The Art of Cooking on the Trail

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From person to person, a love for cooking and a love for diverse food is ambiguous. Everyone has a taste for something different, so exploring these palates on the trail is fun, yet challenging. In most cases, cooking and eating on the trail is limited, so the need for creativity and experimentation is fun and necessary for a delicious and enjoyable trail feast. After all, food is life, and good food is love, so a masterful trail-chef is quite the treat in a place such as the BWCA, where perishable ingredients, and outstanding cooking is scarce.

Whether your trail-chef is experimenting with baking an apple pie, cooking split-pea soup, combining desserts for chocolate lava cake or even risking the breaking of eggs for a tasty egg-drop ramen dish, it’s all done for the glory of being the best trail-chef at CV. The competitive reward for best trail-chef runs extraordinarily high as campers will rave over a counselor’s cooking for an entire summer, and in many cases, far longer. If you’re courageous enough to attempt a memorable trail meal, the risk is high, but the glory and trail reputation among campers is much higher.

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Trail cooking is especially impressive when special circumstances such as diets or allergies are involved. The ability to please every camper given the higher intensity of restrictions is a challenge, but one taken with excitement and creativity. Whether someone is vegan, vegetarian, non-dairy, non-wheat or whatever it may be, a true trail-chef will present a delicious, innovative and fun trail-dish for all to enjoy.

Veteran counselor Joe Baumann (defending Best Trail Chef of 2018, Session One, Weeks 1 & 2) whips up a stir fry somewhere in the Boundary Waters.

The mark of a true trail-chef can even be as simple as a deep understanding of a diverse spice-kit, because who wants to mess up a meal with failed cooking when all you really need is leveled flavors and complimentary ingredients? A great example of using spices to a trail-chef’s advantage is on the staff trip, where I was able to showcase my passion for cooking. I happily made a honey-teriyaki stir fry, which was also made as a vegan meal. The entire meal consisted of a homemade honey-teriyaki sauce, sliced apple, peanuts, broccoli, onion, garlic, various peppers, carrots, mustard powder, cayenne, paprika, cumin, garlic salt, crushed pepper flakes and cajun spice. This was all sautéed over a campfire and served over a heaping pile of rice. It’s a trail-dish almost anyone can easily make, and most will go wild for.

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Cooking on the trail, and cooking for kids is a difficult and tiring process that many CV counselor’s take pride and passion in. Food is life and good food is love, and this is especially true as ingredients and difficulty levels rise with the cooking environment. Learning to cook is one of the many benefits of wilderness adventure camps. We’re excited to see what our trail-chefs have to offer this summer as the competition intensifies for CV’s best trail-chef of 2019.

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