Bad cooking ruins more camping trips—America’s most popular outdoor vacation activity—than anything else except rain. The Great American Camping Cookbook offers the delectable remedy: a camp cook’s guide to the fresh, natural “comfort foods” of the good old days. Whether your camp is a civilized weekend cottage, a rustic hunting or fishing cabin, or a primitive canoeing or backpacking bivouac, this book can help anyone make meals as vibrant as the outdoors itself.
Start the day with Wild Rice Pancakes or fresh-baked Cornmeal Blueberry Biscuits. Sit down to a classic shore lunch of Beer-Battered Smallmouth, Campfire Potatoes and Hush Puppies, or simple sorrel-stuffed trout. On rainy days, simmer up a pot of real Corn Chowder or Camp-Style Bean Soup. For memorable main courses, serve up a substantial Modernized Brunswick Stew, Blackened Yellow Perch, or Sautéed Walleye with wild rice and mushrooms. For side dishes, try fresh Camp-Baked Beans, spit-roasted Acorn Squash, or Sand-Baked Potatoes. Then savor a legendary Hot Buttered Rum or Camp Old-Fashioned as a nightcap.
In addition to recipes, The Great American Camping Cookbook offers a wealth of easy-to-follow advice on making perfect camp coffee and camp breads, calculating food portions, and composing provisions lists to assure variety and avoid forgotten essentials. The colorful history of American camp food and cooking—from the Jamestown settlement, Lewis and Clark, and Daniel Boone to Ernest Hemingway and John McPhee—adds fascinating lore to this essential guide to eating well in the great outdoors.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
SCOTT COOKMAN has written cooking features and how-to advice for Field & Stream since 1997. He’s the author of two outdoor adventure histories: Ice Blink and Atlantic.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
DINING WITH SAVAGES
Original American Camp Cooking
This is truly the land of Epicures.
—ARTIST GEORGE CATLIN, 1832
IN THE WINTER of 1609-1610, when England’s first colonists were starving to death at Jamestown, Virginia, Captain John Smith trekked to the nearest Native American village to beg, barter—or steal—food. “Extreme wind, rain, frost and snow caused us to keep Christmas amongst the Savages,” he gloomily recorded in his diary, expecting little. To his amazement, the “Savages” (Powhatans) proved lavishly generous and gregarious hosts. “We were never [made] more merry, nor fed on more good oysters, fish, flesh, wild fowl and good bread,” he wrote, “nor ever had better fires in England than in their dry, warm, smoky houses.”
In fact, if Smith’s and other contemporary accounts are accurate, he feasted on choice Chesapeake or Chincoteague oysters up to one foot long. Blue crabs were so big that “one provided a feast for four men.” Fish included gourmet–caliber sea trout, weakfish, bluefish, and channel bass (red drum), some in excess of 40 pounds. Smith and his men were served venison loins, spit–roasted and seasoned with the black, sodium–rich residue of boiled–down hickory bark, which substituted admirably for salt. Leaner cuts were basted with clear bear fat or served with a dipping sauce made of “no end of oil from walnuts and acorns, which they know how to extract very well.” Fat ducks and geese were plentiful.
The “good bread” Smith noted was made of a grain he'd never seen before—corn—ground into fine meal; mixed with boiling water, walnut oil, and dried berries into a stiff dough; wrapped in leaves; and baked in hot coals. For dessert, there were sunflower seeds and hickory nuts—altogether new to him—as well as “Very sweet” chestnuts. Afterward, the Powhatans invited him to smoke the cured leaves of a small, hardy native tobacco plant (Nicotianna rustica) that, soon exported to Europe, proved to be the salvation of Jamestown.
Stuffed, Smith and his men returned to the colony. By spring of 1610, subsisting on food bartered or taken outright from the natives, they were among the last 60 colonists—of the original 215—left alive.
This same scenario played itself out repeatedly among the first Europeans to penetrate the North American wilderness. Much to their astonishment, they found the natives’ food and cooking far better, more varied, and infinitely healthier than their own.
Hernando de Soto and his Spanish conquistadors, who rampaged through the American Southeast in search of gold a half–century before Smith’s Englishmen arrived at Jamestown, learned this lesson quickly. De Soto’s nine ships landed 600 men at Tampa Bay in the spring of 1539. They carried with them over a year's worth of state-of-the-art, preserved European provisions: salted beef, pork, and herring; wheat flour in watertight casks; barrels of rice and dried peas; and kegs of onions, cabbage, and turnips pickled in brine. To furnish fresh meat on the hoof, they brought a herd of live cattle and a dozen pigs, the latter the first seen on the North American continent.
It did them little good. The salted meat and pickled vegetables, leeched of vitamins and nutrients, resulted in scurvy. In Florida’s heat and humidity, the flour and peas went blue–black with mold and swarmed with weevils. Without forage, the cattle soon died. About all that remained were the swine, which de Soto jealously guarded as his last-resort, emergency provisions.
