It’s that time of year again and I am sharing my favorite gear from my summer camping adventures. I am starting off this two part series with all things food!! My favorite things that made prepping, cooking, serving and eating better!
Fresh Paper – It’s the little company that could. These are paper sheets that are infused with aromatics and botanicals that keep food fresher longer, up to 2-4 x’s longer. You can use them in the refrigerator or on the counter top in your fruit bowl. Each sheet lasts about thirty days. It is reported that 25% of the food that we purchase is lost to spoilage. I think it might be higher in my house where I keep buying as if I am cooking for 4 or 5 when most of the time it’s two… a habit I have been unable to break. They also have sheets or bread now that can be put in a cookie jar or a muffin tin. The original Fresh Paper product can go in the produce drawer of your refrigerator and even in a bag of spinach in the fridge to keep it from beginning its journey to the rubbish bin sooner than necessary. I used these all summer and if they are still emitting a Maple smell, they are still working. I actually write the date on mine with a pen though when I put it in the fridge. They are inexpensive and save you money. In the RV where the refrigerator is not as cold as at home and is subject to more ebbs and flows in temperature when you travel about, they are really effective. On Amazon they sell for 7.16 for 8 sheets. Each sheet lasts 30 days so it costs less than a dollar a month. The bread sheets cost $7.75.
Air Lock Bag Resealer – While we’re on the subject of wasted food lets talk about the gadget that keeping me in crackers. The Air Lock Bag Resealer reseals any plastic bag to airtight status. Potato chips, salad bags, cookies and crackers can all be resealed with this little gadget that is smaller than an office stapler. It’s done by heat and comes with a USB charger to recharge it. Each charge though can provide 1000 seals without having to recharge it. That’s a whole lot of sealing going on. It reseals any type of bag and weighs only 2.5 oz. My favorite thing is that it is magnetic and after you use it, you just pluck it on the fridge until the next time you need it so you’re not digging around the utensil drawer trying to find the smallest item in there. This was a big win for me because of crackers. I have a “go to” appetizer that I always bring to happy hour and it’s a bunch of Italian meats with olives, artichokes and cheeses. I always bring crackers but the whole box never gets eaten. Chips never sit in my house or camper long enough to go stale but crackers do. This little gadget reseals crackers and if I use them a month later, they are still super fresh. The Air Lock is available on Amazon and is a Top Rated item. It costs $16.99 and has over 300 reviews with a four star average. I think it would pay for itself pretty quickly!
Wildwood Grilling – Wildwood Grilling is all about infusing flavor into food. They offer aromatic wood chips and blocks for smoking foods, wood planks for grilling on, wooden skewers and wraps for kabobs and meats and veggies you might want to cook on indirect heat. They have everything you need to take any camp cook out up a notch! I watched Kate Dunbars tutorial on cooking salmon on cedar planks and I made up my mind to get this down. I love salmon and I love the smell of cedar so I got a set and got down to business. Guess what? First time was the charm. It’s super simple. You soak these boards for at least one hour ahead of time and then arrange the salmon or whatever you are cooking on the board. The trick is to have the grill hot enough. After you place the plank and fish on the grill you have to put the lid on and resist the urge to keep peeking at it. Let the heat do the work. I’m having so much fun getting to know all the products at Wildwood. They have a great webiste with recipes and Youtube video tutorials in case you are a visual learner like me. They also have a cool Outlet section on their website in case you want to order in bulk and share with a friend or in case you are having a big party!! You could buy a 30 pack of cedar planks for $38. That should last the whole season. I honestly think it’s a great Christmas gift.I like to create Christmas camping gift boxes and this would be such a great thing to add to such a box. For 1.25 each you can make up a pretty nice goody bag. Wildwood Grilling planks come in many different woods depending on what you are cooking and your personal preference. I’ve only tried the Cedar but they also have Maple, Red Oak, Hickory and Alder. You can be adventurous and buy a Sample package to try them all out. The wraps are also a lot of fun and I think make such a nice presentation. These are thin sheets of cedar and alder wood that you soak in water for about five minutes before you wrap up your recipe and put them on the grill. I like that these can be used for individual servings or to make the entree or side dish special. You can also put the entire meal in one wrap. You can layer it with a veggie, place a protein on top with spices and herb cuttings and then wrap them up and tie them with string that has also been soaked in water. You lay them right on the grill to cook. If you have always wanted to cook like a pro or make your camp out food special, this is a great way to start because their website has the product, recipes and tutorials plus a great inspirational blog.
Copper Mule Mug – United by Blue makes the perfect Moscow Mule Mug! I do like to indulge in a Moscow Mule at the end of a long day. I’m not a beer or wine drinker so when I saw this mug I indulged in a personal cocktail vessel. Each mug is constructed with the highest quality copper and it really has a substantial feel to it. The handle is hand soldered on and the mug itself is a 16 oz mug so if you are a beer drinker you could transfer your bottled beer to a frosty mug. The mugs have a few different designs on them so if you wanted to collect a set you could. I have the Take Me to the River Mug. It has the words Take Me To The River stamped on it along with a very pretty canoe paddle down the center .On the reverse side of the mug the brand name United By Blue is stamped underneath the picture of a canoe. It’s just pretty!! It costs $28. United By Blue is one of those companies that is pitching in to keep the great outdoors clean for future generations. They have a team of people cleaning waterways around the country from June through August. You can look up their itinerary and join them on a clean up day. Over the past 8 years their Blue Movement has cleaned up over 1 million pounds of trash from waterways. I loved the idea of making a one time special purchase for my camper and owning it forever as opposed to throwing away Red Solo Cups over and over. The mug was $28. I believe there is 15% off your first purchase and that with a minimum order of $100 shipping was free. That would be pretty easy to arrive at because United By Blue sells all outdoor clothing, camp gear, home goods, pennants and maps and fun camp design. I dare you to stay under $100. Check out my mug!
