Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Hobo Dinners - the best camping food EVER

We recently went on our annual family camping trip.  I grew up going on camping trips with my family, usually more the pop-up camper variety while we now tent camp, mostly because none of us have a camper.  We started these annual family camping weekends 6 years ago.  At that time there were the "original 8" and 3 brother-in-laws.  I dreaded that first trip but it turned out to be a blast.  So much that I look forward to the trip every year.  In the last 6 years we've added 2 more brother-in-laws, one boyfriend, and 8 kids under 5 to the mix.  You can imagine that things get a little crazy with that many kids running around (well, 7 of them running around, the youngest is only 5 months old).  It's a crazy fun though and Luke LOVED playing with his cousins all weekend.  He kept trying to sneak into my sister's van or her bike trailer...I think he was trying to just be a part of their family which was hilarious and adorable. 

With so many kids to chase around and so much packing we all have to do (tent! sleeping bags! kid stuff!) we've always split up all the meals.  We each take one and so the only food we have to bring are what is required for "ours", snacks, and drinks.  It makes for very easy packing and a lot easier prep when they are only a few cooks in the "kitchen". 

This was our 6th trip but the first Matt & I have had something other than breakfast.  I have no problems making breakfast, it's usually easy and inexpensive...but you think the family would have realized that, pre-Luke, we were NOT the earliest risers of the group!  Pre-Luke we'd be setting an alarm for 8am (which seemed waaaay too early for a weekend) and still would have people waiting on their breakfast.  This year we took a supper and got to have nice peaceful mornings...of not sleeping in thanks to a toddler.  BUT it was nice being able to relax a tiny bit and get a warm breakfast when we did finally emerge from our cozy sleeping bags. 

The supper we "made" was hobo dinners which, in my opinion, is the greatest camping food of all time.  My aunt introduced us to these on one of the many vacations she joined us for back in the 90s.  It's the most basic food you can eat but something about cooking it over the fire and eating it under the stars (or almost stars) that makes the experience.  When Matt, Luke, and I went on our first family camping trips these were the first things on the menu.  We've tried them at home over the grill but it's just not the same when they aren't eaten in camp chairs.  I will make sure to have these on very camping trip I go on for the rest of my life. 

Hobo Dinners
-meat (ground beef or chicken, thawed)
-butter stick or spray
-grated cheese
-salt & pepper
-aluminum foil
-fire grate
-a camp fire

1) Wash, peel, and cut all meat and vegetables as appropriate into bite sized pieces.  How much of each you need depends on how many you are feeding (for the 12 adults and 7 kids we had for hobos this weekend, we have 5lbs of meat, 5lbs potatoes, 2lbs carrots, 1.5lbs cheese.  When just Matt, Luke, and I have done these we've done much, much less.)
2) Tear aluminum foil into sheets about 18-24 inches long.  If you use heavy duty foil you will need one piece for person.  If it's regular foil you will need two. 
3) To assemble, start with the shiny side of the foil up and spread/spray some butter if your using chicken or lean beef.  Pile on the meat, potatoes, carrots, and onion.  I always arrange mine with the meat in the middle and the vegetables around the outside.  Matt saw me doing this and asked why my food had to be pretty; he just piles everything on. 
4) When done, pull two sides of the foil up to meet and roll them down towards the bulk of the package.  Roll in both ends.  Take your second piece of foil (shiny side up) and lay your first folded package on it, with the folded end facing down (you want your seams on opposite sides) and repeat the folding.  It's not an exact science, basically close it up the best you can.  My nephew crunched it all together and it still worked fine.
5) Place on the fire grate, try to remember which is yours. 
6) The cooking time will depend on many things, including how hot the fire is and how big the packages are.  Check one around 20 minutes.  The meat should be cooked through and the vegetables soft.  If they aren't done, return to the fire grate.  According to my picture time stamps, mine took about 25 minutes to cook this time.
7) Add some shredded cheese and salt and pepper to taste.  Enjoy around the fire. 

My mouth is watering just writing about these!  I would pretty much go camping just for a hobo dinner.  They are camping perfection.  

Source: My aunt, about 20 years ago, and many many camping trips!

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