Camping is a time to enjoy the company of your loved ones, breathe in the pine-scented air, admire the tree-lined vistas, and all too often, eat sub-par food. The Gourmet Girls on Fire, an S.B.-based group of avid female campers and chefs, have aspired to give your hot dogs and s’mores an upgrade with their recently released cookbook, The Gourmet Girls Go Camping Cookbook. On July 9 at the Wildling Museum, the authors will host a talk and tasting to discuss their recipes and offer samples of their favorite dishes.

When asked what inspired the creation of a cookbook for camping, Gourmet Girl Gail Kearns said, “We belong to a group of a women called the Gourmet Girls, and we do a camping trip every year. When we go camping, we always cook up a storm, and one time when we were just sitting around the fire, we said, why don’t we just make a cookbook?” Kearns said the gals sampled their recipes in a variety of locales before committing them to print. “Doing a cookbook is very different than doing fiction or nonfiction. It takes a lot of work to test the recipes. We tested ours for a year and a half in Big Sur, Yosemite, and El Capitan.”

Bringing adequate gear to cook your meals is equally as important as remembering your ingredients, she said, as the great outdoors provides an extra set of logistic problems one wouldn’t normally face in one’s home kitchen. With the Gourmet Girls’ advice, however, there is no need to despair — they have it all covered, even providing information on how to pack your cooler and how many coals to place on and beneath your Dutch oven. There is even a chapter titled, “The Neurotic Woodsman,” catering to those for whom a tidy campsite is a happy campsite. “A couple of our favorite recipes include our cast-iron ratatouille and our bison chili. What makes [the chili] really special is that it has cauliflower in it, so it has this wonderful crunch, perfect for serving crowds, as well,” said Kearns. Whether the salty sea breeze or the crisp alpine air serve as your special seasoning, camping won’t be the same after reading The Gourmet Girls Go Camping Cookbook. For even tastier insight, make sure to attend the Gourmet Girls’ talk and tasting, Sunday July 9, at 3 p.m., at the Wildling Museum (1511-B Mission Dr., Solvang).


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