bringing a piece of paradise to a plate
I really love cooking outdoors. I'll tell you right away that I'm no expert here, but I'll cook anyway. Everything taste better when you're sitting next to a fire with a plate in one hand and a fork in the other. I'm not kidding.
Add natures silence and the total lack of city noices and traffic and if you stay long enough you'll find yourself more content than you've ever imagined.
I've read some special books to learn how to cook outdoors. Don't bother to buy one unless you're sure there's some recipe in there that you really want, you can do it anyway. The difficult part of cooking outdoor is that the stove you're cooking on is on high and it will be most of the time. That means you're going to be the one that regulate the heat by moving the skillet or pot you're using. You're still going to burn things before you get the hang of it and you're most likely to do it even when you've done it for a while. Once you learn where to put your skillet or when it's time to move it, you got the basics covered. If you can cook indoors you most certainly can cook outdoors.
If you need to cook anything for a longer time, place the pot or skillet on a spot where there's less heat and put a lid on it. For vegetables or anything frozen I add a splash of water and put a lid on it. With a lid you can turn your skillet into a small oven and it's also very helpful to keep the food from cooling off once it's cooked.
what you need
You don't really need a lot to be able to make a great meal. No special pots and pans, but if you want any special items that you need that's up to you, but if you don't want to you don't have to.
At our cabin I use secondhand enamel pots, one is bright orange and has no lid. The other one is white with green ornaments and it has a lid. That's how they looked before I started using them on an open fire. I use two cast iron skillets in different sizes, the lid from the enamel pot fits the skillet as well. When our outdoor kitchen is built I'll still be using the same pots and skillets. On the picture you can see what I cook on when we're at the cabin. The steel rack is actually a frame for a car seat. I lay a oven rack on top when I need to heat up more than one pot. It works. If I'd have to choose any other solution and I had to buy it, I'd go with a rack that you swing over the fire. That makes it easier to put more wood on the fire and regulate the heat when you're cooking.
Other items you'll need are cutlery, I keep odd forks, spoons, teaspoons and knifes in a plastic container. A spatula, tongs with long handles and a smaller ladle is basically all you'll need. A couple of plates, plastic or enamel are best when moving around, some brightly colored mugs are also a great idea so that everyone knows which mug they used. If the mugs are a good size they can be used as a deep plate for soups and stews too. If you're moving around and need to carry the things you'll bring, that means that you need to think about weight as well. In that case a small lightweight skillet with an high edge can be used for more than just frying and the one I've used comes with a lid. I finally found sporks that are made of wood so that's one thing I can recommend too.
Prepare the food you'll be making
If you want to make it really easy and quick then you can prepare the things you're going to cook before you leave your house. Try to keep it simple so that you don't have to operate more than one pot or skillet at a time. There's no rule that you can't use food from a can either.
Leftovers are great, like potatoes and different kinds of meat. It can easily be cut up at home and then you just fry it when you get outdoors. You can bring whipped up eggs in a plastic container as well. Butter is one of the things I always bring, works just fine in a reused container.
Want to make crepes? Make a batch of batter at home and bring it in a plastic bottle. Don't forget the butter or the spatula. Pancakes? Bring the thick batter in a wide plastic container, heat up your skillet once you get there and use a spoon to pour it into the skillet.
I often make dough using baking powder at home and then I bake it in my skillet. If you bring a can of soup that bread is going to turn it into a very fancy meal.
This is a new adventure for me, a real dutch oven! I just recently bought it, at a great price and in a store I never expected to find one. While my hubby was looking on snow mobiles my son and I found this beauty. I'll update you as soon as I tried it out.
If you want to see a video on dutch oven cooking, click on the link below.
Another option is using aluminum foil. I've done that a lot. If you want a good sandwish you can always wrap it up and put it on the fire. It's a good option to bring if you need to think about how much you're carrying around. Wrapping and cooking fish in foil is a classic, add a lot of butter and spices. You can put the wrap between the burning coals and let it fry for a couple of minutes on each side. I haven't cooked fish for a long time, but the taste of freshly caught grayling with small pieces of potatoes and lots of butter in a foil wrap cooked in a fireplace is one thing I'll never forget.
I do love food and my guess is that this is only the beginning. I'll add recipes as I go when I find one I really like.
I really hope that you'll find the confidence to start cooking even if you've never done it before, If you're already used to cooking on an open fire I hope you found some inspiration to make new things.