning Blend
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper
3½ cups heavy whipping cream
11 tablespoons butter, cut into slices
Set out package of frozen hash browns for about half an hour before baking. Allow them to thaw slightly. Fry bacon in Dutch oven until crisp. Pour off grease. Add hash browns, green onions, and seasonings. Mix gently until evenly distributed.

Pour cream over potato mixture and place butter slices on top. Bake in a 12-inch Dutch oven at 350 degrees (16 coals on top, 10 coals below) for 45 minutes. Remove pot from bottom heat. Put bottom coals on top of lid and tilt the lid slightly open for 15-20 minutes until browned on top.

I guarantee once your Scouts get a taste of this dish, if you ever ask them if they want scalloped or cheese potatoes again, they will all cry out, “No! We want the udder ones!”

Serves: 15-18

So we didn’t exactly follow the recipe, but they turned out amazing. First off, who uses half a pound of bacon when you’re camping? You can buy bacon at the grocery normally in 12 oz or 16 oz packages. So we used a 12 oz package, but we used the whole package. Extra bacon is good for the soul. Likewise with the heavy cream. I don’t know where you can buy 3-1/2 cups of cream. I see it in pints and quarts. So we bought a quart and used the whole quart – no point in saving half a cup of heavy cream when you’re on a campout.

Due to the extreme cold at the time, we used extra coals and due to the extra liquid I cooked it a little longer than originally stated. Came out AWESOME! I’ve remade it two times since then with great results too.

My personal preference it to lighten up on the green onion because that flavor can easily overpower, and more bacon because, well, it’s bacon! Jen-nay thinks cheese would make it even better, I think it is fine without the cheese. But I’m thinking about getting some of the cheese flavored french fried onion pieces and for the last five minutes of cooking sprinkle those across the top for crunch.

So now I’ve got dutch oven posts on a main dish, side dish and dessert. Wonder what will be next? We’ll have to wait and see…

…98…


So Sunday was 98 days until Jon crosses over to Boy Scouts. On this actual day, we spent most of the day preparing for the Eagle Court of Honor of a young man from Troop 18 who is also a member of my church. He asked me to assist him with it since I am the COR for the church, so I said sure…not knowing exactly what that means.

It appears that it meant that the bulk of the work for an Eagle COH is on the family to get done, so I ended up helping out considerably. We got approval from the Session of the church to have it at his home church (First Presbyterian) rather than at the Troop’s CO (First Baptist). That caused a mild irritation among some of the Troop leadership but it was quickly gotten over I guess. One of the SA’s from the Troop just had completed working on his son’s Eagle COH a couple weeks prior so he really helped us out, and between the young man, we two leaders and his parents we got the plan down.

I spent most of Saturday shopping for food for the reception, and then preparing it at the church’s kitchen that evening, including making two trays of cobbler (one caramel apple and one peach). Meanwhile, we also (using the wonder of the intarwebz) got the script and bulletin figured out over that week. On Sunday the bulletins were printed and folded – they looked good, we used the ones form the Scout Shop with the eagle medal embossed on the front.

Sunday morning just after services ended we started setting up the sanctuary and gathering area of the church for the ECOH. Lots of tables/chairs to put out and food to bring down from the kitchen. When we were done I had just enough time to make a last minute run to the store to get the young man a card, go get a shower and changed into my uniform so we could be back at the church to finish getting everything done.

The ceremony itself went great. I sat partially obscured in the pulpit area with quick access to a fire extinguisher since the ceremony included 26 candles being lit. The young man’s younger brother (First Class rank in Troop 18), the Scoutmaster and our Pastor were the bulk of the ceremony. I thought it was very well done and was happy with how everything went. I gave him a special award on behalf of the church to recognize all the service he has given to our church over the years.

The reception also went very well, and it appears that while we ended up with lots of leftovers for the family, the food did pretty good. Both the cobblers were devoured (I was told the peach was even better than the apple)! We were able to rest for a moment and congratulate the young man for his hard work and achievement, then we started cleaning up. We were completely cleaned up (Leave No Trace!) and out of the church by 9:00 PM. Overall I was exhausted but very pleased with how things went.

I was glad to get to help with this now so that I have an idea of what to expect when Jon finishes up Eagle (in several years). There were things that I would have liked to do that couldn’t get done because of the short time frame but the bulk of the job was there and done very well. I was thinking to myself that we should start a book of this stuff so that we know what to expect when the time comes…but then I just saw on Scoutstuff that there is a book. Think I might suggest that the Troop purchase a copy of that for future reference!

