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After far too long Simon and I made it back to the woods for two nights of winter camping at Maple Leaf Lake in Algonquin Park. This was our third winter camping trip and once again we wished we could have stayed longer. We had some wonderful fires and walks on icy lakes. We came back refreshed and even a little tanned. It just goes to show that you don’t need to fly south to have a vacation in winter!
Winter camping presents its own set of challenges, but one of the benefits is that you can bring a variety of foods that you normally couldn’t in summer. In the end everything stays frozen. In the coming weeks, I’ll post some special winter camping recipes, but first I wanted to share a camp recipe that is good in both summer and winter. It is one of our favourites and we take it a long on every trip.
The key to preparing your food for camping is to pack everything you need for each meal in ziplock bags. Never ever bring food in all its original packaging. You want to save as much space and weight as possible so bringing only what you need is essential. I pack each breakfast and supper in a ziplock bag and mark how much water is need and other instructions on the outside.
This recipe is for a breakfast omelet and it is the perfect filling fuel for a day in the woods. Believe it or not eggs can be easily brought in with you. In summer, I try to eat the eggs on the first breakfast so they don’t go bad, but eggs do keep quite well. Here are the instructions for your own special eggy breaky in the backcountry.
Backcountry Breakfast Omelet (breakfast for one, multiply as needed)
- 1 freezer ziplock bag
- three eggs
- add ins: bacon bits, grated parmesan cheese, chopped green onions, salt and pepper
Break your eggs into the ziplock bag (1 bag per person). Dump in your add-ins. Push all the air out of the bag and seal. If you are more than one, group the egg bags in one larger ziplock bag for added protection and ease of storage.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil on either a camp fire or your camp stove. Put the individual egg bags in the water. Don’t worry, the ziplock bag won’t melt. Let the bags sit in the hot water for several minutes.
Every once in a while pull them out and push on them a bit to allow any raw egg to spill out above the cooked exterior. This will reduce the cooking time. Once the eggs are cooked, dump them into your bowl and enjoy the tasty omelet with a cup of coffee or tea.
I love cooking and I am crazy about camping and if I can put the two together I am a real “happy camper”. While there are lots of pre-packaged camp meals on the market, I am not a fan of them. They are very expensive and I don’t find they taste good. I also really enjoy preparing food in the woods. I know for many people packing food for a five day trip in the wilderness is daunting and I intend to post a lot of tips on how to do this. However, I couldn’t resist to first share one of my favourite backcountry recipes.
Imagine sitting on a isolated island beside a little fire as the morning fog lifts off the water. Imagine having a hot cup of coffee and a delicious orange biscuit with butter. Heaven! This is one of my favourite camping recipes and one I look forward to on every trip. This recipe does break my rule of not bringing heavy fresh produce in the woods. However, if you have been camping for more than few days, the taste of even a little fresh fruit can really put an extra spring in your step. I usually limit myself to one such treat. I make this recipe for breakfast, but the idea is adaptable and I while give more hints at the end.
Biscuits Baked in an Orange (serves 2)
- pack two oranges in your food bag (pick nice ones as these are a special treat)
- Mix in a bowl:
- 1 cup flour
- pinch of salt
- 1 Tbsp. milk powder
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 Tbsp. shortening
- optional: cinnamon, touch of sugar
- Dump the mixture into a sturdy ziplock freezer bag and write on it with a marker “biscuits: 1/2 c. water”
- pack enough foil to wrap around each orange twice
- if you want an extra treat pack some butter in a little ziplock sandwich bag to put on the biscuits
At the camp site:
- get up and enjoy the view and have someone start working on the coffee
- build up a small fire with good coals
- while enjoying the fire have your coffee and cut your oranges in half and eat them out with a spoon
- you will now have two empty orange “bowls” each
- slowly pour a little water into your ziplock bag and mush it around to mix (don’t add too much too soon)
- stop adding water when the mixture is thick and goopy
- spoon the mixture into the orange halves
- wrap them up in foil and make a little tent on top, so the foil doesn’t stick to the biscuit mix
- clear a little flat spot among the hot coals and place the four orange halves in there
- cooking time: (be patient!) this will depend on how hot your fire is, but give them at least 15-20 minutes before carefully checking one
- enjoy your biscuits with some butter if you brought it
- Instead of biscuit mix, try some muffin mix. You can easily buy muffin mix or make your own, but make sure you only need to add water to it.
- Instead of slicing the oranges right in half, you can lop the top off like a pumpkin and fill one whole cavity. I find the biscuits take far too long to cook this way. However, this type of orange bowl is perfect to make cake in! Rather than your biscuit mix, pack some store-bought cake mix that only requires adding water. Now fill the oranges with the cake mix. It will take longer to cook, but I assume you will be eating it after dinner and will have time to watch the fire while they cook.