If you go camping with me, don’t expect to dine well. I eat directly out of pots because doing any cleanup beyond the bare minimum is unacceptable. I own one spork with a crack in it, and consider Ramen a food group. If I can muster the energy to pull out the camp stove, well, you must be something real special.
Enter the new camp cookbook Best Served Wild from Semi-Rad’s Brendan Leonard and writer/artist Anna Brones. With more than 60 vegetarian recipes categorized by length of adventure — adding meat is encouraged — the book makes updates to camp classics and introduces us to new recipes like “Making Your Own Granola Isn’t Rocket Science Granola” and “No Puffy Jacket Required Dried Mushroom Pasta”. Then there are the essays, including “There’s Clean, and There’s ‘Clean Enough’” and “No One Cares About Your Dutch Oven Photos.” The book retails for $22 and you can nab it on Amazon or Indiebound.org.
To celebrate the launch of Best Served Wild I present a rapid-fire culinary conversation. Brendan, Anna, take it away…
Last energy bar flavor that made you cringe?
Brendan: I had some sort of long-expired fig bar a few weeks ago that was pretty gnarly, but I can’t say if it was the flavor or the age of the bar.
Last time you f’ed up a camp meal?
Anna: Unless you pour a cup of salt into something, I personally think you can f up food outside.
Last time you drank bad coffee?
Brendan: Truck stop off I-70 through Utah in May. The taste reminded me of real coffee, though.
Favorite backcountry dinner location ever?
Brendan: On a rock next to the ocean just off the highway into Henningsvaer, Norway, on a bike tour. We had 24 hours of daylight on our bike tour there, so we’d pedal until we found the “perfect” campsite for the night, and lots of times we wouldn’t eat dinner until 11 pm or so, when the sun was “setting”—which, at that time of year, basically amounted to a few hours of golden light as the sun rolled across the horizon and never set. It was scenic enough that I barely remember all the mosquitoes. But I remember them.
Strangest culinary thing you’ve hauled somewhere outdoors?
Anna: I think people find my coffee grinder pretty strange. But also I am headed out on a bike trip right now and am strapping a freshly baked sourdough focaccia to the back rack.
What is your camping utensil of choice?
Anna: I used to be a spork fan, but Brendan has changed me into a fork person.
Brendan: Spoon. I’m not twirling spaghetti out there, I’m shoveling food. Spoon = shovel.
Last candy bar to melt on you outdoors?
Brendan: It would have had to have been a Snickers somewhere on a bike tour. But now I just take M&Ms, which have a thin candy shell and are more resistant to melting.
Last time you ate dehydrated food?
Anna: A year and a half ago in Yellowstone.
Most shameful yet tasty camping meal ever?
Brendan: One time my friend Brian and I were on a climbing trip and made macaroni and cheese with chili, plus an 8-ounce block of cheddar cheese, uncut, garnished with Fritos Tapatio-flavored Flavor Twists.
We’re also celebrating by giving away one copy of Best Served Wild and one “I Like My Coffee Outside” Miir mug featuring a beautiful paper-cut print from Anna. To enter, just comment below or on Instagram @DirtbagDarling with the most shameful/tasty camping meal you’ve ever eaten. Good luck!