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Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

August 1999

Wake up and smell the coffee!! ClickArt, T/Maker Company/Broderbund Software, Inc.
Wake up and smell the coffee!!

ClickArt, T/Maker Company/Broderbund Software, Inc.

Over open fire

Add a pinch of variety to your campside cuisine.

David L. Sperling

Sure-Fire Fire Starters
Campers' Breakfast
Campfire Stir Fries
Sweet & Smoky Broccoli Salad
Roast Wild Duck
Any Meat Stir Fry
Chili Pie
Chicken-Pineapple Oriental
Sweet & Sour Skillet Dish

Four Cheese Chicken & Pasta
Balsamic Chicken or Game Hens
Charlie's Chicken in a Black Pot
Resinous Fish
Baked Muskie
Fish in Foil
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Lazy Cobbler
Cherry Crumble

Casseroles and cobblers, muffins and muskies, our readers have found ways to savor them all over a campfire. Last October we asked you to share recipes that added zip and flavor to typical camping fare. We asked you to push aside the weenie roast and s'mores (well, maybe the weenies!) long enough to dish up a fireside meal that complements the beauty of the outdoor scenery and the camaraderie of the campground. We sought your secret libations, appetizers, main courses, side dishes and desserts that add pleasure and memories when you fire up the hardwoods to do your cooking ringside.

Here's what we learned: Most of you are content to drink water. We didn't get one entry for a new drink. I figured somewhere out there, someone had concocted a potable called "Popple Punch," "Woodland Sangria," or "Meet Mother Nature" that made the stars shine on a cloudy night. We didn't even get a "bug juice" recipe! Ah well, I guess that will have to wait for another contest.

It takes skill and vigilance to brown a marshmallow to perfection.

© Robert Queen
It takes skilland vigilance to brown a marshmallow to perfection. © Robert Queen

We were also a bit surprised that campers didn't flood us with appetizer recipes. In a land that has raised the cheese ball and pickled fish to a fine art, among a people who make homemade smoked food out of darn near anything that flies, runs, swims or slithers, we got no entries in the appetizer department. What is this? don't tell me that when campsite #54 and #52 get together for a little pinochle or sheepshead that the host opens up a bag of cheese curls, rolls back the lid on some cheap sardines and says, "Dig in!" That's not the Wisconsin hospitality I know. All right, so you are hampered without your toothpicks, blender and broiler. You must be packing some dill pickles, a stick of summer sausage and a few good crackers.

Similarly, we didn't receive any recipes for spicy dishes. Do you back away from the peppers and hot sauces because it's a long walk for a pitcher of water? I can see that I'm going to have to resurrect my "Burning Ring of Fire" veggie dip and the secret ingredients in "Sneaky Pete's Sweet and Sour Texas Two-Alarm Venison Chili," which will melt a topping of cheese even after the chili has been refrigerated.

In other areas of the menu, you did just fine. Here are some of the better offerings that brighten up the dawn and bring on the evening when you say "Flame on!" Thanks for sharing them.

Editor's Note: Seasoned Dutch oven chefs tell me that an oven placed over a bed of hot coals and topped with 6-8 coals will maintain a steady temperature of about 350°. Gently stoke the fire to maintain even heat during the cooking process.

Sure-Fire Fire Starters
  • paper fiber egg cartons
  • wood shavings from untreated lumber
  • paraffin
  • 3-pound coffee can

Melt paraffin in double boiler to prevent fires. Place wood shavings in each depression of the egg carton and pour hot paraffin over the shavings. Break apart the starters into 12 pieces when cool.

Cut the bottom out of the coffee can and snip notches in the bottom with some tin snips. Drill two small holes across from each other in the top and bend the end of the hanger to secure it in the can Place two "eggs" in the bottom of the coffee can. Add charcoal or wood and light. The fire will be ready in about 10 minutes.

