In a few short weeks my wife, daughter and I will be going on our summer camping trip. We will be heading to the Washington coast to get away from all this abysmal heat. Nothing is more pleasing to me than camping under the stars with a cool breeze blowing the salt brine off of the sea. It brings fond memories of my youth. I am happy to be passing those good times on to my daughter Sofia, who just turned six. Camping is a great way to save money on a family vacation but there is one thing I will never skimp on! You guessed it, on my camping trip there will be a fortitude of epicurean delights. No frank and beans for this family. After hiking along the coast during the day we will still have plenty of time to whip up something delectable. Time that at home would have been otherwise wasted watching reality TV.  Below are some of my must haves and suggestions for eating under the stars in style.

            Here is my list of must haves. Number one, you need a cast iron skillet. Skillets are useful for cooking up pancakes, sausages, sauces and warding off angry bears!  In my opinion you should have one of these anyway. I use mine at home almost every day. If you are new to iron skillets make sure you read up on seasoning it so it doesn’t oxidize. Number two, you will need a dutch oven.  Dutch ovens are great for making stews, chili, cobblers and popcorn. Same rule applies for seasoning the dutch oven, as it is also made out of cast iron. Third, you will need a pot! Of course you will need a pot, I mean what if you need to boil something like water. I guess you could use your dutch oven but the cobbler is in the dutch oven and you can’t make hot coco or coffee now. What were you thinking!  One of my favorite things for grilling is an extendable broiler basket.  I can put chicken or veggies in it, flip them around without losing so much as a tiny morsel of food. They only cost about $15.00. I have two, one for veggies and one for meats. Finally, it should go without saying you will need a knife, spatula, tongs... This is a guide, not a comprehensive list. Simply plan out what you want to cook each day and think about what you will need to bring to see your vision to its completion.

            Part of what I just mentioned, planning ahead, can also mean prepping ahead of time.  Why you can make dressings, sauces, and pasta salads before you ever hit the road. Simply seal them up and store them in your cooler until they are needed. 

            Now that you have planned everything out and couldn’t be more excited about doing the cooking for your camping party, but there is one thing missing.  What you have forgotten is style.  Bring a table cloth or two. Some stem wear, proper plates and cutlery will class up your picnic table. Light some candles and those other campers will look on with envy. You will be the cool kids on your block while the folks next to you scrape beans out of their tin cans.


Sample Menu


Day One


Tomato and Egg Plant Terrine (made ahead of time)

Pesto Pasta Salad (made ahead of time)

Grilled Boneless Chicken Thighs (marinated in lime, garlic and salt overnight)

Served with Tertulia Cellars Reserve GSM


Dutch Oven Carmel Popcorn

Day Two


Pancakes filled with ham and cheese

Eggs Sunny Side Up

Fresh Fruits


Sandwiches made with previous nights leftovers

Pesto Pasta

Fresh Fruit


Steamed Mussels, Clams and Chorizo Sausage (cook with some Rose and chopped garlic, soak up the juices with sour dough bread)

Grilled Salmon

Caesar Salad (dressing made ahead of time)

Serve with Tertulia Rose, Viognier, or Cinsault


Grilled Fruit Drizzled With Balsamic and Condensed Milk

Day Three


Fruit Parfait with yogurt and cereal 

Salmon Omelet (use left over’s from previous night’s dinner)



Eat Out


Grilled Sour Dough Slices With Blue Cheese and Honey

Grilled Veggies

Butterflied Leg of Lamb Marinated in Lemon, Rosemary and Garlic

Serve with Tertulia Excelsior


Dutch Oven Berry Cobbler