Campfire cooking /Need some ideas... : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Hi everyone!

As you may have read in my previous post, my family will be camping on our newly aquired wooded land while we develope and enjoy the land over the next two years, before moving from the city for good.

I have little experience cooking over the campfire but loved doing it this past weekend.

I am looking for recipes and ideas for different things to cook. I need to get real good, real fast at planning and packing. This past weekend we did simple eating... sandwiches for lunch and a hotdog roast for dinner. Does anyone have a favorite campfire recipe they wouldn't mind sharing? Are there any "tricks" to campfire cooking I should know about?

Thanks so much in advance!

-- Kelly longing to live in the woods... (, May 01, 2001


I just ran a search on google for "campfire recipes" without the quotes.
This site looks great:
There are lots more in the list... Enjoy!

-- Kristin, in La. (, May 01, 2001.


Thanks so much for doing that search and providing the link! The only other thing I can say is "YUM"!

-- Kelly longing to live in the woods... (, May 01, 2001.

Get yourself a dutch can even bake bread in them. DW

-- DW (, May 01, 2001.

Kelly, we lived in a tent and cooked on a campfire for six months while we built a house. I found that anything that could be cooked on the stove top can be cooked on a campfire. The secret is in getting a nice bed of coals. Make yourself a simple tripod that can swing out over the fire and can be raised or lowered. It takes some getting used to but once you get it mastered you won't spend much more time cooking over the fire as you do in your kitchen.

-- diane (, May 01, 2001.

I'll second the dutch oven idea, they are wonderful! Just bury them in coals, and you can do anything you would do in an oven. I've also wrapped veggies in foil envelopes, sealed up with plenty of butter, and gotten some great results. A good kettle grill is also a great tool. Burn some hickory or down to coals, and push them to one side. Put a pork roast in, as far from the coals as you can get, and put the lid on, leaving the vents open just enough that the coals don't smother, but not enough that they want to flare or burn quickly. You get a wonderful smoke roasted flavor. For poultry, use fruit wood for a sweeter flavor. Mesquite, if you can get it locally, is good for either. I haven't made up my mind yet which wood I favor for beef.

Do some experimenting to see how different woods burn, and this will help you control temperature. Oak is a good choice for longer projects, Osage orange burns too hot, and sparks a lot, but the coals last for a LONG time. Cottonwood burns hot and fast, but dies out quickly.


-- Connie (, May 01, 2001.

If you are willing to go through a fair amount of aluminum foil, most things can be cooked right on/in the coals wrapped tightly in foil. The beauty of this is no pans to clean! When backpacking years ago, we always used to make hobo stew: ground beef, vegetables and spices all mixed together, wrapped in foil and baked on a bed of hot coals. Here's another: Orange Muffins. Cut the top off a large orange and scoop out the pulp saving it for breakfast. Mix muffin mix and fill the inside of the orange with batter. Wrap in foil and cook on hot coals until done. The orange rind will keep the muffin from burning. Fresh trout is particulary good roasted in foil with butter and spices on hot coals. A 12" trout only takes about 2 minutes per side on glowing coals. Any thing that you can grill on a barbecue can be grilled over a fire. Just find a good sturdy grate. Bon apetite!

-- Skip Walton (, May 02, 2001.

My cowboy friend recently boasted about anything he eats can be cooked on a stick and a campfire. We are having a get together and already have several guys signed up for the "Cowboy Challenge, Cooking an Egg on a Stick."

I can't think of a darn thing that can't be cooked on a campfire, just invest in some good cast iron and a big pile of long sticks. If you get tired of squatting in front of a fire, there is no rule that says you can't have a woodstove setting in camp.

-- Laura (, May 02, 2001.

Thanks so much everyone for the input! I now have lots of recipes, and am going to get a dutch oven, have hubby make me a tripod, and gather up lots of roasting sticks!

-- Kelly longing to live in the woods... (, May 02, 2001.

Kelly -

Tripods are great, but see if you can get an old STURDY oven rack or have one of cast-iron made. Mine only cost me $20, and came with the stakes AND a little 'corkscrew' stand. They are MUCH more versatile than a tripod, but then a tripod can be made from sticks found onsite.

Dutch ovens are the next best thing to the wheel!!! Get one that has the three legs on the bottom - that way if you get more than one size, they can be stacked... Also, some have lids that convert to griddles. Our has both features, and we got it at Wal-Mart for less than $30 (on sale...). You can cook ANYTHING in those things!!

If you'd like some of our recipes (hubby cooks, I bake), I'll be happy to post them.... Just seems like you'd be overloaded if I did it now!

-- Sue Diederich (, May 02, 2001.

Whether it is an old alluminum pot or alluminum foil, please don't let it touch your cooking food! It is very likely we are going to learn that this is the reason for the increase in alshimers, ok, can't remember how to spell it. Is that a warning sign? Vicki

-- Vicki McGaugh TX (, May 02, 2001.

We did sort of the same thing while we were buildiing, one of our favorites was to bury some potatoes under the coals before you go to bed and they'll be ready for breakfast - I agree with Vicki, NO aluminum. Also, we cooked a LOT of fish in a cast iron fry pan. Have you ever heard of a pudgie pie maker? It's a cast iron little type of toaster, you butter or oil your bread, put a piece on each side of the pie maker and fill it with almost anything, supper things or sweets for dessert, then bake it in the coals for a few minutes, you can be very creative with these with very good results.

