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Prairie Fare: Top Off the Summer With Outdoor Eating Adventures

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Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Food and Nutrition Specialist Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Food and Nutrition Specialist
Remember some key rules for outdoor food safety.

By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

“Just be sure to check your sleeping bag for snakes,” my friend said before I crawled into the tent.

“Snakes?” I said.

After that remark, I wanted to go home.

“Be sure not to leave out any food because there might be bears outside. There may be some bats, too,” another friend said.

“How about lions?” I asked.

I was seeing that they were playing “let’s scare Julie.”

At the time, I was with a group of my college friends. I was the inexperienced camper so they were having a little fun with me.

Despite the fact that I knew they were teasing me, I checked my sleeping bag carefully for reptiles. I didn’t leave the tent until daybreak, either.

Be sure your food does not become “scary” as you enjoy some summer picnics, hiking adventures or camping trips during the last weeks of summer. Keeping your food safe in outdoor situations takes a little planning and care during the trip.

Remember some key rules for outdoor food safety. Keep everything clean. Since water isn’t available at every camping or picnic site, be sure to bring disposable wipes or alcohol-based hand sanitizer to clean your hands.

While cleaning your dishes is a good plan, take care not to pollute. Be sure to use soap sparingly and keep it out of lakes, rivers and other bodies of water. Dump the dirty water on dry ground away from fresh water.

If you are going backpacking, bring some lightweight, shelf-stable foods, such as peanut butter in plastic jars, small cans or shelf-stable packets of tuna, ham, chicken or beef, dried meats (such as beef jerky), dried fruits and nuts, and powdered milk or fruit drinks.

If you plan to enjoy camp cookouts, keep the weight of supplies low by bringing aluminum foil and/or lightweight pans. Check to see if the campsite allows you to build a fire or if you should bring a portable camp stove or grill.

Don’t forget to bring your food thermometer on picnics and camping trips. You may be cooking late in the evening, which makes it difficult to see the food. Color is never a reliable indicator of doneness. Cook poultry to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit and hamburgers to at least 160 degrees.

If you are using a dial thermometer, be sure to insert it 2 to 2.5 inches into the food so the food is in contact with the sensing area. If you are cooking thin foods, insert the probe sideways into the food.

Keep cold foods cold. You have several choices for coolers, but some are more durable than others are. Foam chests have the advantage of being low in cost and lightweight, but they are not as durable as plastic chests.

Here’s a tasty recipe from the Canned Food Alliance (http://www.mealtime.org). This recipe lends itself to an outdoor eating adventure if you do a little work at home. Make the salsa ahead of time and refrigerate. Marinate the chicken as directed and keep chilled. Keep the meat in a separate cooler from the ready-to-eat foods.

Red-bean Salsa Grilled Chicken

3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced

6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Salt and freshly ground pepper

6 boneless and skinless chicken breast halves

Homemade Salsa

1 1/2 tsp. grated lime peel, divided

4 Tbsp. fresh lime juice, divided

2 cans (15 1/2 ounces each) small kidney beans or pinto beans, drained and rinsed

2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes (drain one can)

1/2 c. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

1 to 2 Tbsp. hot sauce

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir in the red onion, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until onion is tender, stirring often for about five minutes. Put the chicken in a medium bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the cooked onion mixture, 1 teaspoon of the lime peel, 2 tablespoons of the lime juice, and then salt and pepper to taste. Toss to mix well. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, also make a salsa. Place the remaining cooked onion mixture in a medium serving bowl. Stir in the beans, tomatoes (and the juice from one can of tomatoes), cilantro and hot sauce to taste. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon lime peel and 2 tablespoons lime juice. Stir to mix well. Cover and refrigerate salsa until ready to serve.

Heat a barbecue grill to medium-hot. Remove the chicken from its marinade and dispose of the leftover marinade. Grill the chicken, turning once, until browned and cooked through (165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer), about 10 minutes. Serve the grilled chicken topped with the salsa.

Makes six servings. Each serving has 300 calories, 8 grams (g) of fat, 34 g of carbohydrate, 680 milligrams of sodium and 45 percent of the daily value for vitamin C.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and associate professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)


NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187, julie.garden-robinson@ndsu.edu
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136, richard.mattern@ndsu.edu
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