Backcountry Fine Dining

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By Brenda Shafer


Photography by Lanewood Studio o
n location at Lula Lake Land Trust

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Camping enthusiast, Adam Cogbill, claims that food tastes better outside. “Eating is an experience no matter where you are,” he says. “But when you’re outside, you slow down and enjoy it more.”

“The beauty of camping is having the time to create a delicious gourmet meal,” Adam says. “So much of our lives are spent rushing from one thing to the next, and one meal to the next. Time in the woods allows us to pay attention to the details and enjoy the process.”

Adam has spent a lot of time cooking in the woods. He grew up camping with his family, worked for an adventure travel company, and now heads up the Outdoor Program at the YMCA. His wife Jessica also grew up camping with her family, and together, they spent a year living off the grid. “Now we spend as many nights in the woods as we can,” Adam says.

Anything Adam can cook at home, he can cook in the wild – from parmesan-crusted salmon with lemon asparagus orzo to made-from-scratch pizza. Here, he shares his expertise and recreates one of his favorites– spinach, feta, and lamb gözlemes.


Adam’s Packing Tips:


Have a good spice kit. One of the things I see people forget are the basic spices you use at home. And soap. Just because you are camping doesn’t mean your mom would approve of you cooking or eating without washing your hands first! Always try to repackage things at home, so you don’t have as much trash. Using zip lock bags and plastic tupperware also helps you stay organized. Sometimes, I’ll repackage an entire meal into gallon zip lock bags and write what the meal is on the front, so when it’s time to cook, it’s easy to find all the ingredients. If you are using a cooler, loose ice could melt and make your meal soggy, so instead, freeze half gallon jugs of water to keep food cold. And, lists are always a good idea. Keep a running list of equipment that you always take with you and check things off as you pack them.

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Adam’s Prepping Tips:


Chopping and prepping food outside can be fun, especially if you have several people in your group or kids you trust with a knife. It’s a great way to get them involved in the process, but sometimes it’s easier and more efficient to do the prep at home. When I make fajitas, sometimes I’ll prep and cook everything at home, so that when I get to camp, I only have to heat it up. Other times, I’ll prep and cook at camp. Prepping really can be half the fun – just don’t wait until you are starving to start that process.


Adam’s Cooking Tips:


Get used to your equipment. You cook on your stove at home all the time, but if you only cook with your camping gear every so often, you might not feel quite as comfortable with things like heat levels and cooking times. Try out your camp stove at home even though it may feel silly cooking on it next to your kitchen stove. Don’t limit yourself to recipes that are traditional “camping” recipes.  If you can make it at home on your stove top, you can make it camping on a good two-burner stove. Practice making things at home using only the resources you would have while camping, and then you’ll be prepared. There are a lot of delicious stove top recipes out there, so get creative and don’t put yourself in a recipe box! And, if you get a little dirt in your food, it’s just called wilder spice. Dust a little off and keep rolling. It will only make it taste better.

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Adam’s Recipe


Spinach, Feta, and Lamb Gözlemes


Dough


2 1/2 cups of self-rising flour, plus extra for rolling out dough (regular flour will work too if you add a pinch of salt)
1 cup plain Greek yogurt


Filling


2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
olive oil
1/2 lb. ground lamb (can use beef or turkey)
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 handfuls of fresh spinach, chopped
salt, pepper, cumin, paprika
1 cup feta cheese
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped


Directions


Combine flour and yogurt in a bowl and knead until the dough becomes elastic and smooth. Set aside. In a medium skillet, sauté garlic and onion in oil 3-4 minutes until they are translucent and fragrant. Add the ground lamb and cook until browned. Stir in the tomato paste, chopped spinach, and spices and let cook for 2-3 minutes while the flavors blend. Remove from heat and set aside. Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Roll out one of the portions onto a floured surface until it is flat, smooth, and about a 1/8 of an inch thick. Spoon the mixture onto half of the rolled-out dough, and then add feta cheese and chopped tomatoes to taste. Fold the other half of the dough over the top of the mixture, pinching and crimping the edges to make a sealed pocket. Repeat with the remaining ingredients and dough. Over medium heat, cook each gözleme in a lightly oiled skillet for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crisp. Serve with hot sauce if desired.

Prep/Cook Time: 30-45 min
Serves: 4 people


Optional tips for camp:


Use a clean water bottle as a rolling pin.
Saran wrap on a hard surface makes a good, clean rolling surface and makes clean up a cinch.


Adam’s Favorite Dishes:


I love anything you can eat on a tortilla. Tortillas are edible plates, which means fewer dishes you have to wash. For that reason and others, I love fajitas of all different styles and flavors, sweet and spicy. For breakfast, I’m a sucker for a classic cowboy breakfast of runny eggs, bacon, toast, and pancakes with apple butter. Dinners are wide open. Anything I make at home, I challenge myself to learn how to make while camping. The best meal I have ever had while camping was a Dutch oven three-cheese lasagna my wife made. It was cheesy and smoky, and to this day, it is the best lasagna I’ve ever eaten.

 

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