Camping photo
Travis Rathbone

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The Survivor’s Barbecued Shrimp

A roasted grasshopper skewered on a stick
The appetizer. Travis Rathbone

A fistful of bugs is the original MRE (Meal, Ready to Eat). They’re packed with enough nutritional punch to help you get through the night. The average grasshopper sports 20.6 grams of protein and 5 milligrams of iron–twice the iron and just 3 grams of protein less than a similar spoonful of lean ground beef. “Treat a hopper like any other small piece of meat,” says survival expert Greg Davenport. “After all, once you get past the bug phobia, that’s what it is. Remove the legs to help control the bug and keep it from hanging up in your gullet. Some grasshopper gourmets remove the head by grasping the thorax and slowly pulling off the head. This pulls out much of the entrails, and the rest can be scraped away with a stick. Tough guy Davenport, however, takes his straight up. (Note: Cooking is critical to kill internal parasites.) Skewer insects on a thin stick and hold over a fire, or roast them on a rock set close to the flame. “The FDA allows one rodent turd per sampling of popcorn,” Davenport jokes. “Wouldn’t you rather eat a grasshopper?”

The Camper’s Suckling Pig

A cooked sausage on a stick
The main course. Travis Rathbone

Cavemen cooked large hunks of meat on sticks–at least in cartoons–but what did they care if it took a couple hundred thousand years to char a mammoth leg? Too often, I’m too beat to go into an Iron Chef smackdown gourmet extravaganza after a day of slogging through duck swamps. I want Hot Meat Now. Sausages are perfect for roasting over a fire. The trick lies in cooking them s-l-o-o-o-w, so they cook all the way through without scorching on the outside. Cut a green branch and sharpen the tip. Build a good bed of coals and hold the skewer 6 inches over the coals, rotating frequently. The sausage is done when the juices run clear. If a kebab is what you’re craving, slice the sausage into inch-thick chunks and rehydrate a few sun-dried tomatoes and dehydrated ‘shrooms. Skewer the goodies and cook them over a hot fire. Beats ramen noodles every time.

The Woodsman’s Creme Brulee

A roasted marshmallow stuck on a stick
And for dessert. Travis Rathbone

How often do you settle for a burned wad of ashy black marshmallow goo? Thought so. Achieving the perfect balance of golden smokiness and creamy gooliciosity (that’s a real word—you don’t have to look it up) is no small feat, so get serious. Only Jet-Puffed or Campfire brands will do. Others burn too quickly. And only a chump uses a coat hanger. Cut a straight roasting stick. No forked branches. No funky twigs. Keep it plain, straight, and simple. Now hold the marshmallow level over embers, not flames. It’s okay to have flames off to one side, but not under your precious glob of sugary wonderfulness. Rotate the marshmallow slowly, or go for a quarter turn. (Here’s where the straight stick comes into play: You don’t have to change positions during rotation. Watch for the telltale sag. As the marshmallow turns a tawny golden color, it will sag on the roasting skewer. When a vertical slit appears where the stick and marshmallow meet, you know the insides are approaching that desired state of gooliciosity. It is time.