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This next weekend I am taking the PLC on a planning retreat campout. One ASM and I will be with them, and will be doing all of the cooking. I would like to give them some good ideas of fairly easy to prepare food that would step up what they are eating when they cook. They seem to do the same low quality meals every month.


I am a reasonably good cook, but not very experienced with camp cooking. I also tend to use ingredients that would not appeal to the boys and may be out of their price range. We will have access to propane stoves and fires for dutch ovens. Any ideas for some easy to prepare, cheap to make dishes that might spark a PL to step up the cooking his patrol does at the next campout?

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Most dutch oven stuff is pretty easy...


My boys like the chuckwagon stew I make for dinner, I will make bicuits too. Or how about a pork roast or loin in the dutch oven, with kraut or veggies.....


Breakfast I like doing a breakfast pizza in the dutch oven.....just google it.... Mountain mans breakfast is a favorite too.


Dessert the typical dump cake rules.....I do like the mississipi mud cake better.....



When you say low quality exactly what are you talking about, cold cuts, hot dogs and poptarts.


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When I said low quality I was thinking about the tortilla pizzas they always seem to make. Tortilla, dump on pizza sauce, precooked sausage and cheese, warm up and eat. They also almost always do breakfast burritos. That's not bad, but I think some of those patrols have had breakfast burritos on their menu for every campout this year. They need some imagination.


We don't normally allow hot dogs or poptarts. You aren't learning anything by eating something already precooked. Depending on what we are doing, sometimes we allow for cold sandwiches based on time constraints. So it's not that they aren't cooking, they just aren't cooking much quality or variety.

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I printed out some sections of the Dutch Oven Cookbook and at a troop meeting I laid these pages out on the floor. The scouts had a chance to look at about 15 different dutch oven dinner meals and select one that sounded good to them. They then had to use the recipe they selected to prepare the grocery list. The patrols were issued a dutch oven, and for the evening meal they followed the recipe and cooked their food. Sometimes it came out wonderfully, and sometimes not. The dutch oven pizza was not good, but the beef or chicken stews were.


I would give the boys a choice of, say, 5 evening meals, and encourage them to make a team effort of cooking their meals. You can even hold a contest, judged by the SPL, and award the winning patrol something, like ice cream or brownies, for desert.


Next campout do the same for the breakfast meal. Don't put the breakfast burrito menu out for them.


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Any recipe that calls for a 9" X 13" pan can be adapted to the dutch oven. 2 dutch ovens and 2 - 9" pie pans can do the same recipe as a 9" X 13". Use 3 stones in the bottom to hold the pie pans up off the bottom and 15 briquettes on top and 9 briquettes underneath with doubled up aluminum foil to keep the ground from absorbing the briquettes' heat and you're good to go. The oven will bake at 350-degrees for 1 hour and then the briquettes will need to be changed out.


One pot meals vary for everyone's taste. All the goodies for oriental meal dumped in dutch oven (stir fry style), cover with a bottle of sweet/sour sauce, do the rice in separate pot. You're good to go.


Standard meats cooked and then dumped with sauces, BBQ, sauerkraut, sweet kraut w/applesauce (pork/chicken), apple pie filling with BBQ sauce is also a favorite.


Doctor up the beans with onions, green peppers, hamburger, pre-cooked bacon, smother with cheese to be browned on top.


Stews, but instead of using water, use apple juice instead.


A wok works well on a campfire.... Start with some basic meat, toss in everything but the kitchen sink you think the boys would like and serve over rice or noodles. Splash it a bit with soy or teriyaki, maybe a bit of chili hot oil.


Fajitas are quick and easy in a wok for the internationally inclined. Serve in a soft taco shell with the fixin's.


95% of my campfire cooking is done on a griddle, wok or dutch oven. The other 5% is when I cook using my mess kit for a meal just for me.







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Our Scouts never get tired of "Pizza Hot Dish." The Troop tradition is a baked evening meal for First Class cooking. For practice, they first cook the three meals at home (in a regular oven) for their family, and count it for Cooking Merit Badge.


Pizza Hot Dish


2 pkg Crescent rolls

8 oz Shredded Cheddar Cheese

1 jar Pizza Sauce

8 oz Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

1-1/2 lb Ground Beef


Brown ground beef, drain. Line dutch oven with 1 pkg of crescent rolls. Spread pizza sauce on dough. Add browned beef, the cheeses and use second pkg of rolls to form a top crust. Bake 30 min. at 350. Serves about six.


The recipe is from Dutch Oven Cookbook, free at MacScouter:




Yours at 300 feet,





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"The Scout's Outdoor Cookbook" by Christine and Tim Conners


Great book. I have read it from front to back. Easy read. Very well organized. Each recipe has been tested and placed into categories based on difficulty, required equipment and meal type. Many have notes. Equipment includes DO, pots, foil and skillets on charcoal, fire, stove or grill.


