Perhaps you prefer to keep camping cuisine simple: hot dogs and canned beans.
(Plus fruit cocktail for dessert. Look, pals and gals, you chose “simple.” Enjoy your syrup-drowned, hard chunks of fruit. Live with your choices.)
Conversely, maybe you want to keep meals gourmet: you probably aren’t camping.
We are! Having gone over the basic rules last time, here’s the gist of C.T. camping cuisine theory: Simple. Fun. Delicious.
Hey, I know, let’s make not one, but two campetizers: 1. Guacamole, and 2. Deviled eggs. No, we aren’t reinventing the wheel here at Campfire Tales, but we are packing a lighter wheel, raising the campfire cuisine bar, and still leaving time over for you to go float down the river wedged into an inner tube.
You’re on vacation. In the wilderness. Behave accordingly.
Here’s what you need:
Remember “simple?” Salt appears in the photos twice. Remove either one; use any salt you prefer (the same kind) in both recipes. (The finer the salt, the more potent, meaning a little goes a long way.)
Paprika can be replaced with ANYTHING you like better or have on hand; for instance, instead of using paprika, leave pepper out of the recipe and garnish with that instead.
- Cutting Board (or improvise)
- Fork (Grater! Smasher! Scooper!)
- Plastic bag (Or, see “Fork”)
- Juicer (not necessary, but also helpful making brunch, or camptails)
You don’t need my help making guacamole. Just for reference, I use about 1 lime and 1/2t. salt for every 2 avocadoes. Go light on both lime and salt to start, then keep adding and tasting. Here are a few more tips:
- This is a crowd-pleaser, but also a crowd activity. “You! Juice these limes.” “You! Peel those avocadoes.” “You! Open the chips.” Feel free to issue commands. Yell, if necessary (you’re outdoors, so that makes it OK). Also, kids love smashing things. If you bring a potato smasher = extra fun. You’re fun, right? Good planning means anticipating needs.
- Why is guacamole perfect for camping? It’s not just interactive, but there is no refrigeration required. From the bear box right into your belly!
- As for the belief that pits keep the guacamole from browning = true, but only by blocking a pit-shaped blob of goo from exposure to the air. Plastic wrap would do a better job, but that’s not eco-friendly. Lime juice helps, so get that in there as quickly as possible. (“Smash, children, SMASH!” Now, roar at them like the Hulk. The Hulk is green. Guacamole is green. And so are you, eco-friendly camper!) Make guacamole fast, then serve it immediately.
- Choosing avocadoes = Lightly squeeze them. If they feel like they will give – stop! Don’t bruise them! They are ready. If they feel full of air… Eww. Too late. Brown inside. Avoid.
- Speeding up avocado ripening = Smarty-pants chefs say, “Put them in a paper bag,” and, “An apple speeds up ripening.” Maybe… Go for it, if you want to! I buy a bunch of “close” avocadoes in advance, then only take the ready ones camping. The rest will be ripe by the time I get home.
- Extra juicy limes = Lay your palm on a whole lime on a hard surface. Push down: use tough love, but don’t bully the lime. Roll it back and forth. Break it down. (OK to An Officer and a Gentleman drill sergeant your citrus. Or even Private Benjamin the tangy fruit. But definitely don’t Biloxi Blues your limes.) The limes will be juicier when you cut them open.
Before moving on to recipe two, a visual would help, right?
Yes, guacamole fills an egg nicely. Mind blown?
I know you saw the photo of required ingredients above, but please ignore it. (Like the corn chips in one photo, and the blue corn chips in another… Use the chips you like.) Deviled eggs are flexible. So, flex.
(Please don’t make me be punny. Oh no, too late. “Be fleggsible, people.”)
- How does this work? You cook the eggs at home, then finish up on site.
- Cooking the eggs = Eggs in pan. Cover with water (just until they float). Salt? If you want… I have yet to notice the difference. High heat. Bring to a boil. (Simmer = small bubbles; boil = big bubbles.) Boil 1 minute. Put the lid on. Pull off the heat (meaning, move to a cool burner). Leave for 12 minutes. (That’s my number. I’ve heard between 10 and 18 minutes. They seem done at 10, but are a little “wet” I think. But, too long and they turn grey.) Then, put eggs directly into cold water. (A tray of ice in a bowl of water.) So easy!
