The Camping Prelude
I’m very excited, my whole family is visiting for a week. We’re going camping in the Rockies with my beastie. Her first time camping, which is going to be wild, pun intended. The thing is, while I spent a lot of time outdoors, I haven’t been camping in like 8 years. That time, it was actually part of my job. But anyways, the food related part.
I have a hard time with the idea of not cooking awesome meals in the middle of the woods and wild, but the reality is that gourmet is a pain in the ass with a picnic table and a camp stove.
The experiment is to see what can be done ahead of time. I’m going to par-bake some potatoes, so that they can be wrapped in foil and nestled next to the fire to get toasty. Another batch of meatballs, with rice flour to make them gluten free for my mom. And little stuff, like butter already cubed, bacon cooked, onions, garlic and potatoes cut ahead. Eggs pre-beaten, cheese shredded.
This, I think, is the ultimate sense of the phrase and philosophy mis en place, which translates from French to ‘everything in its place.’ The idea that everything is prepared, in its proper place and ready to use. This is what can make a professional line run smoothly and efficiently, or crash and burn if not properly attended.
Taking this idea camping, I want to use my own kitchen to do the prep. Since we’re car camping, rather than backpacking, weight is less of a concern than convenience.
So I can have my bacon pre-cut into lardon, cook it off to render the fat out. Then I have delicious, crispy bacon already chopped and ready to add to baked spuds, scrambled eggs or eaten on its own as a trail snack. In addition, you can save the bacon fat to use as flavor/grease for cooking. Or rubbing on my brother’s sleeping bag, to lure in raccoons. Just kidding, don’t do that.
The more I can prepare in my kitchen at home, where I have all the many tools, burners, ovens and clean workspace the better. It’ll save time, stress, labor and cleaning. Which means I’m better able to enjoy the peace of the wilderness, the joy of my daughter’s first camping trip and the company of my family.
I’ll take notes and pictures before, during and after. What did or didn’t work, what could be improved. I don’t think this is necessarily what my dad was thinking when he taught me ‘Be Prepared,’ but mis en place totally counts.