Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Review & Giveaway: Sunset's The Great Outdoors Cookbook

I am rather certain that this is the first cookbook that gave me advice on outwitting bears.  I think that's the kind of thing that I would remember.

The Great Outdoors Cookbook is different than the crowd of BBQ and Grilling books because about a third of it is about how to grill amazing meals while camping or hiking.  The book also offers pro tips on everything from building your own pizza oven to, yes, how to outwit bears.

Sunset/Oxmoor House

Physical description:
The Great Outdoors Cookbook comes in reinforced soft cover and is roughly 10 by 9 inches in size.  The book has over 250 pages and these are organized in a rather unique way.   The recipes and content are divided into Campfires, Home Fires, and Inspired Fires.  Instead of the typical glossy white pages, The Great Outdoors Cookbook uses a heavy matte type stock and the pages are full color, even the "white spaces".  That might seem like a small detail but each of the three people that flipped through my copy made comments about how nice that was. 

The Great Outdoors Cookbook is more than just recipes as it is heavily salted with exceptional "how to" sections.  The recipes themselves are not only creative in terms of flavors, many of them offer a good bit of ingenuity for the instructions.

The Campfires section is loaded with recipes for camping and hiking but I couldn't help but think they would also be helpful for tailgating as well.  Forget hotdogs, smores, and burgers, these recipes put five star food in the pic-uh-nic basket, Yogi would approve.  We really liked that most of these recipes are broken up into prep to do at home and how to easily store it for cooking at the campsite.  They include tips like how to forage for food in the wild, basics like how to cook with a Dutch oven, and pro tips like how to pack a cooler.  If you've ever camped, you know that packing is an art and can make your experience so much better.  

The Home Fires section is all about cooking outdoors at home, such as grilling and smoking.  There are more tutorials here such as grilling basics, how to use a Weber Smoky Mountain water smoker, how to use a solar oven, and how to make a fresh bay leaf "cage" for cooking whole fish.  The recipes include starters, burgers and gourmet sandwiches, pizzas, dinners, sides, and desserts.

Finally, the Inspired Fires is aptly named.  The Great Outdoors gives you detailed "how to's"  for several out of this world ideas for live fire cooking that you have probably never done before.   Things like how to build your own open fire pit, how to build a pizza oven, cooking like a gaucho, using a Santa Maria grill, and much more.  For each of these techniques, they prove a full theme menu for that style of cooking.

The first thing we made from the book was the Chicken Enchilada Nacho Bowls.  For this you make a mixture of smoked chicken, enchilada sauce, black beans, corn, and more at home and then easily assemble the rest at the camp site or tailgate.

Next I made the Tarragon-Mustard T-bone Steak, steaks marinated in a mixture of oil, wine, tarragon, and Dijon mustard.  
I picked this recipe mainly because I have tarragon growing in the front yard but this herb is used in Bearnaise sauce so it also just made sense.

Finally, my absolute favorite was the Dutch Oven Cinnamon Rolls.  These were the best homemade cinnamon rolls that we have made, live fire or in the oven.  These instantly made our list for breakfasts at any type of onsite event, like a BBQ competition, since they are "make ahead" for everything except the actual cooking.

These smelled ridiculously good, you might get mobbed if you cook these at a camp ground.

The book includes 125 full color photographs and illustrations which meaningfully supplement the tutorial sections.  The matte finish gives the campground pictures a gritty look to them that feels appropriate for the setting. 
The Great Outdoors Cookbook is ideal for people that hike and camp, but that isn't all.  It is also great for anyone who needs to cook outside away from home, like tailgating.  Both the Campfire and Home Fires sections appeal to folks for general grilling and BBQing at home.  The Inspired Fires would be good for more advanced outdoor cooks who want to take their game to the next level.

4 of 5 stars – good cookbook with value added tips, photos, guides, and other content

Giveaway - The Great Outdoors Cookbook

How To Enter and Rules

  1. To enter, leave a comment below telling us when was the last time you camped out.   NOTE:  If you are using the anonymous comment option, please make sure to leave a way to reach you (email,  forum user name, etc) in case you win. 
  2. Giveaway entry period begins as soon as this is posted and ends Sunday, May 11th at 11:59pm. Drawing will be held Monday, May 12th at 7:00pm (All times are Eastern Time zone).  Winner will be announced in an update to this post. 
  3. Comments will be numbered by order received and will generate a random number for the winner.
  4. Limited to residents of the continental United States and Canada unless you wish to pay the extra shipping charges.
  5. I am the final judge regarding any discrepancies, interpretations, grievances, etc about this drawing.
  6. Sunset and Oxmoor House are only sponsoring the prize. They are not responsible for the drawing or the giveaway.
  7. Winner must respond and claim the prize within one week of the winning announcement. If a winner does not claim the prize during the specified time, a reserve winner will be drawn from the original entries.
[Standard Disclaimer]  I received a review copy of the book for free.

