Outdoors-oriented cookbooks offer ways to kick up your campfire cuisine. File photo

Column: Gift a taste of the outdoors

Cookbooks to kick up your campfire cuisine

By James Murray, Observer contributor

The other day, while walking down to get the mail, I found myself looking at one particular tree with several apples still clinging to its branches.

I suddenly had the overwhelming desire to go home and make an apple pie. Walking back, I began to think about fishing trips I would like to make in the new year. As I walked along, I also started to ponder what I would make for supper. Sometimes just going to get the mail can really work up an appetite.

I like to eat. I also like to cook, and, I get a special sense of intrigue when I open up the pages of a new cook book. For me, cook books are not only a unique opportunity to experience new and exciting savoury delights, they also represent somewhat of a challenge. Success has its own reward when you sit down to enjoy the fruits of your labour. Near misses and disasters are, well, what I like to refer to as learning experiences.

It is one thing to create a gourmet meal in one’s kitchen where you have all the necessary ingredients, not to mention proper pots and pans and space to lay everything out in preparation. It is another to prepare a meal in the wild or around the campfire. Which brings me to my point. There are a lot of really good cookbooks designed for preparing meals in the great outdoors. And, since Christmas is just around the corner, what better gift to give an outdoor enthusiast/cook than a cookbook specifically on preparing meals in the outdoors.

There is something to be said for waking up in the woods and making breakfast in the open air, or gathering with friends and family around a campfire after a day of enjoying the outdoors.

Good food makes for enjoyable camping.

Campfire Cuisine: Gourmet Recipes For The Great Outdoors, by Robin Donovan, is a guide for lovers of both good food and the great outdoors. “Campfire Cusine is a cookbook for the growing number of hikers, campers and backpackers who are making healthy, tasty, and satisfying food a high priority in their lives. It offers more than 100 simple but inspired recipes for meals that can be cooked at a campsite or in any other outdoor setting. Each recipe is made with fresh foods and ingredients, never relying on ready-made food products.”

Hungry Campers Cookbook: Fresh, Healthy And Easy Recipes To Cook On Your Next Camping Trip, by Katy Holder, “brings together the fun of family camping holidays with fresh, healthy, gourmet yet simple recipes. Holder has combined her many years of food writing with her love of camping to produce this cookbook for anyone embarking on a camping trip. All recipes use fresh ingredients and require minimal cooking equipment. Chapters include Prepare Ahead Meals, Fire Up the Barbecue, One-Pot Dinners and Campfire Cooking for Kids. Holder also understands the requirements of cooking while camping and offers a wealth of advice on eating well while sleeping in your tent or under the stars.”

Two friends in one vehicle for five months, across 10 provinces and three territories, with eight ferries, two flights and one 48-hour train ride culminated in Feast: Recipes and Stories from a Canadian Road Trip, by Lindsay Anderson and Dana Vanveller. Anderson and Vanveller first met around an Okanagan campfire in 2011. They became fast friends and began planning Feast a year later. “Avid cooks, writers and photographers, their project allowed them to highlight Canada’s vibrant and varied food culture – 37,000 kilometres later, and toting a “Best Culinary Travel Blog” award from Saveur magazine, Anderson and Vanveller, along with more than 80 contributors, including farmers, grandmothers, First Nations elders and acclaimed chefs, present over 100 regional recipes…” While this may not be a cookbook for cooking meals on a camp stove, it surely captures all the aromas and flavours of the outdoors and would certainly be the kind of cookbook I would recommend for preparing meals to be served over the long, cold winter.

While these are but a few of the cookbooks on my shelf, I’m sure each would make a great Christmas present – especially for those who want a little taste of the wild in their meals. I know they can really work up an appetite.

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