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The term “Camp Cook” can be misleading. One might imagine that this would refer to someone who is skilled in the culinary arts. Failing that, one might assume that this individual is, at the very least, adept at the preparation of food in the outdoors. One might think that.

Fred and Dennis have been known to prepare some tasty meals. This was not always the case. In their early days, the boys were known to eat some disgusting things while camping, usually “cooked” by one or the other. These disasters were always accompanied by the appropriate comments, uttered around a mouthful of the offending concoction as it slowly disappeared. The boys never wasted food.

As they got older, and, some would hope, wiser, the boys acquired the ability to prepare food that was at least edible. Some would say they learned out of self-preservation. Fred and Dennis still had different opinions on how certain foods should be prepared, however, and this led to several spirited conversations. A typical conversation would begin something like, “Hey Dennis, how about some fried potatoes with dinner?” Dennis would reply with, “Sure. I’ll peel some and you heat up some grease.” Fred would then put about fourteen pounds of shortening in a cast-iron skillet, and Dennis would peel and slice the spuds. Both of these activities would bring comments from the other, such as, “Don’t put so much grease in the pan!” or, “They cook better if you slice them the other way!” Of course, the potatoes would turn out very tasty, no matter which way they were sliced, or how much shortening was in the skillet.

Over the years, the cooking duties slowly became the responsibility of Dennis. This was due mainly to the fact that Dennis was a pickier eater than Fred. Dennis’ wife, Paula, had a lot to do with this pickiness. She was an excellent cook, and Dennis had become accustomed to eating well. Fred’s wife (at the time), Lana was also a good cook, but Fred just was not as picky as Dennis. During their hunting trips, the menu became more palatable over the years. Instead of cold-cuts and beans for dinner, the boys would have steak and potatoes and beans. Instead of cold cereal or sweet rolls for breakfast, the boys would have eggs and bacon, or eggs and sausage, or chorizo and egg burritos. It was not unusual for the boys to gain five pounds during a four day hunt. Of course, Paula and Lana would send along some goodies to help the boys survive the rigors of the outdoors also. These goodies were usually high in calories, and were always well received by the boys, along with whoever happened to accompany them on that particular trip.

It should be mentioned that one of the duties of the camp cook is the grocery shopping. On a few occasions, Fred and Dennis decided to shop on the way out of town. This generally led to arrival at camp without some item deemed necessary for the smooth operation of meal preparation. This lack usually led to another spirited discussion, including some comments on one or the other’s ability to remember anything, let alone groceries. There have been trips when the boys thought they might starve.

There have been other trips when the boys forgot other important items used in the cooking process. On one such occasion, the boys actually cooked their steaks on a shovel. Coffee cans have made fine substitutes for pots and pans, and have even been used to make a potable cup of coffee. Paper towels make poor substitutes for plates, and empty beverage cans are not the ideal stand-in for coffee cups. You use what you have, however, and make the appropriate comments about the memory of the one at fault for the predicament you happen to be in.

One thing that all outdoor enthusiasts should know is that it is generally not a good idea to make too many disparaging remarks about the cooking, especially with your mouth full. This is most rue when the camp cook’s abilities exceed your own, and you do not wish to assume the duties involved. If there are more than two people in attendance, complaining can be hazardous to one’s health. The remaining campers have been known to chastise the complainer severely.

Over the years, Fred and Dennis have come to a tacit agreement. Dennis will do the cooking, and Fred will complain about some little facet of the meal. This has become a comfortable arrangement, and should continue for years.
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