Camping is one of life”s milestones, a way to get back to nature and rough it, if only for a few hours. However, just because you”re in the middle of nowhere doesn”t mean that you can”t eat well!
Campfire Cooking: Building the Fire
If you will be cooking over an actual campfire, the first thing you must learn is how to properly build a campfire before arriving at the campground. You”ll want your fire to be strong enough to cook food.
Always use proper safety protocol when dealing with fire in a wooded area. Also, check with the campground in advance to see if it allows campers to build open fires. Once you have the go-ahead, follow these steps to build your campfire:
- Place your fire pan in a safe location, ideally one that is shielded from the wind. You can buy a fire pan at any camping store.
- Build a mound in the pan using dry bark, grass, tiny twigs and your fire starter. (You can buy fire starter at any camping supply store.)
- Add small sticks and twigs around the ball to form a tepee. Make sure there”s a wide enough opening between two of the twigs for you to insert a match and light a fire.
- Add more twigs, using progressively larger ones as your tepee extends outward. The largest twigs should be about the size of a marker. Again, make sure there is an area for you to insert a match.
- Light a match and insert it through the tepee to ignite the kindling ball.
- For best results, always maintain the tepee shape when you need to add wood to your fire.
If you will be cooking over a traditional campfire, you will need to invest in a cooking grate.
Of course, you can always bring a small metal grill to cook on if you don”t want to build a fire.
Beware of Bears!
If you”ll be cooking in an area that has bears, you”ll need to keep all of your food in bear-proof containers that are stored away from the camp site.
Campfire Cooking Tools and Equipment
The type of pots and pans you will use for your campfire cooking will depend largely on what you can carry with you. Camping stores sell lightweight pots and pans that you can easily fit into a backpack. However, if it”s possible to bring it along, a Dutch oven makes a versatile, all-in-one campfire cooking tool.
Here are some more campfire cooking essentials that you”ll need to bring along:
- a sharp knife
- condiment packets
- food, carried in an ice cooler, if necessary
- long skewers
- salt and pepper.
Skewers and foil make camp cooking a breeze. Skewers can be loaded up and placed directly over the fire to cook anything from meat to vegetables to marshmallows.
Foil can be fashioned into pockets that can be loaded with chicken, fish or breakfast meats. Simply fold the packets tightly shut and place them in the fire to cook through. With this method, clean-up is just as simple as the cooking process: Once the food is done, simply throw the foil away!
When cooking at a camp, some foods work better than others. Here are some foods that work great with campfire cooking:
- Camp Stew: Ground beef, chopped carrots, chopped onion and chopped potatoes plus seasoning can be cooked up in a foil pocket directly over the coals for a savory, well-rounded dinner.
- Hot dogs: Hot dogs can be roasted on a grill or directly over the fire on a stick or skewer.
- Potatoes: Potatoes can be chopped up, seasoned and roasted in foil to add a hearty side dish to any meal.
- Shish Kebobs: Bring a variety of cubed poultry and beef, as well as chopped onions and peppers, to have a ready-made shish kebob feast. Push the ingredients onto the skewers, season to taste and cook either over direct heat or on a grill.
Think through your menu before you depart for your trip. Bring foods that will keep well and that won”t require too much prep, since you will have limited resources. Avoid foods that will either be difficult to prepare or a hassle to clean up.
A Campfire Classic: S”mores
No camping trip would be complete without s”mores. This gooey confection is the perfect end to a long day of hiking, fishing and swimming.
- graham crackers
- chocolate squares (dark, milk or semi-sweet)
- large marshmallows.
- Place chocolate squares on a graham cracker. Set it aside.
- Place a marshmallow on either a skewer or a clean stick and roast it over a grill or the campfire. You can roast your marshmallow a little or a lot, depending on your preference.
- Place the marshmallow on the chocolate-covered graham cracker.
- Top with another graham cracker, applying gentle pressure to press everything together. Enjoy!
Eartheasy.com (2007). Campfire cooking. Retrieved October 9, 2007, from the Eartheasy.com Web site: http://www.eartheasy.com/play_campfire_cooking.htm.
Sweet, David (2007). Campfire cooking. Retrieved October 9, 2007, from the about.com Web site: http://camping.about.com/b/a/010244.htm.
Timmins, Annmarie (2007). Campfire cooking. Retrieved October 9, 2007, from the azcentral.com Web site: http://www.azcentral.com/home/food/articles/0622fod_campfire