Campfire Stew... Once a tradition at camp, it's origins are clouded in mystery (of course, once I publish this, alumni from all over will tell me the real origin story). Some years it was a part of camp, and other years is wasn't around. But when it was around, many stories were told about the concoctions staff would make.
Many stories were made around those fires. Often most of the counselors would be off entertaining the children while one or two unlucky (or lucky- depends on your perspective) would cook the stew. Also some of the staff had to clean up the pots afterwards, and if you didn't soap the bottom of the pans before you started, you were in a world of trouble and a long night of scrubbing!
I think this is where some of the famous cam icons appeared, like the dehydrated water and the left handed smoke shifters. Staff would send troublesome campers out to get these items from the other tribes, and the campers ended up doing a circuit of campfires before returning to their own campfire.
Chef Cathie E. Peck, who was the Food Service Manager at camp while I was here in the 90's had the following recipe.
1/2 cup dehydrated onions
1 pound sliced bacon*
2.5 pounds lean ground beef
2 cans (51-ounce) vegetable beef soup
1 can (50-ounce) tomato soup
canned vegetables, drained*
1. Build campfire and create a good bed of hot coals.
2. Add 1 cup warm water to the onions, stir and let stand.
3. Use a tablespoon of dish detergent and soap the outside of the cooking pot.
4. Cut bacon strips in half and place in the bottom of the pot.
Place pot over coals and cook the bacon.
Stir gently to cook the bacon evenly and prevent burning.
Drain the grease, keeping well away from hot coals and open flames.
5. Drain liquid excess liquid from the onions and carefully add to the bacon.
6. Continue to stir until the onions are transparent and tender.
7. Add the ground beef and continue to stir.
8. When the meat is browned, add soups and optional canned vegetables.
9. Heat the mixture and serve on hamburg buns. Serves 2 tribes.
10. Remove pot from heat and soak as soon as possible.
The addition of bacon to the original recipe is an optional ingredient.
Some counselors have requested the following additions to their stew:
Canned potatoes Canned kidney beans
Canned corn Canned peas
Canned carrots Canned beans
For best results drain the ingredients before adding to the stew.
So why talk about campfire stew? Well I hear a rumor that there will be the first annual Campfire Stew Cook Off at the next Alumni Gathering in May! Watch the facebook page or blog for details.
Oh, has anyone seen my red handled left handed smoke shifter lying around anywhere?