The Food Guy: Creative cooking over the campfire
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - So how are things back in ol' Charley West?
As you read this, the fam and I are vacationing at jaw-droppingly gorgeous Yosemite National Park in California - a trip that I hope includes cooking "supper" over a crackling flame, then singing campfire songs while savoring the experience under a twinkling blanket of stars.
Kumbaya and all.
And when we do, we'll try to honor the adventurous spirit of our trip and venture beyond hotdogs and s'mores. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
On previous camping trips (or, say, when the power goes all derecho on us) we've used a propane stove to saute sausages with potatoes, onions and pepper. Or boil pasta to mix with a made-on-the-spot sauce. We even brew our own campfire coffee.
Traditional? No. But tasty.
And here are a few more ideas I picked up from the National Wildlife Federation ...
* Stovepot Lasagna: Pour a thin layer of spaghetti sauce on the bottom of heavy pan and add a little water. Cover this base with lasagna noodles and a layer of ricotta or cottage cheese, then chopped spinach, crumbled beef/sausage or pepperoni (if desired), then another layer of sauce. Repeat until you reach to top of the pot, then top with cheese, cover and cook on the grill for 30 minutes.
* Silver Turtles: Place a hamburger patty in a piece of aluminum foil and top it with potatoes, carrots, onions, salt, pepper and a pad of butter. Fold the foil tightly around the "turtle" and cook over hot coals for 20 minutes or until cooked through. (For a quick side dish, wrap corn on the cob or whole potatoes in foil and cook the same way. Let cool, then add toppings.)
* Pigs in a Sleeping Blanket: For an easy twist on a classic, slice breadstick dough down the middle and tuck a wienie inside, with the end peeking out. Roast over the fire until the bread is cooked, then use ketchup and mustard to make funny faces.
And don't forget dessert!
* Singing Apples: Place an apple on a cooking stick and roast over hot coals until the peel starts to split and "sing." Carefully remove the peel and roll apple in cinnamon-sugar.
* Dipped Strawberries: Dip strawberries in marshmallow cream and roast over the fire.
* Orange-Chocolate Cake: Hollow out oranges, fill about half way with chocolate cake mix, then wrap in foil and heat in hot coals for about 20 minutes.
Not so sure about that last one, but you can bet I'm gonna try it.
One thing we won't be cooking at Yosemite is bugs.
Much to the United Nations' chagrin.
The U.N. recently released a study arguing that we should all have more insects in our diet, to which Sierra magazine said, "We couldn't agree more!"
I'm a fairly adventurous eater, but prefer to keep my options limited to, well, food.
But "Bug Chef" David George Gordon says I'm missing out.
"Only over the last five years have people started taking seriously the idea that bugs can be an everyday source of protein," Gordon told Sierra in a cover story touting the U.N. report. As an ingredient, he said, insects are starting to gain some traction.
A healthy, nutritious alternative to mainstream staples such as chicken, beef, pork and fish - so says the report - edible insects are environmentally friendly and in abundant supply.
Stir-fried cicadas? No thanks.
Contact writer Steven Keith at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4830. You can also follow him on Facebook and Pinterest as "DailyMail FoodGuy," on Twitter as "DMFoodGuy" or read his blog at http://blogs.dailymail.com/foodguy/.