In ruthless fashion, he fed his expedition off native foods plundered from the Indians. Foremost among these was corn: “Yellow for ordinary eating,” according to the expedition's diarist, “and white for flour, which made very fine bread.” Indeed, this native–grown grain, which contained more calories than the Spaniards' wheat flour, fuelled their march. So did other strange, but delectable, foods. From "the Savage's many fine fields, some a league [five miles] in extent," they looted mountains of beans, squash, and pumpkins—vegetables unknown in Europe, but rich in the nutrients, especially vitamins, their salt–cured provisions lacked. Taking native chiefs hostage along the way, they extorted huge quantities of other foodstuffs as well. “One chief,” the diarist recorded, “sent two thousand bearers loaded with rabbits, partridges, corn cakes and many dogs,” the latter esteemed a great delicacy. Another, held at swordpoint in modern–day South Carolina, “made a gift of 700 turkeys,” a bird unknown to the Spaniards but domesticated by the natives, whose flesh made fine eating and whose feathers made light, warm down blankets.
Hostage–taking supplied de Soto with a galaxy of equally exotic foods. There were potatoes, which the conquistadors called “earth apples,” heartily disliked, and used primarily to feed their 113 war horses. There were sweet potatoes—not really potatoes, but roots related to the morning glory family—which they ate with great enthusiasm for their sugariness. There were bushels of altogether unfamiliar, yet delicious nuts, including pecans, peanuts, black walnuts, and hickory nuts. High in fat, they were greedily devoured right out of their shells or—pressed of their fine, clear oil by the Indians—used for shortening, frying, and baking. There were also baskets overflowing with fine, succulent grapes unknown in Europe—thick–skinned, seed-filled muscadines, Catawbas, and Concords. While the natives ate them fresh or dried, the Spaniards eagerly fermented them into a rough but swillable wine. In addition to grapes, there were wild plums, strawberries (“Finer and more delicate than those in Europe,” according to the chronicler), mulberries, tart persimmons, wild spinach, purslane, and wild onions.
By robbing the Indians, de Soto survived handsomely for three years in the wilderness. He did not, however, survive the bloody trail he’d left behind. Near today’s Mobile, Alabama, his freebooters were attacked and nearly wiped out by Native American Mobilians. With the remnant of his force, he battled the native Chickasaws across modern–day Mississippi. In 1542, he died—not of starvation, scurvy, or any dietary deficiency disease, but of yellow fever–bearing mosquitoes on the banks of the Mississippi River. He never found the gold he was looking for. He could never have imagined that the foods laid on his table represented a mother lode far richer.
Far to the north, Europeans still found fine eating. Even among the hunter–gatherer peoples of the interior, the variety and sophistication of New World cuisine more than equaled that of the Old.
On his epic canoe crossing of North America in 1792, explorer Alexander Mackenzie set out with typical voyageur’s provisions: dried peas, premade ship’s biscuit (hardtack), and casks of salted pork. The ultralight, long–life rations of their day, they provided a regular, but relentlessly monotonous menu: hardtack and raw pork while underway, pea and pork porridge thickened with broken hardtack at night. Luckily, Mackenzie found himself lavishly feasted by scores of Native American nations on his journey west. Indeed, his journal constitutes something of a gastronomic cross-section of the continent at the time—a “foodie’s” memoir, if there ever was one.
Around the Great Lakes, the Ottawa (reputed to be the finest canoemen and anglers on the lakes) treated him to “fat [lake] trout,” “exquisite” whitefish, and “handsomely smoked sturgeon.” Considering the lake trout were up to five feet long and the sturgeon as much as ten, the bounty was even more impressive. West of Lake Superior, the Ojibway regaled him with “wild rice sweetened with [maple] sugar.” This grain, as unique to America as corn, was not only gourmet fare, but spectacularly nutritious, with twice the protein, double the iron, and more than ten times the vitamins of brown rice. Stewed with native–made maple sugar, it made a near-perfect, balanced “power meal” that happily propelled Mackenzie and his paddlers west.
Along the forested rivers and lakes of the interior, the Assiniboine treated him to roast bear liver “wrapped in caul fat”; beaver tails, skinned like fish and broiled over coals; muskrat “fried in pieces, like chicken”; and the native’s ultimate specialty: boiled moose nose. Mackenzie tasted the latter nervously, expecting a gelatinous mess. To the contrary, he found that the tip of the nose, sliced thin, consisted of delicate white meat, and the jowls a rich dark meat. He declared it “fine” and asked for more.
When he reached the Pacific coast, his Nootka hosts presented him an appetizer of “a large dish of salmon roes, pounded fine and beat up with water, so to give it the appearance of cream.” This was followed by more salmon roe, mixed with gooseberries and sorrel leaves, which, Mackenzie recorded, added a distinct sweet–and–sour flavor to the salty eggs. For main courses, there were massive fillets of prime salmon, roasted, smoked, or boiled into rich chowder. For dessert, there were baskets overflowing with huckleberries and raspberries, “the finest I ever saw or tasted,” he wrote. On his return trip, Mackenzie found he'd lost all appetite for hardtack and rancid salt pork.
Lewis and Clark, traversing the continent farther south in 1804–1806, met with an even greater gustatory variety. Win–tering among the Mandan on the Missouri River, they eagerly traded iron, lead, and the services of their blacksmith for native-grown produce. This bought them Ar...
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Book Description Clarkson Potter, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110767923081
Book Description Clarkson Potter. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0767923081 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.0333419
Book Description Clarkson Potter, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0767923081