Somewhat tangentially related is that I now have a full Venturing uniform that I am going to use for my Scout items at First Presbyterian Church (where I am the Chartered Organization Representative for Pack, Troop & Crew 1). My stepfather was kind enough to sew all the patches on the shirt for me on Saturday so I would have it for the Eagle COH on Sunday. The shirt I picked up during College of Commissioner Science when it was marked down to $5 (they changed the uniform somewhat recently). Unfortunately they didn’t have any of the old style pants or shorts in my size so I had to buy a pair of the new style ones, and the belt and socks too. So now I’ve got a tan shirt for the Pack, a tan one for Roundtable, and a green one for church.

Cobbler in the regular oven, really?


So apparently you can make a cobbler that isn’t in a dutch oven…who knew?

Last night’s dessert started out as “There is a half a #10 can of apple pie filling leftover from the pack meeting. What are we going to do with this?” How about a caramel apple pie? Or, better yet, caramel apple cobbler!

So off to the store we go. Grab a box of Duncan Hines® Moist Deluxe Caramel Cake Mix, a bottle of Smucker’s® Caramel Sundae Syrup, a container of Edy’s® Slow Churned French Vanilla Ice Cream and some butter. We already had cinnamon sugar at the house.

So we started by mixing in a good amount of the caramel syrup into the can of apple pie filling along with some cinnamon sugar, spread that into the bottom of a 13×9 glass baking dish, then covered the top with the cake mix. Poured the 1-1/3 cups of water over the cake mix and spread around about 2/3 of a stick of butter cut into small cubes. Sprinkled more cinnamon sugar over top of the cake mix and butter. Threw it all into the oven at 375 for about 35-40 minutes and it came out great. Topped it off with a scoop of ice cream and some more caramel sauce, it turned out great!

So trying to convert this recipe to work at the campsite (except for maybe the ice cream) and to use a whole #10 can, I’m thinking it would look like this:

Caramel Apple Cobbler
#10 can of apple pie filling
1 20-oz bottle caramel sundae syrup
4 Tablespoons cinnamon sugar, divided
1 box caramel cake mix
1 stick butter, cut into small cubes
1-1/3 cup tap water

Open the #10 can of pie filling, and stir in half the cinnamon sugar and about half of the caramel sauce. Pour into the bottom of a 12″ dutch oven (lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil if desired). Pour evenly over the top the box of cake mix, then drizzle the water onto the cake mix as evenly as possible. Top with the butter and sprinkle the remaining cinnamon sugar over the top.

Cook at 375 degrees (17 coals on top / 11 on bottom) for 35-45 minutes or until desired doneness of the cake, changing out the charcoal as needed to ensure proper heating.

Serve with a drizzle of the remaining caramel sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream (if you can get it to the campsite).

I’m thinking that might have to be one we try out at the winter camp out in January!

November Pack Meeting Recap


Pack 19 held their monthly Pack Meeting last night and even though it ran a little longer than expected, it went very well!

The core value of the month was citizenship, and we integrated this and Thanksgiving (which, as a national holiday fits right in there) to come up with our activities. We went with a station rotation idea where boys were split up into groups (each group included different ranks and siblings) and went from station to station where they did some sort of activity that was related to Citizenship.

Station #1 – Flags
At this station, we were outside the church at the flagpoles in the parking lot. Boys (and siblings) learned how to properly raise, lower and fold the US flag. The tie in to citizenship for this one is pretty easy to grasp; also it meets advancement requirements or electives at pretty much every rank level in Cub Scouts.

Station #2 – Cooking
In the church’s kitchen, the kids all made small apple turnovers using pre-made biscuit dough (Kroger brand) and a can of apple pie filling. While they were taking turns doing this their groups also learned the Johnny Appleseed grace and got filled in on the legend of Johnny Appleseed. This is the tie in with the theme, it’s American Folklore.

Station #3 – Cards
In one of the church’s side rooms, we had the boys do a leaf rubbing (and possibly identification, it was supposed to happen but I wasn’t in that room so I don’t know for sure). They turned their leaf rubbing into a Happy Thanksgiving card that the boys will give to a soldier or veteran they or their parents might know. The tie in here is for the boys to recognize the service of our veterans to our country.

