BROWNIE SCOUT Troop 1308 from Bethesda Elementary School proved beyond a shadow of a doubt recently that Brownies like More Than S'Mores. Displaying international flair on their annual campout at Ferguson Farms in Accokeek, Md., the 7-and 8-year-old girls put together menus of Chinese inspiration.
On a campout spanning Saturday dinner through Sunday lunch, the 32 girls set out to create a different sort of camp food by working with fresh ingredients.
In the camping days of many of the attending parents, cookout food centered around Tin Can Stew, a can filled with whatever vegetables or soup were brought by each child combined with a pound of hamburger meat and a chopped onion. (The memory of this particular concoction has undoubtedly caused hundreds of prospective parents to avoid participating in any more campouts.) Tin Can Stew, when brought to a simmer over a campfire, tided over little tummies emptied by fresh air and outdoor activity. Campers put up with it because they knew that with darkness would come The Fire Ring and with that the s'mores.
S'mores are, of course, those sticky sweet campfire confections made of a square of graham cracker, a square of milk chocolate, a toasted marshmallow and another square of graham cracker combined in that order to make a sandwich. Traditional s'mores have long been the culinary apex of scouting campouts.
Not so with Troop 1308. Dividing into patrols of eight girls each they washed and cut up fresh vegetables for dinner which were later stir-fried in a large wok over an efficient little charcoal-burning Cambodian stove. This was served with strips of marinated beef that the girls threaded on skewers and grilled over charcoal. They then stuffed the savory grilled meat and stir-fried vegetables into warmed pita bread brushed inside with hoisin sauce.
After dinner, where the girls had surprised themselves by enjoying such "weird" food, they cleaned up the mess efficiently and gathered around The Fire Circle for s'mores.
In the morning, after rolling up their sleeping bags and standing inspection, the Brownies set to making breakfast sandwiches. They stuffed cheese, bacon and vegetable omelets into hot buttered english muffins, wrapped them in foil and took them along on a pre-breakfast hike. One young Brownie, an egg-hater at home, happily munched her omelet sandwich in the meadow.
Lunch was fresh fruit and fried rice and then it was time to go home. Campers from Troop 1308 left with a new curiosity about food. The traditional s'mores were, however, an unmistakable favorite.
Here are some Brownie campout recipes. The ingredients are available at most Asian supermarkets. SKEWERED STEAK STRIPS (6 servings) The girls referred to this culinary activity as "sewing the meat." 1 1/2 pounds flank steak, trimmed and thinly sliced across the grain For the marinade: 1/2 cup scallions, minced 1/4 cup medium sherry 1/4 cup vegetable oil 1/4 cup soy sauce paste 1 teaspoon sweet chili sauce 2 tablespoons ginger root, grated
Combine the marinade ingredients and marinate meat for 1/2 hour. Thread meat on skewers and grill quickly over hot charcoal. Turn often and baste each time with remaining marinade.
Note: If using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for several hours before using to retard burning. Also, arrange meat filled skewers one layer deep in a grilling basket for ease in turning. CRISP CHINESE STIR-FRY VEGETABLES (Makes 20 sandwiches)
All the non-vegetable eaters in the troop sampled this stir-fry and most came back for s'more. 3 1/2 tablespoons oil for stir-frying 1 cup celery, slant-cut thinly 1 cup carrots, peeled and coarsely shredded 1 tablespoon ginger root, shredded 1 cup snow peas, strung and snapped in half 1 cup bok choy, slant-cut crosswise in 1/4-inch slices 1 cup scallions, thinly cut on the diagonal 1 sweet red pepper, cored, quartered and thinly sliced crosswise 4 dried Chinese mushrooms, soaked, stemmed and thinly sliced 1 cup bean sprouts, washed 2 cups Chinese or napa cabbage, cut crosswise in 1/8-inch slices 2 tablespoons soy sauce 1 tablespoon rice wine 1 teaspoon sambal olek 2 tablespoons oyster sauce 10 pita breads, cut in half crosswise and warmed Hoisin sauce for spreading on the pita bread*
Heat oil in a hot wok. Add celery, carrots and ginger root and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add snow peas, bok choy and scallions and stir-fry 1 minute more. Add remaining ingredients except the pita bread and hoisin sauce and stir-fry 1 or 2 minutes more. Serve immediately stuffed in hoisin-brushed pita breads. Tuck in a couple strips of the "sewed meat" for variation.
*Note: Hoisin is the savory/sweet sauce with moo shi pork and peking duck. It can be served right from the can or diluted with a little rice vinegar or wine for a less intense flavor. Hoisin sauce keeps indefinitely if transferred to a glass jar and stored in the refrigerator. BROWNIE POCKET BREAKFAST SANDWICH (6 servings)
After assembling their sandwiches and wrapping them in foil, the girls were instructed to put them in their pockets to keep warm during the hike down to the beaver dam. Most of the girls didn't have big enough pockets to hold their bulging breakfasts. So when the patrols set off across the meadow, the girls improvised by tucking the foil-wrapped packages under their arms and renaming their recipe "Brownie Armpit Breakfast Sandwich." 6 english muffins Butter 1/4 pound bacon, diced 1 onion, chopped 1 stalk celery, chopped 1/4 cup green pepper, chopped 1/2 cup potatoes, cooked and diced 6 large eggs 1 cup swiss or cheddar cheese, grated Salt and pepper to taste
Toast and butter the muffins and keep them warm. In a heavy skillet fry the bacon until crisp. Set aside. Pour off and reserve all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat. Add the onion, celery, green pepper and potatoes to the skillet and saute' for 2 or 3 minutes. Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat them lightly with a fork. Add a little of the reserved fat to the skillet if necessary and add the eggs and bacon. Scramble over moderate heat. adding salt and pepper to taste. When the eggs are done, fold in the cheese.
To assemble the sandwiches, mound some of the egg on a half of a hot toasted muffin and top with the other half. Wrap immediately in foil. Tuck in your pocket and take a hike before eating. MANY-TREASURED BROWNIE FRIED RICE (16 servings)
To cook fried rice outdoors for so many, you need a powerful source of heat. Sue Burkett, the Brownie leader, lined an above-ground fire pit with stones and lit a charcoal fire on top of it. When the coals were ready, the wok nestled right down in them so they came up the sides several inches and the heat was more than adequate. 1/4 cup vegetable oil 2 cloves garlic, crushed 1 teaspoon ginger root, grated 4 lap cheong Chinese sausage, thinly sliced 3/4 cup carrot, diced 8 ounces water chestnuts 1 cup snow peas, strung and diced 1/2 cup celery, diced 1 sweet red pepper, diced 1 cup scallions, chopped 3/4 cup ham, diced 8 cups cold, cooked rice 2 tablespoons oyster sauce 1 teaspoon sesame oil 1/4 cup soy sauce paste 1 teaspoon sweet chili sauce Juice of 1 lemon For garnish: Zest of 1 lemon 1/2 cup scallions, shredded
Heat the oil in a hot wok and add the garlic and ginger root along with the lap cheong and stir-fry over moderate heat for 1 minute, taking care not to burn the garlic. Add the carrots, water chestnuts, snow peas, celery, red pepper, scallions and ham and stir 2 minutes. Add the rice, stirring to break up any lumps and to combine with the other ingredients. Add the oyster sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce and sweet chili sauce and continue stirring until everything is very hot and thoroughly combined. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and mound on a warmed platter. Serve garnished with lemon zest and scallions.