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taste buds
family camping
unhealthy food
fruit trees
fire pit
Campfire Meals Champagne Anyone?
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 Great campfire meals are the champagne family camping experience at any campground!  Yet the majority of campers manage hotdogs or marshmallows on the fire but have limited success with proper meals or more difficult to cook proteins like chicken.  Our concern, therefore, has to be de-mystifying the delight one gets from food cooked on an campfire.  So get your taste buds salivating and settle in to a trail of basic tips to appetizing, tasty pleasures.  As we begin, though, we remind you that the possibility of fire bans in a given campground at any time requires that you also travel with a camp stove..

The first thing you will want to do is build a cooking fire.  Most campgrounds provide a fire pit and even a grate or grill upon which they would like you to cook.  You will likely find, however, that the grating provided by the campground is dirty and more than a little rusty.  Using it exclusively to grill food would certainly result in unappealing if not unhealthy food.  So bring your own metal grill.  It should have a larger surface than the volume of food you expect to have on it at any time.  Extra surface area allows you to move food to the edges of the grill thereby creating an “off the direct heat” space that is useful in cooking without burning the food.

A larger grill will also enable the campfire to be smaller and in better control when confined to the back or center of the provided area.  Indeed, a campfire made of hardwood burned down to coals need not be large to be exceedingly hot  where one made from softwood will produce a greater volume of ashes rather than coals and will be less hot for cooking purposes.  Hardwoods are oak, maple or fruit trees to name a few while pine is an example of a softwood..  Almost all campgrounds will have a hardwood supplier nearby or perhaps even circulating within the grounds daily.  Or there may be dead falls in nearby woods you can pick up.  Remember, apart from the prohibition on cutting down trees in most campgrounds, fresh cut standing timber makes a crummy campfire if you can even get it lit before you run out of matches!

Now that we have a bed of coals with a grill on it that is clean and can be kept that way, we’re off to the races.  Most of us grill on a bar-b-que at home and a campfire is little different.  Your full attention is required when there is food on the grill to keep it from burning at worst and drying out at least.  Have a good set of long –handled utensils to avoid burning yourself when turning the food and make sure there is a full pail of water in the immediate vicinity in case the campfire gets outside the pit.  In addition, if you are worried about getting food cooked before it burns, par-boil it pre-grilling!

It’s important to remember that not all cooking is grilling even though this is a campground  kitchen!  Make sure that your equipment includes a limited number of pots and pans of appropriate sizes ( a fry pan, a pasta pot and a slightly smaller one for veggies sounds right).  Inexpensive is OK here because you will be paying enough attention to the food while it is cooking to avoid sticking.  And don’t worry about the fire blackening and  thus “ruining” the pots .Rub a handful of ordinary dish soap on the outside of each pot before it goes on the fire.  You will be amazed to see the black goo just rinse off in the clean-up!   Remember. Soap the outside of the pot so you make sure the pasta is tasting smoky not soapy!

The result  is campfire cooking at it’s finest?  A little knowledge has led to proper use of a fire pit and a safe, hot fire.  A little know how has prompted careful cooking.  Applied energy has ensured you accord due attention to quality of the product you brought to the campground.  And at every step, the time you invested  in acquiring and packing the right equipment paid off!  Food now looks and smells appetizing and the taste, you’ll agree…..champagne!  So take the time to seek out proper equipment for the task and revel in the results.  You’ll be glad you did!

Street Talk

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