Friday, May 31, 2013

Tex-Mex casserole ala King Ranch

Tex-Mex casserole ala King Ranch led the meal line-up Friday evening at Oakland Camp in Quincy, California. It's based on a recipe that I developed this past winter. The casserole has proved popular every time I have served it.

The only mistake I made this weekend was making too much of the casserole. Of the four (2-inch) hotel pans, we placed two in the walk-in at the end of dinner. Staff have been eating it as leftovers.

Ready for the oven. Send me a Facebook message for a large quantity recipe.

Thursday, May 30, 2013


Ingredients for the vegetarian cook at Oakland Camp. Do you know what they are?

Ingredients for the vegetarian cook at Oakland Camp. The meat cooks will use them too!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Product development

At Oakland Camp we try hard to develop new products. Take our latest attempt. When I stepped over to the coffee urn to brew the cook's morning cup of Joe, I found that someone didn't turn the burner off the evening before. The pot slowly evaporated during the night, leaving a mound of dehydrated coffee in the bottom of the carafe. I thought we'd accidentally formulated the perfect just add water coffee carafe. The result? Not good. The coffee burned. Maybe next time!

Volunteer work camp weekend

Working at Oakland Camp has been on of my best experiences in recent years. Campers have received our food with enthusiasm. And the crew is working as a team. They helped each other through long days of the last two weekends. I'm blessed with a great kitchen staff.

The volunteer work weekend came off with "flying colors." While I'm ready to lash a broom to the mast and declare a "clean sweep" of all meals this weekend, we have some challenges ahead. Our summer begins with Adult Art Camp and Family Camp 1 (Science, Space and Sky Week) in just over two weeks. Both camps kick off in the afternoon of Sunday, June 16.

Preparing sufficient food and keeping the buffet lines (meat and vegetarian) stocked during each 60-minute meal period will be my biggest concern as the staff transition from pre-camp to full sessions of 150 to 200 campers each. To this point the largest group we've fed has been 125 campers and staff. I'm confident that the cooks will maintain the high standards that I set when they arrived.


Friday Evening
Tex-Mex Layered Casserole ala King Ranch
Simmered Pinto Beans
Mexican Corn
Sour Cream / Onions & Cilantro / Salsa Ranchera
Chocolate Brownie with Caramel Icing

Saturday Morning
French Toast
Warm Pancake Syrup / Smart Balance Cups
Cream Cheese & Fruit Topping
Hot Oatmeal / Fresh Fruit / Yogurt

Saturday Afternoon
Tomato Soup
Grilled Cheese Extravaganza
Cilantro Sauce for Sandwiches
French Fried Potatoes with Fry Sauce
Chocolate Pudding

Saturday Evening
Chicken & Broccoli Stir Fry
Vegetable Fried Rice
Chicken Egg Roll with Sweet & Sour Sauce
Fortune Cookie
Peach Cobbler

Sunday Morning
Scrambled Eggs with Cheddar-Jack Cheese
Crisp Bacon Strips
Cottage Fried Red Potatoes
Hot Oatmeal / Fresh Fruit / Yogurt

Sunday Afternoon
Beef Tacos with Shredded Cheddar Jack Cheese
Vegetarian Refried Beans
Sautéed Corn with Green Chiles
Sour Cream / Onions & Cilantro / Salsa Ranchera
Fruit Jello

Sunday Evening
Beef Stew with Rosemary & Fennel
Chimmicuri Drizzle
Roasted Cauliflower
Fresh Rosemary-Garlic Bread
Bread Pudding

Monday Morning
Oat Banana Hot Cakes
Fried Ham Steaks
Pancake Syrup / Smart Balance Cups
Cream of Wheat / Fresh Fruit / Yogurt

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Prep for weekend

The cooks prepared for our second large weekend group at camp today. Begining tomorrow afternoon, volunteer supporters of Oakland Feather River Camp arrive for the long Memorial Day weekend. They perform invaluable work for the camp.

I'll share photos of our work later as time is short and I'm typing on my smartphone. In the meantime, you can view photos on our Facebook fan page. We set a 10# dough (flour weight) for Sunday dinner, cubed bread for bread pudding tomorrow evening, mixed Jello for Saturday,  made six gallons of lemonade, baked two sheet pans of brownies, cut three large containers of lettuce and made vegetarian stock. After lunch, we prepared a four-inch hotel pan of fresh salsa for tomorrow.

I'll post the menu next week. More to come ...

Monday, May 20, 2013

First weekend group at Oakland Camp

Sunday breakfast
Oakland Camp hosted a group of school parents. For two nights, over 100 parents and young children filled the rustic camp. Spilled Cheerios, three-foot cookie crunchers and the patter of running feet graced the historic dining hall, affectionately known as The Chow Palace.

The crew and I passed our first test the past weekend. We heard nothing but great reviews. I believe this group is expecting an encore next year!

Beginning with pasta carbanara Friday evening, five cooks labored to set our best on the mobile serving line. We quickly learned that this East Bay group loved the sausages, roasted vegetables and salad bar. Though good, fresh baked dinner rolls, rich pasta and desserts fell by the wayside.

Here's the menu:


Friday Evening
Pasta Carbonara with Peas
Hot and Mild Italian Sausage
Oven Roasted Italian Vegetables
Fresh Dinner Rolls
Spice Cake

Saturday Morning
Scrambled Eggs with Cheddar-Jack Cheese
Salsa Espanola
Cottage Fried Potatoes
Hot Oatmeal / Fresh Fruit / Yogurt

Saturday Afternoon
Chicken Noodle Soup
Tuna Salad with Cucumber & Dill
Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
Potato & Corn Chips
Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sunday Evening
Chicken Breast Marinated in Rosemary & Garlic
Scalloped Potatoes
Braised German Red Cabbage
Fresh Ciabatta Roll
Lemon Bar

Sunday Morning
Ham & Provolone Bagel
Cilantro Sauce
Sliced Tomatoes / Sliced Onions / Lettuce Leaves
Hot Cream of Wheat / Fresh Fruit / Yogurt

Sunday Afternoon
Muffaletto on Ciabatta Roll
Roasted Red Pepper Tapanede
Creamy Macaroni & Cheese
The Rest of the Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Camp chef

My lovely bride and I have been working out of town for the past 11 days. I'm employed as the chef for Oakland Feather River Camp on Spanish Creek for the summer. In addition to the challenges of opening a kitchen that's dormant nine months of the year, I've been training a new crew, writing the menu and buying food.

I'll try to post recipes and menus throughout the summer as I can. When the blog is slow, please be patient! It's going to be a busy summer. Long hours, slow Internet connections and the need for sleep will restrict my time on 'Round the Chuckbox. In the nmantime, I'll post photos to 'Round the Chuckbox on Facebook a couple times each week.

The cooks came in Thursday and cleaned the kitchen. It's been a busy three days. They completed the kitchen after lunch on Saturday. The next task is to get the dining hall -- called The Chow Palace at Oakland Camp! -- up and running.

Meals for staff began on Friday with breakfast and lunch. Our first test comes next weekend. A large group is coming in to enjoy the camp in wonderful Plumas National Forest.

I'm incorporating training into the summer routine. Yesterday, I gave an impromptu bread baking lesson. After a 48-hour ferment in the refrigerator, we will bake bread boules on Monday for the crew's lunch.