Elevate your camping meals with these campfire recipes

“A shot of red-eye and a piece of meat.”

That was my answer to the server at a diner on Aspen’s main street, some 30 years ago, when asked “What can I getcha?”

My university friend, Bart, and I had just descended into town from a five-day, 30-mile backpacking hike counterclockwise from Snowmass to Aspen along the “Four Pass Loop.”

I was sore and stinky, but above all starved.

We had eaten as well as we could — both of us love to cook for ourselves and our families — but, after all, we’d been five days without the amenities of our kitchens. No stove, no refrigerator, no pots and pans.

If Bart and I would try the same route today, we’d be set to better feed ourselves. In 30 years, camping and cooking have trudged a long way, too. (Looking at you, Ziploc.)

In February, campspot.com, the largest online marketplace for many things camping (RV pads, campground spaces, cabins, and the like), commissioned a survey of more than 1,000 American adults. Over 80 percent of those responding stated that they are going on the road this summer and 36 percent say that they will be camping.

As I see it, cooking while camping occurs in two main ways. You take your kitchen with you — in an RV, say, or with piles of pans in the back of the van — or you just really rough it, everything in a backpack, food included. (Or you glamp and in effect both crash and dine in someone’s restaurant.)

Any of my “Get Cooking” columns can cook in the first way (and there’s a recipe today in that manner). But I’ve also got suggestions on cooking bare bones. Just you, your eats and your wits. No drive-ins, no tagalong attendants.

As Bart and I found those many years ago, it’s pretty astonishing how many good meals a mere two people can portage on a long hike.

Begin with a pantry of sorts, especially of dried grains and the like: grits or polenta, rice or ramen noodles, small-form dried pasta, powdered potatoes, powdered eggs, dried stuffing mix and flatbreads such as tortillas, pita or lavosh. The weight’s gone in these because the water is. You’ll pick that up along the trail.

Fresh proteins can be dangerous without refrigeration, but these days the proteins available in precooked, soy-based “fake meats” abound. Their best feature is that they actually satisfy, in all departments (taste, texture, satiety). They merely require heat. That, too, is available along the trail. (One cool thing to do with small-gauge firewood: whittle chopsticks from two sturdy twigs unless you simply cannot surrender your spork.)