Campfire Cooking (Plus My New Favorite Meat Substitute)

Kitchen Diary: Emily in Los Angeles

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Is it camping weather where you live yet? I've just returned from Big Sur and the first of what I hope are many campfire meals this season. Even when it's as simple as corn on the cob or scrambled eggs, there's something deeply satisfying about cooking over an open fire. I also discovered a new easy-to-pack ingredient that's great for camping.

I love campfire cooking because it takes me outside my regular routines and comforts. It compels me to be intentional about every step. At home it's easy to mindlessly boil water, pour a cup of coffee, and let dirty dishes pile up in the sink. When camping, you have to plan what provisions to pack, consider how to build and tend your fire, and cook using different techniques that often take longer. Cleaning up is an exercise in mindful water use and responsible waste creation/disposal. From start to finish, cooking and eating feels purposeful.

One thing I cooked on this trip, which was a new ingredient to me, was Neat. I brought a packet of this vegetarian, soy-free, gluten-free meat replacement and liked the fact that it took little space, didn't need refrigeration, and cooked up easily. Neat is made from pecans, garbanzo beans, oats, and spices and you just mix it with water and eggs (a flaxseed egg substitute also works). It has a texture similar to ground beef and satisfied the meat eaters in the group when we used it to make tacos. I'm tempted to experiment with a DIY version, too.

Do you enjoy campfire cooking? Any favorite ingredients or recipes to share?

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Kitchen Diary: Emily in Los Angeles

(Image credits: Gregory Han)

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