In honor of 25 summers of going to Baxter State Park, I thought I’d write a little about our camping food.
Now, I can’t say for sure, because I’ve never camped with anyone other than my family, but I think we tend to eat better than some, perhaps too well. When I was growing up, we often stuck with a certain pattern.
Saturday lunch: packed lunch and ate in Millinocket
Saturday night: pasta, salad, pie
Sunday morning: eggs, homefries, bacon or sausage
Sunday day: gorp, hard-boiled eggs, power bars, etc.
Sunday evening: burgers, veggies, chips, cookies
Monday morning: pancakes, juice
Monday lunch: again brought food for sandwiches and ate in rest area
The pancakes were a bit different than what most people would have, made with apple or orange juice as a milk substitute (this was back before other milk alternatives were readily available), and sometimes with blueberries collected from the mountain. And we often had to fight with squirrels and chipmunks over our trail mix, particularly peanut M&M’s, especially one year when one chewed a hole through my mom’s backpack to get to hers. We also had an unfortunate incident once where a raccoon ate the remainder of our blueberry pie! Since then, we’ve gotten better about putting all our food in the car overnight or anytime we’re not eating.
As far as what we eat, in the years since Jeremiah and I have been involved in the food, we’ve gotten a little more elaborate. (Well, particularly Jeremiah.) For instance, the first year that he was in charge of supper Saturday night, I noted: “Jeremiah, typical of himself, hadn’t brought anything as boring as pasta. He and Janice were making stir fry with beef that had been packed in dry ice that Janice had got from work, peppers, snow peas, carrots, and rice noodles.” (Janice, incidentally, is a chemical engineer.) And for smores, we used some marshmallows that had a liquid blueberry center, courtesy of an Oriental market in the Boston area.
We took to making more ployes for breakfast for a while, since those can mixed onsite for any amount and just need water. Now, in deference to gluten issues, we’ve gotten back more to the eggs and homefries, and also parfait. Other newer favorites are chili, or sometimes taco salad, stopping at Subway on the way up for sandwiches instead of packing them, and getting breakfast at the Appalachian Trail Café on the way out. We’ve also added a little more complexity and work because we stay an extra day to our stay.
And as always, I’m amazed at how long all of this takes to prepare. For instance, I spent quite a lot of time pre-cooking chicken for stir-fry, hamburgers, bacon, a frittata, and hard-boiled eggs, plus I had previously spent time making strawberry-rhubarb pie and strawberry-rhubarb crisp. When shopping, I probably spent more time than I should have considering the different trail mix, granola, and energy bar options at Whole Foods, and I don’t even know how many e-mails Jeremiah and I exchanged figuring out who was getting what for produce, between the Farmer’s Market and his CSA share.
But there’s no doubt that once we’re there, we’ll be eating very well, and enjoying not having as much fuss or clean-up because of all the initial work. We’ll be eating:
Saturday lunch: Subway sandwiches
Saturday supper: rice, stir-fry (chicken, zucchini, broccoli, and peas), salad (various greens, tomatoes, scallions, garlic scapes, cilantro, Chinese cabbage, and more), strawberry-rhubarb pie and crisp
Sunday breakfast: yogurt, granola, and berries (fresh raspberries, blueberries, and black raspberries), bacon
Sunday lunch: trail food
Sunday supper: hamburgers, chips, steamed broccoli, sugar snap peas (they’re amazing this year), cookies, smores
Monday breakfast: frittata and homefries
Monday lunch: PB sandwiches with homemade rhubarb jam, peppers, cucumbers, and whatever else we have leftover
Monday supper: taco salad, other leftovers, hot chocolate
Tuesday breakfast/brunch: Appalachian Trail Café
Now I just have to make sure I do enough hiking to burn it all off!