Each summer, our family vacations at a little cottage at Lake Okoboji in northwestern Iowa. The fun part is that we never know what other family members will be there at the same time! Staying at the cottage is a step back in time: no television, no computers, and no alarm clocks allowed on the shared outdoor sleeping porch. This year, we shared the cottage with my husband's aunt and uncle, so we took turns planning meals together. One night, they taught us this simple and fun method of making omelets outdoors, which they learned while camping. They told us that they watched, intrigued, as several families gathered for a meal at a nearby campsite. Each family brought a few omelet ingredients to contribute. As our own omelet-making adventure was not planned in advance, we just used whatever we had in the refrigerator at the cottage!
First, assemble all your favorite omelet fillings. Summer is the perfect time for omelets, as the vegetable garden offers an ever-changing selection of fresh fillings! You can include anything you like, but here is a brief list of some of our favorites:
- 1 to 3 eggs for each person
- 1 to 2 tablespoons milk per person
- onion, chopped (either raw or sautéed in butter; I enjoy yellow, red, or green onions in mine!)
- sausage (browned)
- bacon (cooked)
- mushrooms (I love button mushrooms sautéed with butter and garlic)
- broccoli (steamed or microwaved until crisp-tender)
- cauliflower (steamed or microwaved until crisp-tender)
- chopped tomatoes
- shredded cheese
- peppers, either sweet or hot, diced
- fresh herbs: thyme, basil, or chives are great
- any leftover cooked meat or vegetable in the fridge! Be creative!
- Large pot of boiling water, plus heat source
- 4 to 6 wooden clothespins (one for each bag)
- Heavy plastic zipper-type freezer bags, one per person
- Bowls or plates to hold ingredients
Here are the basic instructions:
- Put a tall pot of water on the stove (or campfire) and bring it to a boil.
- Label a heavy zippered freezer bag for each person in your group, somewhere near the top. We used a permanent marker for this. Fold the top of the freezer bag down, forming a cuff on the outside.
- Crack 2-3 eggs into your bag, depending on how big an omelet you want. If your kids are rookie egg crackers, you might prefer to let them crack each one into a bowl first, so you can pick out the shell pieces. (Alternately, for easy packing for a camping trip, combine your eggs and milk at home, and pour however much each person wants into their bag. You may also substitute cholesterol-free egg substitute, or reduce the number of egg yolks, for a low-fat alternative.)
- Add about 1 tablespoon of milk for every 2 eggs, slightly more for 3 eggs. We just kind of "sloshed" some in from the jug, but you can measure if you are a perfectionist!
- Add as much or as little of each filling ingredient as you wish! We set each filling out in a bowl, and just went down the line buffet-style.
- Squeeze out as much excess air as possible, and zip the bag shut.
- Use wooden clothespins to clip several bags around the inside perimeter of the pan. You can fit 4-6 bags at one time inside most big pots. Make sure that there is enough water to keep the omelet mostly submerged. If you have too much air in your bag, it will float above the surface!
- Boil them for 7 to 9 minutes, until the omelet looks firmly set. A three-egg omelet, or one with lots of cheese and fillings, will take longer to cook through than a small omelet, or one with few fillings.
- Carefully remove the bags from the boiling water. Unzip the bag, and let the omelet slide gently out onto your plate.
- Salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!
(All photos in this article were taken by myself or my husband, Dave. Many thanks to Jim and Marlene for sharing the recipe!)