Before a pack of raccoons pillaged our campsite at 3 a.m. and stole the butter, ice, and a granola bar still in its wrapper, we were cooking with a campfire in Giant City State Park. It took a few hours to get the campfire going (somehow, we got it started without lighter fluid) and enjoyed delicious grilled apple/chicken sausages and these lovely potato packets. I call them Potatoes Yayoi, in honor of my friend who first taught me how to make them. She told me that this was how it was done in Japan when cooking over an open flame, and it is the ultimate easy campfire food. They literally melt in your mouth.
1-2 sweet potatoes per person, plus enough foil to wrap each into a little packet
Cut a slit into each sweet potato, and wrap tightly in foil. I tend to do this burrito-style. If I remember correctly, Yayoi said to add butter before grilling, but I have found that it works fine without doing this. Place the packets in the hot embers of the campfire, and forget about them for 1/2-1 hour. Use tongs to remove them (obviously, they’ll be hot) and if they seem squishy in the packet, they are done. Open carefully, and place a big dollop of butter into each one. Be generous with the butter—camping is no time to start dieting. Yum.
The next morning, after discovered the bandits had made off with a few items, we set off to our favorite downstate cafe, Long Branch Cafe (100 E. Jackson St, Carbondale, Illinois—sorry, no web site). This place is vibrant and puts most other casual organic vegetarian places to shame; the coffee rocks and the ambience makes me want to live next door. I enjoyed an omelet with tomato, spinach, and herbed cream cheese (complete with biscuit) and John had a soysage & egg buttermilk biscuit with vegetarian gravy. My mouth is watering again just thinking about it.