"You can just pack up the kids and throw everything in the back of the car and come on down and just do weenie roasts," said Carolyn Gonzales.
Gonzales lives about 20 miles away, yet she and some girlfriends come yearly for an easy get together. Her favorite campfire food is baked potatoes with butter and Parmesan cheese wrapped up in foil and put on the grill. Just one of many foods that seems to taste so much better at a cookout.
Then there's editor of Camping Life magazine, Stuart Bourdon, who's spent more than 30 years writing and experiencing the best in outdoor living. Recipes to equipment, he can make your next venture to grill out relatively painless.
Coals are the first order of business when you find your spot as it takes 20 minutes for them to heat evenly.
"The grill with the charcoal is a little more controlled and I think it's a better cooking fire," said Bourdon.
Yet a wood fire in a pit is fine for hot dogs or s'mores, along with providing warmth and light for the evening.
According to Bourdon, prepping the food the night before makes for a quick get away the next day. Marinate chicken, prep and patty the burgers, even clean the corn saving all but the husk. Then butter, season and wrap them back up in foil.
"As long as it's on ice you've probably got two good days, you know, before you have to worry about it," said Bourdon.
For safety, take two coolers. One for drinks and veggies, while meat has it's own.
Chicken goes on the grill first. Cooking time for chicken varies, but allow 25 - 30 minutes. Burgers cook in about 15 minutes, as does the corn.
"You just really want to warm them up and cook the corn a little bit but you don't want to burn them," said Bourdon.
And remember making s'mores? They're so good, but so messy.
S'more Makers from Rome Industries is a neat tool that looks like a fish fryer that helps keep your hands free of sticky.
And while all of this can be done in the backyard, a beach, dessert or mountain cookout eases boredom. So pack up the umbrellas to avoid a miserable burn, along with towels and toys to keep everyone busy.
"Even if it's just, you know, 10 miles to the beach, get away from the house, drag the barbecue down there, get some firewood, bring the kids, have a nice day," said Bourdon.
STUART BOURDON'S RECIPES:
Make burgers using 1 part ground pork to 3 parts ground beef, spice with salt, pepper, and a pinch of ground red pepper (optional). Mix thoroughly before forming patties. The taste will be a tad sweeter than all-beef burgers with a hint of spiciness. Cook on grill over hot coals for approx. 12 minutes turning regularly, or until burgers test medium well. Use buns and condiments of your choosing. All of the prep can be done at home; the burgers will keep on ice for up to two days.
For 6 third-pound burgers:
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon red chili powder
TANGY HICK CHICKEN
Marinade boneless, skinless chicken breasts prior to grilling (overnight if possible) with a lime-juice/hickory BBQ sauce mixture, then brush on a little extra marinade mixture while grilling, too. However, the sugars in the sauce will burn, so go light on the marinade once chicken is on the grill. Grill over medium to low coals for approx. 25 minutes turning regularly, or until they test done. The result is a tangy, tart, smoky chicken flavor. This recipe feeds four. All of the prep can be done at home; the chicken will keep on ice for up to two days.
Four large skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Tangy Hick Sauce:
Juice from one large lime
12 ounces hickory BBQ sauce
Stir lime juice and BBQ sauce together in small mixing bowl, then pour over chicken and let marinade for at least a few hours prior to grilling.
Buy ears of fresh corn. Remove and save husks. Remove all corn silk. Wash ears of corn. Wrap up the ear of corn, two large pats (1/4 stick) of butter and a light dusting (1/2 teaspoon each) of seasoned salt, inside the saved husks, and then wrap all in foil, and place on grill over medium to low coals to cook. The husks help to keep the corn from burning and keep it moist. Grill for 15 to 20 minutes, turning regularly. All prep can be done at home; wrapped ears will keep on ice for a few days.
Four ears of corn with husks and silk still on
Four 12-inch squares of heavy-duty aluminum foil
1/4 pound butter (one stick)
2 teaspoons seasoned salt
S'more's (Graham crackers, marshmallows, Hershey chocolate bars). Instead of the old sticky gooey method with foil or a stick that makes such a mess, use one of Rome Industries' (www.romeindustries.com) S'more Makers (looks like a flat fish fry basket) over your campfire to make S'mores. You don't burn your fingers and you don't burn the marshmallows. You get a perfectly melted and warm S'more!
For more inexpensive, quick and easy camping and outdoor cooking recipes, check out Camping Life Magazine, or any of the other Affinity Media recreation publications.