Spice Up Your Camping Adventures

Hello Friends, Foodies and Fellow Adventurers,

Gourmet Girl Gail here. I recently gave a presentation for a small class at REI in Santa Barbara on how to set up your camp kitchen. Basically, I was able to reenact what we Gourmettes do when we gather in Big Sur for our annual camping trip.

Even though REI in S.B. is a comparably small store to some others, they had many of the items Gourmet Girl Denise and I have purchased over the years. What they didn’t have I brought from home, like the mandoline and garlic press. What? You might ask. Why? Do you play music while you’re cooking at the campsite? LOL! Notice the difference in spelling. A mandoline is a cooking utensil used for slicing and for cutting juliennes. Its name comes from the wrist-motion of a skilled user of a mandolin, which resembles that of a player of the musical instrument mandolin. The culinary kind is Denise’s must-have when preparing our cast iron ratatouille at the campsite.

You might also question the need for a garlic press. That’s my go-to item for almost every meal. Garlic is an ingredient for many of the recipes in our Gourmet Girls Go Camping Cookbook. And garlic is super healthy, but in order to get the nutritional benefits of garlic (without popping a whole raw piece of garlic in your mouth), you need to press the garlic and let it rest. That’s right, for about ten minutes. I read about this in an awesome book titled Eating on the Wild Side. I highly recommend it.

I also demonstrated the awesome Volcano Grill. In recent camping trips, I’ve taken to cooking one-pot meals in a Le Crueset skillet on this grill.

I’ve made Camping Coq au Vin (p 112 in our cookbook) and Dutch Oven Chicken Marbella adapted to the grill (p 114) in the same skillet. Other recipes not in our cookbook, like Shrimp Scampi and a Cajun Shrimp and Sausage Vegetable Skillet, deserve a nod. They were delicious! Is your mouth watering yet?

I made the presentation interactive by passing around various items like our knife pack and the aforementioned mandoline and garlic press. And our cookbook, of course. I spoke about how to pack your cooler when going on a three- or four-night camping trip. And I welcomed questions throughout the presentation. I was a bit miffed when one of the participants asked, “If you had to take only five spices on your next camping adventure, what would they be?” Hmm, I mentioned cumin, sumac (delicious on eggs or a piece of feta), and a couple of others. In the audience, Gourmet Girl at Large, Seyburn Zorthian, chimed in, “And you need one strong dried leaf herb to add to the mix, like oregano.” I agreed immediately, thinking about the Ravioli al Pomodoro Fresco in our cookbook (p 151). It’s something we like to make the first night upon arrival at a campsite because it’s super easy and so satisfying after a long drive and setting up camp. You can also boil up some regular pasta on your camp stove!

What’s on your spice shelf that you can include in your camp provisions? Why not take a look!

Throw out any expired ones and invest in a few fresh herbs and spices that you can put into smaller containers. One camping hack I’ve read about is to put the spices into empty Tic-Tac containers. What a great idea!

If you’ve got any tips for using spices and herbs in your camp cooking, please let us know in the comments section here. We love hearing from our readers!

In the meantime, keep on adventuring and enjoying the great outdoors!


Gail, Denise, and Lindsey

#gourmetgirlsonfire #campfirecooking #herbsandspices




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