In Episode 013 Taryn talks with Kathy Berget from Beyond the Chicken Coop about having a fish fry! Kathy goes over everything you need to have a successful fish fry when camping, including the gear, the recipe, and prep tips. She and Taryn also discuss side dishes and of course Kathy talks about her tartar sauce recipe because you can’t have fried fish without tartar sauce! Kathy also mentions a grilled chicken recipe that she can’t get enough of lately.
Connect with Kathy
Bio: Kathy is a former elementary school principal who loves cooking, gardening and being outdoors. Her blog, Beyond the Chicken Coop focuses on homemade recipes utilizing many ingredients grown and raised on their own little farm. Kathy loves sharing recipes sprinkled with little tidbits of happenings on the farm!
The following are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
- Double Burner Propane Camp Stove
- Coleman Camp Stove
- Large Stock Pot
- 16-inch Locking Tongs
- Strainer for Frying
- Canola Oil for Frying
- Instant Read Thermometer
These are some of the recipes mentioned by Kathy in the episode. They are on her website, Beyond the Chicken Coop, except where noted.
Taryn Solie: Hello grillers! I hope you had a lovely Memorial Day weekend and were able to kick off the unofficial start to grilling season with some seriously delicious grilled food. My family and I went camping over the weekend, and I’ll tell you some of the items we cooked in the upcoming What We’re Grilling episode, but today on the podcast we have Kathy from Beyond the Chicken Coop to tell you what she and her friends and family like to cook when camping!
Before we get started, if you like listening to the guests I bring on, please subscribe, rate, and review this podcast! It really helps the podcast be seen by others who are interested in food and grilling. Now, let’s get into the episode.
Taryn Solie: Today on the podcast we have Kathy Berget. Kathy is a former elementary school principal who loves cooking, gardening, and being outdoors. Her blog, Beyond The Chicken Coop, focuses on homemade recipes, utilizing many ingredients grown and raised on their own little farm. Kathy loves sharing recipes, sprinkled with little tidbits of happenings on the farm.
Kathy, welcome to the podcast.
Kathy Berget: Hi, thanks so much.
Taryn Solie: Yeah. So good to have you here. I’m really excited for our conversation, which is going to be centered around having a fish fry, which is something I’ve never done. So I’m really looking forward to getting into that. But first I’d love to hear a little bit more about kind of your food, and like grilling, outdoor cooking, background.
Kathy Berget: Okay. So I guess starting way back as a child, I always loved to cook and bake and that’s always been in my just repertoire of what I love to do. And as I then became older and had a family and we just liked to grill outside all year long. Um, it’s our favorite of course, is when the weather changes and it’s nice and beautiful and sunny.
And during the summertime. But we’re know to trudge outside through the snow and pop open that grill and get things going too, because you just can’t beat the great flavors you get from the grill.
Taryn Solie: Yes, I will agree with that. So what sort of this, I mean, we’ll get into some of this a little bit, but what sort of things did you grow up, kind of like grilling and cooking outside?
Kathy Berget: Well, when I was a kid growing up, my parents did the grilling and it was really kind of more minimal as far as like hotdogs, hamburgers, and just some of the basics. As an adult, we really, my husband and I love to grill. He loves to do the smoking side of things.
Um, but we try to do just about everything on the grill. In the summertime, when this, when the temperatures get sweltering here, I don’t use my kitchen because we don’t have air conditioning and the house just heats up. So I try to do everything outside on the grill. Um, I’ve done grilled flatbreads, um, and then any type of meats and vegetables at all.
So really just enjoy using that grill.
Taryn Solie: Yeah. Oh, no, that’s great. And I, yes, if you don’t have AC you really don’t want to heat up your house when it’s like sweltering out. So I love it. So now I really want to get into this fish fry because I have heard of a fish fry and I grew up, my family is a big fishing family, but we never did a fish fry it. So I would love to hear from you what it is first off, what it involves, um, and kind of just like all about it. Take me through it Kathy.
