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 The Trek: The Journals

•
Team: North
Paul Bucca
Tuesday, August 13
Trials and Tribulations of a Camp Cook
Why would anyone want to voluntarily take on the responsibility of provisioning and cooking for 15 strangers for two months while living in a tent? What’s wrong with this picture? You mean that four trekkers get to have the outdoor experience of their lives while I slave over a stove serving them and other support staffers? These are the questions that I, Paul Bucca, a retired Oceanographer living in Huntsville, Alabama, pondered before “jumping in the water”. The answers to these questions materialized while I was mowing my lawn a day prior to the trip: I like working with people to achieve a worthy and common goal. As events have evolved one-third through this trip, I have come to realize several things. This teamwork and problem solving process is very similar to the enjoyable functions I performed in my “other life” in preparing for an oceanographic exercise.
The everyday life of the group cook is among the most physically demanding and time consuming function in the camp. As an occasional single recipe cook for only my wife Linda and I at home, the specter of feeding 15 real hungry mouths is daunting. My gravest early mistake involved setting out a 14 inch Dutch oven of stew and watching it evaporate before half of the troops even got their plates dirty! The next evening I doubled a recipe and it was also fully consumed! These gruesome events resulted in $350 provisioning trips to the nearest town in an attempt to quench these insatiable appetites.
Once I mastered the food quantity problem, I was faced with providing a daily food variety. This is where the fun comes in – that of producing a new recipe every day that was previously untested. Improvising on the recipes was common and I was often surprised by the favorable results.
Because I had limited stove space and simplicity of food preparation so dictated, one-pot meals rule. Utilizing this method, meal preparation was greatly facilitated. I was introduced to Dutch Oven cooking by the International Dutch Oven Society (IDOS) in Tooule, Utah, the American Frontiers staging area. Prior to proceeding north on the trek, the IDOS folks graciously put on a cooking demonstration for the entire group. The generosity of the Camp Chef Chef Corporation steeped my interest in dutch oven cooking by donating all the propane stoves, Dutch Ovens and iron fry pans. No meals are prepared without our Dutch Ovens – the most versatile implement in my cooking arsenal.
One of my favorite and quickest dishes is a “dump cake”; just dump the ingredients in and heat the oven with charcoal briquettes. For instance, german chocolate cherry cake preparation is as easy as dumping 2 cans of cherry pie filling in the 14 inch oven, topping it with a chocolate cake batter and placing the charcoal briquettes on both the top and bottom of the oven. The concoction is complete in approximately one hour when the cake begins to separate from the oven sides. Serve this with whipped topping and you are an instant camp hero! Main courses include stew, pot roasts, jambalya, and numerous chicken dishes such as chicken parmesan, Santa fe chicken, and even chicken quesadillas.
There is not enough time in the day to perform all the functions of a cook; it is truly a team effort. I have help in every facet of my duties. While provisioning, I avoid many hours in the grocery by recruiting at least one additional hand. Three full grocery carts in the grocery line provoke numerous questions from the pubic! I merely respond “big family”. Table setting, take down and washing are all a group effort. No person in our group is a slacker – everyone pitches in without being asked, hence a duty roster is unnecessary.
Sanitation is a big issue for the camp cook. The ice chests provided by the Coleman Corporation (Coleman has also graciously provided the tents, sleeping bags and numerous other items!) are purged and disinfected frequently and ice quantities and perishables are checked daily. Hands are washed frequently during the food preparation process and soiled eating and cooking implements are boiled as part of the cleaning process. Sanitation is time consuming but necessary to prevent group illnesses.
One last comment from the cook and bottle washer: group cooperation and trekker support workload (coupled with a small repertoire of quickie meals) allows me to have
occasional days off. Four one-day hikes in Glacier National Park and many more future outings - some of the overnight variety – constitutes “icing on the cake” However, the heart of this cake is composed of great times in great places with great people all focused on the common goal of public lands stewardship.
for Tuesday, August 13
North South Both




Biographical
•
Team: North
Paul Bucca

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List of All Journal Entries
•
Sunday, August 18
Paul Bucca
Camp Cook Update
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•
Tuesday, August 13
Paul Bucca
Trials and Tribulations of a Camp Cook
   >> more...

•
Wednesday, July 31
Paul Bucca
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