Camping Macaroni and Cheese

by Kris on May 25, 2011

What a crazy week it’s been so far! Greg and I packed up the car on Sunday and drove south to Texas Hill Country for a few days of camping. We spent two nights at Krause Springs swimming in their spring fed swimming hole and spent our last day enjoying the natural beauty of Hamilton Pool. It couldn’t have been a better trip, that is until we drove home to Dallas.

As we got closer to the city the sky became dark and ominous. Lightning began to touch down and within minutes the sky appeared to be exploding with flashes of light. When we entered downtown Dallas the lightning had become so intense that the air seemed to be charged. We could hear a buzzing sound from the outside of our car and all of our arm hair was raised. I had never in my life experienced a storm so intense.

After pulling up in our driveway we dashed up the stairs to our apartment and the Tornado sirens began to sound. Our building manager was on the phone trying to organize a possible evacuation plan and I was beyond scared.

I immediately went inside and turned on the news to discover a series of tornadic storms were surrounding Dallas County. My personal experience of tornadoes only extend to watching the movie Twister when I was a kid, so my fear turned into a panic as I watched the news describe funnel and wall clouds building up speed in my city.

I frantically ran to the bedroom, ripped off the mattress and dragged it to my small and awkward bathroom. After Greg heard all the commotion he came to help and placed the mattress over our heads as we sat in the bath tub. Golf ball sized hail began to pour down and 70 mph winds were howling at our windows. I sat in the bath tub until 11pm when the storm had moved east bound and the threat of a tornado had passed.

Never in my life have I been as scared as I was last night. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for the people in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas. My thoughts are with the people who have lost their loved ones and homes in this tragic series of storms. I have to say that last night fuelled my anticipation to go home to Canada for a while, at least until tornado season has passed.

Even though we made and ate this dish just two nights ago, the tornado craziness has already made it feel like the distant past.  One thing I do remember though is that it was the best camping food I have ever had!

2 cups macaroni
½ cup milk
3 Tbsp. butter
1 cup Gruyère cheese, shredded
½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
½ cup Gooda cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp. flour
½ cup Panko bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare pasta at home according to package directions. Store in a sealable container and place in a zip bag. Place shredded cheeses in a container, flour in its own small bag as well as the bread crumbs.

I like to purchase a small sealed tub of butter for my camping trips as it keeps much better in a cooler. I also use a small Nalgene bottle to store my milk as it is less likely to spill than a typical carton. Place macaroni, cheese, butter and milk in a cooler full of ice to transport to your camping site.

Once your camp is set up and you are ready to cook, light charcoals in your grill. Once they have become amber you are ready to cook.

Place a large cast iron dutch oven on your barbecue. Melt butter over charcoals and whisk in milk. One tablespoon at a time whisk in flour until it has thickened and you have a roux. Salt and pepper to taste.

Slowly stir in the cheese blend until it has melted into the roux. Reserve some cheese to top the macaroni.

Add cooked macaroni to the dutch oven and stir to coat with sauce. Cover and allow to cook until it is heated throughout, about 5 minutes.

Top with reserved cheese and bread crumbs. Cover and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Serves 2 very hungry campers

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