How to Pull Off an Epic Campsgiving
(+ 4 Foolproof Stretchy-Pants Recipes)
By the time the word “Friendsgiving” officially entered the national vernacular in 2008, we’d already been watching our favorite twentysomething chums—Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Joey and Phoebe—celebrate the holiday together for 10 whole seasons PLUS four years of reruns. And, despite the Macy’s-level parade of conflicts that plagued each Thanksgiving episode, we all had to admit to ourselves that the idea of trading family dynamics for friendly companionship did have a certain appeal.
So this year, we’d like to suggest an even more exciting alternative to yer mom’s green bean casserole: Campsgiving. Here are our expert tips for preparing campsite cuisine that wins everyone’s gratitude, while leaving the holiday drama at home. So dust off your stretchy pants…and get ready to give thanks for a truly epic outdoor feast!
Tip: Cut Yourself Some Slack.
Let’s start with some level-setting with regard to expectations. If you’re not Martha Stewart in your own damn house, this is NOT the time to worry about serving elaborate desserts in cute little hollowed-out pumpkins. May we remind you how AMAZING everything tastes in the wilderness? So scale back those grand plans to include ONLY dishes that are 100% doable with the limited resources you’ll have in your campsite. Prepare and cook as much as you can in advance, knowing that everything takes longer (and is much more unpredictable) on a camp stove or campfire.
Tip: Divide, Prepare + Conquer.
As much as we all like spontaneity, you wouldn’t “wing it” if you were planning Friendsgiving in your home—and preparedness will also be a key ingredient of your successful Campsgiving. Start by making the celebration a potluck, and using an online volunteer management tool like SignUpGenius to track contributions. Make sure you include all the categories you want the meal to cover, from cocktails and sides to turkey and dessert; be careful to consider campfire real estate, and make sure everybody brings their own cookware. Put your less-domestic friends in charge of paper plates, Solo cups and cast-iron-friendly cleansers; this way, you’re all free to go for a hike after dinner, while the skillets soak.
And, speaking of preparedness: be ready for some weather! Things can change quickly in the wilderness, so don’t plan any dish that can’t be cooked or reheated in inclement weather…or you may go hungry. Here are four skillet-ready recipes sure to make this Campsgiving a satisfying success.
Drink: Spiked Pumpkin Chai
Courtesy of Fresh Off the Grid
Why serve appetizers that will get everyone FULL, when you can serve a cozy fall cocktail that will get everyone DRUNK? Priorities, people. This Spiked Pumpkin Chai is the perfect Campsgiving starter, with a touch of caffeine, a shot of whiskey and subtle pumpkin pie vibes. Scale recipe as needed.
2 cups water
1 bag black tea
2 tablespoons almond milk
2 tablespoons pumpkin butter
3 oz. whiskey of your choice
1. Bring water to boil.
2. Remove from heat, add teabag and steep 4–5 minutes.
3. Add milk and pumpkin butter; stir. Add whiskey and stir.
4. Split between two mugs and enjoy!
Entree: Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast
The Kelty team discovered this one by accident, and it wins Campsgiving. Grab a Jennie-O Oven Ready Boneless Turkey Breast from your local grocery and keep on ice in the cooler, thawed. Then, get ready for the best-smelling campfire of your life.
1 Jennie-O Oven Ready Boneless Turkey Breast
1. Prepare and slice turkey breast into smaller, 3-4 inch pieces and place in a cast iron skillet to cook over hot coals. Cover with additional skillet as lid.
2. Cook 30-40 min., stirring and turning turkey pieces occasionally, keeping watch to make sure it doesn’t cook to quickly and dry out.
3. Optional, dress with included gravy in the final five minutes and stir to moisten & cover turkey.
Side: Campfire Yams with Marshmallow Creme
Courtesy of 50 Campfires
This backcountry-approved version of the classic Thanksgiving side may make you wonder why you don’t eat yams on a weekly basis—and confirm why you don’t keep marshmallows in the house year-round.
Large golden yams (approximately one per guest)
Aluminum foil (optional)
Salted butter for skins (and eating)
Large marshmallows (1–2 per tater)
1. At home, scrub sweet potatoes clean and set aside to dry slightly on paper towel. Leave skins as intact as possible while removing any significant blemishes. Rub skins in melted butter and wrap the potatoes individually in aluminum foil. Make sure of a good, tight seal.
2. About an hour prior to dinnertime, bury the wrapped potatoes in the dying coals of the campfire. Bake them for about 40 minutes to an hour, turning often with tongs so they cook evenly. Remove from fire; when cool enough to touch, unwrap.
3. While potatoes are cooling, place marshmallows in an open, foil-lined skillet, in the same part of the fire. Cook until melted—marshmallows should be creamy, bubbling and potentially charred on top.
4. Slice sweet potatoes lengthwise and pinch to open. Slip in a generous pat of butter, then use a large spoon to top each tater with a gooey dollop of toasted marshmallow creme.
Side: Brussel Sprouts and Bacon
Remember when you hated brussel sprouts as a kid, but now, they’re the NEW green bean casserole? This recipe is easy and delicious, not to mention a few less calories from the ‘ol casserole, if that’s what you’re into.
1 lb. fresh brussel sprouts (or use your best judgement per your party size).
1 package bacon
Salt & Pepper
1. Wash brussel sprouts & if desired, slice into quarters prior to trip. Store in cooler
2. Fry 6-8 pieces or entire package of bacon in cast iron skillet, over coals. Once cooked, remove and set aside. Drain majority of bacon grease, leaving a couple tablespoons to cook brussel sprouts in
3. Add brussel sprouts to pan, season with salt and pepper and allow to cooke for 15-20 minutes, depending on desired level of doneness. Cook longer for crisper outsides. Toss and stir occasionally
4. Meanwhile, cut bacon into bite-size pieces
5. Once the brussel sprouts are close to done, add bacon piece back in and mix will.
We’re not here to make things hard, so we’re keeping it simple with these recipes but feel free to add in your own traditional sides: mac & cheese, cranberry sauce, cornbread, and of course pumpkin pie to top it all off. If you choose to buy that from the local supermarket instead of making it, we won’t judge.
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