When I take a stroll around my neighborhood these days, I pick up the aroma of barbecue dinners. These smells often make me think about cooking over a campfire. During several of my childhood summers, I attended a YMCA overnight camp for two weeks. We got to cook hot dogs and marshmallows on a stick over an open fire. I learned the fine art of cooking, but not scorching, those tasty morsels.
We also roasted marshmallows around a campfire at my family’s summer cottage. Since we owned the cottage, however, we didn’t go on overnight camping trips. As a result, aside from hot dogs and marshmallows, I didn’t learn much about camp cooking until I camped in my early 20s with friends. Even then, I often helped the more experienced chefs in the group. I must also admit that it has now been several years since I’ve been camping as my husband and I haven’t taken our three young children farther than backyard camping.
My sister, Karen, and I recently had a good laugh about her experiences with “camping cooking.” After a 75-day National Outdoor Leadership School trip in Alaska, where she cooked lots of delicious breads over a campfire, she was eager to cook them upon her return home. So she bought the NOLS Cookery, edited by Claudia Pearson, which contains recipes for her favorite breads. When she tried to recreate them in her apartment kitchen, however, they didn’t taste all that great.
We both agreed that there is just something about the food when you’re camping. It just tastes different in the great outdoors. Maybe we are just so hungry after being in the fresh air all day and doing all kinds of great outdoor activities. Or, perhaps, the fresh air is an ingredient you can’t bottle and put on your pantry shelf.
In search of a simple and good-tasting camping recipe, I asked my friend Kate Silva and her son, Cole, for some ideas. They shared a recipe for dump cake from Cole’s Cub Scout Troop 007 of Lewiston. Besides the ingredients, all you need is a Dutch oven and a bed of coals to cook the dump cake, a favorite with the Scouts.
They also shared a fun and safe way for kids to cook breakfast while at camp – using a Hobo stove. You take a large metal coffee can and remove one side. Use something like a tuna can filled with cardboard and melted wax on top as a fuel source. Light this fuel source and put the tuna can over the heat. Spray the bottom of the coffee can with cooking spray so kids can use that surface to cook eggs, French toast and even brown sausage. (There should always be adult supervision.)
If you are looking for more easy recipes, check out www.scoutorama.com. I found all kinds of easy recipes submitted by Scouts from all over the country.
Camping is an affordable and fun way to take a family vacation. This summer, grab a tent, your family and head into the great Maine outdoors. Don’t forget your Dutch oven and the ingredients for dump cake.

Dump cake
1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple
1 21-ounce can of pie filling (apple, cherry, blueberry – whatever you like)
1 9-ounce box Jiffy cake mix, vanilla flavor
One stick of butter, cut into small pieces

You need a warm bed of coals and a Dutch oven. The cake needs to cook at about 350 degrees for 30 minutes. One coal is equal to 25 degrees; so if the cake needs 350 for 30 minutes, that would require about 15 coals. Place crushed pineapple on the bottom of the pan. Then place filling over the pineapple. Add Jiffy cake mix to the pot along with the butter cut up, and stir all ingredients. Put half of the coals underneath the Dutch oven and the other half on top of the cover.
NOTE: Use caution when eating the cake, because it will be very hot.
Colleen Lunn Scholer is a freelance writer living in Auburn who likes to cook with her husband and three young children.

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