You too can now enjoy the same quality meals you enjoy in your home kitchen in your campfire kitchen with little fuss. Meals around the campfire are just as much the centre of camping life as meals around the kitchen bench at home. It’s possible to unleash the gourmet campfire chef within you when you know how to make your campfire work for you! For an experienced outdoorsman, the key to good outdoor cooking is both simplicity and creativity.
Outdoor cooking need not employ the techniques of a high-paid chef, or even require the latest array of advanced cooking tools. It’s all about a case of good preparation, good thinking, and a whole lot of luck. Here are some simple campfire cooking skills that will help you create mouthwatering dishes around the campfire in minutes that are not only delicious but turn out just the way they would if you were at home.
It is best to start off with a low heat fire and if the food isn’t cooking quickly enough increase coals. Practice with a friend’s camp oven before you go out and buy one for yourself. There are basically two kinds of fires – a trench fire or the traditional, old- fashioned above ground fire.
A trench fire is a pit dug into the ground about 30 x 45 cm deep. Look for ground that’s free from rocks as this is easier to dig. If the ground should become loose and the sides fall into the hole, place rocks around the top to support your barbeque plate and grate.
Building a below level fire will be safer for you in windy conditions. A below level fire is also easier to cook with in bad weather conditions. A trench helps retain the heat if you are forced to use poor quality wood. If you use good quality dry wood in the morning you will normally wake up to hot coals under the ashes. Remember it takes time to build good coals. Don’t expect to be able to cook a delicious feast 10 minutes after lighting your fire.
Use the cooler end of the trench fire for cooking cakes, dampers and scones. Remember to preheat your oven over the flames and level out the ash and coals at the cooler end and place your oven down on those coals.
It’s a good idea to check the food you’re cooking every five to ten minutes and to add or remove coals in accordance with how your foods are cooking. Lift your dutch ovens and other cooking utensils off the fire by using a thick rag and a piece of wire with a hook on one end. Carry strike anywhere matches as well as a butane lighter and candle. Keep matches in a plastic jar with cotton wadding on top. Cotton balls dipped in Vaseline make great fire starters. You should be able to hold your hands over the coals about 60 centimetres away if your oven is moderately hot. It will be hot but it should be bearable. Your fire is ready when the flames have subsided and coals are glowing. Cooking in the outdoors may seem hard when you’re miles away from the comforts of your own kitchen, market, or grocery store.
But this is one experience that’s worth a try. So let nature bring out the best cook in you.
Be prepared, be simple, be creative – whatever suits your fancy. But, don’t forget the most important part – get your family involved in the process and have as much fun outdoor cooking as you possibly can. After all, these are among the special ingredients of a great camping cooking experience that truly lasts a lifetime.
NOTE: This is just one of the many super tips Karin Manning has included in her
latest book, “The Ultimate Campfire Kitchen and Camping Guide“. (Her amateur
weather forecasting tips will have you predicting the weather before you leave
home. They’re cool! Check it out at http:///ww w.easy-family-camping-recipes.com