Cooking is an important life skill.  I wish it was still required for Eagle.

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Cooking is an involved process that's much more than just heating up a can of food and plopping it on a plate. It's an activity that can strengthen patrol spirit and bring all 12 points of the Scout law into practice. successful cooking is an attitude for service and a strive for excellence. It begins with planning and menu preparation, moves through shopping for food, meal preparation and ends with offering thanks, consumption of the goods, and clean-up. A good cook is able to please both himself and his clients while providing a well-balanced, nutritious, and enjoyable meal. Meals should be the highlight of a camping trip, not just a necessary, mundane chore that somebody gotta' do.

Here's a rundown on how the Scout Law impacts on cooking:

TRUSTWORTHY - The Scout who has been entrusted with meal preparation has a weighty responsibility indeed. His patrol members are counting on him to provide a tasty, nutritious, and filling meal in an attractive package. He should do his best not to disappoint them.

LOYAL - Patrol members stick by their patrol cooks, no matter what the other guys might be having for dinner. There's always time to outdo them next trip.

HELPFUL - It has been said that too many cooks spoil the broth, but most cooks would appreciate assistance with gathering firewood, cleaning up and other mundane tasks. Offer to help. In fact, a good cook will realize that he can't do it alone and ask for help BEFORE he needs it. If you can follow instructions you might even be entrusted with custody of the broth for a short while.

FRIENDLY - Mealtime should be a pleasant experience that's enjoyed by everyone, even if the cook was somewhat less that successful. A pleasant word can go a long way and there's always the next meal to look forward to.

COURTEOUS - "Please" and "thank you" should be standard vocabulary at every mealtime. Nobody likes a rude or pushy mealtime guest.

KIND - Don't berate the cook if you don't like the food! He probably didn't plan the menu and certainly can't cater to individual tastes every time. Your time in the job is coming. How would you like to be treated?

OBEDIENT - The cook is in charge! Stay out of the kitchen unless you're invited in. No Questions asked.

CHEERFUL - There is some good even in bad meal; Make the best of every situation.

THRIFTY - A good cook doesn't waste food or money. Nutritious, filling and tasty meals don't need to cost a lot.

BRAVE - Dare to try different foods, even if they don't look appetizing. You might be surprised and stumble upon a new favorite dish.

CLEAN - Nobody likes a dirty cook or kitchen. Keep them clean and keep healthy.

REVERENT - Offer thanks for every meal, either as a group or individually.

Almost anyone can open a can of stew and serve dinner, but that doesn't make them a cook. A cook is an artist who adapts his work to meet the needs of his clients. The following recipes were developed from experience and involve ingredients that can be found in the local supermarket. I prefer to plan menus based on easy to find ingredients. Canned foods are easy to prepare but heavier than need be. Why carry water it's going to be available at the campsite and have to pack out the container to boot? Freeze dried foods are light weight but expensive and not necessary except for long backpacking treks. Most fresh fruits and vegetables will keep for a weekend trip with minimal refrigeration. Plan to use perishables in the first couple of meals.

Take measurements with a grain of salt. (Pun intended) Don't get too hung up on exact amounts of seasonings. These recipes are only approximate. Vary the amounts to suit your tastes and don't be afraid to experiment. The suggested servings are approximate and based on hungry campers who've been doing or plan to do strenuous activities. Adjust the amounts for smaller or finicky eaters.


One Pot Chicken Casserole (serves 4)

1 package chicken flavored rice or noodles
1 can boned chicken

Prepare rice/noodles as directed on package Add chunks of chicken and serve hot.


Add a small can of corn, peas or other vegetable
Throw in a handful of cooked Minute Rice just before cooking is finished.
Add fresh, chopped broccoli during cooking.

Red Beans and Rice (Serves 4)

1 Pkg of dry red beans and rice mix
1 pound pre-cooked smoked sausage

Slice the sausage into 1/8 inch thick pieces and brown in pot. Add water, redbean and rice mixture, and prepare as per directions on package.
To stretch the recipe, throw in a handful of minute rice just before cooking is done.
The precooked sausage should be refrigerated but won't spoil as readily as raw meat. Freeze the package, put it inside a well sealed Zip-Loc bag and wrap it inside your sleeping bag to keep it for a day or so.

Dutch Oven Stew (serves 4)

1 package beef stew seasoning
1 lb. stew meat
1 cup of flour
3 or 4 med. size potatoes
3 or 4 carrots
1 med onion
2 or 3 stalks of celery
4 tbsp oil or margarine
Biscuit mix

Coat meat in flour and brown in oil in pre-heated dutch oven. While meat is browning, peel and cut up vegetables. Add seasoning mix, water and vegetables and cook according to directions on seasoning package. While stew is simmering, add water to biscuit mix to make a thick dough. When stew is almost done spoon in biscuit mix, cover lid with fresh coals, and cook under high heat until biscuit mix is golden brown.

If more folks than expected show up for dinner, just increase the amount of vegetables or add a can of corn or peas just before adding biscuit mix. You can also make this stew in an ordinary pot over a stove or fire although you might have to forgo cooking the biscuits in the pot.

