For Memorial Day weekend, we took the kids to Devil’s Den State Park in Arkansas to camp. We reserved a primitive hike in campsite. I mean, if we were going to do it, we were going to do it right.
Note to self: the Ozarks are considerably more hilly than, say, Kansas City. And it is possible to have a hike in site that is uphill both ways. I don’t know how but I swear it happened.
So, in spite of having to haul gear and food for 6 people uphill a quarter of a mile into the middle of the woods, we had an amazing time.
And one of the things that made it amazing is that I can cook on a fire like nobody’s bidniz. As my husband called it “camp food for hipsters.”
The first part of good camp food is the right cooking equipment. We own a camp stove but never use it. It’s just back up in case it rains and the wood is too wet, really. So what equipment am I talking about? I’m talking about this:
The Lodge pre-seasoned cast iron combo cooker. The shallow frying pan doubles as a lid for the bottom pan if you want a dutch oven. Or, in the case of an egg, bacon, and hashbrown breakfast, you have 2 pans to cook with. This cooker is magical because it is versatile. These are the only two pans I brought with me.
I planned my meals ahead so I knew that I could cook simply on the fire. But there is no shame in bringing charcoal or wood briquettes especially if you are using your dutch oven as a slow cooker.
The best meal of the weekend was jerk chicken with grilled mushrooms and asparagus. I used the bacon grease from breakfast to cook the chicken in and used pre-mixed jerk chicken seasoning.
While the kids were interested in the cooking, they stuck with the basics of any camp out: marshmallows.
Regardless of the food you pack or the site you choose, you will never be disappointed at Devil’s Den. The hiking trails are varied. The scenery is beautiful. And being a WPA (Works Progress Administration) site, the opportunities to talk about the Great Depression and the New Deal, which changed the course of American politics and the national discussion on welfare forever, are rich. But mostly it’s just an amazing adventure in one of the most beautiful parts of America.