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Camp Cooking: Explore More, Eat Even Better

It’s that time of year when the northern hemisphere takes its seasonal bow towards the sun. The air starts to warm, the trees begin to bud, and people – after being cooped up inside all winter – are compelled to get outside. When this urge hits, some take a stroll around the block while others opt to sit on the patio. However, some people follow the desire to its ultimate end and spend the night or two camping. After battling the cold weather, it’s a pleasant change to be able to spend the night outdoors in harmony with the natural world. These are the goldens days we look forward to all year long.

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In August 2015, we left our jobs, our friends, and our apartment in Los Angeles to embark on an indefinite road trip across the US and Canada. Since then we have been traveling full-time, working from the road, and camping out nearly every day of the way. We’ve traveled up the west coast, across British Columbia and Alberta, and down the Rocky Mountains.  And while many people are looking forward to summer weather, we doubt anybody is as excited about it as we are. (It was a long, long winter.)

During our road trip, we started a camp cooking and outdoor travel blog called Fresh Off the Grid. What started as a project to document our culinary adventures, slowly turned into our full time occupation. To date, we’ve cooked over 500 meals under the open sky, and plan to cook a fair deal more this coming summer.

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A lot of people are intimidated by the idea of cooking at a campsite, while others feel confined to a narrow menu of camp food classics. We completely understand. We felt the exact same way when we started out. But since we were going to be camping full-time, we figured we couldn’t subsist off hot dogs and baked beans indefinitely. We were going to need to eat “real food”. So we set about coming up with camp-friendly versions of the meals we liked to eat at home.

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When we’re camping, we have limited space to carry supplies, so we try to strip down the ingredients in any particular recipe to contain just the essentials. We also have limited fuel, so we try to keep our cook times pretty short. And since we hate doing dishes, we try to use as few pots and pans as necessary (ideally just one). The result are recipes that have all the same characteristics of a home cooked meal, just simplified for camping.

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So this summer, if you’re looking for some ways to expand your camp cooking repertoire, we have a couple of ideas to spark your imagination.

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Asparagus Pancetta Skillet
With asparagus coming into season, it has never been easier to incorporate a few vegetables into your breakfast routine. This asparagus pancetta skillet is an easy way to take your potato hash to the next level.

Sweet Potato Southwest Burger
Combining sweet potato, white bean, and panko style bread crumbs, these vegetarian burgers can be made ahead and cooked at your campsite. Pan-fry or cook on the grill over an open fire.

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Blackberry Old Fashioned
A new twist on an old drink, this muddled blackberry old fashioned is the perfect way to unwind at the end of the day.

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Sweet Potato Tacos
Balancing chewy sweet potatoes with spicy green chiles, these vegetarian tacos provide big southwestern flavor with each and every bite. Pan fry or cook on the grill over an open fire.

S’more Granola Bar
A campfire classic, now in granola bar form. These chewy s’more granola bars are the perfect portable treat to take with you on your next hike.

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Toasted Oats, Peaches and Blueberries Yogurt Bowl
If you have access to a cooler, this fruit and yogurt bowl can be a wonderful way to start your morning in the outdoors. Toasted oats, chia seeds, and maple syrup help elevate this breakfast experience.


megan + michael copyFresh Off the Grid is a camp cooking and outdoor travel website written on the road by Michael van Vliet and Megan McDuffie. They provide culinary inspiration for overlanders, car campers, and backpackers by developing easy-to-cook recipes that are designed with the limitations of cooking in the outdoors in mind. They are currently cooking their way across North America in their 2-door Ford Focus hatchback, which they’ve converted into a micro-camper.

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