Morning fare

From Sally Magnan, Waukesha
Campers' Breakfast
  • 1# bacon, diced
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 green pepper seeded and diced (optional)
  • 2# frozen hash browns or leftover baked spuds
  • 12 eggs
  • 1# sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons water

Sauté bacon, onion and green pepper in an open Dutch oven. Add shredded potatoes. When potatoes are crispy brown on the bottom, use a big spoon to press 12 round depressions in the potatoes where egg nests can be placed. Add one egg per nest. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle sharp cheddar over the eggs. Add two tablespoons of water. Put the lid on the Dutch oven and transfer 10-12 hot coals or embers to the top lid. Remove the oven from the fire. Wait about 20 minutes before checking that the eggs are done. Serve with fruit, ketchup, coffee and juice. Serves 5-7 adults

Side dishes

From Ralph Heiser, Baraboo
© ClickArt, T/Maker Company/Broderbund Software, Inc Campfire Stir Fries
  • 8-10 strips of bacon, cut into one-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, sliced or diced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 6-8 medium potatoes (new potatoes or small baking spuds)
  • salt
  • pepper

Take peeled or unpeeled potatoes (optional) and slice into 1/8" rounds. Fry bacon in a 10-12" fry pan. Add onion to pan when bacon is about half done. Lower heat slightly and add butter. After butter melts, stir and add potatoes, salt and pepper to taste. Cover pan. Stir every 5-10 minutes until potatoes are done. Serves 4-6 people. This is a great side dish for a fresh fish dinner.

From David Knutson, Culinary Management Program, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, Ashland
Sweet and Smoky Broccoli Salad
  • Two bunches broccoli
  • sunflower seeds
  • 1 C raisins
  • 1 small bunch green onions, chopped fine

  • 10 slices of bacon, chopped into small pieces

  • dressing:
  • 1 C salad dressing
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 t sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

At home, cut broccoli tops into small flowerets and place in a sealed bag or bowl with the sunflower seeds, raisins and chopped green onions. Mix the dressing at home ahead of time and store in a sealable bag or container.

At campsite, make the salad at least two hours ahead of serving time. Combine the vegetables and the dressing. Fry the bacon, drain, let it cool and add the bacon to the salad mixture. Shake the bag to distribute the dressing at least three or four times before serving. Serves 8-10.

Main courses

From Ron and Juanita Parsons, Menasha
Roast Wild Duck
  • six-eight ounces of canned orange juice
  • 2-3 wild ducks, cleaned
  • water
  • salt & pepper

Build a good-sized fire of oak or maple about a half-hour before you want to start cooking the ducks. Preheat the Dutch oven by placing about an inch of water in the bottom and placing the lid on. Allow the flames to die down so they don't touch the pot, but you can still see a bit of flame. Remove the Dutch oven from the fire, open, season the ducks with a little salt and pepper then place the birds in a single layer in the pot. Pour three ounces of orange juice over the birds and add a little water if the oven is dry. Cover and cook 20 minutes. Check the ducks and add another three ounces of orange juice and water, if necessary. Baste the birds, cover the oven and continue cooking another 20 minutes, Check again. As the fire burns down during the last 20 minutes, we place the oven down in the coals, but you need to check the birds more often to avoid burning. When the ducks are nicely browned they are done. Overcooking will dry them out.

Woodcock are also good done this way and should only take half as much time.

Serve with baked potatoes that were wrapped in foil and buried in the coals, or cook a packaged rice or pasta mix according to the package directions.

From Neil Steinagel, Merrill
Any Meat Stir Fry
  • ½ C corn starch
  • ¼ C brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon ground red pepper

  • ½ C light soy sauce
  • ¼ C cider vinegar

  • 2 C chicken broth
  • ½ C dry sherry
  • ½ C water

  • 3 cups hot, cooked rice.

In a quart jar, combine the first five dry ingredients and shake. Add the soy sauce and vinegar, then shake until blended. Add the broth, sherry and water and shake again. Top off the jar with more broth and keep covered in the refrigerator or cooler.

To serve three people, brown a half-pound of venison, beef, pork or chicken in a pan and remove the meat from the pan.

Put about two tablespoons of oil in a large pan and heat over the fire. Add one pound of stir-fry vegetables like carrots, broccoli, water chestnuts, peas, bok choy or celery. You can but these frozen, too. Cook about 10 minutes until tender. Add meat and one cup of the stir-fry sauce. Heat and serve over rice.

From Steve Blattner, Waukesha
Chili Pie
  • 2# ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • one 15 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • one 15-oz. can of chili beans
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • one six-ounce box of cornbread mix made according directions (small amount of milk and one egg)

Brown onion in the butter. Add beef, brown it and drain off the fat. Add beans, chili powder, salt and tomato sauce. Cook 15 minutes in a covered Dutch oven. Mix cornbread as directed on package and spoon it over the meat and bean mixture. Replace the lid and cook for 20-30 minutes. Serves six.