-- Rose Marie Wild (, May 02, 2001.

Kelly, the tripod will work but I find it can tire my old back with the lifting of the HEAVY cast iron dutch oven full of food. I am wondering if a 'balanced lever' would help. Have hubby set a stout post from a felled tree that has a V at the top about 4 ft above ground and 3 ft set in the ground. Put a 14 ft long stout sapling into the V crotch of the post, positioning till it balances. Now to the sapling part that used to be the top (small end) attach your heavy chain and hook for hanging the pots over the fire. To the other (larger) end of the sapling, attach a large chunk of a larger tree's trunk. You drill (auger) out a hole in the tree-trunk's top center until you can push the sapling's large end into the hole and it stays tight. The depth is only a few inches, just enough to hold the trunk onto the sapling pole. Now test the balance with a full pot on the fire end. Does the heavy trunk end lower to the ground? If it does, saw a straight 1 inch slab off the bottom of the trunk. Keep removing a 1 inch thick slab until it balances with the full pot. The whole point in making this, is so the cook pot can be lifted and moved sideways, a little, and set down out of the fire. And visa versa. The larger end can be tied to a nearby tree or post. Good if children are doing the cooking. Cook is not in danger of falling into the fire & no broken back. Saw this at a homestead from the 1800's in FL. Live your dream and keep us informed.

-- Eve in FL (, May 02, 2001.

Besides cast iron dutch ovens, we really like to use a piece of heavy woven metal grate that we balance on two y-shaped rods pounded into the ground for stability. We used to use logs or concrete blocks but they obviously wore out quickly. This grate allows for a large surface whereupon we lay the chopped veggies/meat/small pieces of anything in a grill basket to cook while the larger stuff surrounds it. Can't beat fruitwood or maple sticks for cooking either.

Please tell us how they cook the egg on a stick. I picture two sticks balancing it and it being dry-cooked in the shell.

-- Anne (, May 02, 2001.

All the above is great advice. We have also found that we can cook almost anything on an open fire. My advice is to build a fire pit from a circle of large stones (flat on top). This helps generate a bed of hot coals, keeps wind off and gives you a place to set utensils and keep things warm. We use a regular kettle grill top attached to metal bars that sit on the rocks. You can raise it by adding more stones if things are too hot. The larger cook surface helps for making multiple pot meals.

We add extra water to dutch oven dishes, since they tend to dry out faster than with a regular stove. Campfire toast is the BEST, and with the high grill top we have even fried eggs and bacon. Get some good thick potholders too. Regular kitchen ones are not up to the job. Good eating!

-- David C (, May 03, 2001.

Get yourself an older (1960's) Boy Scout Handbook and Fieldbook. They are great starter books.

-- Chris Stogdill (, May 03, 2001.

Anne, I don't know how these guys plan on cooking eggs on sticks. They all seem to have their own ideas. It going to be great fun watching them try. One of the rules of this competition is they have to eat the egg they cook.

Kelly, another handy utensil is a "pothook" kinda shaped like a hayhook only longer, for fishing the dutch ovens out of the fire. My camping buddy made me one 20 years ago with an oak handle and heavy wire stem and hook. I still use it when I go camping.

-- Laura (, May 04, 2001.

Wow! You all are terrific! Thanks for all the tips, recipes and ideas!

-- Kelly longing to live in the woods... (, May 04, 2001.

Kelly, I worked for ten years in a living history museum that depicted life in the early 1800's. I learned to cook over open flames and wood burning stoves. I cook that way some at home, too. If you get a dutch oven with legs and a cast iron griddle you can cook up a storm. A good bed of coals is very important in this type of cooking. Allow the fire to burn about an hour before you start cooking. Clear a spot to one side of the fire so you can shovel glowing, not burning, coals into a circle a little larger than the bottom of the oven. Set the oven over the coals, then put the lid on the pot. This allows it to "pre-heat". This is very important if you are baking a cake. Mix your cake or whatever and pour it into a metal cake pan. Lift the lid off the oven and CAREFULLY set the cake pan inside. Remember, the oven is heating and will already be quite hot. Replace the lid and shovel coals onto the top of it. If you start smelling cake in awhile, check it to see if its doing all right. The side of the oven nearest the fire will be hotter than the rest so you may have to turn the cake pan inside the oven to get even baking. When it is done lift the lid, coals and all, to one side. Lift the cake pan out using hot pads or even a good strong egg turner. After the lid and coals have cooled some the spent coals can be tipped off the lid back into the edge of the fire. Get an iron S- hook to use for a lid-lifter.

The griddle can sit on two "fire-dogs" (green logs) over a bed of coals. Don't forget to oil it when you use it so you can flip those eggs and biscuits over easily. A fireplace shovel and poker will be of lots of help to you, as well. But please be very careful!!!! Try to make sure you aren't wearing synthetic fabrics when you cook like this. They MELT onto the skin. Natural fabrics will just smoulder. Also keep a bucket of water ready next to the fire. A quick splash of water on a stray coal can prevent lots of problems. But most of all have fun, experiment, and enjoy some of the best food you'll ever taste!

-- Allyson Douglas (, May 08, 2001.

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