Fireside Food: Make the Best of What You’ve Got

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We went camping this weekend on a spur of the moment decision.

We didn’t take too much time to decide where to go. (Mt. Tam State Park, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.  Complete with breathtaking views and a 20 minute drive away from home.)  We didn’t want to spend too much money to make the trip happen.

Camping at Mt. Tam

While camping I usually prefer to plan a fun and exciting menu full of all kinds of treats.

Camping at Mt. Tam

This time around we went the easy and cheap route.  We hadn’t been grocery shopping in two weeks, yet we were still able to find plenty of shelf-stable and camp-ready food on our shelves: ramen, dehydrated vegetarian curry, a chocolate bar and instant oatmeal comprised our lunch, dinner and breakfast.

It was rather refreshing to head out without needing to plan anything or make a special trip to the store.

I enjoyed getting out there, without the big production that camping can all too often turn into.

Farallon Islands from Mt. Tam

All told, our little get away cost less than $50 including firewood, campsite fees and gas.

Camping at Mt. Tam

What kind of fun did you find this weekend?


Spirits in the Woods

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No, not the ghost and goblins kind of spirits…

Ghosts in the woods

The kind you put in a mixed drink!

It seems that asking what type of alcohol should be brought along on a camping trip often brings up some strong opinions.

There are those who prefer a cold beer.  Though due to temperature and weight, beer is often reserved for car camping.

Wine can be a great choice once you remove the heavy glass bottle.  We usually opt to bring along our wine in a Platypus container designed for this very purpose.  I’ve had friends use bagged wine – though I’ve never found a variety I could stand to drink.  There is also the outdoor oriented Climber wine from Cliff Wineries (the same family behind Cliff Bars).

wine in Platypus 1L Water bottle

With an appropriate mixer, vodka can be a lovely camping companion.  Pre-mix a few cocktails, stick them in  the freezer and pull them out just before you leave home.  By the time dinner is done on the first night they should still be chilly enough to enjoy.

There is a new vodka on the shelfs of our neighborhood market that looks to be made especially for taking into the outdoors.  Kru vodka comes ready to go in a reusable stainless steel bottle complete with lanyard and carabiner.

KRU 82 Camping Vodka

I’ve known friends on especially chilly nights to bring along a flask of caramel or peppermint schnapps to mix with some powdered hot chocolate.

camping flask


What’s your favorite campsite beverage?


Fireside Food: Boozy Campfire Cheese

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photo via wintersoul

One of the best things about going camping, is the chance to eat great food cooked over an open flame.  At home we can get lazy and compliant, opting for frozen pizzas or a bowl of cereal.  When heading outdoors we are forced to plan our meals, and I often plan for easy yet amazing meals.  I like a great meal to look forward to while camping.

Over the years we’ve discovered a few favorites that we always make sure to bring the ingredients for.  This is the first in an ongoing series, Fireside Food.  Sign up here to receive email updates and ensure you don’t miss a post.

Boozy campfire cheese is a recipe I originally discovered on is not a backpacking or outdoor oriented site, so I was originally a bit leery about the recipe.  But man am I glad I tried this one out.  Even if you don’t use the brandy, wrap up your cheese and throw it in the coals anyway.  Perfect as an appetizer (yes, when I camp I have appetizers) or a late night snack.


Boozy Campfire Cheese   

by Kate Ramos from


1 (7- to 8-ounce) wheel soft-ripened, bloomy-rind cheese, such as Camembert or Brie

1 tablespoon pear eau de vie or brandy

1 loaf crusty bread, such as pain au levain, baguette, or sourdough


1.  Unwrap cheese and set in the center of a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, about 12 by 12 inches. Perforate cheese by pricking it a few times with a fork, then sprinkle liquor over the holes.

 2.  Close the foil by wrapping the sides up around the cheese and sealing it at the top. Place wheel in the embers of the campfire, at the edge of the fire where the logs are smoldering and covered with a layer of gray ash (not in a direct flame). Cook, turning wheel occasionally with the tongs so all sides spend some time near the embers, until cheese is soft and melted, about 10 to 12 minutes.

3.  Remove from the fire and place on a plate. Open foil packet, and scoop out cheese with hunks of crusty bread.


This is the first in an ongoing series of camp-friendly recipes, Fireside Food.  Don’t miss out on these posts!  Sign up to receive free email updates from