From Steve Blattner, Waukesha
Chicken-Pineapple Oriental Supreme
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • two pounds chicken breast, boneless and cut into 2 x ½-inch strips
  • 1 small can pineapple chunks in juice
  • ½ C soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ½ C water
  • ¼ C cornstarch
  • 1 C water
  • 1 large can Chinese-style vegetables

  • 3-4 cups hot, cooked rice

In a large covered pan or Dutch oven, heat the oil and brown the chicken. Add pineapple and juice, soy sauce, salt, pepper, paprika, brown sugar and water. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Dissolve cornstarch in 1 C of water. Add the cornstarch mix to the casserole, stir and simmer another 10-15 minutes. Stir in the vegetables, heat thoroughly and serve over hot rice. Serves six.

From Steve Blattner, Waukesha
Sweet Sour Skillet Dish
  • 1 pound Italian sausage, cut into one-inch slices
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/3 C brown sugar
  • 1/3 C cider vinegar
  • six cups shredded cabbage
  • 2 large red apples, cored and sliced

In a 10-inch skillet, cook sausage over low heat. Add oregano and cook until the sausage is browned. Stir in brown sugar and vinegar. Add cabbage and cover. Bring to a boil, then move to the edge of the fire until it simmers for 10 minutes. Add apples, stir, cover and cook for three more minutes. Serves four.

From Gary J. Laib, Poynette
Four Cheese Chicken and Pasta
  • 3 cans cream of celery soup
  • ½ soup can of dry white wine
  • 1½ soup cans of water
  • 1 C each of grated romano, parmesan, Swiss and mozzarella cheese
  • 4-5 boneless chicken breasts, cubed in bite-sized pieces
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • I medium onion, chopped
  • ½ bag frozen peas (optional)
  • 4-ounce can mushrooms, drained (optional)
  • four cups of medium pasta shells, cooked according to package directions
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put soup, water, wine, celery, onion and chicken in a 12-inch Dutch oven, cover and bake over hot coals for an hour. In a separate pot, boil water, salt it, cook the pasta shells, rinse and set aside. After the vegetables and chicken have cooked for 30 minutes, add the cheeses and stir. Cook 15 minutes then add cooked pasta shells, peas and mushrooms. Leave the lid off and stir the mixture until thoroughly heated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serves four.

From Gary J. Laib, Poynette
Balsamic Chicken or Game Hens
  • ¼ C balsamic vinegar
  • one tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • black pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 2 Cornish game hens, cut on halves or 4-6 boneless chicken breasts

  • Two boxes of wild rice mix and water

Blend the first six ingredients and pour over the hens or chicken breasts in a 12-inch Dutch oven about 90 minutes.

While the birds are cooking, prepare the wild rice mixture in a 10-inch Dutch oven and bake covered about an hour. Ladle about 1 ½ cups of rice mix on a plate, top with poultry and sauce. Serves four. You can also cook the chicken, cube it and stir the meat into the rice as it cooks.

From Gary J. Laib, Poynette
Charlie's Chicken in a Black Pot
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 4 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper

  • 1 cup prepared barbecue sauce
  • 12 ounces of beer

  • 4 chicken breasts, skinned and cubed.

Combine dry ingredients, rub into chicken breasts and store in your cooler at least two hours. Combine barbecue sauce and beer in the Dutch oven, add marinated chicken and cook for about 60 minutes in the covered Dutch oven. Serves four if ladled over hot rice.

From Dr. J. Birney Dibble, Eau Claire
Resinous Fish
  • Fresh fish fillets
  • Fresh pine needles

A few years back our family was canoeing 500 miles northwest of Winnipeg. We had no cooking utensils, but we were hungry and had a few walleye on the stringer. We pulled ashore, built a small fire, filleted a fish and cut a few saplings to roast the fish over the fire. After hers was cooked, my daughter accidentally dropped hers onto a carpet of pine needles. She picked it up brushed it lightly to remove the needles and ate it.

"Hey Dad, this really tastes good," she said. I thought she was making the best of things, but she persuaded me to take a bite. She was right. The pine needles gave the fish a nice, distinctive flavor. Since then we have done this purposely many times and have not been disappointed. Add fresh needles to the fire or a cast iron pan during the last few minutes of cooking.

