"CAMP COOKIN" by Luke Clayton Luke Clayton Like many veteran sportsmen, Im an avid camp cook. I love to transform the fruits of my hunting and fishing trips into tasty meals, at camp and back at home. Scheduling time to cook into a busy hunting or fishing trip can be tough. After all, hunting or fishing is the primary reason for the outing, right? Yes, but you and your buddies/family still have to eat! Why settle for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich when a tasty meal that everyone will remember can be easily prepared and, with a little forethought, allow you plenty of time to enjoy the primary reason you are outdoors: hunting and fishing! Some of my favorite camp meals require a couple hours to prepare. I learned a long time ago not to wait until after the evening hunt to begin these more time consuming meals. Theres always the option of preparing the meals at home, packing them in the ice cooler and heating them up at camp but, thats just not camp cooking. I enjoy cooking at camp, over hardwood coals, a camp stove or, if there is electricity handy, slow smoking meats overnight on my Smokin Tex electric smoker. Heres some of my tried and tested recipes that are easy to prepare and well received at camp: Photo courtesy of Luke Clayton. Camp Fajitas- Through the years, Ive made fajitas at camp from everything from elk steak to wild turkey breast. Fajita meat is best if allowed to season a few hours or overnight. I usually cut the fajita meat into strips at home and season liberally with Fiesta Fajita seasoning. Place the strips into a zip lock bag and place in the refrigerator. I usually slice bell pepper, onion, a jalapeno or two and four or five garlic cloves at home and place in separate bag. At camp, heat a cast iron skillet or wok, cut up 5 strips of bacon and fry until crisp, add the meat and cook until done, about 10 minutes. Add the veggies during the last couple minutes of cooking. Squeeze the juice from a couple of lemons just before serving on warm tortillas. CAMP CABBAGE ROLLS- This easy to prepare dish takes about an hour from start to finish. Begin by making small meat balls by mixing spicy pork sausage with raw Jasmine rice. Next, in a large pot or Dutch Kettle, pour in a large can of V8 spicy juice. Slice a large head of cabbage into small pieces and layer the cabbage with the meatballs. Add a little more Jasmine rice, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook about 45 minutes until the meatballs are done. Bring along an omelet cooker and make some cornbread over low heat on your cook stove or, use a Dutch Kettle with coals to make the cornbread. This dish is best served on a cool fall or winter outing. WILD PORK TENDERLOIN- I harvest several wild hogs during the course of a year and usually have plenty of pork in the freezer; domestic pork may be substituted. Begin by trimming the tenderloins well, then make a vertical slice right down the center of each loin, about half-way through. Season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Place a couple of slices of quality, thickly sliced smoked bacon in the slit of each tenderloin. Grill or smoke until well done, then, pour a liberal amount of Roasted Raspberry Chipolet Sauce, made by Fischer & Weiser (www.jelly.com) over the loins. This sauce gives the meat an excellent sweet/spicy flavor and should be poured onto the loins during the last minute or so of cooking. If you prefer, instead of cooking the loins whole, slice them into three-quarters inch loin chops and baste with the Roasted Raspberry sauce. Ive served this dish many times and its always well received at camp and home. SMOKED PORK OR VENISON HAM OR SHOULDER- I use my Smokin Tex (www.smokintex.com) often and pack it along on camping trips where electricity is available. Ive found that whole hams from wild hogs or venison make a wonderful camp meal but require overnight cooking. Begin by rubbing the large cuts of meat liberally with Country Bobs (www.countrybobs.com) dry seasoning. I then inject Country Bobs BBQ sauce into the hams, place them on a couple layers of heavy duty aluminum foil and place in the Smokin Tex with about 4 ounces of pecan or hickory wood. Allow the heavy smoke to permeate the meat for a couple hours, then add more BBQ sauce, and cover with bay leaves, wrap tightly in the aluminum foil, set the thermometer at 200 degrees and allow to slow cook overnight. No need to check the hams until morning and cooking time can be anywhere from 12 to 18 hours. The even temperature will make the BBQ fall off the bone tender. FISHING HOT SPOTS STRIPERS: Each year about this time, Stripers begin hitting top water plugs, usually during early morning. During periods of cloud cover, the bite often continues until mid-morning. At LAKE TEXOMA, guide Bill Carey with Striper Express (877-786-4477) says recent trips produced limits during the first couple hours on top water plugs (Pencil Poppers) cast into shallow water along the shoreline. We are looking forward to some exciting top water action during the next six weeks. Cooling night time temperatures turn the stripers on each year and it seems were having cool nights a few weeks earlier this year than usual. Tips Carey At LAKE WHITNEY, guide Clay Yadon (817-219-3707) reports he and clients are already enjoying sporadic top water striper action. We continue to limit out on stripers in the 6-10 pound range on live shad fished around steeper ledges and humps in water 20-25 feet deep, in close proximity to deeper channels. Stripers are in tight schools now and when they push shad to the surface, usually during the first thirty minutes of daylight, were keeping rods rigged with top water plugs. I expect this action to intensify as the water temperature continues to drop. Late September and October should be awesome at Whitney. Tips Yadon. At LAKE TAWAKONI, guide Matt Cartwright (214- 415-0166) reports hes using the Fiesta Slab by Moes Tackle Shop (www.moestackleshop.com) to boat regular limits of hybrid stripers in the 4-10 pound range and the same slabs, in their downsized version, is working well on sandbass. Most of the bites are coming close to bottom in water 20-30 feet deep but some top water action has begun. Cartwright advises keeping a rod rigged with a top water plug and Sassy Shad on a quarter-ounce jig head for when the fish are on or near the surface. Guide George Rule (214-202-6641) at Tawakoni says the channel catfish bite over baited holes remains steady in water 30-38 feet deep. Were catching regular limits of channels in the 1.5 to 5 pound range on punch bait near bottom. Were baiting holes in or close to timber, close to submerged creek channels. The bigger blues should be turning on any day with the cooling water temperatures. We will be drift fishing for them, fresh cut shad. OUTDOOR TIP OF THE WEEK- Chances are pretty good that many of you have ground venison in the freezer from last year. How about combining it with some fresh ground pork and making some venison/pork bacon. Earlier this year, I learned how simple it is to create great tasting bacon from ground meat. A packet of seasoning that mixes with ten pounds of ground meat is available from Frisco Spices (www.friscospices.com) for about $1.50. The packet includes the flavoring and cure. Mike Pullen at Frisco Spices (email@example.com) has a free, detailed instruction sheet he can email you that explains the simple process of making bacon at home. LC Want even more of Luke's hunting/fishing tips and tricks, wild game recipes etc? 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