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Camp Cooking [May. 29th, 2008|08:50 pm]
Camp Cooking (aka "Frying a Chicken in Twelve Uneasy Steps")

We've been going to camping events for a few years and we've made some investments in our gear. Not where you'd really expect it, perhaps; our tent is still a little dome easy-up that we've borrowed from Kit's sisters.

No, we have a proper camp kitchen. This is one of the things that lures me out to camping events: they let me cook. Camping itself is, let's face it, rather an unhappy affair. You sleep just above the ground, it gets really cold and you're shielded only by thin nylon, and you have to get clothed in order to visit the bathroom in the middle of the night. Adding a one-year-old to the mix doesn't help.

So we've compromised by having a pretty decent little kitchen setup because food is a sure way to a rat's heart. I also like cooking with only the ingredients and tools that we've had the foresight to carry in. It makes it more of a challenge. Sometimes it gets to be too much of a chellenge.

One item we'd purchased for this trip was a whole chicken and some herbs and aromatics. We were going to do an old-fashioned bird roasted on a spit. (Yes, we have a spit, too. Nice wrought-iron one that witchofnovember bought.)

The only complication was the weather. Drippo, the evil imp of precipitation, had been keeping a close eye on our preparations. I'd just finished cleaning, stuffing, seasoning, and oiling the bird when the first drops of rain fell. From a mostly-blue sky with scattered high clouds. Damn, that imp is clever.

Given the sky's appearance, I recklessly declared, "It'll probably clear up in a few minutes." It proceeded to do no such thing. Instead, it proceeded to turn from sprinkles into a shower into proper rain. Despite my repeated incantations about it having to clear up soon.

With a sigh (and much grumbling) I resigned myself to the fact that we weren't going to get to roast the bird. But I was now left with the problem of a whole, raw, stuffed chicken and only two small propane stove burners. I had no pan or pot large enough to fit the chicken.

Kit stepped in to unstuff and quarter the bird while I cursed Drippo. Actually, I glared over the rim of my mug of tea, but I think Drippo knew whom that fierce glare was directed at. Oh yes.

I say that because, as soon as the bird was segmented for cooking in a pan, the rain cleared. Cheeky imp.

We weren't going to give him the satisfaction. We were committed to cooking under the tent now. I got out our largest pan which was wide enough to fit the two breast pieces at the same time, if you had some experience with Tetris.

So I filled the pan with a half-inch of oil and glumly attempted to make fried chicken over a propane stove. It didn't get the oil as hot as it really needed to be, but it was enough to mostly cook things. The dark meat segments came out fine but the breasts still had some pink spots at the center even though the outside had become dark and a little dry.

In case we were thinking about sitting around outside and eating, as soon as the chicken reached our approximation of doneness, it started to drip. Little spatters of rain were moving through.

We sat in the big tent and ate our chicken (with a side of mashed potatoes). There were still the underdone centers of the breasts which we had to set aside. Maybe we should've left those as our offerings to Drippo. He must've been hungry after all that rainmaking.

[User Picture]From: kody_wolf
2008-05-30 09:21 am (UTC)
Aww... sounds like a little Drippo goes a long way.
I've been doing some furry camping trips here on the east coast for a few years too.
It's been rain or shine, mostly without drippo... I've gotten used to a little Drippo and try to plan ahead using lots of propane. I think I'm ready for the Big Momma Drippo - but I'd rather not see her because it tends to make all the other furries run and hide.

I'd love to meet ya one day! Too bad we live on opposite ends of the world/US!
If you ever decided to hike out to Virginia we have our camp outs twice a year, so far: In May & October with actual dates to be determined a few months in advance.

We'll see how this fall ones goes, I'm moving it up-hill for less work overall.

-Kody Wolf
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2008-05-30 05:00 pm (UTC)
Yeah, definitely seems we have common interests. It's been a while since we've been back east... Last time we were at MFF, really. That's as far east as we usually get. Travelling's also trickier with Timothy in tow, right now.

If you're over here in the Seattle area sometime, though, drop me a line.

And, yes, we were lucky we had two cannisters of propane! :)
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[User Picture]From: kody_wolf
2008-05-31 06:14 am (UTC)
I need to invest in a 20lb tank for all my propane needs :)
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2008-05-31 03:09 pm (UTC)
More work to carry but you sure as heck won't run out!

You know, we actually have one of those powering a burner in our kitchen. There's no gas service where our house is but we wanted a nice gas burner to cook on. So we had the contractor put in a gas pipe and run it outside, where we now have a little propane tank. It has the secondary advantage that we can now cook when the power's out.
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[User Picture]From: witchofnovember
2008-05-30 04:31 pm (UTC)
Uhm, props to Agent Miss who suggested breaking the chicken down. And there were some under cooked centers to the dark meat, I was just hungry enough to risk death.
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[User Picture]From: nicodemusrat
2008-05-30 05:02 pm (UTC)
Aww, I thought the dark meat was actually mostly done. My bit was edibly done to the center.

This'll teach us not to buy whole birds, I guess.
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[User Picture]From: witchofnovember
2008-05-30 07:17 pm (UTC)
Or to start cooking sooner and bring a chimney starter.

I'm going to dig out the book with the oven plans...
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