Design & DIY

Master the simplicity of cooking over a campfire

cooking-hot-dogs-on-a-stick-over-campfire Photo by Volodymyr Tverdokhlib/Shutterstock

Summer activities at the cottage are the best reasons to be up north this summer. Hiking, canoeing, fishing and all the other great ways to enjoy a day at the cottage are fun, but also to teach valuable skills—especially to children.

One of the most fun skills to master are the various ways to cook over a campfire. We’ve already shared some great methods and recipes for cooking over a campfire using pots and pans or aluminum foil, but there is still one more way to cook over a campfire: Woodsman Style. No pots, no pans, no foil, no utensils—just fire, time, and patience. So, here’s how to campfire cook without anything other than a set of hands and some yummy ingredients.

Items needed for this method of cooking are few and simple: a campfire, some long thin branches or twigs (preferably still alive), and a pair of fire-resistant gloves.

The first step in campfire cooking is to get the fire ready. This method of cooking relies heavily on a good quality fire, suited for cooking. It’s important to build up a good-sized fire and then let it burn down so that all cooking is done over hot coals and not tall flames. Remember—coals cook, but flames burn! So, be patient and give the fire time to reduce.

Once the fire is ready, it’s time to start cooking. The entire meal can be prepped in the cottage or by the fire. Either way works, but prepping outside definitely adds more of a sense of being back in nature. If prepping outdoors, remember to have a lantern or headlamp available. As dusk comes, light is quickly lost, and cutting and prepping food in the dark is dangerous and time-consuming.

To begin this food adventure, here are some recipes that are simple to prep and cook and are perfect for getting children involved. Remember to have a pair of fire-proof gloves on hand, just in case they are needed to place or remove food from the coals (as experience is gained, the gloves can eventually be replaced with a few twigs, making this endeavour 100 per cent free of man-made utensils). Each recipe is for one serving.

Hot Dog

Photo by txking/Shutterstock

This recipe is so darn easy it’s almost not worth mentioning. However, there is one important trick to making a hot dog over a fire that will save some aggravation—and some hot dogs as well.

To cook a hot dog, a long stick will be needed, about 18” in length, preferably still alive so it doesn’t burn while over the fire. Then, place the hot dog on the stick. On TV and in cartoons, the hot dog always appears to be stabbed by the stick crosswise, with the stick running perpendicular to the hot dog. This is the perfect way to lose a hot dog in the fire. Often, as the hot dog cooks, it will not be attached well enough to the stick, and at a certain point it will split in two and fall into the fire. To prevent this, make sure the stick is threaded through the centre of the hot dog for its entire length. Hold the hot dog over the coals, rotating frequently. Cook 5-10 min.

Shish Kabob

Photo by mykhailo pavlenko/Shutterstock

A favourite for most and a total classic. This recipe has been around for decades and is a very satisfying meal. Super easy, fun for kids, it’s a great recipe for a first try with utensil free cooking.

Each serving will need: 1/4 lbs of steak or lamb shoulder cut into 1” cubes; 1 onion, peeled and cut lengthwise into individual leaves;, 1 small tomato, cut into quarters; salt and pepper to taste

First, make a skewer out of a stick. It’s best to find a stick that is still alive, so it won’t burn as easily. The stick should be about 18” long and about as thick as a pencil. Sharpen one end of the stick and start stringing the ingredients onto the stick, alternating between the meat, onion and tomato. Salt and pepper to taste.

Too cook the kebob, it can be held in the hand, or take 2 forked sticks, stake them in the ground on either side of the fire, and rest the kebab in the forked part of the sticks over the fire, rotating occasionally. Cook for 10-15 min, until meat is done to taste.

Barbarian Steak

Photo by ByGurzoglu/Shutterstock

This hearty meal option is delicious and a favourite for kids to watch, as the food is placed directly onto the fire.

Each serving will need: ½ lbs steak; 2 ears of corn, still in the husk; water (the lake works great); salt and pepper to taste.

To start, open the corn husks but do not remove them. Pull out all the silk, and close the husks back up. Soak the corn in water for several minutes.

When the fire is ready, blow away the ashes and then place the steak directly onto the glowing embers. Place the corn on either side of the steak. Cook 8 minutes and then flip both the steak and the corn and cook another 8 min. Use a sharpened, forked stick to flip the steak. Season to taste and enjoy!


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