Archive for May, 2015

How to Build a Summertime Campfire

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

Boy, do I have a story for you.  Ok, just picture this.  You get up in the morning and it is 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  You plan to do some hiking later on in the day even though the projected weather forecast seems to be one for “hell.”  What do I mean by this?  Well, high humidity combined with high temperatures. 

While your friends call you crazy, you go ahead and head out on the trail.  Ok, now the temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

After a wonderful day hiking, you head back to camp and set down for a few.  Your friends pipe in and enquire what is for dinner.  The last thing you want to do is to cook over a hot campfire so you plan simple sandwiches and a salad. 

summertime.campfire

As the night progresses and the temperature drops slightly, everyone wants a fire but the heat.  No one wants the night to be hotter.  What to do, what to do? 

Well, at this point you stop and concede to build a fire but…………..not just any fire.  This fire is one that will provide the crackle and flame that everyone likes in a fire but it will not produce as much heat.  What is this magical fire?  Well, it is called the “log-cabin council fire.

To begin the process of building this summertime campfire starts with gathering both green logs and tinder.  When harvesting the greenwood, try to utilize wood from birch, white oak and/or ash. 

Once you have your wood gathered, the next step is to build your fire.  To start this process, will require you to build a “wooden frame” that is four stories tall.  The first layer consists of two logs that are two feet long.  The next layer of logs is shorter and will need to be place on top of the first layer going in the opposite direction.  Repeat the process again with shorter logs until you have reached the four story level. 

Next, add tinder to the inside of the “log cabin” shape.  Once that is done, take some larger tinder and build a “teepee” on top of the tinder in the bottom of the “log cabin” shape.  After that is done, light the tinder from the bottom of the “log cabin” shape.  Do not worry about the teepee of tinder catching fire.  It will as the smaller tinder catches the flame.

To continue the flame, stoke the fire from the top.  If you notice the green logs catching and you are not done with your summertime campfire, do not worry.  This is easily addressed by pouring water onto the green logs. 

Once you are done with your campfire, do not forget to douse it with water while you are stirring the coals.  Repeat until you feel no heat.  Next, place soil on top of the waterlogged area.  This will ensure that the fire has been put out.

Campfire Recipe: Fish Dogs

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

No, this is not a mistake and yes I said fish dogs.  I know that sounds confusing but let me explain the situation. 

Ok, I went on a fishing trip with a friend of mine.  While I do like to fish, I only like to drop a line when I need to get something to eat.  On the other hand, my friend is very competitive when it comes to fishing.  He wants that large fish along with the bragging rights to that catch.  Part of this “bragging rights” ritual is the fact that the one who catches the largest fish gets to eat first and get the biggest portion.  While these are the rules, the latter condition is never followed.  The people I camp with are sports men and women who just love the outdoors and share the bounty.

Ok, now back to the story.  Well, my friend and I leave camp.  He has this large tackle box and several rods.  I just have one rod, a bobber, and fresh bait.  While my friend loves gigs and little, plastic wormy things, I like live bait.  It just seems right.  If I am going to catch a fish out in the backcountry and am not going to throw it back, well I feel that the fish should have a taste of something real.  In doing so, I go for the worms.

So as the story goes, my friend spends several minutes getting his hook ready.  I just add a worm to my hook and drop my line.  Boy, the fish must have been really hungry.  As soon as the line hit the water, I had a fish.  Yes, the fish was small but it was a keeper.  I removed my fish, placed a new worm on my hook and dropped my line again.  Well, I had another fish.  All of this occurred before my friend could even wet his line.

fish.dogsThis continued until dark.  This is when we decided to go back to camp.  While the fish we had caught were keepers, they were a little on the small size.  It seemed such a waste to pull out the foil for a foil packet meal and the grilling rack was not going to work.  If these tasty little morsels were put on the fire, they would have fallen through the grill.  Well, what to do? 

As I debated the choices, I decide to cook them over the fire in a primitive way and that was on a stick.

The technique for this is simple.  The first step to this process is to find a green stick that is about two feet long.  Next, sharpen the end of the stick to a point.  Once that is done, go ahead and build your fire.

While the fire is heating up, process the fish if this has not already been done.  Make sure to keep the head on.  Next, season the inside of the fish as you would like and guide the stick through the mouth of the fish.  Make sure the stick goes through the tail.

Once that is done, lean the stick(s) over the fire.  If you do not want to hold the stick, prop the stick up with a log.

Cook the fish until the flesh begins to flake.  After this starts, the fish is done.  Serve your catch with a side and crusty bread.  Enjoy fish the way the pioneers did.

Campfire Recipe: Beef Tenderloin, Wild Mushrooms, and Greens Salad

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Many years ago, I had a great opportunity to camp with a really good friend of mine who is a wonderful cook.  While his original recipe called for venison and foraging, I changed it up a bit.  All of these ingredients are easily found at local stores.  In doing so, you do not have to worry about your foraging skills. 

If you plan on taking these ingredients with you, I would suggest that you make this one of your first meals due to the meat involved. 

Campfire Recipe:  Beef Tenderloin, Wild Mushrooms, and Greens Salad

Ingredients

1 pound beef tenderloin

4 Tablespoons vegetable oil

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound assorted mushrooms

2 bunches of assorted greens

2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock

¼ cup Parmesan Cheese

Extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

beef.tenderloin

Steps

  1. Build fire.
  2. Rinse beef tenderloin with water and pat dry.  Allow the meat to set out covered until it warms up.  This can take up to 30 minutes.
  3. Place grill rack on fire.
  4. Place skillet on rack and add 3 tablespoons of oil to the skillet.  Heat until sizzling.
  5. While the skillet is heating up, take the beef tenderloin and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Place meat in skillet and brown on all sides.
  7. Once the meat is browned, move the beef tenderloin to a Dutch oven and top with lid.
  8. Take 29 briquettes and place 7 on a heatproof surface.  Put the Dutch oven on these briquettes.  Top with the remaining 21 briquettes.
  9. Cook the meat in the Dutch oven for 10 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 115 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  10. While the meat is cooking, add 2 tablespoons of butter and one tablespoon of oil to a skillet.
  11. Chop mushrooms up.
  12. Place the skillet on the grilling rack and heat up.
  13. Once the oil is warm, add the chopped mushrooms, stir often, and cook for about 4 minutes.
  14. While the mushrooms are cooking, process the greens by removing the ribs of the leaves and chop.
  15. After the mushrooms have finished cooking, add the greens a little at a time. 
  16. Cook for about 5 minutes
  17. Add remaining butter and stock to the skillet.  Cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  18. Remove the meat from the Dutch oven and slice.

Spoon up the green and mushroom mixture.  Top with meat and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.  Finish the dish off with a little swirl of olive oil.