Sweet May. Once again, the rough winds of early spring have brought us the warmer breath of Maia—May’s namesake—the goddess of fertility. In honor of springtime sunshine, green and warmth, and of course, our annual Outdoor Issue, we bring you four recipes to be enjoyed in the vast landscape of the wild (or in your own backyard). Each recipe, chosen or created by our writers—whose nature adventures and outdoor ponderings never cease to inspire us—is a taste of what fuels their alfresco escapades.
The recipes include a savory camping breakfast by Melyssa Holik, “a crunchy and delicious and addictive…snack to keep your energy up while hiking,”, from Gabriella Marks; Tim Fowler’s Hobo Bundles, which are, he says, “simple to make” and can be cooked over the fire; and Michael Dax’s Thanksgiving on a Spoon, developed on his 2011 Appalachian Trail thru-hike. So from breakfast to dinner, we’ve got the fuel for your day (and night) of outdoor exploration. As Tim puts it, “simple ingredients and simple preparation are the way to go when camping.”
From Melyssa Holik
Tools to bring camping:
12-inch Dutch oven with lid
3 Tablespoons cooking oil
2 bell peppers, diced
2 onions, diced
2-pound bag frozen hash browns—you can keep it frozen and use it as an ice pack in your cooler
Salt and pepper for seasoning
1 pound bacon, ham or sausage, precooked at home
1-2 cups shredded cheese (Monterey jack, cheddar or any kind you prefer)
Flour tortillas, optional
Coat the bottom of the Dutch oven with the cooking oil and place over hot coals. Add half of the vegetables—peppers, onions, frozen hash browns—in a layer on the bottom of the Dutch oven. Season with salt and pepper.
Next, layer the cooked meat on top of the vegetables. Then layer on the second half of the vegetables. For the next layer, use the spoon to make an indentation in the vegetable layer, crack the eggs one at a time and carefully drop them in. Try to avoid breaking the yolks, but if you do, don’t panic, the dish will still taste great.
Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle on a layer of cheese. Cover and cook until egg whites are set and cheese is melted. This will take about 35 minutes for runny yolks, up to 45 minutes for firmer yolks. (This is an approximation; cooking times may vary. That’s camping!)
Optional: Serve in flour tortillas and eliminate the need for plates and silverware. Just wrap it up and you’re good to go.
Disappearing Crackers (aka Life Changing Crackers)
From Gabriella Marks
Recipe by Sarah Britton, from her blog My New Roots
To be made at home before an outdoor adventure
1 cup sunflower seeds
½ cup flax seeds
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
¼ cup sesame seeds
1 ½ cups rolled oats
2 Tablespoons chia seeds
4 Tablespoons psyllium seed husks (3 Tablespoons if using psyllium husk powder)
1 ½ teaspoons fine grain sea salt
1 Tablespoon maple syrup (for sugar-free diets, use a pinch of stevia)
3 Tablespoons melted coconut oil or ghee
1 ½ cups water
rosemary, garlic and smoked salt
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
¼ – ½ teaspoon garlic powder (depending on how strong you like it)
Smoked sea salt, to taste
Fig, Anise and Black Pepper
3 large dried figs (approx. 70 grams)
1 teaspoon anise seed
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients, stirring well. Whisk maple syrup, oil and water together in a measuring cup. Add this to the dry ingredients and mix very well until everything is completely soaked and dough becomes very thick (if the dough is too thick to stir, add one or two teaspoons of water until the dough is manageable). Divide the dough roughly in half, and set aside one half.
Place one half of the dough back into the bowl and add any flavoring you like. Gather into a ball and place it between two sheets of baking paper. Using a rolling pin, firmly roll out into a thin sheet. Remove top layer of baking paper and using the tip of a knife, score the dough into shapes you like (I chose large rectangles but it’s up to you). Repeat with remaining half of dough. Let sit out on the counter for at least 2 hours, or all day or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Using the baking paper, slide the dough onto a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Remove cookie sheet from oven, flip the whole cracker over (if it breaks a bit, don’t worry!) and peel the baking paper off of the back. Return to oven to bake for another 10 minutes, until fully dry, crisp, and golden around the edges.
Let cool completely, then break crackers along their scored lines and store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
Italian Style Hobo Bundles
From Tim Fowler
Recipe by Elaine Johnson, myrecipes.com
About 5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1/3 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus shredded parmesan for serving
3 Tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus whole leaves for serving
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil, plus whole leaves for serving
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon pepper, divided
1 Tablespoon chopped Calabrian chiles or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, plus more chiles for serving
1 pound ground turkey (preferably thigh meat)
1 pound ground Italian sausage (chicken or turkey, preferably bulk)
2 pounds small red potatoes, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-in. chunks or halves
1 large onion, cut into slim wedges
4 medium carrots, sliced diagonally
4 teaspoons cornstarch
In a firepit, build a wood fire about as wide as the cooking grate. Let it burn to low flames and embers (1 to 1 1/2 hours; or use charcoal—see below); fire is ready when you can hold your hand 5 inches above grate only 5 to 7 seconds. Cut 6 sheets of heavy-duty foil into 18-inch squares. Brush or rub center of each with a little oil; set on work surface.
In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, milk, grated parmesan, chopped parsley and basil, 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper, and the chopped Calabrian chile. Add ground turkey and sausage (squeeze it from casings if it’s in links). Stir until well blended, then shape into 18 balls, setting on parchment paper or plates.
Put 3 meatballs in the center of each foil sheet, then divide potatoes, onion, and carrots among sheets. In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup oil, 1/3 cup water, the cornstarch, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper; spoon over ingredients on foil, stirring sauce as you go.
On each bundle, bring 2 opposite sides of foil together across the middle and fold to make a seam 1-inch wide. Fold seam on itself again, then fold it flat on packet. Fold ends on themselves about 1 inch, then repeat to seal securely.
Set bundles on grill and cook, turning over with tongs every 10 minutes, until vegetables are tender and meatballs are cooked through, about 30 minutes (to check, open with a knife).
Protecting hands with grilling gloves, open packets (or snip off ends of foil with scissors) and scoop food onto plates. Snip whole parsley and basil leaves on top and serve with more chiles and shredded parmesan.
For a charcoal fire, ignite a full chimney of briquets once you’ve made the meatballs, and let burn until covered with ash. Spread beneath cooking grate, then ignite a second chimney to add during cooking if needed to maintain a medium fire (see first step); cooking may take up to 1 hour.
Make ahead: Freeze meatballs (second step) on baking sheets lined with parchment paper until solid, then transfer to resealable plastic bags, double-lined with parchment. Pack frozen in your cooler and thaw before cooking (takes 1 to 2 days). You can also chill packets in cooler up to 6 hours.
Chop pickled Calabrian chiles and spoon them over scrambled eggs, smear them on pizza, or tuck them into a sandwich.
The Extravaganza (aka Thanksgiving on a spoon)
Serves two hungry thru-hikers or 3-5 normal people
1 box of stuffing (stove-top preferred)
1 package instant potatoes (any flavor of Idahoan preferred)
4-5 ounces bacon bits
½-cup cheddar cheese (or however much you would like, more is always better)
Boil some amount of water that appears to make sense (hey, it’s camping, there are no exacts). Cook the stuffing for a few minutes before adding the instant potatoes. After all the water has been absorbed, turn off the stove and add the bacon bits and grated cheese. Mix thoroughly and enjoy!
Story by Mia Rose Poris