When we go car camping, we take advantage of the fact that we're not hiking in with only what we can wear on our backs. Translation: we turn our campground in into the freakin' Ritz. We bring the camp stove and the skillets and the french press and the lanterns and the hammock and the speakers for the iPod. To steal a slogan from a super ritzy local ski resort, it's "not exactly roughing it".
I think one thing that intimidates a lot of people about camping is what will be on the menu once you're out in the middle of nowhere. This is where car camping becomes especially perfect. You can cook up a straight feast in the woods with nothing more than a campfire, a grate that goes over the fire (a regular staple at most campgrounds), and a skillet. And to kick it up to the next notch, you can buy a relatively inexpensive camp stove (we have this one and it's perfect) and french press and have almost all of your kitchen conveniences right outside your tent.
Some of my favorite camping recipes include:
This recipe is intended for the grill at home, but if you par-boil and prep at home, you'll have little foil-wrapped potato packages ready to be thrown directly into the campfire when you arrive at your site. I've eaten these along side campfire-frilled steaks and veggie-kabobs roasted over an open fire. Oh, and don't forget your favorite wine and the perfect little stainless steel wine glasses to drink from. Perfect.
Who says s'mores are the only way to go? What happens when you put boxed cake mix into hollowed out oranges, wrap in foil, and throw into the campfire? Heaven, I tell you. Here are two recipes that will get you there. I recommend using dark fudgy chocolate cake and adding chocolate chips. The chocolate cake becomes infused with the orange that it's baking in and there is certainly nothing wrong with that.
I can't remember a time we've gone car camping and not woken up and made pancakes in the morning. Bring a good skillet and whip up a batch of your favorite pancakes (this one looks particularly yummy) in no time over the open fire or on your handy dandy camp stove. Make sure to bring a kettle or pot to boil water for your freshly brewed french press coffee as well.
Now get out and enjoy the outdoors!