Kathy Berget: So it probably started 10, 12 years ago. Uh, a family, our family, and another family got together for a fishing weekend, camping and fishing. And we did that for a couple of different years.
It just became an annual trip. And one time we, we always caught lots of fish. We clean them and bring them home and stock our freezers up. And we thought, why don’t we cook here at camp. So that started our fish fry. And for us, it’s a beer battered fish fry. Um, every year we meet back together. In fact, it’s coming up again, Memorial day weekend, we’re going to meet together this time.
We have six families that are coming. And part of what we do is we make sure that we plan the fish fry for one of the, one of the evenings. Um, and. It changes every year. Sometimes we just have two families sometimes up to six families, but it’s a great event that we come together. We make my beer battered fish outside, and really, we have as much fish as we want along with a couple other delicious sides. And so it’s just a fun way to get together and have great food.
Taryn Solie: Well, that definitely sounds fun. So what, um, you said it’s a beer batter fish. So take somebody who like me, who’s never done fish fry before. What are some things to consider? Like what do we need to plan for? What items do we need to sure, and be sure and have, and bring along with us all of that sort of thing.
Kathy Berget: Sure. So this fish, this beer battered fish is a recipe that I use at home as well in the kitchen. And it’s the same recipe. The process is a little bit different in some things to think about when you’re cooking outdoors. Um, first is I like to have everything prepared ahead of time. So for me, my fish – my beer batter batter is I put everything together and as a black bag, except for the beer.
So the flour, the seasonings, it has corn starch, a little bit of baking powder, and that all comes together. And I put it in a giant Ziploc bag and bring it along. I usually bring two batches just in case we get a little crazy and decided we’d go way overboard with the fish. Cause I don’t want to run out.
Um, we don’t usually need that much. And then all you literally have to do at camp is pour your beer and you can port right into the gallon bag or you can put everything into a big plastic bowl and just mix it. You can mix it with a whisk or you can just use a fork or spoon. Um, and you’re going to mix it to it, uh, consistency of like a thicker pancake batter, a little bit runny, but not, not too runny. Um, and so that’s, that’s the main process you’re going to have.
Some equipment you’re going to need is we use an outdoor propane cooking grill. Um, and you want something that’s going to have enough BTU’s on and enough heat coming through it that’s going to heat up that oil. We don’t typically use our Coleman stove because it’s a little bit smaller and compact, and we use a larger, um, stock pot to cook on. Really any size pot will work. You just gonna want something that you feel comfortable putting outside and, and heating it up out there.
Um, so we have make sure we have a pot. Sometimes we bring two pots so that we can do double duty, especially when we have a large group. Um, and you want to bring something along that you can get that, the fish out of the oil when it’s cooking. Some pair of tongs or some sort of a skimmer or something like that. Um, and then, really that’s about all you need, other than just, you want to make sure that you bring oil.
One year, we actually forgot to bring the oil and we had to-
Taryn Solie: Oh no!
Kathy Berget: -drive about 30 minutes to a grocery store, which luckily it wasn’t any further than that. We’re like we can’t have a fish fry if we can’t fry the fish. So just double check and make sure you have everything you need.
Taryn Solie: So what kind of oil? Oh, sorry, what kind of oil are you using or would you recommend using for something like this?
Kathy Berget: So we usually use just what we have at home, which is, uh, either vegetable canola oil. You could use a peanut oil, you want something light that has a high temperature that could tolerate a higher temperature.
Taryn Solie: Okay. And then what, um, you, I did not hear you mention like any basket of any sorts, which usually that’s what I think of when you fry is like, it goes into a basket, so you can take it out. But you’re saying you really just need like a slotted spoon or something along those lines. Like you don’t need a lot of like complicated equipment to do this.
Kathy Berget: You don’t need anything complicated. We’re pretty minimalist. And so, um, I, for me, especially camping, less is more and, but you, whatever you feel comfortable with, you can bring along. But it has to be able to fit into your pot. Um, we usually just use a long pair of a long handle tongs for it. Um, you could also bring a thermometer to test your oil temperature.
