New Year’s Challenge: Becoming a Gourmet Ice Shanty Chef.


I wish for lots of money, better public land, affordable women’s camouflage, and healthier, heartier ice shack food.

So, I’m not a huge New Year’s resolution person. I start things and make changes kind of whenever I think of it. I don’t need the concrete date of the new year to start a thing. I’m also not a diet person- I don’t count calories, I cook things in bacon grease sometimes, and the Paleo diet sounds kind of hard.

However. The closest I think I’m coming this year to a resolution is getting better about eating. Firstly, I’m going to try to go back to eating enough fruits and veggies, because I feel tired and gross when I don’t, plus there’s a big outdoors thing I’m going to begin training for in Spring- more on that later. Secondly, I want to get better with how I eat when we’re doing outdoorsthings. Mainly, when we ice fish.

Icefishing food, so far, has been condensed canned soup that Matt picks out, salty snack mixes, bottles of Coke, beer, and the occasional coffee. I don’t have a problem with those things per se. But I’ve mentioned how I hate cannedfood. And when I’m sitting with my feet on the cold ice, checking my tip ups in the frigid water sans gloves, and walking around on a frozen lake, Chex Mix ain’t gonna cut it. 

Matt wheedled me into ice fishing in part by recounting how, in high school, he and his buddies would all build permanent ice shanties (plywood shacks with holes in the floor, essentially), and place one on each lake in the area. They would then bring grills and make burgers, brats, etc. Sweet, I thought, fishing AND bratwurst? Finally, a pursuit sport with good food! However, our kit is a portable deal.  One tiny little unstable burner, with minimal temperature control is all we have.

The Mr. Heater heats the shanty. And it's designed to be tipped and face up to cook on, too.

The Mr. Heater heats the shanty. And it’s designed to be tipped back onto other half of the frame to cook on, too.

I’m tackling this problem in stages, and choosing to think of it as an exercise in foil packets culinary creativity. I figure if I can master some basics, I can build from there.

Trial One:

Foil-packet ham and cheese (I made a ham last week and we have 2 more in the freezer) with leftover ham, King’s Hawaiian rolls, and Swiss cheese, then heat them on the Mr. Heater. Biscuits could also work. If these are successful, the same format could be applied to breakfast sandwiches. Not a ton of healthy alternatives here, these just taste good.

Trial Two:

This is where Pinterest came in. If you’re not familiar with it, I don’t have the words or time to fully explain this particular social media, it’s something one should experience firsthand. If you are familiar, then you know how it is with food (iffy at best if you’re a relatively healthy, from-scratch cook like me). Trial Two this is steak and eggs foil pack from Tablespoon. Health bonus: veggies can be added.

Trial Three:

Super simple: Burritos wrapped in foil, apply heat. The bonus is mine can be mostly vegetables and lean protein.

My biggest constraint here is space. One, the sled holds our gear and little else. We usually end up carrying the case the shanty is in and the rod/tip up bags on our backs. The sled carries our buckets (double as seat and storage for tackle, propane, drinks, garbage), the Marcum, Mr. Heater, the auger, and the underwater camera. We may start tying things down. Two, the shanty is small. Not a ton of room to cook, plus two ice holes to maneuver around. So, most of these things are able to be prepped and wrapped the night before, eliminating the need to futz around as much in the shanty. We still face the problem of hauling it out, but I’m betting I can fit them into one of the buckets with some reorganizing. Luckily, the temperatures we experience while ice fishing eliminate the need to coolers or refrigeration.

Naturally, I’ll be reporting the rates of success, problems encountered, and opportunities for improvement. It’s basically science, people. And at the end, hopefully I’ll be some kind of propane heater chef/mad scientist.



4 thoughts on “New Year’s Challenge: Becoming a Gourmet Ice Shanty Chef.

  1. Pingback: Ice Shanty Chef Trial One: Mr. Heater Ham and Cheese | Hunt/Fish/Play

  2. Pingback: Ice Shanty Chef Trial Two: Tex Mex On Ice | Hunt/Fish/Play

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