Wednesday, May 6, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Twelve for $40: This is not your grandfather’s camping trip

By
From page A6 | July 18, 2012 |

Car camping is meant to be an inexpensive vacation — but, by the time you’ve filled the car with gas, replaced the mysteriously missing sleeping bag, paid the campground fees and bought wood, it starts to look a little pricey! If you add in a few steaks and such, a two-day camping trip starts looking like a luxury vacation. On the other hand, who wants to spend their vacation eating ramen?

Not to worry! Some of the same dishes we know and love from the $12 for 40 menus translate beautifully to camping world. For all of them, you’ll need a medium-sized, fairly deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid, a knife and cutting board, and a wooden spoon or the like. If you do your measuring ahead of time, that’s all the equipment you’ll need. I do my cooking on a catering burner that runs on canned butane, both available at the hardware store, but you can use whatever rig you have, or even manage over an open fire with the right pan.

A little advance prep goes a long way, and specific tips for each dish are included below. Where it says “package” you can take your choice: I like zipper bags for dry ingredients and quart canning jars, which happen to fit perfectly in my ice chest, for chilled things. I use carry-out salsa containers from Dos Coyotes, well washed, for spices and small amounts of things like nuts and grated cheese. I usually pack all of the chilled ingredients for a dish together in a gallon zipper bag, which makes it easy to find everything.

In all cases, wash produce and trim off any unwanted parts. Measure ingredients and only take what you need. Fill little containers with salt, pepper, etc. Fill a small squeeze bottle with oil, pack it in a zipper bag and keep it in the ice chest — it will thicken up, making it much easier to transport.

In addition to the ingredients for these dishes, I usually pack a jar of carrot sticks, some washed fruit, a big container of homemade muffins (which serve as breakfast and snacks) and salami, cheese and crackers (which serve as lunch and snacks.) Squeeze packs of nut butter and hummus are always a nice addition.

Rather than pricing this as a complete menu like we usually do, we’ve calculated the cost of each dish, keeping each one under $6.60 total. All of them except for the muffins are complete meals, with at least one vegetable and a protein. The servings are on the modest size, since leftovers aren’t a bit desirable on a camping trip! It’s better to have people reach for snacks to fill out the meal than to have to figure out how to dispose of three spoonfuls of leftover pasta in raccoon territory.

Super Speedy Camping Pasta
2 teaspoon oil
1 small red pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoon vegetable broth powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups water
6 ounces of pasta shapes
1 small head broccoli
1 can tuna, well-drained
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan
1/4 cup almonds, slivered
salt and pepper to taste

Before you go: Measure pasta into ziplock. Don’t cut broccoli up ahead of time — it gets stinky fast! Do wash and trim before packing. Measure almonds and grated cheese into small containers.

Dice pepper. Cut broccoli into florets. Sauté pepper in oil in until crisp-tender. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add red pepper flakes, veg broth powder and water. Add pasta and broccoli and cook, covered, until pasta is tender. Stir in remaining ingredients and season to taste. ($5.58, with oil, garlic and spices from the pantry.)

Vegetable Fried Rice
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
8 mushrooms, quartered
2 zucchini, sliced
2 cups cooked rice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Before you go: Cook rice, cool and package. Wash veggies but do not cut. Measure soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and red pepper flakes together into a small container.

Scramble eggs and set aside. Cook onions and peppers in 1 tablespoon oil for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and zucchini and cook two minutes. Throw in cooked veg and bean sprouts and cover pan. Let steam 4 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until hot through, about 2 minutes. Add eggs. Mix remaining ingredients together and drizzle over rice. Stir and serve. ($6.05, with oil, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and spices from the pantry.)

Chard with Beans and Bacon
1 tablespoon oil
2 strips bacon
1 onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon honey or sugar
1 bunch chard
1 can cooked pinto or navy beans
salt and pepper to taste

Before you go: Cook bacon, cool and package. Put red pepper flakes, oregano, vinegar and honey together in a small container. Wash chard, tear out chard stems and package.

Add oil to skillet and cook onion until nicely browned. Add garlic, spices, vinegar and honey and bring to a boil. Add chard leaves and cook, covered, to taste. Stir in beans and heat. Crumble bacon over top. ($4.91 with oil, garlic, vinegar, sugar and spices from the pantry.)

Cool Quinoa Salad
Dressing:
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup oil
salt

Salad:
3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup corn kernels
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
3 scallions, thinly sliced (including green parts)
1 ripe medium tomato, diced

Before you go: Make entire salad ahead of time and store in zipper bag or canning jar.

Rinse quinoa well. Add water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer on low for about 15 minutes. Let stand a few minutes and fluff with a fork. Let cool. Whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside to meld. Mix cooled quinoa with remaining ingredients and add dressing to taste. ($6.60 with garlic, spices and oil from the pantry.)

Lemon Almond Blueberry Muffins
Mix in a large bowl:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat bran
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped almonds

Mix in a different bowl:
1 cup plain, nonfat yogurt
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk, water or juice
1/2 cup blueberries
(1 teaspoon lemon extract)

Before you go: Make ahead of time and carry along with you. May be frozen.

Preheat oven to 375. Grease muffin tins.
Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and combine quickly. Lumps are OK; don’t beat this batter or you’ll have exceedingly tough muffins. Fill muffin tins about two-thirds full and bake 20-25 minutes. Makes 12 muffins. ($3.60 total, or 30¢ per muffin, with baking powder, salt and lemon extract from the pantry.)

— A new “Twelve for Forty” menu is available free of charge every Friday afternoon at the Davis Food Co-op, 620 G St. Back issues also are available. Email Julie Cross at [email protected]

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