We do not do that, but you, you could, if you feel like that’s gonna be more comfortable. You can test your oil with just, um, dropping a little bit of the batter in, and seeing how quickly it drops to the bottom and floats back up. If you, and then you could also just do a trial piece of fish in there and test it out.
If it’s cooking, if your oil is too hot, it’s going to brown really quickly. And the inside is not going to cook as well. And if your temperature’s not hot enough, it’s going to take a while for it to turn a golden color. And it’s going to be on the greasier side. So you’re going to have a little trial and error there too.
But you’re outdoors, you’re camping. And that to me is all part of it, is just getting in there and testing it out. And your oil temperature is going to change as you’re cooking too. Um, sometimes too, if you’re outdoors and if it’s windy and cool, you’re going to have a harder time keeping that oil up to temperature.
So you’re gonna need to play around a little bit and just, just go with it. They have to have fun out there and just do it.
Taryn Solie: Yeah, you do. I think that’s that’s half, of half of the fun, is just trying to have fun with whatever you’re doing. Right. I love that. Okay. So then we talked a little bit about kind of what items you need. What type of fish is good for a fish fry?
Kathy Berget: Well, we typically, we go fishing for walleye and that’s a fresh water fish. And so that’s what we’re using on our, um, camping trips in our, on our fish fry. Any white light fish that holds together, isn’t going to flake apart. You don’t want something that’s super oily or very strong tasting, but any sort of fish will work.
Um, you know, typically beer batter fish has made with cod or with, uh, seafood, but we use the walleye. So you can use any white fish. You can use like a lake, lake trout which is Mackinaw. You can use, um, just any firm white fish. And you can experiment too, and just test it out and see how it works.
Taryn Solie: Right. Yeah. Exp- experimentation, all about having fun, trying something different. That’s kind of the theme.
Kathy Berget: Right.
Taryn Solie: So then what are you eating with the fish? I’m assuming some sort of like a tartar sauce or something?
Kathy Berget: Right. So we, I do have a homemade tartar sauce. I’d love to bring that. Just adds that perfect flavor with, I love to dip the, beer battered fish right into that tartar sauce and eat it. Uh, we bring fresh lemon wedges because a lot of people like to just squeeze a little bit over that their lemon. Um, and then we- because we are a large group, we typically do it potluck style, but it would work even just with a single family. So I plan out a couple of different side dishes, a coleslaw’s a great thing to, to make.
And you can either make one from scratch or even bring a bag, um, mixed bag from the store and just mix that together. um, you can bring a pasta salad or even a lettuce salad. And then we usually have a pot of beans that are going to put those in a cast iron pot that are pre-made at home, put it in a pot and just warm it over the fire. Um, and, and all of that just comes together and makes a perfect meal.
Taryn Solie: Yeah, that sounds really, really good. What do you, um, put in your tartar sauce?
Kathy Berget: Hmm. So my tartar sauce is a mayonnaise based tartar sauce, and I use very, very finely minced onion just a little bit, but you don’t even notice it’s in there, but it’s just enough to add that extra flavor.
Some pickle, some dill pickles that are just finely diced. You do know those are in there to add a little flavor. Some herbs, lemon juice, some salt and pepper. I think that’s the main ingredients I have in tartar sauce.
Taryn Solie: And you’re, I’m assuming making that before you’re packing things up.
Kathy Berget: Yep. I try to do everything I can at home and then pack it. Now. I do. I like tartar sauce us- usually within a day or two, although it will last a little bit longer than that. So you kind of want to think about how many days you’re going to be out and when is your fish fry. So I’ve also done where I, I prepared like the onions and pickles and everything, and put them in little separate containers and mix that together at the last minute.
Um, usually we’re just gone for this weekend, it’s a three or four day weekend, so it’s enough time where I can make that tartar sauce at home. It’s still going to be good and fresh in the cooler. And it’s perfect still with the, the beer battered fish.
Taryn Solie: Yeah. Whereas if you’re going for like a week long camping and the fish fry’s at the end of the week, you might want to do things a little differently.
Kathy Berget: Right, right.
