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Mountain Home Magazine

Stir Crazy

by Cornelius O'Donnell

I am not referring here to life in a too-busy Asian restaurant. No, I even looked up the term to find that it means “restless because of confinement or routine.” And, since most of us have con ned our cooking to inside the four walls of our kitchen since (probably) before Thanksgiving, me thinks it is an appropriate moniker for a May column. Because as nice as your kitchen might be, I’ll bet you are looking forward to that first cook-out/picnic/patio/porch event of the year. So check out a new cookbook for all the information about outdoor cooking that you’ll need.

Feast by Firelight: Simple Recipes for Camping, Cabins, and the Great Outdoors. That’s the name of the book, and it’s written by Emma Frisch. You may know of her through her charming newsletter. Her bio talks about her extensive traveling around the globe, her work on a farm in Connecticut, and how she and her husband, Bobby, co-owned a restaurant in Nicaragua. She’s already been a guest on the Food Network’s show Food Network Star.

Her cooking lessons began at home by helping her Italian mother in the kitchen and in the garden. Her family includes an identical twin sister, and she and her husband are the parents of a three-year-old and a six-month-old.

Today, she and Bobby own Firelight Camps in Ithaca, a business providing comfortable, stylish, and revitalizing glamping experiences. As she says, “I’ve been able to weave my experience as a self-taught chef and cooking instructor, food blogger, and backcountry guide.”

Advise and Content

What will give you the flavor of the book (well, you know, the flavor of the recipes)? There’s the foil-packet salmon with lemon, thyme, and blueberries, or perhaps the honey-coriander glazed pork chops with roasted corn salsa. Then there’s her accurately named main course: rhubarb-ecue country ribs. Try some homemade heavenly vanilla marshmallows. (Take that, s’mores!) All get you thinking of spring and, perhaps, summer camp, or, these days, glamp, memories.

The practical advice is what I like, and the book describes the differences in cooking on a campfire, camp stoves, and grills. The following two selections can be prepared ahead so you can enjoy your guests and the great outdoors. And, I might add, the book contains a wealth of color photos—some of the food, some of the author and her family, and some of regional sites that I recognized, being a local. Sadly, the photos are not captioned, but if you’ve driven around the environs, they will look familiar. I was taken by the following burger recipe that, as Emma says, “even my meat-loving sister will devour.” She concocts these at home and reheats them on the grill. And to make these even easier she uses instant brown rice, thus saving forty-five minutes of cooking. Who wants to take time away from enjoying a sunset—or even a squirrel race?

Best Veggie Burger

According to Emma, these burgers take about forty-five minutes of prep time, and they serve twelve, depending on the size you make them. They can be made smaller and used as sliders. For shredding the vegetables, I turn to my spiralizer.

  • 1 c. cooked instant brown rice
  • 2 c. peeled shredded beets
  • 2 c. shredded carrots
  • 1 c. minced onion
  • 1 c. finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 c. toasted sunflower seeds
  • 1⁄2 c. oat flour, rye flour, or any gluten-free flour
  • 1⁄2 c. sunflower oil or other vegetable oil, plus 1 Tbsp. (optional)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsps. tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Line a baking sheet with a paper towel. In a large bowl combine all ingredients. Use your clean hands to mix thoroughly. To absorb some of the moisture from the beets and carrots, spread the vegetable mixture in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the vegetable mixture from the refrigerator. With the palms of (again) your impeccably clean hands, shape about 1⁄4 c. of the mixture into a patty and place on a second rimmed baking sheet. Repeat until you’ve used all the mixture to form 12 patties, placing them about 1 inch apart. Bake the burgers for about 25 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.

Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container, chilled, for up to three days, or cover each patty with plastic wrap, place in a large zip-lock bag, and freeze for up to three months. (Later, they will double as ice in your cooler.)

If the patties are frozen, remove them from the cooler about one hour prior to your cooking them.

Fire the campfire or grill to medium heat and position the grate four inches above the coals. Reheat the patties over direct heat until just slightly charred—one to two minutes per side. Or, using a camp stove, cook in an iron skillet with the tablespoon of oil three to four minutes per side.

Serve at once and chill any leftovers, airtight, for up to three days. And wouldn’t it be fine if you had a terrific homemade ketchup to go with this? Well, here’s one of the many condiment recipes you’ll find in this all-inclusive book.

Best Ketchup on Earth

This sounds like a fun project when it’s too rainy to cook out.

  • 1 (750-gram) box strained tomatoes (such as Pomi)
  • 1⁄2 c. minced white onion
  • 1⁄2 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1⁄2 c. maple syrup
  • 2 tsps. molasses
  • 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. grated garlic (I use a micro-plane for this)

Combine all of the ingredients in a heavy pot on the stovetop and bring to a slow boil. Reduce the heat and cook, stirring and scraping up the bottom of the pot every ten to fifteen minutes until the sauce reduces by half, about one hour. It should thickly coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a blender or using an immersion blender, whiz until the mixture is smooth. Store in a lidded glass jar or squeeze bottle for up to one week.

To Have and to Hold

You can’t just stand looking at the mesmerizing light of a campfire with only tongs in your hand, so Emma provides ideas on what potables to serve. Sure, most folks might opt for what my brother used to call a “frostie” (that’s beer), but I’d opt for her campari sangria spritz or maybe her northstar gluhwein.

Even her desserts put a new spin on old favorites. I can’t wait to make her old-fashioned bourbon fool with cherries when those Finger Lakes trees pour forth their delicious orbs.

No need to be stir crazy any longer! Fire up the grill and your appetite.

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