With the Labor Day weekend getting close, anyone thinking of camping? I may, but it will be a bit different than in my earlier years when we went tent camping. Now I enjoy the comfort of a large camper that fits on the truck. I never had any luck trying to fight aluminum tent poles, especially this one large, heavy canvas tent we used to have that had poles broken into three sections each, and you had to fit each of the sections together. Seemed like there was always one corner falling part before we could get each one staked in. Due to the extreme drought conditions, I am betting we won’t be allowed to have campfires, unless there are some campgrounds that under certain conditions, will allow it. I don’t usually care to camp in developed areas, though, so I’d better put together a menu I can cook at home or inside the camper.
Traditional mostacciole and cheese
This is very simple and my family always brought this casserole to enjoy on our first night at the camp site. We just reheated it and it was ready to eat.
1 box or package (about 1 pound) mostacciole macaroni (can also use penne)
1 jar of your favorite bottled spaghetti sauce
About 4 cups shredded cheese (such as mild Cheddar, Colby, or a Colby/Monterey Jack blend)
Parmesan cheese, optional
1. Preheat oven to 350. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water (omit salt if you are trying to cut back) Drain pasta and place it back in the pot.
2. Pour the spaghetti sauce over the pasta and mix well. Add the shredded cheese and mix again. Turn out into a greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish and if you like, add some grated Parmesan cheese over the top. Cover and bake in preheated oven until the cheese melts (this seems to make for a better casserole later when you want to reheat it, but you can always wait and just heat it once if you want). Makes about 8 to 10 servings.
Dutch oven S’mores
Too sweet for me, but I know of a lot of people who love this.
1 package (14 1/2-oz.) graham crackers, crushed
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 can (14-oz.) sweetened condensed milk
2 cups (12-oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1. Prepare grill or campfire for low heat, using 16-18 charcoal briquettes or large wood chips (or if necessary, use oven in camper, trailer or motor home).
2. Line a Dutch oven with heavy-duty aluminum foil. In a bowl, combine cracker crumbs and butter; press onto the bottom of the pan. Pour milk over crust and sprinkle with chocolate and butterscotch chips. Top with marshmallows.
3. Cover Dutch oven. When briquettes or wood chips are covered with white ash, place Dutch oven directly on top of six of them. Using long-handled tongs, place remaining briquettes on pan cover.
4. Cook for 15 minutes or until chips are melted. Makes 10 to 12 servings.
Bean and ham soup
Use grill or stove top according to circumstances.
1 pound dried navy beans
2 small onions
8 cups water
4 cups cubed cooked ham (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 smoked ham hocks
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1. Place beans in an ovenproof Dutch oven; add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil; boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let stand for 1 to 4 hours or until beans are softened.
2. Chop one onion; slice second onion and separate into rings. Set onions aside. Drain and rinse beans, discarding liquid. Return beans to the pan. Add reserved onions; stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover pan and place on the grill rack over indirect medium heat.
3. Cover grill; cook for 1 hour or until beans are almost tender. Uncover Dutch oven; cover grill and cook 30 minutes longer or until beans are tender. Discard ham hocks. Makes 12 servings or about 3 quarts.
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 2 pounds)
1 pound smoked kielbasa or polish sausage, halved and sliced
1 can (4-oz.) chopped green chiles
1 can (15 1/4-oz.) whole kernel corn, drained
1. In a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat, cook and stir onion in the canola oil under tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add potatoes. Cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add kielbasa pieces; cook and stir until sausage and potatoes are tender and browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in chilies and corn; heat through. Makes 6 servings.