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.