The winner of the drawing is Nicole A.  Nicole please contact me because the user account link takes me to a missing Etsy page.  Thanks!
Alternate Winner
Sorry, Nichole, I couldn't reach you with the contact link provided and didn't hear back after posting the announcement.  The alternate winner is:



  1. Too long ago, in August 2011. Stayed at the Ranger sites at Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park. Easily the best spots in the campground as you're up and away from it all with no pavement. You definitely hear a lot more wildlife at night as a result though.

  2. Our family's annual camping trip may stretch the term, in accommodations - a distant relative owns a small island in the Adirondacks, with three tiny cabins on it. It's like stepping back in time. You need to take a rowboat to get there. No running water or electricity, but they have a propane stove, refrigerator, and gas lights in the main cabin.

    But the best meals are cooked in the firepit on the west side of the island, which is where I would make ample use of this book's content. Our last visit to the island was in August 2013, and we're slated for another visit this coming July.

    1. Not sure if my contact info was available via my initial post - didn't really mean for it to be fully anonymous. I've since updated my Blogger profile but I guess the post's username doesn't catch the change after the fact. Oh well.

  3. I camped out this weekend, so just about 48 hours ago! It was a beautiful weekend!

  4. I camped out this weekend, so just about 48 hours ago, in beautiful Bland County, VA!

  5. omg , forgot about dutch, gota dig him out next time I "Q"

  6. The last time I camped I was in grade school and let's just say we won't go there. However, the bear tips might come in handy over here in the mountains where sightings are frequent.

  7. I honestly can't remember. It was before I started dating my wife. Over 6 years? Now we just go to her family's ranch. All joys of being outdoors, but you get to sleep in AC and take hot showers. And there's cable if a game is on.

    Those nachos look to die for. Sounds like a really good book.

  8. These days I only camp out on the couch to watch Jerry Springer. The last time I camped out doors Clinton was in office.

  9. June of 1995. That will forever be the last time unless the mister drops dead and I remarry Jeremiah Johnson. Highly unlikely on both counts but I'd still love to win the cookbook! I love Sunset books!

  10. Also too long ago! In May 2012 at Tsali Recreation Area, near Bryson City, NC. Great mountain biking!
    Robert Chesser

  11. Last year we were able to get away into the High Uintah's here in Utah. Go some fishing, relaxing, hiking, and nature watching in.

  12. Also, way too long ago! - think it was in about 2002! But before that i spent every family holiday when i was a kid camping for three weeks in the summer. I have a daughter now and my parents have taken her camping so i am sure i will be soon

  13. It was just last month (March 2014). We snowshoed into a primitive hut on Mt Hood (Oregon) with our supplies/food on our backs. The hut has no water, plumbing or electricity. We melted snow for water and cooked with a propane stove. Winter camping is a lot of work but it is fun and reminds you of the things we live with that we easily take for granted.

  14. The last time I camped out was deer season--October of last year (too long ago for me)! We camped out at the top of a mountain on Ruth Lake in northern California. The trip was a success: I shot my very first buck!

  15. I haven't camped since I was in grade school a long long time ago. I hope to take my son camping this summer.

  16. Unfortunately it has been years...but we camped every summer when my kids were young! bjn1957{at}gmail{dot}com

  17. My last campout was in November with our group of scouts. Cooking is one of my favorite activities while camping. This summer I should have at least a dozen nights. Seems like a perfect opportunity to try some new recipes. The cinnamon rolls have my mouth watering already.

  18. Last campout was in November with our scout group. I'm looking forward to the spring and summer, I'm hoping for about a dozen nights. For me, cooking is one of the best parts of camping, so I know that if I were to receive the cookbook not only would I use it at home, but I'll be sure to use it camping as well.

  19. Looks and sounds like a fantastic book! We camp all the time, but in our motorhome. Living in rainy Oregon made us tired of tent camping in floods.

  20. It's probably been about 30-mumble something years ago, when we would camp out on the beach in Surfside, TX every weekend during the summer.

  21. It has been years since I camped out.

  22. I dearly love to camp and it's been a couple of years since we've gone. Colorado is premier camping territory with extreme scenery, a real treat. Even if I don't win this book here, I HAVE to have it.

  23. Too long. Can't wait to go again. It's my favorite way to relax and get away from it all.

  24. We haven't been in about 8 months, but look forward to it soon now that the weather is getting better up here in WA.

    Al Skidmore


Comments are moderated and won't appear immediately.