I also like the idea of giving the scouts several choices within their skill level to help ease them out of their comfort zone. Success creates more experimentation. Then expand from there.


There is a local scout with exceptionally superb cooking skills. His parents are both chefs. The troop is already in a panic as he gets closer to aging out. ;-)


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Perhaps an old idea that might seem radical if you've never done it before - pre-cooking. Freeze-dried backpacking meals are pre-cooked - just add boiling water and serve - why not pre-cook at least portions of some meals?


For instance, pre-cook Beef Tips in Provencal Sauce (essentially a stew that would otherwise take a couple hours of prep/cook time). At dinner, warm that up in one pot while boiling up some wide egg noodles in another pot - serve the beef tips on a bed of egg noodles - delish!


In fact, any stew like meal could be wholly or partially pre-cooked and warmed up at the camp site - I love cooking up a stew when I'm in rendezvous, but not everyone can take the time to hang around camp for 3 hours preparing and cooking a good stew (which is why you might see adults at a camporee enjoying a stew at a camporee while the Scouts are slapping together tacos - pre-cooking solves it).


If the lads like quiche (and really, all a quiche is is an egg pie with stuff in it - I like ham, bacons and onion in mine), you can pre-make that and warm it up in a dutch oven.


Heck, a casserole can be pre-made and warmed up in a dutch oven as well.


Now sure, not everything can (or should) be pre-made, but if you think about the things you might make for a neighbor or family member that's ill or has had a loss to comfort them, or things you might make for a potluck which might not get eaten right away and just needs warming up, then you should have at least some things you can do.


Heck, I would even pre-cook chili because everyone knows (don't they?) that chili is better after it's rested overnight.


Something else to consider is dressing up the meals they might already have. Everyone seems to do French toast with white bread. Try making it with cinnamon raisin bread instead, or with banana bread - sometimes giving old meals a new twist is enough to bring folks out of the doldrums (and causes us to slap our heads and say "Doh, why didn't I think think of that). Scrambled Eggs? Try Scrambled Omelets instead - Its essentially scrambled eggs with all the omelet goodies in it but not folded over like an omelette, and not cooked fluffy like scramble eggs.


I also like the idea of challenging the lads. I love the idea of putting out 15 or so recipes for a meal and having the scouts choose one that they have to make at the next campout. There are other things you can do as well. You could have them pick from a hat a single ingredient that has to be used at every meal (it could be eggs, it could be tomatoes, it could be maple syrup, use your imagination - just give them time to plan).


If you have the nerve and gumption and time, something that can be fun to do is to take everyone to a farmer's market or fruit and vegetable stand and have everyone pick one thing that they've never eaten before and turn those ingredients into lunch. Just don't buy one of everything - make sure to buy enough for everyone.


Most importantly, though - make sure to have fun cooking. If you make it look like a chore, the Scouts will treat it like a chore - make it look fun and they'll always love cooking.

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Heck, I would even pre-cook chili because everyone knows (don't they?) that chili is better after it's rested overnight.


Same with beef stew - the natural gelatin from the connective tissue sets and produces a thicker stew the next day.


[beef stew is my favorite thing to make in the Dutch oven - my secret ingredients are tomato paste (1 tbsp per lb beef) and molasses (1/2 tbsp).]

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dutch oven big meals...


roast with veggies


pork chops with green beans and carrots


mexican lazagna


quick meals...


grilled bratwurst with baked beans and chips makes a nice lunch


my favorite breakfast is scrambled aumlet


if you want any recipes let me know



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Another option would be foil cooking. This would allow more flexibility for boys to select their ingredients for their own unique meals. If you do this it is best to used ground meats for ingredients, or possibly chicken "tenders" such as you get at COSTCO.

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I actually have very little experience with a Dutch oven, but my inexperience is actually a good thing, since I naively believed that it was a form of oven, and just like the oven at home, can be used to bake things, such as bread!


My inexperience paid off, since the bread baked just fine. We have a bread machine at home, so I used it to mix some dough a few days before the trip, and refrigerated it. I let it rise for a while (in the DO, I believe) and then added some charcoal. I believe I let it bake for about the same amount of time specified by the recipe for a normal oven.


I suspect this would also work well with frozen bread dough from the supermarket. I haven't used that stuff since we got the bread machine, but I believe it has simple directions on the package of how long to thaw and how long to rise.


I suppose the purists would say that I cheated by making the dough at home and/or bought frozen dough at the store. But since I'm not a purist, I don't care what they think. :-)

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