Taryn Solie: Okay, that makes sense. So you also mentioned I’ve, I’ve got some clarifying questions because I’m really intrigued by this. So, um, you mentioned you use a bigger camp stove than like a typical Coleman. Are you bringing, these are like logistical questions. Are you bringing both the Coleman and the larger camp stove or are you, do on the side of the, sort of, can you cook other things on the larger camp stove? So I’m trying to think like, cause you know, camping is all about consolidating and making sure you’re not bringing more than what you need because there’s usually not enough space. So what are you? Um, I guess, yeah. What are you just using that main big camps or big stove as your main camp stove or how, what are you doing with that?
Kathy Berget: So, yes we do. So we tend to camp, so we don’t have an RV or trailer or anything with another stove or anything in it. And this big, uh, it’s a dual, we use a dual propane burner, has dual propane burners on it. And we use that. And so we can use it for just about everything. I do also like to bring our Coleman stove because it fits right on the picnic table.
Especially when I’m making my morning coffee, I like to heat it up right on there, but you don’t have to have both. That’s just kinda my personal preference. Um, and we cook quite a bit on that propane burner. It has a flat top you can add to it so you can do a big pancake, you know, like pancakes for breakfast and that type of thing too. So.
Taryn Solie: Oh, okay. Yeah. I hadn’t even thought about that. That would be, that’s like the classic camping, like pancake breakfast sort of thing. I love that. Um, and we’ll -go ahead.
Kathy Berget: No, I would say I love food when we’re camping. So for me, it’s planning of the breakfast, lunch, dinner, everything in between. And what all are you going to make? So it all comes into play.
Taryn Solie: Yeah, for sure. And then you mentioned like a big, did you say a big, like stockpot is what you do the fish fry in?
Kathy Berget: We do, it’s probably actually a little bit too big because you end up, uh, it’s a tall pot, but it’s, uh, it’s a lightweight aluminum pot that, or slight stainless steel pot that we use.
And we only use it for the fish fries, just because we’ve decided to dedicate it to, to that. Sometimes cooking on that propane burner out, uh outside burner the, the bottom of the pot will turn a little bit of black and we just keep that in our camp box and keep it just dedicated for that. It doesn’t have to be a tall pot, but you want a pot that you can get enough oil in there. A good 2, 3, 4 inches of oil in the pot. And you want enough room in there for, you’re, you’re going to just cook couple pieces at a time and you don’t want to overcrowd your pot. So you have to think about how big do I want that pot? How many pieces do I want to cook at a time?
Taryn Solie: Yes, that overcrowding. I tend to overcrowd if I’m being honest, when I’m cooking things like in a pan or whatever, and particularly I’m assuming where frying is concerned, they would start to like stick to, they could stick together. Like the pieces of fish could stick together, if they’re overcrowded.
Kathy Berget: You’re exactly right. And it will really drop that temperature of that oil too. So you want to try to not put too many pieces in there at one time. Because at that temperature drops, you’re going to get the greasier fish instead of that nice crispier batter.
Taryn Solie: Yeah. And nobody wants greasy fish. Greasy fish is not good. So then, and I would imagine even like the stockpot. Like we do this when we camp, is we bring a large, like, not as large of a pot as what you’re talking about, but we do bring a large pot and then we pack a bunch of things in the pot, like for the car.
Cause we use, we do we’re the same as you, we do tent camping, and then just pack up the car to go tent camping. Um, and, uh, it’s a lot easier to bring along a big pot when you can pack things in it as you go.
Kathy Berget: Yeah, exactly. And then we do use that pot too for like boiling water. So you can do the dishes, you know, whatever else you’re going to have. So we’ll use it during our camping trip too, but you’re exactly right. It’s a great storage vessel.
Taryn Solie: Yes, exactly. I love this idea. I think it’s so fun. So I am gluten-free and I may have to try this with like glu- Have you tried it with gluten-free flour or have any of your audience?
Kathy Berget: No, I haven’t, but I think that’d be well-worth trying and, and giving it a test drive with that, for sure.
