It is not often on the internet that we see when cooking fails. It is even less frequent we see it when the cooking that failed happened on a camping trip. Not only is it embarrassing but it is a waste of food. So in a sea of Instagram-worthy food blogs I wanted to let you in on one of my recent camp cooking fails.
You may need to hang with me on this one. You likely may not even love the concept right from the beginning. Especially since I led with the fact that this was a camp cooking fail. Trust me it can be a delicious meal if made correctly. Feel free to check the recipe out and make it for yourself! I would love to see how yours turned out so make sure to share yours with me on Pinterest or Facebook!
Before I get into that though what are we really looking at here. Are we talking a hot dog with some cheese on top? That has been done. A hot dog with cheese inside of it. Sure, you can buy those in the store. No, this is a mash-up that your children are going to love. Maybe even live for. To be fair, on my first attempt my children died of disgust. Far from living for it!
Classic but oh so Different
In the summertime hot dogs and camping go hand in hand. They are quick to make and you can roast them right over the campfire. Kids love them because they can become their own chefs. All you need is a couple of hot dog skewers and you are on your way. Don’t want to splurge on the roasting skewer? Thank goodness nature can provide one with some pretty rudimentary whittling skills. Hot dogs are quick, easy, and delicious as a campfire meal.
Do you know what else is easy? Grilled cheese! Of course, unless you have a sandwich iron you will be making these on your camp stove. This can take a little bit more effort but is certainly a go-to in my family even on camping trips. The kids love to eat them, and I love that it doesn’t take much effort.
So, I figured why can’t we have the best of both worlds. A couple of classics mashed up into one delicious meal. The melty cheese could only make the hot dogs taste that much better. Not to mention the crispness of the toasted buns! Both classics together in one place actually make this a whole different animal.
Camp Cooking Fail Hot Dog Grilled Cheese
The hot dog grilled cheese was supposed to take the best parts of hot dogs and grilled cheese and blend them together. It should make any child or child at heart ready to take on the trail. Packed with protein and things kids love to eat. I really thought that it would end complaining at lunchtime. At least I wouldn’t have to worry about the children not eating their lunch! Boy was I wrong!
So what was the concept? Well, it was supposed to be essentially a hot dog surrounded by melty cheese. The prep was supposed to be easy. The cooking was supposed to be quick. Clean-up was going to be a breeze. Instead, I completely failed on every one of these steps. Instead of something tasty I ended up with something limp and messy.
The Prep Work
To start with the prep was supposed to be the first easy step. All I had to do was slice some hot dogs in half. Then break the hot dog buns and butter them. Well, in my case I used mayo. That is it. Preheat the griddle, throw everything on, and in twenty short minutes, we would have a delicious lunch.
First, have you ever tried cutting a hot dog in half? I am convinced that, at least with the camp tools I had available, there is no easy way! My cuts were not straight and they were wavy as all get out. So some bites were going to have a thick hot dog and some were going to have thin ones. No one wants a thin dog…
Oh sure, slathering the mayo on the buns was easy, however, what I didn’t consider was the bun’s shape. With bread it lays flat and you can stack it. Buns have such a convenient roundness to them on the outside. This made it fun to watch as my stacked buns rolled off of my plate. Luckily I had plenty of space on my griddle’s side table.
At least everything pre-heated easily!
The Actual Cooking
Here is another thing I thought would be straightforward. I have made a hundred grilled cheese. I even thought I was being clever with my Dutch oven lid to weigh everything down for combining. Yeah, no. The cheese all squished out, and the top bun stuck to my dutch oven lid. It was nothing like I envisioned. Not to mention the fact that the cheese melted out and burned on the griddle! Now I like crispy fried cheese so this actually turned out as a happy accident for the cook. I still wasn’t doing so hot on my first attempt and it was certainly turning into a camp cooking fail. All I can say is that things were not going according to the well-crafted plan I had in my head.
When all was said and done, the bottom bun was toasted, albeit a bit burnt. The top wasn’t cooked at all and wasn’t connected to the rest of the sandwich. The cheese had escaped. Everything was a sloppy, soggy mess. It was not at all what I was expecting and was certainly not a delicious meal.
How to Come Back from Camp Cooking Fail
In this case, there was no saving this dish. Did we eat it? Yes because it was what we had for lunch that day. Did I learn better ways to make this particular dish? Of course! I now know that I need a sturdy bun. I need to make sure that my dutch oven lid is properly heated. Finally, I know that I need to have a little patience with myself.
See cooking isn’t about making the best food the first time. It is about sharing time with friends and family as you try new things. I have made the hot dog grilled cheese a few times since. My children were apprehensive to eat it again but they did. We have a story now of how I screwed it all up that first time and laugh about it. Cooking and camping are all about making memories. We certainly have memories now!
Final Thoughts on a Camp Cooking Fail
Remember that learning new things and adapting over time is what makes everything worthwhile. Especially a camp cooking fails like above. It isn’t always going to be pretty. We aren’t always going to be perfect. Instead, as Bob Ross said, treat it like a happy accident. Joy and memories are what make the minor inconvenience worth it. There are many different things that you can fail on when camping. Some of them can be dangerous. Failing on something as silly as a hot dog grilled cheese and making a memory out of it only serves to make us better in the future. So be willing to fail, be willing to not have Instagram or Pinterest pictures every time. Most importantly learn and have fun while out at the campsite!