There is something so lovely about camping, something so basic and freeing. It is real, and it is authentic. You have to do the campfire cooking over a fire. If it rains, you get wet. If it is hot, you sweat. If it is cold, you shiver. You have to work hard to get camp set up. Everyone has to work together. Everyone has to learn to get along in tight spaces.

Essentially, camping requires effort. To enjoy it, everyone – young and old alike—must choose to have a good attitude no matter what happens because, believe me, when you camp, anything can and will happen.

When our family goes camping, we always make it a point to unplug. We pack a basket full of books, fishing poles, reusable picnic ware, decks of playing cards and our croquet set. When we camp, we try to glean what is best about doing things the “old-fashioned way,” including cooking amazing and healthy dinners over an open fire. Doesn’t food just taste better when it is prepared and eaten outdoors? One of our favorite camping meals is Grilled Steak with Tool Box Taters on the side.


  • 2 boneless rib-eye steaks (each about 12 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper


1. Heat a charcoal or wood-fired grill in the 450° to 550° range. (One way to test if your grill is hot enough: When you can only hold your hand 5 inches above cooking grate only 2 to 4 seconds.)
2. Coat steaks on both sides with oil and season with salt and pepper.
3. Grill steaks, turning once, until done to your preference (We like ours good and pink!): 6 to 15 minutes for medium-rare.

When my husband Nathan was growing up, his grandfather Papaw often made these for him. These taters are now the stuff of legends and we eat them every time we go camping, especially when we grill steak.

  • 3 pounds red potatoes
  • 2 large Vidalia onions
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt

1. Wash potatoes thoroughly and cut out any bad spots, but leave peel on.
2. Cut potatoes lengthwise and then slice into wedges.
3. Peel onions and cut in half lengthwise, then cut into strips top to bottom.
4. Heat vegetable oil and butter in a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat on a camp stove.
5. When the foam subsides, add the onions with half of the salt and cook until soft.
6. Add in the potatoes and the rest of the salt.
7. Cover with a sheet of foil. (To keep ours cooking without using up too much propane, we moved the covered skillet to the campfire, where we had placed a grill over some hot coals, and left it there to slow cook.)
8. Turn the potatoes gently every 8 to 10 minutes until they are soft and done.

Enjoy with a side of roasted asparagus or salad.