Suzanne Podhaizer
Suzanne Podhaizer, Campfire Chef

Welcome to Vermont State Parks Cooks, an exciting new program geared towards helping you enjoy cooking over your campfire at Vermont’s 55 beautiful state parks. All summer, we’ll be sharing creative recipes that can be prepared with minimal equipment, and which make use of the bounty of ingredients made and grown by the state’s farmers and food producers.

Each week, we’ll release a set of themed recipes and photographs. We’ll also be creating cooking videos, printed cooking pamphlets, and online resources. Throughout the season, we’ll offer cooking classes at some of the most popular parks. Have a burning question? Email us at vtstateparks.cooks@gmail.com, and we’ll help you find the answer.

Suzanne Podhaizer is a chef, journalist, cooking educator, and erstwhile goose farmer. She was the first food editor of Seven Days newspaper, owned Salt Café — a farm-to-table restaurant in Montpelier — and is a founder of Sel de la Terre, a multifaceted food education, multimedia, and consulting business that offers public and private cooking classes, recipe development, and pop-up dinners.

This spring, Suzanne reached out to the Vermont State Parks about collaborating on a project centered around campfire cooking, and VT State Parks Cooks was born!

Find us here at and on Instagram at @vtstateparkscooks

From Suzanne This Week: Quick & Easy

Some nights it's nice to light the fire and draw it out, adding wood, cooking dishes like soups and stews, sitting around and talking while the aromas permeate your campsite. On other nights, you want the cooking to be over quickly. Perhaps you've planned a sunset hike, or are visiting with old friends, or the kids want to go for a swim.

These recipes are quick and easy, but still fun and full of flavor..

Have any burning questions? Send ‘em to vermontstateparks.cooks@gmail.com

Summer Tomato Salad with Herbs & Cheese

Summer Tomato Salad with Herbs
Click on image to view and print full size recipe

This is a riff on the famous Caprese salad. I've never loved eating whole leaves of basil, so instead, I use a mix of minced herbs. Fresh mozzarella is gorgeous, but there are so many cheeses that go well with tomatoes, that there's no reason to lock yourself in! Experiment with different varieties and see what you like best. I've used crumbled blue cheese, fresh goat cheese, slices of an aged bloomy rind cheese (like Brie or Camembert) and even hard grating cheeses such as Parmigiano Reggiano and pecorino.

As for the tomatoes, buy a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. I love to combine halved, mixed-colored cherry tomatoes with slices of larger tomatoes. Ask your favorite farmer to recommend their favorite tomato varieties!


  • Tomatoes, sliced or halved
  • Salt
  • Herbs, minced. Basil, dill, chives a smidgen of oregano, spearmint, fennel fronds, parsley
  • Cheese
  • Toasted walnut oil or olive oil
  • Aged balsalmic vinegar or a squeeze of lemon


  1. Arrange tomatoes on a plate or platter
  2. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salet and then with minced herbs. Let your taste guide how much you use.
  3. Crumble, grate or slice the cheese and distribute over the tomatoes.
  4. Drizzle on some oil and then the vinegar or lemon juice.
  5. So easy!

Salmon in Foil with Dill & Lemon

Salmon in Foil with Dill and Lemon
Click on image to view and print full size recipe

This classic camping technique is based on something called cooking “en papillote.” In French cuisine, delicate foods are wrapped in paper and then cooked. When the packets are opened, the fragrant steam is almost as delightful as the food itself.

The salmon will cook quickly, so keep a close eye on it!


  • Salmon fillets
  • Butter or oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Scallions, sliced
  • Dill, minced
  • Lemon, cut into half moons


  1. Butter or oil a piece of foil for each piece of fish.
  2. Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper and place it skin side down on the foil.
  3. Crumble, grate or slice the cheese and distribute over the tomatoes.
  4. Drizzle on some oil and then the vinegar or lemon juice.
  5. So easy!

Garlicky Beef Meatballs

Garlicky Beef Meatballs
Click on image to view and print full size recipe

Nothing complicated here! Just seasoned ground beef with lots of garlic, and whatever spices make you happy. I like to make a batch of meatballs, keep 'em in the cooler, and use 'em in a few different ways: on top of pasta or rice, in a baguette as a sandwich, or chopped and dropped into omelettes.


The spicing can go a few different ways...here are some options:

  • Chile powder, chipolte, cumin, cilantro
  • Fennel, sage, thyme
  • Orange zest, dill, red onion
  • Ras el Hanout
  • Smoked paprika and smoked salt

Ground Beef

  • Ground beef
  • Garlic, diced (onion, chive, shallots...all of these would be good in addition or instead
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A squeeze of lemon or lime juice
  • Your favorite spice blend
  • Herbs


  1. Mix the ground beef with all of the other ingredients.
  2. Form into balls of equal size. For cooking over a fire, I find that small to medium-sized meatballs work best.
  3. Cook in a pan in order to retain all of the juices! Save the drippings and use them in whatever the meatballs will end up in.
  4. Drizzle on some oil and then the vinegar or lemon juice.
  5. So easy!

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