When you write a column on camp and outdoor cooking, you’re faced with the perennial question: What do you write about during the winter?
After all, the kids have returned to school, summer vacation is a memory and rain and snow saturate the ground. By now, most camp cooks have returned their camping gear to the dry confines of the shed. Instead of slaloming on freshly packed snow, camp cooks long for the lazy days of camping and cooking.
As I wrote in a December 2000 article, winter is the season to get ready for summer camping adventures. Cleaning and seasoning cookware, testing recipes and scouting new destinations keeps this camp cook occupied through short days and long nights.
Camp Cooking School
So, after 35 articles — mainly on the topic of camp cooking — I’m changing gears. Instead of publishing random articles, Camp and Outdoor Cooking is beginning an online camp cooking school.
Chef Steve’s Camp Cooking School will have all of the elements of a brick and mortar institute of higher learning. Except there’s no attendance and no grades — only good chow.
Hurry down the hall. Classroom’s on left. Your classmates are among the best camp cooks on the World Wide Web. But sit down — the bell’s about to ring.
Here’s the description right out of the course catalogue:
Classroom instruction. Every few weeks we’ll meet in the Suite101 classroom and discuss a new topic. Attend when you can and stay as long as you want. Your chef-instructor is ready to answer questions.
Laboratory. Yes, this is a participation class. You’re expected to cook on the weekends. But there’s no chemistry sets here. Soon, you’ll whip up great chow in the student-run restaurant.
Homework. Homework’s optional. It’s all up to you. Each session, the chef-instructor will post a few interesting Internet sites for you to explore.
What to expect
As your chef-instructor, I’ll present some topics with a hint of glamour. As we chat, you’ll imagine the master camp chef, clad in a denim chef’s coat and ball cap, flipping fresh green beans with roasted tomatoes in a cast iron chef’s skillet. You’ll see the beans as they cascade into the skillet after a snap of the chef’s wrist sent them skyward.
Other times, you’ll sit there with glazed eyes. It’s difficult, after all, to get excited about taking the garbage out. But someone has to lecture on the topic. It’s important because few relish the idea of a black bear marauding through your camp. I’d rather hypnotize you in my monotone voice that to watch a bear trash your camp.
Neither will all subjects cover new ground. Some will rehash old topics — in a new light of course. So don’t be surprised if topics like Dutch oven enchiladas or the use of sauté pans resurface.
Oh, did I say no homework? Here’s the exception: This professor’s papers are required reading. So, you’ve got an assignment to complete before the first session. Read “A Camper’s Dozen: 13 Tips To Successful Meals In Camp,” Part 1 and Part 2 by Monday. Expect a quiz.
See you in class.