Make sure your camp cook is a good one

Just as the right cook can make a campout, the wrong one can really ruin an outing.

While you’re planning your camping trips this summer, keep in mind that the most important thing you bring along may well be the camp cook. If nobody in your party is a good camp chef, go recruit one or learn how to do it yourself.

The thing that stands in the way of an average camper becoming a good camp cook is the cooking. Nobody wants to do it. I’ve been on campouts where the first person to complain about the grub was automatically elected the new camp cook. Luckily for me, it usually only took one meal for someone else to complain about my cooking.

I try to do it right. I sit down before leaving on the trip to plan the menu. The problem is, as I think of things to make for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I realize I can’t cook that stuff at home on an electric range, let alone over a campfire. My shopping list usually winds up consisting of a sack full of potatoes, four or five onions and several flavors of freeze-dried meals.

When I get to camp, the potatoes and onions always end up tasting like charcoal briquettes, and the freeze-dried meals don’t taste much better. I don’t think I’m to blame for the freeze-dried meals, though. I have yet to find anyone who can whip up a freeze-dried meal that tastes anything like what it tasted like before someone sucked all the water out of it.

No, I couldn’t make a good meal in the mountains if my life depended on it. Even fresh-caught fish end up ruined when I’m manning the pots and pans. I have a fear of undercooking the food, and even when I check the frying pan every two seconds, I wind up leaving the food over the heat for two seconds too long. When you’re cooking over a fire that could be spotted from space, two seconds can mean the difference between rare and nothing left but carbon atoms.

But I’ll keep trying as long as I have someone to inflict my horrid cooking on.