Sunday, May 04, 2014

Meals during pre-camp

During the first week of the season at Oakland Feather River Camp, staff are on their own for meals. The half-dozen employees that commute from nearby Quincy bring lunch. Debbie and I fend for ourselves. Other than the camp manager, who lives on the property with his wife, we're the only ones living at camp.

The dietary kitchen -- so-called because campers prepare special diets in it -- serves as our home kitchen for the first week. Late next week the cooks begin cooking breakfast and dinner for the dozen pre-camp employees. The sous chef and pre-cooks arrive on Thursday to clean the kitchen and begin preparing meals on Friday.

Sometimes breakfast for dinner is the best meal. Friday evening I cooked bacon (not pictured), cottage potatoes and fried eggs in the Lodge #12 skillet. Sorry, there were no leftovers!

I brought two 12-inch Dutch ovens for use during pre-camp and a couple cook's evening cookouts. Three large Lodge skillets (including the 20-inch skillet I found in Eagle Point, Oregon, in April) were also packed for use in the main kitchen. Pre-camp gives me the opportunity to do a lot of Dutch oven cooking. Once camp opens in mid-June, I'm too busy to cook in Dutch ovens.

Thursday evening, our first full day at camp, Debbie and I visited Moon's, our favorite restaurant in Quincy. Mike and Lisa Kelly are wonderful hosts, and they serve great food. Hickory smoked ribs with rosemary-garlic mashed potatoes and freshly baked garlic bread is my most ordered meal. Debbie enjoys the twice-baked potato. She always returns to camp with leftovers to use for lunch or dinner.

Saturday's dinner was bratwurst with layered cabbage and red potatoes in a Lodge 12-inch camp oven. A layer of sliced red potatoes went on the bottom. Sliced onions came next, then shredded green cabbage. The dish was baked with charcoal briquettes for 350 to 400 degrees for around 45 minutes. Don't forget to season each layer. Adjust quantities of sausages, potatoes and cabbage as needed to feed your group.

Friday and Saturday evenings we cooked dinner in cast iron. You can see the results in the two photographs. I'm planning a busman's holiday cookout for cooks this Friday. After two busy days cleaning and organizing the kitchen, it'll give the cooks time to bond as the culinary team at Oakland Camp. And off their skill. Everyone, along with maintenance and housekeeping staff if they choose to join in, will have fun.

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