Taryn Solie: Yeah, I think I’m going to have to. So this sounds, I’m sure my kids would love it. They would just die. I’m sure it have fresh, you know that battered fish on hand. Um, is there anything else that you want to make sure people know about having a fish fry?
Kathy Berget: So, I guess a couple of things, one is we have tried a couple of different ways and we’ve really found that it’s best, especially with a large group to eat as, eat as the fish comes out of the fryer. We’ve tried to wait until it’s all cooked, but it loses that crunchy coating. And you’re also trying to then keep things warm.
So it’s kind of just a revolving door of, okay, fish is up. The next person comes through and we just keep it going. For us, we keep cooking until people are done eating. So it’s a really, it’s like going into a smorgasborg and eating as much as you want.
The other thing is we are dependent on catching fish and so far, knock on wood, uh, we have been successful with that every time. But there’s always that chance that, it’s just, you’re just not going to get any fish. So we always have a backup plan. And for us, sometimes we just throw in a couple extra cans of soup in our, um, food box or, you know, we always have hot dogs or Smokies along that we can throw in. And we have all those great side dishes, but the worst would be to not have anything if you really came up dry with your fishing. And hopefully that doesn’t happen.
Taryn Solie: Well, and I think it’s a good idea. Like hot dogs are kind of classic camping food. They’re very easy. All you ha- you could eat them cold if you had to, like, all you have to do is warm them up and it’s really, like that’s a food that we try and have as a really good, easy backup. Should we get like completely rained out or is that, you know, I mean, like we can’t light the stove or whatever may the case may be.
Kathy Berget: Right. So it’s always good to have that, that contingency plan for, for any, any reason at all.
Taryn Solie: Yes for sure. Well, this has been great. I do want to ask one last question. Um, and I ask this of everyone is what is a current favorite grilling recipe or like all time, like classic favorite grilling recipe that you can share with everyone.
Kathy Berget: Oh, so, um, since the weather has been warming up and getting outside more, I, my go-to favorite right now has been a honey lemon chicken, and it’s quickly-marinated chicken breast. We typically use chicken breasts and cook on the grill. It’s great just as a main dish, but I love cooking up a few extra and slicing it up and adding it to a salad or adding- chopping it up and adding it to like a chicken salad, um, with mayonnaise and dressing on that. Um, it’s probably right now I tend to go through phases and it’s the one that I’m making the most right now. So it’s so delicious.
Taryn Solie: Good. No, I love that too. I think grilled chicken can be so versatile because it can go. You like, you were talking about a salad, you know, it can go in a sandwich. I mean, it can really kind of go wherever. So, and that honey lemon combo sounds really good.
Kathy Berget: It is.
Taryn Solie: All right. Well, this has been so fun, Kathy. I would love to give you a chance to tell people where they can connect with you. And, and of course, we’ll link to the fish fry recipe and the tartar sauce recipe, and some of the other recipes that you’ve mentioned, um, in the show notes page, but where else can people go to connect with you online?
Kathy Berget: Hi. Thanks Taryn. Um, so you can find me on my blog, which is BeyondTheChickenCoop.com and all my recipes are there. You can also find me on Instagram at, Beyond The Chicken Coop and Facebook Beyond The Chicken Coop. So any of those places.
Taryn Solie: Perfect. Great. Well, thank you so much, Kathy, for coming on the podcast today. This was so much fun.
Kathy Berget: Thank you, Taryn, I’ve really enjoyed it. It was great talking with you.
Taryn Solie: Do you want to do a fish fry now? Kathy did such a good job describing everything you’d need to try it out and it really sounds like so much fun. I grew up in a fishing family and there really is nothing better than eating fish, or any seafood, that’s freshly caught.
I’ve included links to Kathy’s fish fry recipe as well as some other recipes we discussed on the show notes page. To get to it, you can either visit my recipe website at Hot Pan Kitchen (dot) com and click on podcast in the main menu or just click the link that’s provided on whatever platform you’re listening to this podcast on. Thank you for tuning in today and until next time, keep grilling like a mother.