homepage logo

Campfire cookin’

By Staff | Jul 29, 2011

Wanda Brelsford demonstrates how to handle a hot lid from a dutch oven. Her family camps often at their private campgrounds and make just about every meal using a campfire.

PERRY – Wanda Brelsford cherishes the time she can be out camping, but it’s the time spent with family and friends and that matter the most, she said. And much of that time is spent around the campfire, conversing and cooking.

Brelsford has lived on a farm her entire life and while growing up was always outside helping her father. After marrying Dennis Brelsford, she handled outdoor chores alongside him.

Todd Brelsford is now farming his parents’ land. Wanda Brelsford works full-time for her daughter at Angie’s Tea Garden, in Jefferson, and with Hallmark stores.

Brelsford said she enjoys cooking, gardening, animals and sewing. Some of her sewing projects such as tea cozies can be found for sale at Angie’s Tea Garden.

One of Brelsford’s favorite past times is spent camping with friends and family on the family’s acreage.

These hamburger packets are easy to make while camping. Wanda Brelsford suggests using fresh herbs and garlic cloves for added flavor.

They have nine camping spots surrounded by a pond and trees where they have been known to host family and class reunions, birthdays and close family and friends on any given weekend.

The family has a variety of favorite camping meals, including some prepared the old-fashioned way over a campfire with a dutch oven

Alison Lansman compiled her grandmother’s dutch oven recipes into a cookbook to use as a family keepsake and also as a 4-H project last year.

Although they cook an assortment of traditional meals while camping, Brelsford said, “We like to try new things all of the time on the campground and especially new things to make over a campfire.

“I’ve done about everything, but bake a pie and I might try it, yet.”

Fruit pies like this one are a yummy treat. They are made, while sitting around a campfire, a pie iron.

Campground cooking, Brelsford said, takes a little time but is something fun to do when you are out camping.

“You can use campfire coals or charcoal or your gas grill,” Brelsford said.

And no matter what they cook while camping, Brelsford said, there are always smores.

She has not only shared her cooking talents, but her sewing talents as well by teaching her granddaughters how to sew. They have made clothing together as well as using their sewing education from their grandmother in 4-H.

The couple has two children, Todd, with wife Tracy Brelsford; and Angie and her husband Jeff Petersen, as well as three granddaughters – Ashley and Lindsay Brelsford and Alison Lansman.

Brelsford keeps active in the Fairview United Methodist Church near Perry, where the grandchildren, she is proud to say, are the fifth generation of her family to attend.

The recipes for camp fire cooking Brelsford provided do not include many specific measurements, so some items may be done on a trial-and-error basis.

Campfire onion

Take a sweet onion and peel off skin. Core a hole about 1/2 inch or so. Put in one beef bouillon cube then fill with one tablespoon of butter.

Wrap up in foil, put on grill or campfire grill and cook about one hour or until done.

Brelsford suggests serving with grilled steaks or pork chops.

Campfire potato packet

Use foil packets or take two sheets of 11-by-15-inch foil and double that.

Slice potatoes (Brelsford uses Yukon Gold potatoes tossed in a little oil); onions, red and green peppers and carrots. Add shredded cheese, salt and pepper and a half of a stick of butter. Seal up and put on a grill or campfire until done. Add basil butter.

Basil butter

1 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves

3/4 pound butter, softened (no substitutes)

1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoon white pepper

In a food processor, chop basil. Add butter, lemon juice and pepper and blend until smooth. This can be frozen and kept in freezer bags and taken out as needed or can be put in refrigerator in air tight container.

This is good on chicken, fish, vegetables, crackers and especially good on fresh sweet corn.

Hamburger packets

Using fresh herbs makes it all taste so fresh, Brelsford said, and the garlic cloves flavor the meat.

Combine sliced potatoes, baby carrots, sliced mushrooms and sliced sweet onions as well as fresh herbs such as oregano, thyme with a ground beef patty into which cloves of garlic have been inserted.

Salt and pepper and 2 or 3 tablespoons of cream of mushroom soup can be added.

Seal with a double layer of tinfoil and place on grill or campfire.

Grill until meat is cooked through and vegetables are done.

Using fresh herbs makes it taste more fresh, Brelsford said, and the garlic cloves flavor the meat.

Pizza pies using

camping pie irons

Brelsford suggests having all of the ingredients prepared ahead of time for easier cooking around the campfire.

Brown hamburger or Italian sausage and mushrooms

Pizza sauce

Shredded mozzarella cheese

Canadian bacon


Sliced white bread


Cooking spray

Pie irons

Preheat your pie irons over hot coals for just a few minutes. Take out.

Butter one side of bread, lay butter side down on pie iron sprayed with cooking spray.

Fill with pizza sauce and other ingredients of choice and top with another slice of buttered bread (buttered side out).

Put top piece on the pie iron and trim off any crust of bread that sticks out. Place pie iron back in coals.

It will only take a few minutes to toast your bread and melt your cheese. Turn over and cook the other side and cook until done.

Cut into wedges and enjoy.

Fruit pies using

Sliced white bread


1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

Powdered sugar

Fillings such as peanut butter, cream cheese or pie filling (cherry and apple are good)

Preheat pie irons. Butter one side of bread and place bread side down in pie iron. Add pie filling, or any filling you choose such as peanut butter, for example. Put buttered bread (butter side out) on top and put top of pie iron on. Lay in coals and turn over to toast both sides.

Mix sugar and cinnamon on a plate. Drop your pie on a plate and dust with cinnamon and sugar mixture or can dust with powdered sugar. Cut in wedges.

Homemade ice cream goes will with this recipe.

Boneless pork loin

Salt and pepper pork loin and wrap in foil. Leave a part open in the center about three or four inches on top. Place on the top rack in a smoker.

In the smoker, the Brelsford’s use apple or hickory chips that have been soaked in water.

In the water bath, they suggest using apple juice, one whole onion and one whole nutmeg.

Smoke the loin until the interior temperature is 145 degrees. Rest 20 minutes before cutting.

Smoking the loin in the foil, Brelsford said, lets the juices stay in and makes it moist and you still have the smoky flavor.

Gram’s chili

Brelsford said there is nothing quite as good as Gram’s chili made in the Dutch oven, along with fried bread.

She suggests using with one’s favorite chili recipe.

Fried bread

Make a white bread dough recipe and let it rise once. Or buy frozen bread dough and let it rise.

After the dough has risen once, pinch off bread dough about the size of a walnut. Take and pull it out to form a slice and fry in a skillet (with just a little oil). Fry both sides and drain on a paper towel. Butter while warm and can also be served with your favorite jam.

Bacon wrapped


Take a whole, white-button mushroom and wrap in one slice of bacon.

Put on a metal skewer and grill. Keep turning until bacon is done.

It’s ready to eat.

Contact Kriss Nelson at jknelson@frontiernet.net.

Please Enter Your Facebook App ID. Required for FB Comments. Click here for FB Comments Settings page