|Written by Bill Hanks|
The Fall season means the arrival of bonfires and cookouts. ¬†You can't beat building an outdoor fire on a brisk cool day. Many times, this is the first exposure that children get to cooking their own food. ¬†This article provides tips on how to teach outdoor campfire cooking.
Step One; ¬†First you have to build the proper fire. ¬†There are two types of fires; the flame and the coal. ¬†Each has a different purpose. ¬†Although you can use a flame for wieners and marshmallows, it is mainly used for light and warmth. The ideal fire for cooking is that of white coals.
Step Two; ¬†Building a fire. ¬†To begin making those coals, fill the fire pit with crumpled paper, or kindling. Next, lay tinder (small pieces of wood) in layers over the paper, crisscrossing with each layer. Light the paper to start the fire. When the tinder is aflame, lay fire wood evenly over the flames. When most of the flames are gone and you have white coals, it is time to cook.
Step Three; ¬†Cooking Methods. ¬†(1) ¬†Use a sharp stick or long fork for roasting. ¬†You can do meats, veggies, fruits and some bread products this way. ¬†Just anchor your stick with food on it over some hot coals and watch your food cook. (2) ¬†Place a metal grate over the coals. ¬†You might need a couple of larger logs or rocks to hold the grate in place. ¬†Then just lay your food over the grate and cook it one side at a time. ¬†(3) ¬†Use a dutch oven or aluminum foil. ¬†You place your seasoned food inside one of these and place them on the white coals.
Step Four: ¬†Combine the three methods for a meal. ¬†This is an excellent way to teach children how to cook over a bed of white coals. ¬†They can experiment with all three methods at one time.
Step Five; ¬†Food Preparations. ¬†Whatever your child decides to make, work with them on seasoning, sanitation and especially cooking time. ¬†When using a dutch oven or foil, try using a temperature gauge. ¬†This will help to keep the food from burning up. ¬†You will also need to teach attention to detail. ¬†It is important that children learn to focus on the cooking experience. ¬†You just can't put food on and run off to play for a bit. ¬†You can pick up a good campfire cookbook at you local book store. ¬†They usually have some good and simple recipes.
Step Six; ¬†Safety. ¬†The first few times should have parent supervision. ¬†During this time, you can review the importance of safety procedures. ¬†Make sure the fire is upwind from your tent or sleeping area. ¬†Teach them how to avoid making smoke and staying away from it. ¬†You should also teach them the proper way to make sure a fire is put out. ¬†In dry regions with high winds, careful planning is a necessity.
Campfire cooking is a great activity and a good skill to learn. ¬†Always remember fire is not to be played with. ¬†It is used only as a means to an end.