Growing up my family never camped, but several of my best friends’ families did, which meant throughout high school I’d tag along with their families or when we were able to drive, our group of girls would go camping together. Those trips were always the best and I fondly think back on those memories and all of the amazing food we ate hunched over at our picnic table, lazy morning sudokus and the rainy nights drinking and playing Monopoly.
About four years ago, I thought it would be fun if Ryan and I got into camping. Since neither of us came from camping families, we were shocked at how expensive it was to start fresh and buy our own gear. But it turned out it was worth it, we love camping and good gear can last a long time!
I love being outdoors in the fresh air and being able to see a sea of stars on a clear night – thankful for an escape from the busy city and light pollution. I love getting out and paddling on the lake, hiking through the woods and staring at the crackling fire. But above all, I love the food. For some reason, you always eat better while camping. Maybe it’s because the only concern while camping is ‘what are we going to eat?’ I love waking up to the smell of bacon, biting into juicy watermelon, eating steak (again) for dinner and tucking into sticky marshmallows at night. When I found out I had to eat gluten free three years ago, one thing that didn’t change much was our camping menu. When I thought about it, most camping foods were naturally gluten free and the only real substitute I needed was graham crackers for s’mores. Today when we go camping, we make our campsite a gluten free haven (except for Ry’s beer of course). By ensuring there is no gluten, it makes me rest assured that I won’t be at risk for cross contamination. Let’s be honest you don’t wash hands and dishes near as well while camping, I like knowing I’m safe.
Breakfast consists of a combination of bacon, sausages, left over potatoes fried up, eggs any style and the always required side of tomatoes and fresh fruit. When I’m well prepared as a treat I sometimes make pancake batter before we leave so that we can have banana chocolate chip pancakes for breaky drenched in pure maple syrup. A couple weeks ago we went camping with my sister and her friend who were both in utter shock of our breakfast spread. They weren’t used to eating that much for breakfast – well, welcome to camping!!
Picnic lunches are best, especially when you eat them while hiking at a nice overlook. It’s easy and delicious to throw together cheese, salami, crackers, veggie sticks and hummus, plump raspberries and juicy cherries. Then to satisfy our hunger while we are out kayaking and hiking during the day, I always try to make a big batch of either peanut butter energy bites or carrot balls to snack on. They are so tasty and full of protein they tide us over until our next meal. And a homemade chocolate chip cookie here and there doesn’t hurt either!!
For dinner… Steak again? While camping at Elora Gorge a few years ago we overheard a young overweight boy complain when he found out his family’s meal that night was going to be steak. The little boy exclaimed in exasperation, “steak again?!” Ever since it’s been a perpetual joke between us – didn’t that kid realize how lucky he was to have steak on the menu? Our dinners while camping involve the grill. Steak or sausages are usually the staple meats, grilled up with zucchini. Quinoa salad is another staple because it’s easy to make ahead and keeps well. Often we also cook up corn on the cob and potatoes in the campfire. Then our late night snack essentials are hot dogs so we can make spider dogs on the fire and a bag of giant three bite marshmallows! I’ll admit that it was sad knowing that I could no longer eat traditional s’mores, but I didn’t skip a beat. I started to improvise by making homemade peanut butter cookies instead and shoving chocolate chips into my marshmallows as chocolate! Mmm yum! Never feel like you can’t enjoy your favourite treat again.
I don’t know why, there is just something about eating while camping. The fresh air, how ravished I always am from all of the outdoor activity. Or maybe it’s much more basic – maybe it’s simply the taste of a perfectly roasted marshmallow!