- Peeling eggs = Wait until you are camping, or peel at home. If at home, roll cooled eggs like a lime (see above, but with not as much pressure). Peel under running water. If peeling while camping = camptivity! (Home is easier. However, peeled while camping means the shell protects the egg longer, and you have more help. Decide according to your schedule, and access to cooler ice.)
- Halve the peeled eggs. (Wipe you knife off regularly if you want them pretty/clean.) Remove yolks. Grate the yolks as fine as possible in a bowl. (Keep rubbing through the tines of a fork until it’s as sand-like as possible.)
- Add flavorings:
- Mustard and/or mayo. Look at your choices on the grocery store shelf. Soooo many choices. Get inspired! (See the mustard in the photo? Jalapeño mustard; two flavors in one! No extra work.) Bring a sealed bottle camping; no need to refrigerate it until open. (Thus, more space in your cooler; take the eggs out, then put the open bottle back in.) Buy the smallest bottle available. Use individual condiment packs. (Save freebies from the deli.) Mustard is pretty stable, and can survive a short camping trip. Mayo? Be cautious. These suggestions are meant to help you bring mayo camping and use it; not necessarily to take unused mayo home.
- Other recommended additions: wasabi, horseradish, curry powder (definitely not together).
- SALT. There’s none in the egg white base; it all goes in the filling. Salt coveys the flavor of the filling, so put enough in to make up for the lack in the egg white base. Egg whites that don’t survive the peeling process make excellent “filling tasters” to check the flavor balance. You aren’t looking for a salt flavor; you want mustard or curry or wasabi or whatever you chose as your main flavor, with salt as the supporting flavor.
- Extra yolks. If you have extra yolks (because you filled guacamole into some of the egg whites), transfer the extra yolks over to here. Nothing says you can’t have extra-creamy double-yolk eggs!
- Try pre-made dips, like artichoke or blue cheese or salsa or Trader Joe’s latest “available until you’re hooked on it, then discontinued once you love it” dip. First, add a spoonful or two to your filling, then serve the rest with the chips. Two uses in one! Warnings: Chunky fillings impede the baggie method (below); if your filling is chunky, scoop it into the egg base with a fork. And watery dips like salsa can make things soggy. Drain the water before adding as a flavoring.
- Try to keep the balance “firm” and “eggy” — you don’t want goop.
- As with the guacamole recipe, add flavorings; taste; adjust. Keep tasting until satisfied. If it seems close or like there should be enough of everything — more salt is usually the answer!
- The Baggie Method = Fill a baggie with filling. (Maybe the bag you brought the eggs in?) Cut away a tiny corner (about 1/2 a fingernail width). If you’re not sure, start small, and then expand. Squeeze the filling into the egg whites. (How much? I always calculate based on how much extra filling I added. This is where those extra yolks REALLY help.) Overfull eggs are hard to hold and eat. Be generous, but not so generous it makes a mess.
- Garnish = Paprika, cayenne, pepper, curry powder, corn chips, etc. What did you put in the filling? More of it CAN be good, but don’t go overboard. A touch of wasabi might enhance, but a huge glob might punish.
Finally, you can put eggs out on a plate, but if you get my intention here: a little extra effort put in makes camping that much more special. Beer and chips around the fire is camping (and I love that too).
Campetizers and Camptails make it an event inside an event. Camping is mostly 1. Food, and 2. Activity. Combine them!
To that end, I have taken the first container below camping many times. The trays come out, and I can use the almost 9×13 tray to store other food. It seems impractical here, but it’s very useful, especially once the ice in the cooler turns to slush. I bought it from a co-worker selling Tupperware years ago; no idea if they still have it.
The second container looks awesome, and can hold either deviled eggs OR pie (OR two short pies!). The lid pops up for tall pies. I bought it from Amazon last year. Sadly, I haven’t put it to use yet…