Eco Lunch Box – While we’re talking about sustainability I will share my favorite new go to food storage item. I got the Eco Lunchbox last April and have used it all summer long and now into the fall. This is another one of those “buy it once” items. I cannot even begin to put a number as to how many Tupperware or reusable plastic food storage containers I have had over the years. The older I get the more this bothers me. It’s such a waste of resources. Since I love junking and antiquing I can’t help but realize when I am standing in an antiques shop looking at a piece of refrigerator ware from the 1930’s that this stuff lasted. Before plastic that is how leftovers were stored. These items stood the test of time and are still in use today. When I got the Eco Lunch Box I felt good about ridding myself of plastic. I soon came to realize this was not only a smart choice for the environment but for my purse as well. It has three wells and can be used to cook as well as store food and also as a means of transporting a picnic lunch on a hike. It’s so practical that I ordered more. It’s small but actually holds a lot of food. It’s stackable so it’s a space saver. It’s made of high quality kitchen grade stainless steel and the clasps on it are very sturdy. It comes with a grip handle so if you were hiking you could cook a meal in it. It also has a stainless steel spork that comes with it. I really loved this and it has helped me keep my limited kitchen space in the camper open and was well worth the $36 purchase price.
Gridmann Premium Baking Pans. I don’t know if this trend is happening in your part of the country but it seems that every restaurant I eat at now is serving meals on these heavy duty aluminum baking pans. They are constructed with 18 gauge aluminum and have a wire reinforced beaded rim that keeps them from warping. When I was first served a meal from them at a restaurant I immediately thought these would make great trays for camping. They can be used in so many ways. They are great to put meat on when you are putting rubs on them for smoking or cooking later in the day. They are great to bring food out to the grill and to rest your meat on when it’s taken off the grill and needs to rest before you can cut it. They make great serving trays if you make a pile of burgers and hot dogs and want to put them straight on the table. They can also be used on the grill itself to do veggies or camp pizza. Finally, they make great plates!! I bought the smallest ones, 9 x 13 and they fit nicely on the table and hold all the juices from whatever tasty camp meal you’ve got going. They wash up easily, stack nicely to save space and you don’t have to worry about them getting broken. They are available on Amazon in a package of 6 for $39.00. I actually bought mine from an Ebay dealer where I got 12 for $42.99 with free shipping. They came from China though and took a few weeks to get.
Camco Stainless Steel Olympian Grill 5500 – The Pro Series grill from Camco. This was what made making food so much more fun this summer. This was a new item to my camping gear and I am so glad to have it. For so many summers now I have done charcoal cooking on my little Weber grill which I still carry with me but have not used because this little grill gives me all of that and more. The 5500 is a stainless steel grill so it’s going to last longer. So many grills are aluminum and will get you through a season or two. The screws and rivets, the cooking grate, the collapsible legs, and the removable grease tray on this are all stainless. It’s got a temperature gauge so you can tell when it’s hot enough to put that steak on. It’s got an electronic ignition so you don’t have to have a lighter to start it. It’s comes ready out of the box with a low pressure propane system that can connect to your trailer propane system with quick connect hoses. You can also get an adapter for small bottles of propane if you want to use it on the picnic table instead of near the camper. I think my favorite thing of all though is the “flavor tray” or “smoker plate”. That’s a cast iron tray that sits over the heating elements and allows you to add smoked hickory or maple chips to the grill to smoke foods on it. This is just my favorite thing of the whole summer. We’re still getting acquainted and I am learning new smoking techniques all the time. The grill retails for $172.00 at most outlets. On Amazon it is an America’s Choice product with over a four star rating.
Knife Safe -. I have only one drawer in my trailer for utensils and it holds everything including the knives. You only have to fish around that drawer once and end up with a sliced finger before you get a new plan. My plan is the Knife Safe shields that not only protect your fingers from careless utensil searching but also protect the knife blades from chinks and from becoming dull. These are very sturdy with strong hinged covers. They can be run through the dishwaser. They make the knife easy to spot in a crowded drawer and have little rubber tabs inside of them to keep the knife in place in the cover. The only thing I can add here is that I wish I had gotten them a little sooner and so does my pinky finger. They come in four different sizes and can be bought individually for about 7.99 or as a set for around 39.99.
Unpaper Towels – It seems like today is all about conservation and practicality. My friend Susan gave me a set of Unpaper Towels for my birthday. This was a gift she rightly thought I would love and I do. A stay at home Mom with a great Etsy Shop, Part Time Ponchos, makes these reusable “un”paper towels. They are cotton flannel on one side with all different kinds of themes and on the other side is a fabric I can only describe as washable and slightly abrasive. It’s a little scrubby feeling. The cool thing about these is that they snap together in a roll with little plastic, very sturdy snaps and roll around a paper towel sized PVC pipe to fit on your paper towel holder in your house or trailer. These ‘un’towels are washable and then get snapped back in place to be used over and over again. I will admit that I only snapped them back onto the roll once. They now reside in a drawer in the kitchen where I just pull them out and use them over and over anytime I would reach for a paper towel. There are 24 towels on a roll and they cost $38.75. I don’t have any idea how much money I spend on paper towels in a year but it’s more than that. Her Etsy Shop and Instagram page are both called Part Time Ponchos because she also makes ponchos for kids in car seats as well as nursing pads and bow ties for little boys. My towels have little campers on them but there are all kinds of designs. I’ve been to a lot of wedding showers this year and this is what I have been giving. The brides and grooms have all loved them.