From Irene LeTourneeau Regorrah, Cable
Baked Muskie
  • one large muskie (nine pounds or more)
  • salt
  • pepper

  • Stuffing mix:
  • 1½ pounds stale bread, cubed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 1 can full of milk (fresh or reconstituted dry milk)

Build a fire in an 18-inch-deep hole, that is longer than your fish and about two-feet wide. Gut and scale the muskie. Rinse the fish thoroughly and sprinkle the interior cavity with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, combine the stale bread, onion and a generous amount of parsley. Fold the can of soup and an equal amount of milk into the stuffing mixture. The stuffing should be n the wet side. Using a large needle and white thread sew down the gill covers and stitch the fish's mouth shut. Stuff the fish with the stuffing mix and then sew the stomach cavity shut.

Wrap the fish in four or five layers of dry newspaper, folding the paper in at the head and tail. Truss the entire fish with string (the way you would tie up a rolled roast.) Soak a dozen or more sheets of newspaper in water until it is saturated. Wrap the fish as before tying it securely with string. Tie the muskie to a board that is a few inches larger than the fish and about two feet wide.

Remove hot coals or embers from the pit, set the wrapped muskie in the pit and cover with the hot coals. Add wood to your fire and keep adding wood while the fish cooks. Allow at least two hours for a nine-pound fish. Remove coals, unwrap the fish and serve.

From "Wisconsin Cook Book" by Karin Marple Wade, Golden West Publishers, 4113 N. Longview Ave. Phoenix, AZ 85014
Fish in Foil
  • 4 pan-size trout (about 10 inches), cleaned
  • 4 lemon or lime slices
  • 4 teaspoons margarine
  • 4 tablespoons canned French-fried onion rings, crushed
  • garlic powder
  • 4 tablespoons dry white wine
  • aluminum foil

Place each fish on a separate piece of aluminum foil. Put a lemon or lime slice, one teaspoon of margarine, and one-half tablespoon of crushed onion rings in the body cavity of each trout. Sprinkle each fish with garlic powder, a half-tablespoon of crushed onion rings and a tablespoon of wine. Wrap the foil around the fish with a double seam down the long side of the packet. Fold up the ends to form leak-proof seals.

Cook the packets over hot coals until done, about 10-15 minutes per side. Turn the packets often to prevent burning.. Remove from fire and let sit a minute or two before opening to reduce the amount of hot steam released from the packet. Serves four.

From "Easy Recipes for Wild Game and Fish," by Ferne Holmes, Golden West Publishers. Contributed by Sally Magnan, Waukesha
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
  • ½ stick butter, melted
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 1 large can pineapple rings
  • a few maraschino cherries
  • 1 packaged cake mix (yellow, white or lemon) prepared according to package directions

Melt butter on the bottom of the Dutch oven. Add brown sugar and mix to form a liquidy paste. Drain pineapple and place rings on the bottom with a cherry in each. Pour cake batter over the pineapple layer. Cover with a lid and place 8 to 10 coals on the lid. Take the Dutch oven off the fire. don't start checking if the cake is done for at least 20 minutes. When done, remove lid and invert the Dutch oven over a large plate. Serves 8-10 adults or 5-6 Scouts!

From Steve Blattner, Waukesha
Lazy Cobbler
  • 1 large can of sliced peaches
  • 1 package white cake mix
  • butter
  • cinnamon

Preheat the Dutch oven, then remove from heat. Pour peaches with the syrup from the can into the oven. Sprinkle the dry cake mix on top of the fruit. Place several small pats of butter on top and sprinkle with cinnamon. Put lid back on oven and cook over a moderate coals for about 45 minutes.

From "Outdoor Illinois" magazine – May 1999
© ClickArt, T/Maker Company/Broderbund Software, Inc. Cherry Crumble
  • 1 can cherry pie filling
  • ½ C margarine
  • ½ C flour
  • 2/3 C brown sugar, packed
  • 2/3 C quick oats
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Spread pie filling in an 8" x 8" x 2" aluminum pan. Mix remaining ingredients together until crumbly or do this at home and bring the mixture in a sealed plastic bag. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the pie filling. Line the bottom of the Dutch oven with foil to catch spills. Place the aluminum pan on a trivet and in the Dutch oven. Cover and bake 15-20 minutes until the dessert is bubbly. Works equally well with other flavors of pie fillings.

David L. Sperling edits Wisconsin Natural Resources and perfected the Apartment S'more: one-half graham cracker topped with one-half chocolate bar and a marshmallow. Light the marshmallow with a butane lighter and extinguish the flambéed confection with another piece of chocolate and graham cracker. Bon appetit.