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Camp Life: A Contract for Good Food

The kitchen is my favorite place in a home. It provides nourishment for the body and soul. Make something simple, make something complex. Feed yourself, feed your friends. I always smile at the fact that people gravitate toward the kitchen during parties or get-togethers, much to the annoyance of a cook seeking elbow-room.

During our orientation week at MCC, our crew made a “crew contract,” essentially a list of rules we all agree to live by as a crew. Near the top of our list was “GOOD FOOD.” When I imagine camp food, images of fire-roasted hot dogs, blackened marshmallows, and maybe a can of baked beans come to mind. As a recreational backpacker, my usual fare includes a LOT of chips, packages of tuna, ramen, and more candy than I would admit to my dentist. In brief, this “good food” line in our contract intrigued me.

We meal-planned before our first hitch and bought our groceries together. When it came time to cook, I would say we delivered 10/10. Contract: followed.

So, what does our kitchen look like? Let me walk you through it.

Camp kitchen consists of a two-burner propane stove and a table. Additionally, a tarp is situated above this set-up to protect you from the four seasons you might encounter in a single early-summer day in Montana. 

It is a sparsely furnished kitchen, I know, but find yourself a rock or a stump to sit on and I guarantee you will be content. I mean, with this view, who wouldn’t be happy?

This week was filled with winning dinners. Roasted chickpea pita pockets with tzatziki sauce, cabbage, tomatoes, and cucumbers; pasta with tofu red sauce or mushroom white sauce; cactus tacos with peppers, rice, cabbage; black bean and sweet potato burritos. I am fairly certain I ate better this past week than I did in town the week prior.

As I said earlier, food nourishes the body and soul. On our third day of the hitch, the sky decided to spit cold rain on us afternoon through the evening and whip us with some gusty winds. These were conditions to test the morale of even the most chipper crew member. But what warmed our hands and filled our stomachs, keeping us grounded? Some warm, hearty vegetarian chili mac pumped with bell peppers and onions. 

Our last night of the hitch, we gathered around a fire and reflected on the week. We flattened the coals and put the dutch oven on to make some peach cobbler. A lovely way to finish out a tiring week.

If I have one critical feeling about the kitchen, it is only that doing dishes by hand in cold weather can be… unpleasant. But, it needs to be done!

Thanks for taking time to read about our kitchen contract. Maybe we’ll break bread (or a tortilla?) someday soon!

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