Okay, so this week of camping food didn’t go so well.  I partly blame the recipes, and partly, the fact that these dishes probably would have tasted better had we actually eaten them in the woods.  But morning rolled around, and we decided we were feeling too lazy to drive to Will Rogers State Park and cook al fresco.

Even had we done so, there were problems with this first recipe, albeit easily remedied ones, that no amount of fresh air and exercise-sharpened appetites could fix:

Creole Eggs Colorado River – A Floater’s Special

Prepare in advance:

Creole Eggs Colorado:  Flawed and hideous

Creole Eggs Colorado: Flawed and hideous

1 28-ounce can stewed tomatoes
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

At campsite:
1 16-ounce can peas
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
10 eggs (or more)
3/4 cup cornbread crumbs
1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese

Combine tomatoes, celery, green pepper, onion, bay leaf and salt and pepper. Simmer covered until vegetables are slightly tender. Cool. Pour into a heavy plastic bag (Zip-loc or Seal-a-Meal), seal and chill.

In a heavy skillet, combine tomato mixture and undrained peas. Bring to a boil. Blend cornstarch and water and stir into mixture. Heat until thick. Remove bay leaf. Break eggs into skillet, one at a time. Cover and simmer for 7 or 8 minutes or until eggs are poached as you like them. Sprinkle with crumbs and cheese. Cover for 1 minute to allow cheese to melt.

I have a few suggestions on improving this recipe, which is based on the tried-and-true premise of cornbread, tomatoes, and poached eggs, and with a few minor tweaks could be delicious.  First, though I realize Creole food doesn’t have to be spicy, this tomato gravy needs a little heat:  add some red pepper flakes or some chopped chiles.  Second, lose the canned peas (what were they thinking?).  Third, instead of crumbling cornbread over the top, serve the gravy and eggs over a slice of cornbread (as I did in the photo above… my one act of rebellion against the recipe).  And finally, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but use less or no cheese at all.  And if you do use it, sprinkle a layer over the cornbread before ladling out the gravy, instead of weighing down your poached eggs.

After a lazy afternoon, I pulled out Colorado Cache again, and whipped up a dinner from the camping section of ham rolls and skillet potatoes.

Red Rocks Ham Rolls

2 cups cubed ham
3/4 pound grated Cheddar cheese
1 large onion, chopped
1 4 1/2-ounce can chopped, ripe olives
1 4-ounce can chopped, green chiles
1 8-ounce can tomato juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
10-12 hard rolls

Mix all ingredients except the rolls. Set aside. Slice the tops off the hard rolls, scoop out the insides (save for bread crumbs) and fill with the ham-cheese mixture. Replace tops on rolls and wrap individually in foil. Bake in a very slow oven (275 degrees) for 1 hour. Wrap in newspaper or heavy towel and take to picnic site.

Red Rocks Ham Rolls and Green Chile Potatoes

Red Rocks Ham Rolls and Green Chile Potatoes

Green Chile Potatoes

4 large potatoes, thinly sliced
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, diced
1 large green chile, chopped
1/4 cup vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil over campfire in a large heavy skillet. Add potatoes and fry until slightly tender. Add onion and green pepper. Cook a few more minutes, just to heat the onion and pepper, leaving them slightly crunchy. Add the green chile just before serving. Salt and pepper to taste. Note: This was tested in Wyoming after an all day float trip. It put back everything the river had removed.

This meal can best be summed up by Brady’s reaction to it:  “Eh.”  It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t terribly exciting either.  The ham rolls I wouldn’t make again.  After an hour in the oven, the bottoms of the rolls were soggy and unappetizing.  The fried potatoes, we decided, were something that would really hit the spot after a day of hiking (or the morning after a whiskey-fueled campfire singalong), but were not terribly impressive served on Mikasa plates and eaten while watching an episode of The Simpsons.

Oh well, I was about due for a misfire, though I stand by my assertion that the Creole Eggs could indeed be very, very good with a few adjustments.

And I’m very excited about next week’s cooking.  I’ve managed to lay hands on a 1960s cookbook from Battle Creek, Michigan which draws heavily from the city’s cereal-manufacturing, health craze-starting past, and actually includes recipes once served at the Battle Creek Sanitarium.  The history nerd in me is already doing Iroquois Twists in anticipation.

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