“Just be sure to check your sleeping bag for snakes,” my friend said before I crawled into the tent.
“Snakes?” I said.
After that remark, I wanted to go home.
“Be sure not to leave out any food because there might be bears outside. There may be some bats, too,” another friend said.
“How about lions?” I asked.
I was seeing that they were playing “let’s scare Julie.”
At the time, I was with a group of my college friends. I was the inexperienced camper, so they were having a little fun with me.
Despite the fact that I knew they were teasing me, I checked my sleeping bag carefully for reptiles. I didn’t leave the tent until daybreak, either.
Be sure your food does not become “scary” as you enjoy some summer picnics, hiking adventures or camping trips during the last weeks of summer. Keeping your food safe in outdoor situations takes a little planning and care during the trip.
Remember some key rules for outdoor food safety. Keep everything clean. Because water isn’t available at every camping or picnic site, be sure to bring disposable wipes or alcohol-based hand sanitizer to clean your hands.
While cleaning your dishes is a good plan, take care not to pollute. Be sure to use soap sparingly and keep it out of lakes, rivers and other bodies of water. Dump the dirty water on dry ground away from fresh water.
If you are going backpacking, bring some lightweight, shelf-stable foods, such as peanut butter in plastic jars; small cans or shelf-stable packets of tuna, ham, chicken or beef; dried meats (such as beef jerky); dried fruits and nuts; and powdered milk or fruit drinks.
If you plan to enjoy camp cookouts, keep the weight of supplies low by bringing aluminum foil and/or lightweight pans. Check to see if the campsite allows you to build a fire or if you should bring a portable camp stove or grill.
Don’t forget to bring your food thermometer on picnics and camping trips. You may be cooking late in the evening, which makes seeing the food difficult. Color is never a reliable indicator of doneness. Cook poultry to a minimum internal temperature of 165 F and hamburgers to at least 160 degrees.
If you are using a dial thermometer, be sure to insert it 2 to 2.5 inches into the food so the food is in contact with the sensing area. If you are cooking thin foods, insert the probe sideways into the food.
Keep cold foods cold. You have several choices for coolers, but some are more durable than others. Foam chests have the advantage of being low in cost and lightweight, but they are not as durable as plastic chests.
See www.mealtime.org for more recipes from the Canned Food Alliance. This recipe lends itself to an outdoor eating adventure if you do a little work at home. Make the salsa ahead of time and refrigerate. Marinate the chicken as directed and keep chilled. Keep the meat in a separate cooler from the ready-to-eat foods. Visit www.ag.ndsu.edu/food for more food safety and nutrition information and a database of recipes from the NDSU Extension Service.
Red-bean Salsa Grilled Chicken
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced
6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 boneless and skinless chicken breast halves
1 1/2 tsp. grated lime peel, divided
4 Tbsp. fresh lime juice, divided
2 cans (15 1/2 ounces each) small kidney beans or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes (drain one can)
1/2 c. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 to 2 Tbsp. hot sauce
Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir in the red onion, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until onion is tender, stirring often for about five minutes. Put the chicken in a medium bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the cooked onion mixture, 1 teaspoon of the lime peel and 2 tablespoons of the lime juice, then salt and pepper to taste. Toss to mix well. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, also make a salsa. Place the remaining cooked onion mixture in a medium serving bowl. Stir in the beans, tomatoes (and the juice from one can of tomatoes), cilantro and hot sauce to taste. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of lime peel and 2 tablespoons of lime juice. Stir to mix well. Cover and refrigerate salsa until ready to serve.
Heat a barbecue grill to medium-hot. Remove the chicken from its marinade and dispose of the leftover marinade. Grill the chicken, turning once, until browned and cooked through (165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer), about 10 minutes. Serve the grilled chicken topped with the salsa.
Makes six servings. Each serving has 300 calories, 8 grams (g) of fat, 34 g of carbohydrate, 680 milligrams of sodium and 45 percent of the daily value for vitamin C.