Camp Cooking—Be Wise, Be Safe


Whether you're taking the wolfcubs off for the weekend or having family over for a cookout, you need to know how to safely handle and cook perishable meats, particularly hamburger.

"Today," says Dr. J. Glenn Morris, Jr., whose staff monitors foodborne illness outbreaks, "the dangerous bacteria E. coli 0157:H7 can make people very sick. This can happen if they eat undercooked meat or pick up contaminated meat juices from their hands or other food."

The consequences of an E. coli infection can be serious indeed. Recently, children have died and others have suffered kidney damage and other permanent medical problems.

"Be prepared" for safe food handling
  • Pack ground meat frozen from home or buy it fresh at the grocery. Transport it in a cooler with ice.
  • "Cooks" should wash hands with soap and water or disposable wipes before handling food. Wash hands and any cooking utensils you used again after meat is ready for cooking.
  • Both cooks and helpers should keep their hands out of their mouths while handling raw meat. Why? If meat is contaminated, the hands can carry bacteria right into the mouth.
  • Take cooked meat up on a clean platter, not the plate raw meat sat on. Use a clean fork or utensil too.
  • Everyone's hungry, is it done yet? Don't take chances serving undercooked meat. It takes very few E.coli 0157:H7 to cause illness.

So cook ground meat to 160 degrees F or until there is no pink in the middle or in any juices. If it's gotten dark, use a flashlight to check that the meat is done.

Apples, raisins, marshmallows or other snacks can help campers wait until the meat is done.

Take anyone with serious stomach cramps, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea to the nearest doctor. If they ate a hamburger or other ground beef items, ask medical personnel to test for E.coli 0157:H7 bacteria. Correct diagnosis is critical


Provided by USDA Meat and Poultry


Italian Bistro Steak Subs


by Joyce Lee Sproul

Total preparation and cooking time: 30 minutes

  • 1-1/2—pound boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut 1 inch thick
  • 6 hoagie or crusty Italian rolls (6 to 7 inches long), split lengthwise in half
  • 12 romaine lettuce leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup shredded fontinella or mozzarella cheese
Pepper Relish:
  • 1 jar (9-1/2 ounces) pepper salad
  • 1/2 cup prepared mild chunky salsa
  • 1/4 cup sliced ripe olives

Drain pepper salad, reserving 2 teaspoons of oil mixture. Coarsely chop pepper salad. In small bowl, combine chopped pepper salad, salsa and olives; set aside.

Brush reserved oil mixture over both sides of beef steak. Place steak on grid over medium coals. Grill 16 to 20 minutes for rare to medium doneness, turning once.

Trim fat from steak. Carve steak crosswise into thin slices; season with garlic salt and pepper.

Line bottom half of each roll with 2 lettuce leaves. Arrange steak slices over lettuce. Top each sandwich with 2 tablespoons pepper relish; sprinkle with cheese. Close sandwiches. Pass remaining pepper relish.

Makes 6 servings (338 calories per 1/6 of recipe).

Cook's Tips: To check the temperature of coals, cautiously hold the palm of your hand about 4 inches above the coals. Count the number of seconds you can hold your hand in that position before the heat forces you to pull it away. Four seconds for medium coals.

If pepper salad is not available, 3/4 cup chopped, roasted red peppers plus 1/4 cup seeded and chopped mild cherry peppers may be substituted for 1 jar (9-1/2 ounces) pepper salad. Omit brushing steak with oil mixture.


Special Beef and Spinach Burritos


by Julie DeMatteo

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted,well drained
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded, finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 4 large (10 inches) or 8 medium (8 inches) flour tortillas, warmed
  • Lime slices (optional)
  • jalapeño pepper slices (optional)
  • 1 cup prepared chunky salsa


In large nonstick skillet, brown beef, onion and garlic over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes or until beef is no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Pour off drippings. Season with salt, chili powder, cumin and pepper.

Stir in spinach and jalapeño peppers; heat through. Remove from heat; stir in cheese.

To serve, spoon equal amount of beef mixture in center of each tortilla. Fold bottom edge up over filling. Fold right and left sides to center, overlapping edges. Garnish with lime and jalapeño slices, if desired; serve with salsa.

Makes 4 servings (565 calories per 1/4 of recipe).


Provided by National Beef Cook-Off

This page originally published as a FoodDay article in 1997.

Copyright © 2007, Forkmedia LLC. All rights reserved.

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This page modified January 2007

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