The night we arrived in South Platte, most camp sites were already taken. We lucked out, and found something flat, with a picnic table, and pitched our tents. It hadn't been more than 15 minutes before someone stopped at our site and told us there had been bears in the area.
I hear this a lot. It seems every time we go camping, someone says something about a bear. And with good reason! No one wants to wake up to a bear trampling through their breakfast supplies. But I hear the warning enough that this time I shook it off as quickly as I scoped out the best place for my camping chair. Bears do live outside, afterall. We are in their home. I've never had a bear rummage through my campsite. We do our due diligence, locking away food and trash, and go to sleep knowing everything is going to be ok.
We eat dinner without worrying about it: food always tastes better outside, and we focus on that. I let the sun warm my back and the breeze tug at my clothes as I cook. I watch the leaves on a tree waver as I eat. I don't notice that our camping stove got too hot and seared our hash browns, or than I forgot the hot sauce (ok, maybe I notice that, but I get over it after the first bite). I just melt into my camp chair (or picnic table bench, or stump that doubles as a stool), and notice the little things: the way the fire crackles and sparks, the taste of wine when it's drunk out of the only drinking vessel in my camping kit (a mug), and the way the stars peak through the canopy of aspen trees. I go to bed early and happy.
The night, in South Platte, I woke with a start. A bright, beaming light encompassed my tent and made it glow. It must've been 11 o'clock. Then, a voice: "If you're awake over there, there's a bear in your campsite." I sat up instantly. What I felt was excitement more than anything else. Oliver reached for his head lamp and together we unzipped the tent and poked our heads out, looking towards the rustling sound that was no more than 15 feet away.
I saw nothing. We looked the other way, and still nothing. The rustling continued, despite our bright lights, but we were unable to spot a thing. We nestled back into our sleeping bags, and fell asleep. I dreamed of bears. (More specifically, I dreamed of a bear coming to get a Snickers Bar out of our tent. A Snickers Bar of all things!). Nothing else interrupted my sleep that night, not even the dogs that barked like mad when the bear trudged through their campsite, several hundred yards away (I was only told about it in the morning).
When I finally awoke at 6 (or 7, I had no clock), all was still. I hiked around the campground and saw no evidence of mischief (or large furry animals).
This campfire meal is so incredibly easy to make: I pre-chop all of the veggies at home, and toss them in oil and spices. I keep them in a ziplock bag and put them in a cooler. When it's time for dinner, everyone can make their own meal, with a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Wrap it all up in foil and light a fire: the heat from the flames cook everything up in no time. Use tongs to pull everything out of the fire (don't burn yourself!) and eat everything straight from the foil packet... no dish washing needed!
Serves: 4 | Total Time: 30 minutes
- 1 pound kabob beef, or beef cut into cubes
- 3 bell peppers, various colors
- 1 red onion
- 1 zucchini
- 2 medium sweet potatoes
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon chile powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Optional, to serve: cheddar cheese, salsa, hot sauce
- Before you leave to go camping, prep the veggies: slice the peppers and onions, and dice the zucchini. I precook the sweet potatoes for a few minutes so that they don’t have to cook as long on the fire, but this is optional. To precook the sweet potatoes, simple cut a slit through the skin of each potato and microwave them for 5 minutes, on until tender. Once tender, slice the potatoes into 1/2 inch rounds.
- Combine vegetables, potatoes, and cubed beef in a bowl. Toss in olive oil. Add the salt, pepper, chile powder, and cumin and toss until everything is coated. Place in ziplock bag and store in cooler (or fridge) until ready to cook.
- When ready to cook, cut out 4-5 pieces of foil (15 inch squares work well). Divvy the veggie and beef mixture among the foil sheets, and then fold the foil closed to make a sealed packet. If needed, use 2 pieces of foil to seal each packet.
- Place each packet on the fire, or a grill. If your campfire has a grill or rack, use that, if not, place the packets around the perimeter of the fire. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until the beef is cooked through. Check doneness by using tongs to slightly open one packets and cut into a piece of beef.