Schaeffer Chili (serves 4-6)

1 lb ground beef
4 Tbsp chili powder.
1 clove garlic (minced)
2 cans stewed tomatoes
1 med onion, chopped
1 can kidney beans
8 tops chopped parsley
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp. butter
1 small can tomato juice

Brown broken up beef in a large pot until it loses color. Drain grease and add all other ingredients except kidney beans and tomato juice. Stir well and simmer for about 1 hour. Add tomato juice as needed to keep from becoming too dry. 15 minutes before serving drain kidney beans and add to pot.
Serve plain, with a slice of cornbread or over a bed of rice, noodles, or spaghetti

Easy Spaghetti

1 pkg dry spaghetti sauce mix
1 6 Oz. can tomato paste
Parmesan cheese
1/2 box spaghetti or noodles

Prepare sauce following directions on package. While sauce is simmering, boil water and cook spaghetti until soft. Drain noodles, cover with sauce, sprinkle on some Parmesan cheese, and enjoy. For extra excitement add some browned ground beef, mushrooms, or green peppers. You can also but pre-packaged spaghetti dinners that include all the basic ingredients in a single package.


Skillet cornbread

1 small pkg cornbread mix
1 egg
1 cup milk (optional)
4 tbsp butter or margarine

Mix cornbread, egg and milk as directed on package to form a thick mixture. Preheat skillet and 1 tsp butter until it begins to smoke, add mixture and cook until halfway done. Turn over and cook the other half. (What you will end up with is a giant thick flapjack.) Cut into wedges, butter, and serve.

Drop biscuits

Bisquick mix
1 cup milk or water
Oil, margarine, or shortening

Preheat well greased dutch oven using three times as many coals on top as on the bottom. Mix Bisquick mixture with water until a thick mixture is formed. Drop several large spoonfuls into the dutch oven, keeping them separate. Cover and bake until golden brown.

Biscuit Variations

Mix biscuit mix as above and mold over the end of a stick about the size of the fat end of a baseball bat. Bake over open coals to make a bread cup that you can fill with stew, soup, tuna salad or fruit.


Roll the dough into a foot and a half long strip and wrap around a stick about an inch in diameter. Bake over open coals. Smear with butter or jelly and enjoy.


Easy Breakfast (serves 1)

1 handful of granola
1/4 cup coffee creamer
1 cup water

Mix in your drinking cup and chow down. Go back for seconds if there are any. You might also try premixing the dry ingredients at home, storing them in a zip-loc bag, and just adding water in camp.

Citrus Cooked Eggs (serves 1)

1/2 orange
1 egg

Cut an orange in half and eat the pulp without breaking the skin. (You'll wind up with a cup shaped orange peel.) Place the orange peel on hot coals and break the egg inside. Cook thoroughly, salt and pepper to taste. Clean your spoon and dishes are done.


Your favorite pancake mix
Butter or cooking oil
Your favorite syrup.

Prepare mix as directed on box. Pre-heat skillet or griddle until water sizzles when sprinkled on it. A dutch oven lid, placed upside down over hot coals, can be used as a griddle (It's important to have a hot skillet before starting to cook.) Add a teaspoon of butter or oil and add pancake mix. Cook until the edges of the pancake begin to dry out or bubbles on he surface begin to burst. Flip and cook the other side until golden brown. Add syrup, butter and serve.


Mix with fruit juice instead of water.
Try fruit flavored syrups.
Add chopped fresh fruit to pancake mix.
Use jelly or jam instead of syrup.
Smear the pancake with jelly, roll it up, and eat it.

Breakfast Burrito

For each camper use:

1 egg
1 spoonful grated cheese
1 spoonful imitation bacon bits
2 Tbsp. milk (optional)

Mix ingredients well and add to a heated greased skillet. Stir frequently until done. Roll into a flour tortilla and serve.


Baked Potatoes (1 per camper)

Wash potatoes and puncture skin several times with a fork. Rub with a small amount of butter or oil and wrap in foil. Cook directly in the coals of a fire, turning often. Gently squeeze potatoes with a gloved hand to see if they're done. (Cooked potatoes feel slightly soft.) You can save time by washing and wrapping the spuds at home. Then all you've got to do in camp is throw'em in the fire.

Corn on the Cob (1 large ear per camper)

Soak unhusked ears in water for about 20 minutes. Place on the hot coals of a fire and turn often for 10-15 minutes. Peel husks, butter, season, and enjoy.

Minute Rice

Combine equal volumes of boiling water and minute rice in a pot. Cover and let stand for five minutes or so. Add butter and season to taste

Another easy way to make rice is in the boiling bags available in your supermarket. Simply place the bag in a pot of boiling water and fish it out after several minutes. Its almost impossible to overcook this stuff..


No-Cook Spud Surprise (serves 1)

1 large baking Potato
1 tin smoked oysters
1 or 2 green onions

At home wash and bake potatoes and wash scallions. In camp chop onions and drain oysters. Cut open potatoes and smother with oysters and scallions.

