Since we don't have any trips planned for August, I thought now would be a good time to post about one of my new favorite pieces of camping gear - our Coleman Camp Oven. It was #1 on my list of items to purchase for the camper in the Spring, however we were lucky enough to receive one as a gift from Uncle Ken & Auntie Barb while we were camping together up at Tolland State Forest this past June - thanks again guys!
Purchased on Amazon.com for a mere $38.99 (with free Super Saver Shipping, of course!) this camp oven is a great buy. Do a search for "camp ovens" on Amazon and you will see anything ranging from a $30 cast iron dutch oven to the more elaborate $300 propane stove/oven combos. The reason this particular camp oven caught my eye was not only the low price, but also the rave reviews - 4.4 out of 5 stars from a total of 60 reviewers. That's not half bad!
The oven measures 12x12x12, which means you can't get too crazy - you've got to keep it small and compact, and you'll need to invest in some 8x8 baking pans if you don't already have them. Since there's nothing I hate more than washing dishes while camping, I picked up a few foil pans at Ocean State Job Lot for about 25 cents a piece and they were perfect - and more importantly, disposable.
The way it works is simple - place the oven on top of a 2 or 3 burner propane stove and voila - within minutes you're preheating and well on your way to enjoying baked goods at your campsite. It's important to note that this is NOT recommended for use over the campfire - propane stove only!
Since I'm a sucker for a good breakfast casserole and they are so easy to throw together, I decided that would be the first dish I would try out in the camp oven. I scrambled up some eggs and threw in some pre-cooked bacon, shredded potatoes, shredded cheese, onion and salt and pepper. And I mixed them all right in the pan because, again - I just hate washing dishes while camping!
I set the oven on one stove burner and lit the flame to start heating it up. It began heating quickly, but it became clear after about 15 minutes that the oven wasn't going to go above 200 degrees. We lit a second burner and moved the oven over a bit so that it sat on both burners. That did the trick. After about 10 minutes we had it up to almost 300 degrees.
There are some potential issues with the oven - for instance, on a particularly cold or windy day, it can be difficult to maintain the temperature. We definitely had a breeze going that morning and I think it contributed to our heating issues. Reading through some of the Amazon reviews will give you tips and tricks on how to remedy this - some have said they wrapped the oven in foil to keep the heat in. Another reviewer mentioned that they used automotive heat shielding. This is certainly not a "set it and forget it" type oven - you have to watch the temp closely. I recommend purchasing an oven thermometer and placing it inside to get a more accurate temperature reading.
Having said all that, after about 45 minutes I opened the oven door and found this lovely little pan of breakfast deliciousness:
And yes, it tasted as good as it looks. There was no clean up involved, and one of the best things about this amazing little camping appliance - it folds flat for storage. Hallelujah!
The Coleman Camp Oven is probably my most favorite new piece of camping equipment this year. As long as you keep it compact, there is really no end to the baking possibilities - muffins, brownies, cookies, cinnamon rolls, casseroles, a mini lasagna - all while enjoying the great outdoors! I highly recommend adding this to your list of camping gear. Happy camp cooking!