Monday, May 24, 2010

Camping. Campfires. Camp food!

by Darla


My boys and me, halfway up Cadillac Mountain, Maine



I spent the last three days roughing it in Acadia National Park (Maine, US) with my boys (two legged and four legged alike). We had zero cell service (yikes!), minimal cold weather gear (oops!), but lots of good camping food (hooray!).

Bar Harbor, Maine



The lack of cell service was a blessing in disguise. The cold weather gear? In May? Yes. Cold weather gear in May…this is Northern Maine after all. We were barely comfortable in what we had. Thank goodness for campfires! Not only did it keep us warm, but it helped provide our yummy meals, and a hot, tasty meal can go a long way in making you feel better.


I decided to share my favorite campfire meal today, in honor of my family’s awesome weekend away. But I don’t have any food photos, as this was a last minute decision. I’ve inserted some scenic photos of Maine for your viewing pleasure, though, and my recipe for Campfire Chicken and Dumplings is below!

Sunrise over the Atlantic and a Maine lobsterman hauling in an early catch

Campfire chicken and dumplings can be prepared ahead of time and cooked at your campsite, giving you the opportunity to have a filling, comforting, hot meal while you’re “roughing” it, without the necessity of bringing along a million kitchen supplies, along with coolers and ice. To make things more portable, most of the ingredients are prepared at home, ahead of time. Cut the vegetables at home and place them together in a zip top bag. The same is true for the soup seasonings and the dumpling ingredients.

Hand carved Native American monument – Ellsworth, Maine



The recipe calls for a total of one stick of butter or margarine, as well. If you’re only camping for a weekend, then taking butter along shouldn’t be an issue. If, however, you’ll be camping longer, then I recommend making this recipe on one of the first nights, so you don’t have to worry about the butter getting damaged, melting, or spoiling. The same is true for the chicken used in the recipe, if you don’t have access to freeze dried poultry, but you don’t have to add any chicken to the soup at all, and it’s still very yummy.

The view from Cadillac Mountain – The highest point in the Northeast U.S.



I’ve made this soup several times while camping and it’s always delicious, and always a hit! Best of all, though, is how little room the ingredients take up and how easily it all comes together. And it doesn’t have to be limited to camping! This mixes up fast and easy at home, and you have the luxury of fresher ingredients and extra spices and flavors, if you desire.

High tide at Thunder Hole, Acadia National park, Maine



If you’re sick of hot dogs for your camping meals, you should definitely try this out! I think you’ll be very happy you did! Enjoy!




Campfire Chicken and Dumplings


Ingredients



FOR THE SEASONINGS
1-2 teaspoons salt, to taste
1/2-1 teaspoon pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme


FOR THE BROTH
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced

1 cup peas (optional)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) margarine or butter
1 small (about 2 lbs.), whole rotisserie chicken, pre-cooked (optional) or
1 lb. precooked boneless, skinless chicken breast (optional) or
5 ounces freeze dried chicken (optional)


5 teaspoons chicken bouillon or base, plus
4 cups water
OR
2 cans low-sodium chicken broth


FOR THE DUMPLINGS

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) margarine or butter
1 cup water

To make the seasonings: Combine the salt, pepper, onion powder, thyme, and bay leaf in a small zip top bag. Seal until ready to use.

To make the soup: Melt the margarine or butter in a large stockpot set over the fire. Add the carrots and celery and cook until beginning to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the flour and seasonings. Slowly add the water (or chicken broth), stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Allow to come to a simmer, then add the bouillon, if using. Add the chicken, if using, and allow to cook for 10 minutes at a simmer. If you elect to use freeze dried chicken, follow the instructions on the packaging for reconstituting the chicken before adding it to the soup. You may have to move the pot so that it isn’t directly over the fire to get the appropriate heat. Stir in the peas, then add the dumplings.


To make the dumplings: Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large zip top bag. When you are ready to cook the dumplings, add the softened butter or margarine and work it into the flour mixture with your fingers, until the dough resembles wet sand with some pea-sized pieces. Add the water to the bag and seal the top. Use your hands to mix the ingredients by squeezing and moving the ingredients around inside the bag. Once it forms a cohesive dough, drop golf ball-sized pieces of the dough into the simmering broth. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes. Serve hot.


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 bttrflybabydoll May 24, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Looks like you guys had a great time! Your posts will be missed while you're moving, but of course it's expected. Moving is hard enough, but moving over seas will be incredibly difficult. Have fun!

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