No-Cook Stuffed Peppers (serves 1)

1 Cup cooked brown or white rice
6-8 Mushrooms
Large Green Pepper
1/2 can of tuna
Dill Weed
Black Pepper

At home cook 1/2 cup dry rice. (It will make 1 cup cooked) Cool and store in Zip-Loc Bag. In camp wash and soak mushrooms in water. Cut off tops of peppers and spoon in mixture of rice and tuna and mushrooms. Season with dill and pepper to taste.


Experiment with different types of bread. Rolls seem to withstand the rigors of camping better than sliced bread. You might also try bagels, tortillas or pita bread. Perhaps you'll want to experiment with baking your own!

Fillings can be:

A can of Spam sliced thin like lunchmeat

Peanut butter & Jelly - a small jar of each should feed the entire patrol for one meal.

Tuna salad:

Mix drained, canned tuna, salad dressing and any or all of the following:

Chopped onion Chopped green pepper
Chopped hard boiled egg Pickle relish
Chopped celery Chopped parsley


Magic Cobbler (serves 6-8)

1 28 oz. can of fruit
1 boxed white or yellow cake mix
1 stick or tub of margarine

Preheat well greased dutch oven using three times as many coals on top as on the bottom. Pour fruit into oven and cover evenly with cake mix. Cut margarine into 1/4 inch slices and drop them evenly over the cake mix. Cover and cook until golden brown. Uncover, stand back and watch it disappear.

Keep trying with variations of fruit and cake mix until you find a combination everyone likes. It might take several tries but no one will complain.


1 bag Marshmallows
1 box Graham Crackers
Several plain Hershey bars

Roast two marshmallows on a stick over an open fire. (Be careful not to burn or set fire to other patrol members with your stick.) When done to your satisfaction, sandwich them between two graham crackers and a slab of chocolate. Eat and enjoy.


Pie irons are those long handled, waffle iron type things sold in sporting goods stores. They're designed to toast sliced bread with a filling over a heat source, usually a campfire. I once viewed them as a novelty but have come to realize that they're serious cooking utensils. Once you learn how to toast the bread without burning it you can use them for lots of variations. Here are couple.

Pie Iron Breakfast (serves 1)

Sliced bread
Butter or margarine
1 egg
1 slice of lunchmeat ham

Butter bread and place 1 slice butter side down in pre-heated pie iron. Press bread into the bottom of iron to form a cavity and break an egg onto the bread. Salt and pepper to taste, cover with slice of ham and buttered bread. Close the pie iron and cook over medium heat until bread is toasted.

Pie Iron Fruit Pies

Sliced bread
Butter or margarine
1 can favorite fruit or jar of preserves.

Butter two slices of bread. Place one slice in a warmed pie iron butter side down. Spoon in fruit and cover with the second slice butter side up. Carefully close pie iron, trim off excess bread and roast in open fire until bread is lightly toasted.


GORP - (Good Ol' Raisins & Peanuts)

1 handful peanuts (salted or unsalted)
1 handful raisins

Wash hands well before mixing ingredients in a Zip-Loc bag. Store in an outside pocket of your pack and munch down as necessary to keep up your energy during hikes or strenuous activities. This stuff goes fast once the guys discover it so you might want to make a double or triple batch. For variations add a handful of chocolate chips, flaked coconut, dried banana chips, almonds or anything else that suits your fancy.


At home pour 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and 1 full cup of liquid into your drinking cup. Mark the levels and you'll always be able to measure accurately in camp.

Measure and mix dry ingredients for a dish at home and put them into a zip-loc bag. Then you'll just have to add the contents of the bag to the pot in camp. You'll have a controlled recipe and won't have any extra spices to carry home.

To heat a can of vegetables just punch a hole in the lid for the steam to escape and place the can in a pan of water. Heat the water and the vegetables get warm too. Carefully remove the lid and serve. Use the hot water for washing dishes. Cut the bottom off the can, flatten it, and throw it in the trash when you're done.

One-pot or utensil-less meals mean less dishwashing.

A pair of winter gloves or mittens often works better than a potholder for handling pots. Be careful they aren't made of plastic.

Tongs are better than hands for handling hot items cooked in coals.

You can't please all the campers all the time. Be prepared to accept criticism.

Don't be afraid to experiment.

Use seasoned salt instead of salt & pepper for camp cooking. Its very tasty and you only have one container to pack.

Don't forget snack foods when planning your menu. They can be a real morale booster and provide extra energy for those long cold weather nights.

Buy complete pancake mix in a box. (Its less expensive than the stuff in a bottle.) Repackage what you'll need for one trip into a Zip Loc bag and it will take up less space in your pack too.

Plan for no-cook lunches to eliminate mid-day cleanup chores.

If a recipe calls for milk, and you don't have a cooler, get milk packaged in no refrigeration packages. It's in the "box drink" section of the supermarket. You can also use canned, condensed milk or powdered milk.

Don't do all the work yourself. Split the chores equitably by using a duty roster

Have fun and experiment to create your own favorite dishes.