Somewhere between glamping and mountaineering, there’s a style of camping that most appeals to me. You head up with a couple of friends on a short hike to a basecamp, with everything you need on your back (not in a car). It’s not a far walk, but the setting is pristine. You set up camp for a few days: From there you do day hikes, swim in a lake, and make good food together.
While you’re not going to haul a cooler, you could bring a couple of beers to chill in a stream. The food needs to be light, but not as light as for a multi-day trek, and you can bring fresh groceries that might not last a week, but will keep for a day or two.
Collards are the sturdiest green I know of, and—I tested this—will hold up after a day strapped to your backpack in cool weather. Serve them for breakfast with cheese grits, eggs and chorizo. There’s no reason not to make good coffee when you’re camping. And it will taste better than ever on chilly morning in the great outdoors. Bring a nel drip or a good ol’ plastic Melita, and your favorite beans (ground just before you leave).
You’ll want to make coffee first, of course, and then begin cooking breakfast. Start by pouring hot water into instant or quick-cooking grits. Cover them and set them aside—if it’s really cold out, wrap the pan in a bandana or towel to keep it warm. Cut the collards into thin strips and toss them with oil and garlic; in a hot pan they’ll cook in a flash, without using up all your camp fuel. They’re done when bright green and tender, just a minute or two.
After you turn the collards out of the pan, you can put in a handful of chopped chorizo. When it’s crisp and its red oil has greased the pan, push it to one side and crack in a few eggs. (Yes, you can take eggs camping! Truly farm fresh eggs are ideal, because if they’ve never been washed they have a natural protective coating). Stir some parmesan cheese into the grits (the kind you shake from a can is fine, we’re camping), and a pat of butter or glug of olive oil.
Serve all this together in a bowl, with more coffee alongside. Is this not the best backpacking breakfast you’ve had? Back home, you can make it again and invite friends for brunch, inspiring envy with tales of your gourmands' camping trip.