Summer in Quebec is the season to enjoy nature!
It's also the best time to cook outside comfortably...
Good ! When we are not the meal of an army of mosquitoes.
This is why we prefer the month of August to concoct delicious meals, outdoors.
And what could be more "outdoorsy" than cooking while camping. It's one of our favorite summer activities.
While we're grilling homemade halloumi on the fire, we "chill" with the local petit-suisse, we give it a little name and we watch it closely so that it doesn't steal our bag of nuts haha!
Tip #1: Equipment
A hot meal cooked outside is easier to prepare with a camping stove. It's not very expensive, there is a good price range. Indeed, there are options from $20 up to around $150.
Most are gas-powered, with different types of canisters and sizes depending on the space and portability you need. There are also stoves that work with small branches of wood. That said, it is more complicated to make it work if the wood is wet.
It is possible to eat only cold meals as well, but when the weather is chilly, a good hot meal is comforting.
You can also build a fire and cook on the embers. Here, we prefer this option for dinner. It is still more practical to prepare a cup of coffee in the morning with a small stove than by lighting a fire for the occasion.
Another essential piece of equipment is... the cooler!
Even if it is small, being able to keep meat, fish, eggs or dairy products cool will make a big difference in the variety of dishes that can be cooked. Before your departure, you can freeze 1L of juice and then use it as an "ice pack". When it's thawed, you can drink it and replace it with real ice. This way, you won't be carrying around a thawed ice pack unnecessarily during your trip.
Apart from the stove and cooler, you will need kitchen essentials:
- a cutting board,
- a sharp knife,
- a pan,
- a small cauldron,
- curved plate or bowls,
There are small portable sets sold for camping, but if you have enough space, you can just take what you have at home.
Tip #2: Planning and Preparation
A great camping meal usually starts with good planning. If you are only going away for the weekend, it is also possible to prepare several steps in advance in order to speed up the process when you are out.
Otherwise, when we go on long camping trips, we bring the essentials for cooking that do not need refrigeration:
- vegetable oil for cooking and for salads
- salt, pepper and various spices
- cloves of garlic
- onions or French shallots
- fruits and vegetables in small quantities - prefer those that do not eat too easily (ex: prefer kale to spinach or lettuce).
- cane of tuna, salmon or sardines (they are full of protein, take up little space and keep for a long time). It's perfect as a sandwich at lunchtime on a hike.
- bread or tortillas
- pasta and/or rice
- cane of diced tomatoes for sauces
- coffee, tea, hot chocolate
- oats for breakfast
- mix of nuts (raw cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, raisins) - ideal for small cravings while hiking and to add to your salads or oatmeal in the morning.
- bars to eat as a snack during the hikes
- peanut butter, jams, etc.
- more gourmet little snacks that are fun to treat yourself at the end of a day out (chips, chocolate,...)
Of course, the amount of food you bring with you will depend on the length of your stay. This is why if you are only going away for a weekend, it is practical to plan your meals in advance so as not to bring too much "stock" with you. If you are going camping for a long time, it is often possible to restock on the way. Thus, it is not necessary to bring enough ingredients for the entire duration of your trip.
As for fresh foods, we particularly recommend making your own halloumi, feta, and Greek yogurt ahead of time that you can bring with you.
You can grill slices of halloumi on the fire (yum!) make delicious Greek salads or even a bowl of fruit, yogurt and granola in the morning. There's nothing more satisfying than eating the cheeses and yogurts we've made in the great outdoors.