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The Blonde Cucina: Cooking for the camping crew

by on June 17, 2015 4:41 PM

With summer practically here and school being out, I’m sure many of you are making weekend plans to go to camp or the lake.

Going camping on the weekends is a way of life for some families. They get to enjoy the great outdoors, spend time together and enjoy cooking over an open fire. This writer personally likes camping — you know, the kind where you are in an RV or the kind where you visit friends who are camping, have a meal with them, then go home and sleep in the comforts of your bed, with running water and air conditioning nearby.

Planning a camping trip can be cumbersome for some people. I was at the grocery store the other day and a woman who appeared to be in her 60s had an overflowing cart of food. I could have sworn she was buying for the whole month, but I overheard her telling the cashier that all the food in her cart was solely an upcoming weekend camping trip. I was astonished. I said to myself, “She’s got to learn an easier way to plan her meals and snacks for her camping crew.”

So, after I thought for awhile, what really stuck out in my mind about camping was two things: cooking on an open flame and cooking on sticks. When you really think about it, there are many things you can cook on a stick. So, I'm going to give you a few recipes for camping where the only real tool you need is a stick.

However, before I do that, let’s review some key things that you should bring when you are camping. It really doesn’t matter what you are planning to cook — when you are on a camping trip, there are some key components to food prep that you should always have with you.

First, you will always need a nice big box of matches and some lighter fluid. All of the recipes I’m going to fill you in on will be cooking over an open fire, so you might be out of luck if you don't have these two items.

Next, you need a medium to large lightweight pot, a frying pan, heavy duty aluminum foil and a pack of disposable grill grates that can be placed over a fire pit. With these few items, you can cook virtually anything over that open fire pit. And, don’t forget a few pairs of tongs that can stand up to the heat. Pulling food off an open fire with your bare hands isn’t pleasant.

Finally, since all the recipes this week can be made on a stick, make sure you have a few. They can be metal skewers, disposable skewers from the store or trimmed-down sticks you find while setting up camp.

My suggestion for breakfast when you're in the great outdoors is yogurt parfaits and Hawaiian kabobs. With this meal, you will have your dairy, protein, carbs and fruit. You can pick up yogurt and granola at the grocery story, as well as some strawberries, and there is your parfait. As for your meal on a stick, the Hawaiian kabobs, you need four things — skewers, thick sliced ham, honey and pineapple.



1 pound thick ham slices

1 can pineapple chunks

Honey for drizzling


Cut the ham lengthwise in thirds. Fold over ham slices to make very thick squares. Place ham and pineapple on skewers, alternately. Drizzle honey over the whole skewer. Roast over the fire until warmed up.

The prep work for this recipe can be done at home.


Have some leftover strawberries from the morning's parfaits? For a late night campfire snack, try this delicious treat.



Large strawberries

Marshmallow fluff

Bottled chocolate ice cream shell coating


Put 1 strawberry on the very tip of a skewer. Dip strawberry into marshmallow fluff. Warm over campfire until fluff is golden brown. Drizzle chocolate shell coating on marshmallow.


Here are a couple of recipes that are great for lunch and dinner. And, yes, they both use skewers!



Deli-sliced turkey, 2 slices per 2-inch sandwich segment

Deli-sliced baby Swiss cheese, 2 slices per 2-inch sandwich segment

Freshly baked baguette, sliced into 5 or 6 segments

Baby dill pickles, 2 per sandwich segment

Champagne dill mustard


Cut baguette into 2-inch segments. Split open sections. Spread the inside with champagne dill mustard and fill with sliced turkey and cheddar.

Put a baby dill pickle on each a sandwich piece. Thread sandwich pieces onto each skewer.

Toast over a flame until the cheese melts.

A single serving is usually 3 or 4 segments.



Cherry or grape tomatoes, 6 per person

Mini mozzarella balls, 8 per person

Cooked spaghetti, 6 ounces per person (Prepare this at home and transport to the campsite in a gallon storage bag that has been lightly oiled.)

Serrano ham, 4 slices per person


Salt and pepper

Balsamic vinegar

Pull cold precooked spaghetti out and let it come to room temperature.

Slice each piece of ham in two, so that there are 8 slices per person. Wrap ham around mini mozzarella balls.

Thread skewers with tomatoes and a ham-wrapped mozzarella balls, alternating until there are 6 tomatoes and 8 mozzarella balls on each skewer. Toast over a flame until tomatoes blister.

Split the spaghetti into portions for each camper. Unthread tomatoes and mozzarella and put on pasta. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of vinegar onto pasta.


Who knew camping could be gourmet?


Ciara Semack is the owner of The Blonde Bistro in Bellefonte. She is the mother of one and a lifelong resident of Centre County. Her column appears every other week in the Gazette. Questions, suggestions and comments can be directed to [email protected]
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