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Last week Joe and I went on a little vacation to Minnesota with some friends (Todd, Gage, Robert, & Joshua), Todd and Joshua are brothers who have a family house set on beautiful Lake Ossawinnamakee, where the water is clear! We spent most of our time on the pontoon boat floating around playing games and enjoying treats; when we were off the boat you would most likely find us cooking around the fire or up in the cabin kitchen. All of us happen to really enjoy cooking, so there was no shortage of good ideas for tasty meals.
One of my favorite parts of the whole trip was cooking with the “camp cooker” over the fire. The camp cooker is essentially and iron sandwich press that is suitable for cooking in a camp fire. Before going up there, Todd mentioned that we would be using this device to cook little apple pies, one of his favorite ways to use it- and that we did! It was our first item cooked on the fire. In the cabin we cooked up some spiced apples and pears and with bread & butter headed down to the fire to crisp up our pies. Sadly there are no photos of these delicious apple pockets. Luckily this cooking method was so much fun that we used it a few more times in varying ways.
A couple mornings later it was time for our next Camp Cooker treat- breakfast style. To make our breakfast sandwich we used a dozen eggs, 2 Field Roast grain meat sausage links (Mexican chipotle flavor), mushrooms, red and green peppers in between a mix of wheat and white bread for each sandwich (because that’s what we had). I have to say it was definitely one of the most satisfying breakfast sandwiches I have ever had- and there’s a lot to compare to! Here is how we did it:
Here in Chicago there’s no problem finding fake meat products. There’s a good chance the corner store carries tofu dogs or something related. But in central Minnesota where the population of all near towns just barely top 200… even the large grocers don’t have many options in the way of imitation meat. They all seem to carry Morning Star but it was quite challenging to find tofu dogs or anything that we might be able to put on a stick to roast just like the carnivores do. The reason I mention any of this is because if we had not been on such a quest to find Smart Dogs, we would have never come across this fake sausage which we used in our Camp Cooker breakfast sandwiches. Just as we were about to head back to the cabin, after a long drive and several stops in search of meatless dogs, we spotted a store called Crow Wing Food Co-Op. It was a great little shop full of all things natural and organic, we found more than enough options here. Definitely somewhere I’d go more often if it wasn’t a ten hour drive away!
Preparing the filling was easy and straight forward. We first chopped up our peppers and mushrooms, then unwrapped the soy sausage links from their plastic casing and crumbled them into a cast iron skillet. Fry until peppers are cooked they way you like it and the soy pieces are warm enough. Scramble the eggs. Keep covered and head towards the fire with the filling, butter, and bread.
Heat your camp cooker up, this will help clean it and will warm it up so the butter will melt and evenly coat the two sides. Once you remove it from the heat allow it just a moment to cool so your butter doesn’t immediately burn. It’ll still be very hot so use caution as you add the butter. Place it on an appropriate surface (not plastic or dirt) and put one slice of bread on each side. Get ready to fill!
It doesn’t really matter the order of which you add your filling, but we decided to put the sausage pepper mixture on first and then we added our eggs. The second time we made these we combined all of the ingredients into one mixture.
To complete the filling we topped it with some sliced Swiss cheese and closed up the camp cooker. It’s now ready to cook!
The cooking time will vary depending on how hot your fire is and how close you hold it to the heat. We found the best results by holding it just above the coals turning it from side to side often in order to avoid burning the bread. The faster you cook it the better your chances are of having a burnt sandwich. Take an extra moment to hold it over the heat, with constant flipping you’ll end up with a nice golden crispy sandwich with a steamy filling. You can check the progress as it’s cooking by carefully peeking at it.
With a small amount of preparation we were able to make several breakfast sandwiches that were most excellent. It was amazing to be able to cook them in the sun on a fire within feet from such a clear lake. It’s not often that we allow ourselves time like this- something so simple and so necessary really reminds me how important it is to take a break from the usual!
Check out my new website – www.TurningMoss.com