For many Jewish children all over the country, summer camp is a rite of passage. There is a unique magic to the quickly formed friendships, quirky activities and expansive nature exploration. The immersive experience teaches participating youth to be resourceful, creative and proud of their Jewish values.
One of these cultural values, of course, is food. Ronni Guttin, director of Camp Avoda, in Middleboro, Massachusetts, says “it’s about what kids experience there more than it is the food, there’s a lot of ritual around the food.”
Alicia McGee, co-director of Camp JORI, in Wakefield, adds that Shabbat dinner holds a special significance for Camp JORI, and for Jewish camps in general.
“It’s a nice sweet treat for Shabbat,” she said. “It’s a reminder that this is our day to rest, a day when things are a little different, and it’s a nice reminder to take care of yourself after a long week.”
From special Shabbat dinners to Sunday morning scrambled eggs, camp food has found its way into the heart of Jewish childhood nostalgia.
Here are some camp recipes that will bring you back to that lakeside fire:
Scrambled Eggs with Tomatoes & Cheese
6 whole eggs, beaten (or 8 egg whites)
1+ tablespoon butter
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Freshly ground black pepper
2 slices fresh American cheese
In a medium non-stick skillet, melt butter. Add tomatoes and sauté for three minutes over medium heat.
Beat eggs in a small bowl and add a pinch of Kosher salt and a pinch of black pepper. Pour over tomatoes.
Reduce heat to low and allow eggs to cook for 2-3 minutes before stirring. Then, stir occasionally, allowing eggs to settle every few minutes between stirring. Stir gently until eggs are cooked but still very soft and loose.
Layer the American cheese over the eggs and remove pan from heat. Using a spatula, fold the cheese into the eggs, letting the heat from the eggs melt the cheese.
Serve immediately with toast, a bagel or an English muffin.
Note: If adding other veggies, add at the same time you add the tomatoes and cook together. Then add eggs and proceed as usual.
From The Jewish Kitchen, thejewishkitchen.com.
Camp JORI Focaccia Half-Sheet Pan
6-8 cups bread flour (30 ounces or 850g) or high gluten flour
2 1/2 cups room temperature water
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (from one 1/4-ounce packet)
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons Kosher salt or sea salt
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing and drizzling
Roasted garlic or chopped garlic with chopped herbs, 1/2 cup olive oil, sea salt and pepper
Add yeast and honey to water. Stir, let sit for 2-3 minutes or until you start to see it foam. Add salt to the mixture and stir it in.
Add flour to the mixer, add water mixture and turn mixer on. Pour in olive oil slowly. Mix dough on speed 1 until incorporated. Turn mixer to speed 2 and mix until dough makes a slapping sound on the bowl. Dough is ready when it’s combined and is slapping the side of the mixing bowl.
Allow focaccia to rise a bit in the mixer. Turn dough out onto a sheet pan that has been greased and sprinkled with cornmeal.
Allow dough to rise in the pan until it’s soft and pillowy. Press dough with your fingers, making small pools on the dough. Drizzle olive oil over focaccia.
Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes, check, turn pan and bake another 5-10 minutes more or until focaccia is done.
Drizzle with additional olive oil if needed.
From Camp JORI.
Classic Mac & Cheese
4 cups whole milk or a combination of milk and half and half
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 pound elbow macaroni
2/3 cup panko (optional)
In a saucepan, heat the milk to a simmer then set it aside. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture turns light brown in color, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
While whisking constantly, slowly add the hot milk to the flour mixture until evenly combined and smooth. (It will get very thick when you first add the milk, then it will thin out.)
Return the saucepan to medium-high heat and while whisking constantly, cook until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the salt, taste, and add the remaining salt as desired. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until it’s almost al dente (just on the edge of being underdone), then drain and rinse with cold water; set aside.
Place the reserved saucepan of béchamel sauce over medium heat and stir in both cheeses just until melted and smooth.
Add the pasta and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is heated through and steaming, about 2 to 4 minutes.
Serve immediately or, if baking, transfer to a 5-quart baking dish, sprinkle with the panko, and bake on a rack in the middle of an oven preheated to 400 degrees F until bubbling and brown on top, about 25 to 30 minutes.
From OU Kosher, oukosher.org.
Double Chocolate Gooey Brownies
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral-flavored oil (such as canola or grapeseed)
5 large eggs (lightly beaten)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (or chopped dark chocolate)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9x13x2-inch baking pan.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Add the oil, eggs, and vanilla and mix just until smooth (the batter will be thick). Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Use a spatula to smooth the top and spread the batter to the edges of the pan. Sprinkle evenly with the chocolate chips or chopped chocolate.
Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the brownies are set and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool before slicing the brownies with a sharp knife. Serve warm or at room temperature.
From The Spruce Eats, www.thespruceeats.com.
Avoda Shabbat Roast Chicken
At Camp Avoda, according to Guttin, “we take our Friday night chicken seriously”!
They roast 100 pounds of chicken cut up into personal size pieces! You can do the same at home with a small amount, of course. Season the chicken and bake in the oven.
At serving time, campers enjoy making food creations using the roasted chicken.
The following combos are very popular, often placed between two slices of homemade challah, said Guttin.
1. Slices of chicken, mayonnaise and cranberry sauce.
2. Lettuce, mustard, chicken.
3. A chicken leg dipped in sauce.
4. Make a mix of mayonnaise and hot sauce. Spread it on challah. Add chicken.
HANNAH ALTMAN (email@example.com) is the content producer for the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island and writes for Jewish Rhode Island.