"Freshly baked bread right out of the oven!"

Freshly baked bread tentside!

You just know the old hobo dinner isn’t gonna cut it when someone pulls out a cast iron contraption and proclaims they are going to bake bread for dinner – while you are in the great outdoors.  Say what?

Camping as I used to know it was standard fare:  toasting marshmallows over a fire and hoping they didn’t burst into a ball of flames, throwing hamburger and veggies into a foil pouch and placing over the coals (a “hobo dinner) and scrambled eggs cooked alongside bacon for breakfast.  Turns out I missed a chapter or two in camping cooking over the years and now the gear is better along with the recipes.

The most fascinating bit of cookery involves a heavy dutch oven which, when strategically placed over some coals (not too many, not too few) and then encapsulated by a few more coals on the lid, becomes an “oven” fit for baking bread or desserts.  If you want to make a stew, chili or maybe even chicken with dumplings a dutch oven seems to be a handy, if not heavy option (don’t attempt to go backpacking with this contraption!)

Of course, it turns out my 70’s style sleeping bag complete with flannel duck-hunting scenes printed on the inside isn’t exactly practical either, especially in 40 degree weather.   At least a few good meals – which are even better in the great outdoors – make it worth braving the elements and lack of hot water!

For those who want a 30 minute meal (tentside) this one’s for you…

Classic Hobo Dinner

  • Cooking oil or spray
  • 1 ½ lbs ground beef or ground chuck
  • 2 potatoes, sliced
  • 1 – 2 onions, cut into slices
  • 5-6 carrots (cut into halves)
  • Cremini, button or portabella mushrooms (optional) sliced
  • 6 large pieces of foil
  • Salt, pepper

Oil or spray the foil.  Place about a ¼ pound of  the ground beef on the foil and season with salt and pepper.  Layer the potatoes, onions, carrots and mushrooms on top.    Optional: herbs such as rosemary, oregano or basil.

Fold the foil and seal – be careful not to puncture or leave any open holes.  You don’t want the juices to drip out!  Place the packet carefully in the readied coals at the edge of the campfire.

The packet should cook about 20 – 30 minutes or until the veggies are tender.

Note: this is a great recipe for young, first time campers.   It was one of the first things I made when camping (age 9) and one of my favorite outdoor food memories!

"The bread oven"

The baking process