Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cooking with Fire

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Cooking with Fire

Of course, the oldest method of cooking is using the fire. You use the fire just like you would a stove. There are a few things to remember.

1) Coals cook more evenly than flames. If you are going to cook directly over the fire (no pot cooking) then cook over coals. Hardwood coals are the best for no pot cooking as some soft woods contain foul tasting smoke.

2) Never build your fire over tree roots. The fire can follow the roots and burn down a forest.

3) Build your fire at least 15 feet from any brush or overhanging trees

The Basics of Pit Cooking

Pit cooking can be a lot of work and is really only worth it if you are cooking an entire pig, deer, or other large amount of food. Hawaiians, Native Americans, and other tribal peoples use pit cooking for village celebrations.

1) Dig your pit about 2 feet deep by four feet around

2) Line the pit with rocks (Don’t use river rocks or other rocks that hold moisture as they might explode.)

3) Lay out your fire leaving an easy way to light it. This needs ot be a big fire with lots of wood. Pile lots of rocks in and on the fire pile.

4) Light it up and allow it to burn to coals. At this point you should have a pit filled with red hot rocks and coals.

5) Lay a pulpy type of leaves or grass over the top. Something that contains a lot of water so that it will not burn. (Bananna leaves are what they use in Hawaii)

6) Place your meat and vegetables over the pulpy material.

7) Cover the meat and vegetables with more pulpy material.

8) Place more rocks on the pulp.

9) Build another huge fire over the rocks and allow it to burn down.

10) Enjoy your day

11) Carefully excavate the pit and remove your delicious meal steamed by the water in the grass.

There are many ways to do this. This is one way I have learned.

Other Ways to Cook

Here are a few other interesting ways to cook without a kitchen.

1) You can cook eggs and bacon in paper bag by layering the bottom of the paper bag with bacon and then putting the eggs on top. Fold the bag over, poke a stick through it, and hold it over your heat source.

2) You can put hot rocks from your fire inside a chicken and then wrap it in foil. Put more hot rocks on the wrapped chicken. You can also cook eggs and other foods on flat rocks around your fire.

3) You can poke a green stick or a clean wire hanger through your food and cook it over flames or coals.

4) Cook eggs or meat inside an onion or orange then wrap in foil. You can also cook a cake inside an orange and you end up getting a nice ‘hint of orange’ taste.

5) Toast bread on white coals. Just lay the bread on the coals and allow it to toast. Then blow the ash off. This takes practice to get it perfect.

6) Fish with the skin on can be laid directly on white coals too.

7) A camp oven can be made by cutting the flaps off a small box (9” x 6” x 6”) and lining it with tinfoil. Find a box that is a little bigger and place the small box inside (a box with a lid works well. Line it with foil too.) Line the empty space inside with newspaper or sawdust. When you are ready to cook something, simply put it in the small box, place the lid on the larger box and put it in the coals.

8) Use tin cans for cooking by layering your food in the following order in the can. Meat, vegetables, and seasoning. Cover it with foil and put it in the fire for 30 to 45 minutes.


I keep it pretty simple on the utensils. I have a can opener, fork, knife, spoon, set of chopsticks, and a simple mess kit with a pot, pan, and plate. I use a lot of foil.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a good set of cooking gear though. One of my favorite things to cook with is a big cast iron frying pan. Lot’s of folks swear by Dutch ovens. Back when I used to carry a lot of stuff I used my hand mixer, spatula, and cheese grater a lot.

It all depends on what you want to make a priority. I can pretty much cook anything with what I have if I use my creativity to fill in the gaps.

Old mesh orange sacks work well as a carryall bag or a pot scrubber.

Filling egg carton cups with sawdust or lint and pouring old wax over the top can make fire starters.

Cleaning up

Not having a sink can be a bit of a pain but you can still keep your gear clean. I use a couple of simple methods to wash up.

1) I usually have a container of liquid soap with me.

2) If water isn’t available, you can wipe the dishes clean

3) Sand and gravel work as natural abrasives

4) Vinegar in a burned or stained pan usually will work it loose with soaking

5) Keep it simple. The less you dirty, the less you have to clean

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