Good things come in small packages

Cynthia Stone
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Hard to believe the first camping weekend of the year is upon us. Whether you are a fan of sleeping in a tent and cooking on a Coleman stove, or you prefer a nice warm house with a shower and kitchen range, these dishes are for you.

All of today’s recipes serve four, unless you are one of those outdoorsy hikers, in which case you can probably eat the works yourself.

Cheesy Mixed Potato Bakers

This is almost too easy to call a recipe, but it is a delicious accompaniment to any meat or fish you can think of. Although raw potatoes work fine, pre-cooking them drastically reduces the time, making this the perfect take-along for your campfire.

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled

2 medium red potatoes, scrubbed but unpeeled

4 small blue potatoes, scrubbed but unpeeled

1 small onion, thinly sliced

1 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 large sheets heavy-duty aluminum foil

4 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole

4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 tbsp. butter or margarine

1 cup shredded old cheddar cheese

Slice all potatoes thinly and toss together with onion slices, salt and pepper. Divide among foil sheets, spreading out the slices so they are no more than about three deep in any one spot. Top each with a garlic clove and sprig of thyme and dot with butter. Fold up tightly, leaving plenty of expansion space for the steam but sealing all edges completely. Barbecue or grill over medium heat 35 to 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender (or bake in the oven at 425 F). Carefully open the packets and sprinkle cheese on top; serve when melted. To cut the time in half, parboil the potatoes 15 minutes, cool completely, slice and chill until ready to use. The onion and garlic won’t have as much time to get tender and sweet, but I know how important it is to conserve gas at the campsite.

Sausage and Pepper Packets

You can use fully cooked Italian sausages instead of Kielbasa in these packets, which go really well with those cheesy baked potatoes, by the way. These are also great in toasted hot dog rolls with a squirt of hot mustard, the peppers and onions and sauce heaped on top and oozing out the ends. These are super portable if you mix together the vinegar, sugar, oil and red pepper flakes in advance at home and bring it along in a small container.

3 tbsp. red wine vinegar

2 tbsp. brown sugar

1 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 to 1 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/2 each red and green bell pepper, cut into strips (or 1 of either, whole)

1 lb. Kielbasa, cut into bite-sized chunks

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

4 large sheets heavy-duty aluminum foil

Combine vinegar, sugar, oil and red pepper flakes in a bowl. Add red and green pepper strips, sausage chunks, and red onion. Stir to coat well. Divide among the foil sheets and seal them shut, leaving space for the steam. Barbecue or grill over medium to high heat 15 to 20 minutes (or bake in the oven at 425 F).

Trout en Papillotte

No reason you can’t go upscale at your campsite … or in your kitchen. Fresh trout is phenomenal in this classic dish, but don’t hesitate to substitute salmon or a white fish such as cod or sole. Use foil if you are cooking on an open fire or grill but consider parchment paper if you’re staying home this weekend. The traditional way to seal parchment is to cut the paper in the shape of a large heart. Fold in half over the food, then tuck in the curved edge starting at the very top. Turn in about a half inch for the first fold, then roll the paper in on itself, fold after fold — the edge should look like a braid. At the narrow tail end, pinch tightly and turn under. If you are using foil, large square sheets are fine. For camper cooking, make the butter mixture at home and refrigerate until you pack, then leave it out to soften a bit before using.

1/4 cup soft butter or margarine

4 large sheets heavy-duty aluminum foil

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon

grated zest and juice from 1 lemon

4 large or 8 smaller skin-on trout fillets

1/2 small bottle clam juice (or 1/2 cup chicken broth)

1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper

Rub a little bit of butter on each of the foil sheets. Combine remaining butter with parsley, tarragon and lemon zest and set aside. Place 1 (or 2 if they’re small) fillet on each of the buttered foil sheets, skin side down. Top with butter-herb-zest mixture. Combine lemon juice and clam juice and divide among packets, pulling up the edges to keep it from running away. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top and seal tightly. Grill or barbecue over medium to high heat (or in the oven at 450 F) 10 minutes for thin fillets.


Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John’s. Questions may be sent to her c/o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John’s, N.L., A1E 4N1.

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