Friday, January 4, 2013

Winter cooking

At roundtable last night we discussed winter cooking. I haven't done much in the way of winter camping, mainly because I prefer that, with the Church's 3-night/year 11YO camping restriction, we do our camping in more clement weather. But if you're taking the boys out in the cold, some guidelines we discussed are that a meal should be:
  • Simple/Easy 
  • Fast
  • Hi-calorie
  • Hot
  • Tasty
Pre-cook foods to save time. Or use prepared foods: pre-cooked bacon, instant oatmeal, individual cans of soup or stew. Skip the Dutch oven (who the heck wants to clean that when it's 12 degrees out, anyway?).  If you really need bacon and eggs, crack the eggs into a Ziploc® bag - actually, skip the eggs and the pancakes; simple and quick is the order of the day.

Heat water before leaving, and bring it in a thermos, at least for the evening meal/hot cocoa. With early sunsets and cold temps, you want to spend less time cooking and more time eating your hot comfort food. Cold mornings are even tougher than early darkness the night before, making it even more important to get breakfast going quickly. Winter isn't the time to try gourmet camp meals, unless all your Scouts are already consummate camp chefs.

Ditch the Styrofoam cups in favor of a metal one; it's a hand-warmer when used with soups, instant oatmeal, hot chocolate… (This is debatable, as metal utensils can have a tendency to get too hot).

Heating your food: learn which fuels work best in cold weather - not propane or butane.

Keep the clean-up as simple as the cooking.

Finally, hydration is still just as critical as when wandering around Utah's Basin and Range in late July. Bring plenty of water; melting snow is a last-ditch survival strategy, not a sound planning technique. Keep it from freezing, though.

Here's a fast, easy, hot, tasty recipe, as demonstrated at the meeting:
"Pizza Soup"
In a metal cup, drop in a handful of Oyster crackers. This is the 'crust.' On top of this, pour pre-heated tomato soup from your thermos (or off-brand insulated thingy). Add some pizza seasonings from a ready-made mix. Mrs. Dash can be a good option (I get no kickbacks from mentioning any of these products, they're just what was demonstrated). Then add your toppings: olives, pepperoni, ham, pineapple, Canadian bacon, cheese…, and eat it right from the cup, holding it to your face and warming in the steam and aroma of the soup.
Another easy recipe is chili dogs. Roast weenies over the fire, heat the chili in its original can, put it all together and violá!

Most importantly, all of this is stuff the boys can do themselves.

Another thing at this Roundtable was an Order of the Arrow presentation. I realized that the OA may be a way to salvage an interested boy's Scouting experience from well-meaning adult saboteurs.

Prepared. | For Life.™

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