Girl Scout Hobo Packets and Cauliflower side dish

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Girl Scout Hobo Packet

When I was a Girl Scout on my first camping trip, our Troup Leader – Ms Trapane, taught us to make these packets and s’mores as part of earning our cooking and camping badges.  I have made them ever since!  These can be made in the oven or on the campfire.

For each packet:

  • 4-6 oz ground beef formed in a rounded pyramid
  • 1 large potato cut up into 2 inch cubes
  • 2 carrots cut into 2 inch lengths
  • 1 rib of celery cut into 2 inch lengths
  • ½ onion medium cut in 2 inch dice and separated
  • 1-2 tsp butter or oil (optional – add for more juice if meat is very lean)
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Cut a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil about 18 inches long.  Place the meat in the center of the foil.  Surround the meat with the vegetables in one layer.  Bring the long ends of the foil together and fold down in 1 inch folds until formed around the meal.  Fold the remaining ends up and crimp forming around the meal.  Put in a medium fire until done or in a preheated 350°F oven for about 35-45 minutes.  Be very careful when opening packet as the steam will blast out – OPEN VERY SLOWLY!  Eat right out of the packet supported by a plate. Serve with a piece of toasted bread for soaking up the great juices!

Hobo Packet made with Chicken, Cauliflower, Sweet Potato, Red Pepper, Red Onion, Celery, Carrot, Thyme, Basil, Garlic, Salt, Pepper

Hobo Packet made with Chicken, Cauliflower, Sweet Potato, Red Pepper, Red Onion, Celery, Carrot, Thyme, Basil, Garlic, Salt, Pepper

Some recommended substitutions are steak tips, beef stew meat, chicken, green beans, cabbage, parsnips, cauliflower or mix and match depending on taste buds of dinner mates.  These can be made ahead and cooked later in the day after a day full of adventure!

Cauliflower Side Dish

These can be made in the oven or in a Hobo packet

Ingredients:

  • 1 head Cauliflower cut into 8 pieces with stem as ‘handle’
  • 1 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 1 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic minced (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Method:

Remove leaves from base of cauliflower.  Cut the cauliflower so that the stem can be used as a ‘handle’ for each piece.  Place the pieces on a pan for the oven, convection or toaster oven.  Drizzle the olive oil and balsamic over the cauliflower and then salt and pepper to taste.  Flip over to distribute on both sides.

Top seasoned with Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper                           Bottom has Balsamic Vinegar added

Top seasoned with Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper                     Bottom has Balsamic Vinegar added

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes and then remove from oven and flip the cauliflower. Rotate pan 180 degrees and cook another 5-10 minutes.  The cauliflower will still be a little crunchy at 15-20 minutes and soft at 25 minutes.

Broccoli and cabbage can be cooked this way also or combined and cooked with the cauliflower.  This works well for asparagus, but should only be cooked about 15 minutes.

Hobo Packet

Hobo Packet

This side dish can be cooked in a hobo packet as well.  Taste great hot or cold!

Cooking Beans in the Thermos Cook and Carry Thermal Cooker

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Beans are a valuable food for their fiber, protein and vitamins but very inexpensive for the money spent.   Hopefully the following information will aid in getting the desired results.  Beans are worth the wait and effort!

An experiment with variables of time and pre-soak and without pre-soak and was done. The results show the differences between level of doneness versus time and soaking method.  The temperature of the beans is shown versus time.  Due to the need to open the pot to check the temperature, the temperatures recorded are actually lower than if the cooking had not been disturbed.  The time to cook is similar to an electric slow cooker.

Experiment:

Three batches of pinto beans were compared:

  • Batch A – Pre-soaked for 8 hours in 3 TBSP table salt dissolved in 4 Quarts of water, rinsed well; After 8 hour pre-soak, they were boiled for 15 minutes and put in the thermal cooker (Cooks Illustrated Brining Method reference below shown in table)
  • Batch B – Quick pre-soaked by boiling 1 pound of beans in 4 quarts of plain water for 5 minutes and letting stand for an hour before finishing cooking (bean package); After 1 hour pre-soak, they were boiled for 15 minutes and put in the thermal cooker
  • Batch C – Not pre-soaked and boiled for 15 minutes and put in the thermal cooker

The full details of soaking, cooking and time are below.

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Temperature, Time, Cooking Method and Results when cooking beans in a Thermal Cooker

Pre-soaking helps to tenderize the beans and minimize effects when using hard water for cooking and are less flatulent.

When dried beans first begin their rehydration, the little spot that connects to the green bean as it grows is the main source of water entering the bean.  As the bean begins to hydrate, the skin starts to soften and continues to do so when in water.

Data showing Cooking Time vs. Doneness for each batch type is graphed below.

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Temperature vs. Time was recorded.  *Please note that the times are actually higher if cooking without opening the cooker for measurements.  Each time the cooker is opened, heat is lost due to experiment data collection.

Slide3

Equipment used for measurements:  Scale, Instant Thermometer, Infrared Thermometer

The 4.5Liter Thermos Cook and Carry

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Thermos Cook and Carry       Outer Pot on Left                                     Inner Pot on Right

After the Beans finished cooking, they were put into Canning Jars leaving 1.5 inches head space from the top of the rim to the beans.  These jars fit upright in most camper refrigerators or can be put in the freezer (head space as described necessary to prevent jar breakage).  When standing upright, they more efficiently fill the refrigerator space.   The rubber bands help reduce the bumps and rattles.  Labels are made from colored electrical tape using a Sharpie.  The labels are dishwasher safe and can be reused by simply peeling off and putting on the inside of a cabinet until needed again!  The plastic lid is made by Ball and available at good hardware stores or online, but are not for canning but great for freezing and pantry storage of (you guessed it) dried beans!

Rubber Bands help reduce bumps and rattles

Rubber Bands help reduce bumps and rattles.  Labels made using electrical tape and Sharpie

Bean Math*:

  • 1 Pound Dried Beans is $1.69 and makes 8 cups of cooked beans = 21 cents /cup
  • 1 can cooked beans is $0.99 and contains 1.75 cups cooked beans = 56 cents /cup
  • * Costs are only for the beans not the costs of cooking fuel, time, etc.

Good References on the science of cooking beans are:

  1. Cook’s Illustrated – The Science of Good Cooking America’s Test Kitchen, 2012
  2. On Food and Cooking – The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee 2004

Thanks for visiting!  Enjoy!!!