Here at BACKPACKER's office, we have shelves and shelves of camp cookbooks, but many of them suffer the same near-fatal flaw: They don't have photos of the food. When I'm flipping through recipes, trying to decide which one to invest time and energy into, I want to know what the final product looks like: a king's meal or baby food?
So when one new addition to the genre, Ultimate Camp Cooking by Mike Faverman and Pat Mac ($15, ultimatecampcooking.com), landed on my desk, it caught my eye. Glossy, full-color professional shots of every dish; a durable, water-resistant cover that withstands the vagaries of camp life; and lots of personality in the form of humorous essays and tips from the authors based on their outdoor-cooking experiments. There's also a nice variety of unique recipes.
But cooker beware: While these recipes are designed to have minimal cleanup and hassle in the outdoors, most of them are tailored to car camping—i.e., they involve lots of fresh, heavy ingredients and/or they use a dutch oven or grill. So this book is not for most backcountry backpackers (the exception being hiker-chefs who don't mind larger loads). That said, some dishes do work equally well in the backcountry, such as this delish dill salmon recipe, excerpted with permission below. Can you say yum?
Serves 4 to 6
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and black pepper
1 (1 1/2- to 2-pound) salmon fillet
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 white onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 large lemon, sliced
This recipe is so easy to make in an aluminum foil wrap—and cleanup is easy! Take a sheet of foil and pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil on it. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Lay your salmon fillet on the oil, then pour the other tablespoon of olive oil on the surface and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Squeeze some lemon juice on top. Throw your onion on top of that, along with your garlic and basil. Sprinkle with the dill, then place the sliced lemon on top of everything. Place another piece of foil on top and seal the edges of the top and bottom pieces of foil.
Grill over medium-high heat for 35 minutes (or over a fire using a backpacker's grill), or until the salmon is cooked to your liking. Some people prefer their salmon undercooked, but we like it cooked completely through.