Station #4 – Place mats
In another side room, the boys were given a place mat that had a blank map of the first 13 states (plus Ohio). They were supposed to color it in and label the states. Then on the other half of the page they were supposed to draw a famous American and tell what they did. Here’s a link to that coloring book page. The tie in here to citizenship was likewise pretty obvious.

Station #5 – Tic-Tac-Trivia
Back in the main room, we laid down big tic tac toe game squares on the floor with masking tape. We then had the groups answer trivia questions and if they got it right the square they were in was an O. If they got it wrong it was an X. All the questions were related to US History and the flag.

Leaders from each of our five dens ran one of the stations. I ran flags. After our pack meeting opening flag ceremony and a rundown of how things were going to work, the boys went to each station. They got about 10 minutes at each plus 2 minutes of travel, so it took roughly one hour for all the groups to get through all the stations. After the station rotations were done, we gathered back into the main room and did advancements using the ceremony suggested in the Den and Pack Meeting Resource Guide but slightly modified using BSA 2010 paper cups rather than hats. After that came announcements, then we circled up, sang Scout Vespers, did our blessing and went home. The boys grabbed their turnovers on the way out.

Overall I think it went very well, though it ran a little long. While I’m not entirely thrilled about that, my feeling is that if the boys were enjoying themselves that was the most important part.

Advancement – Besides the whole host of stuff that each family will have to go through their rank books to see what got completed, we also incorporated nearly all of the requirements of the US Heritage Silver Award. So I was pleased with how everything went.

Next month is a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T, so that should be an interesting pack meeting to plan. We’ll see how that goes.

YIS,

-Scott

Mmmm…dinner!


Last weekend several boys from both Pack 19 and Troop 18 participated in the John Colter race at the old Camp Hook (now the southern half of Twin Creek Metropark) over in Carlisle. John Colter race is an annual event put on by Troop 572 (also of Middletown). There were several other units in attendance, including Webelos from Pack 572 and Scouts from Troops 725 in the Trenton area and 896 from Hunter. It was a great time and the weather was beautiful!

On Saturday night the adults from Troop 18 and Pack 19 cooked dinner for themselves. While the boys all had hot dogs (or chili dogs) and chips that Troop 572 supplied, we went a little meatier. Back in the April 2010 edition of Scouting Magazine I saw an article with a recipe for a dutch oven meal called the Kalamata Roast. Here’s the recipe:

Beef, Italian Style by H. Kent Rappleye, Scouting Magazine, April 2010
Kalamata Roast

First, you’ll need to preheat your 12-inch Dutch oven to about 275 degrees. That means you’ll want to place 13 coals on top and 7 coals on bottom.

Ingredients

3- to 4-pound beef chuck roast, bone in or boneless
¾ cup beef broth
½ cup brown sugar
1½ teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 large garlic clove, chopped
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, sliced into thin strips
½ cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
1 (10-ounce) jar or 1 cup fresh or frozen pearl onions (not pickled)
Brown roast on all sides in Dutch oven. Pour beef broth over entire surface of roast. Evenly sprinkle remaining ingredients on top in the order listed. Cook low and slow for 3-5 hours. You can maintain this low simmer by placing two additional coals on top and two below every hour or so, depending on the weather.

Note: If you have any leftovers (fat chance), chunk up the meat, pour your favorite marinara sauce over it, heat, and serve with pasta. Amazing!

SERVES ABOUT 8-10

I am a big lover of olives (much to the dismay of my strange olive-hating family), so this recipe sang to me. I’d been wanting to try it out for months. And with Dave Erwin at the camp out – the master of the dutch oven – the opportunity was there. So we made that recipe for dinner, adding just a little bit more liquid, garlic and five or so whole jalapeños from my garden.

HEAVEN!

You all have to try this out! Seriously. Best. Recipe. Ever. Cooking the meat low and slow made it very tender, while you got the saltiness of the olives, the sweetness of the sun-dried tomatoes, and the subtle heat of the peppers. It was seriously Good Eats ™.

(Side note: Am I the only one who thinks Alton Brown should do a whole series of shows on dutch oven cooking over the campfire?)

Along with that we took some good sized baking potatoes, seasoned them up with a little salt, a little pepper and some garlic and hot peppers, wrapped them in foil and tossed them in the campfire coals while the roast was cooking. Those also turned out excellent.

All in all, it was one of the better meals I’ve had at a camp out. I seriously need to get myself a dutch oven with the feet on it so I can start learning to cook these types of things myself!

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