Monday, August 21, 2006

Happy Campers

We're back from our big end-of-summer campout! Last year I relied heavily on meal packets from Mary Jane's Farm. Although I still love them, at around $7 a serving the price was looking a bit too steep. This year I decided to make my own camp tucker using dried or canned foods that wouldn't go bad without refrigeration.

The first night we had the luxury of a fresh green salad from the still-cool cooler, along with a heap o' "High Water Hoppin' John" -- black-eyed peas, precooked brown rice, and a can of collard greens. This recipe was from the clever new cookbook Apocalypse Chow by well-known vegan chef Robin Robertson. The book is a "guide to eating with elegance even when the refrigerator, stove, and microwave are rendered powerless", and it succeeds wonderfully; stock your pantry using these helpful lists and recipes and your family will stay happy and well-fed during the next natural disaster. The recipes rely heavily on canned foods, so it's perfect for car camping where weight isn't an issue.

Speaking of canned food, I didn't want shmoo to miss out on the quintessential campfire "weenie roast" experience, so I brought along a can of Cedar Lake Deli-Franks. Canned veggie dogs frighten me, but shmoo jumped in with gusto and roasted them over the campfire, along with (of course) vegan marshmallows. He gave them both a big, sticky thumbs up!

So what if food weight is an issue? If you're hauling everything into the back country, you're going to want to ditch the cans and find something more lightweight and portable. That's where my favorite camping cookbook of all time comes in: Simple Foods for the Pack. This friendly little book has dozens of easily veganized recipes. Pictured here are Polenta Cakes: sturdy, savory "journey cakes" made at home the night before the trip. These tasty mini-casseroles were filled with zucchini, carrots, tahini, and onion (shhh, don't tell shmoo). I would recommend them highly for the lunchbox.

Ah, and those of you who are addicted to Larabars will be happy to note that this book includes an entire collection of "fudges" made from mashed dried fruits, dates, and nuts. Pictured here is Apricot Date Fudge, made from dried apricots, dates, walnuts, coconut, and a squeeze of lime. This was my husband's favorite campout treat.

On our final night I made another dish from Simple Foods: Sunflower Seed Patties with Shiitake Mushroom Sauce (I left out the milk powder and added more vegetable broth powder to make it vegan). I was amazed that this dish fit easily into two small ziplock bags, weighed almost nothing, and made enough for three generous servings. I opened up some small cans of peas, corn, and spinach on the side.

And finally, for dessert, here's a dish I created especially for our trip: Peach Blueberry Campout Crumble. I've wanted to work with dehydrated Just Blueberries for a long time, and I finally got my chance. The flavor was surprisingly fresh, and they plumped up with just a minute's cooking time.


LadyRachelLynn said...


We are backpackers so I'm glad to see the pack friendly items! Are there any other trail friendly vegetarian books you can recommend?

Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...

Yum! Thanks for sharing.

Jennifershmoo said...

Hi, Lady Rachellynn! I looked at a few camping cookbooks, but "Simple Foods for the Pack" is still my favorite, maybe because I've had it since high school.

"More Backcountry Cooking" had some good general tips and a few vegetarian recipes, but was very dairy- and meat-heavy. Sadly, it even included a section perpetuating the old "protein combining" myth (ppbbtthth!).

I would love recommendations for more vegan-friendly camping cookbooks.

Dana Y. T. Lin said...

I love all the Just Veggies! Just Fruits! products. Looks like you had a great time!

OshinkoTickle said...

Those books look awesome! I added them to my wedding registry! :-)

Vegan Knitting said...

I just saw the campout crumble on your recipe blog before you posted this and wondered. Now I know! It looks great!

Chelee said...


Man I love that Apocolypse Chow. I've already made some recipes out of it and they were good and well received by nonvegans.

Anonymous said...

I'll have to check out Apoclypse Chow. I was wondering how to survive yet another hurricane season here in S. Fla as a vegan! Thanks for the recommendation. As usual, everything looks fantastic!!

OCG said...

Looks like you ate VERY well! I LOVE the colored plates!

I'm a huge fan of Vegan Lunch Box! Thanks for the summer additions!

Take care,


Nicki Baker said...

you've done it again...great ideas!

funwithyourfood said...

the dessert looks great
Just dried bluberries are tasty

Harmonia said...

Simply Amazing! I sure need camping ideas for food! AND POTLUCKS! I will holding our first Veg Potluck the end of Sept. HELP!

SusanV said...

This is a great resource for vegans looking for camping food. People often ask me for advice, but I rarely know what to tell them because my family and I camp the easy way--with a car nearby and a huge 5-day ice chest filled with fresh vegetables. I've never known how we'd do a hike-in type of camping trip, but this is a big help. Thanks!

TsugaMensch said...

Lip Smackin' Vegetarian Backpackin' is a great veggie camping cookbook. Most of the recipes require that you have a food dehydrator, so you can prep at home, dehydrate what you made to make it all nice and lightweight, and then rehydrate it on the trail when it's time to eat.

Jennifershmoo said...

Thanks for the recommendation! I've ordered a copy and can't wait to check it out!

Now that shmoo is older he's such a great little camper; we can't wait to go on more camping trips.

Hope2BVegan said...

I just recently found this blog from the Taste Of Home chats. I love it. Such beautifully prepared and well thought out meals. I am vegetarian, not yet vegan, but you make it look so simple and beautiful. Please keep up the good work.

Roxy said...

Thanks for the superb post, Jennifer! I hope to get a camping trip in before the summer is totally gone, and now I have a whole new perspective on what "camping food" can be. Thanks again!

Nicole said...

Very creative! Love the presentation on the colourful plates.

Xan's Mama said...

Where did you get those adorable spoon-fork-knives?!

I'm behind, so I'm going to go back and check entries to see if you mentioned it before. :)

Jennifershmoo said...

Oh, yeah, I meant to mention the sporks! I found them at REI:

bazu said...

Thank you so much for this post, I tried the peach blueberry campout crumble, even though I'm not camping, because I love crumbles of all kinds, and it was yummy! Now, I'm sad because school has started, and I can't actually go camping. :-( I've also tried many of your other recipes, and they've all been good. Thanks!

Grammy said...

Hey! I live in Cedar Lake. They make those canned 'dogs' you are afraid of right around the corner. :)
I am really glad your little shmoo like them! We do too. In fact, I plan on trying to bake them into the cream canoe pans soon!

tree-hugger said...

Laptop lunchboxes are in our Whole Foods now!!! yay!

Lucie said...

I didn't know Simple Food for the Pack had a new edition. I have the 1970s edition my mom bought back then, and I love that book. Recipes are so good that I make some of them at home, too!

badyoga said...

you make veganism so much easier for me.
i am a very lazy 'cook' and by and large like simple foods but sometimes i want something more complex. thats when i come to your blog and see what you have been cooking (combining) and am good for a few weeks.
thanks you so much,

mani said...

whats with the shitake mushroom sauce. reminds me of prison food and barf.

red said...

thank you


Ben said...

Hi great site thanks. I would highly recommend using large white plates for food photos though. makes food look much more appetising.

Thanks :)

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