Outdoor Cooking Practice Thread

Discussion in 'Cooking & Water Purification' started by rsnurkle, Jul 18, 2018.

  1. rsnurkle

    rsnurkle Supporter Supporter Bushclass I Bushclass II

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    This year I've challenged myself to get better at outdoor cooking and use my cooking gear more often. I'd love to see photos and read comments from other people practicing their outdoor cooking skills and getting some dirt (food?) on their gear, too.

    Note: cooking "gear" includes improvised things like hot rocks, green sticks and wooden planks. Bushcrafted kitchens are welcome in this thread!

    If you're saying to yourself "Isn't there already a thread like this?" here are other fun and inspiring threads that show off great food (made indoors or outdoors) or that focus on specific pieces of gear, rather than general outdoor cooking:
    https://bushcraftusa.com/forum/threads/what-did-you-have-for-supper-tonight.2800
    https://bushcraftusa.com/forum/threads/recipe-sticky.40051/
    https://bushcraftusa.com/forum/threads/cup-of-tea-in-the-woods-photo-thread.192431/
    https://bushcraftusa.com/forum/forums/noble-order-of-the-cup.350/
    https://bushcraftusa.com/forum/threads/show-off-your-dutch-ovens-cast-iron-cooking-utensils.90083/
    https://bushcraftusa.com/forum/threads/heavy-cover-titanium-kit-in-acton.163044/
    https://bushcraftusa.com/forum/threads/your-complete-cook-kit-picture-thread.84494/
    https://bushcraftusa.com/forum/threads/okay-guys-show-me-youre-frying-pans-please.143613/
    https://bushcraftusa.com/forum/threads/mors-kochanski-cooking-pot-pics.31378/

    And if you need some ideas for what to practice:
    https://bushcraftusa.com/forum/threads/the-professors-campfire-cooking-challenges.68336/
    https://bushcraftusa.com/forum/threads/i-cook-a-meal-over-a-fire.74145/
    Canteen cup tuesday videos: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=canteen+cup+tuesday
    Townsend's 18th century cooking: https://www.youtube.com/user/jastownsendandson/playlists
    Almazan kitchen: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVVAnxQ2YMC_qlc7QfPA2YQ


     
  2. rsnurkle

    rsnurkle Supporter Supporter Bushclass I Bushclass II

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    For my own personal challenge, I need to
    a) prepare/cook at least 75% of the item(s) outdoors, OR
    b) use only outdoor cooking gear to make something indoors, with an indoor safe heat source allowed (e.g., stove tops, ovens)
    And my goal is 100 times practicing some cooking skill. I've a long ways to go, but I'm sharing my progress to get the thread started. Let's see some action and practice from you all, too!

    White rice in titanium and stainless steel pots, indoors

    First up: indoors with outdoor gear. I wanted to know how likely I was to burn rice in titanium in ideal conditions (easily controlled heat source, no wind). I used a stainless steel 1L nalgene, a 700ml titanium cup/pot, and a 1600ml titanium pot to cook rice. This practice session reinforced how annoying it is to use a water bottle for food (needed a flashlight to see inside, difficult to move stuff around and get stuff out), but otherwise nothing burned and I had rice made for the week (#001).

    [​IMG]

    Sandy runaway roaster

    Jumping ahead because they're the photos I have on hand right now, task #012 was mainly a test of a new fire lay, which I'm tentatively called a six-log stack.
    [​IMG]

    The fact that the six logs were fuelwood sized and made of oak meant that once the fire got going, I had a wall of heat, and lay of the fire isn't setup for coal-based cooking, so the section of the fire that (at the time) made the most sense to use was charring the outside of my garlic and butternut squash faster than I wanted and sand was taking whatever opportunity to get into my food. I also didn't bring a cutting board or make a particularly good food prep surface (I used foil on top of a rock for my improvised cutting surface, ugh).

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    That said, the onion was roasted just fine, the butternut squash ended cooked enough to eat, so I went without garlic, didn't starve, and put another good learning experience in the books.
     
  3. NWPrimate

    NWPrimate Supporter Supporter

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    I love this thread idea. I just cooked up a pork chop on a hot rock the other day.

    Cooking meat like this is a lot of fun. What seems to work best for me is finding a rock that is thick enough to hold its heat long enough to sear both sides and cook the interior as it cools down.

    If you are new to this, you may want to put several rocks into the fire as there is a good chance that they will crack when heated up; especially if you are using rocks from a riverbed that may have been recently submerged. I have gotten pretty good at picking out rocks that don’t explode, so I only heated one this time; but I made sure to get well away from the fire as it heated up. Sometimes they can explode with quite a bit of force, and send shrapnel at high speed, so you don’t want to have your face nearby if that happens.

    The time you need to heat the rock will vary depending on the size of both the stone and your fire. I left this one in for about twenty minutes and let it sit to cool for a couple more before dropping the pork onto it. With a fatty piece of meat, you can often skip putting oil on the stone, as a rock hot enough to sear both sides will likely burn it off anyway.

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    I usually expect a little bit of sticking, but if things go correctly the stone will release the meat when it is ready to flip. Keeping the stone out of the fire but still next to it lets you handle the cooking process without putting your hands directly into the fire, and the residual heat helps to cook the sides. I still like to render the fatty edges by standing the meat up on its side; but I do that regardless of what method I’m using to cook pork, steak, or lamb.

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    This method works very well for fish too, but you may want to let the rock cool down a bit first and add oil if it is available, though it will stick cook through even if it sticks.

    A few more hot rock cooking photos from the past...

    Fish fillets...

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    Lamb chops.

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  4. rsnurkle

    rsnurkle Supporter Supporter Bushclass I Bushclass II

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  5. UAHiker

    UAHiker Guide

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    awesome thread!

    i decided the same thing or at least use more of my outdoor stuff as much as possible, this includes knifes. i figure why save them when you can use them when ever you want!

    new pan, seasoning isn't perfect so it's not stick....
    [​IMG]

    granted didn't need a knife with fish but i felt it necessary to have a knife pic :)
    [​IMG]
     
  6. rsnurkle

    rsnurkle Supporter Supporter Bushclass I Bushclass II

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    The knife makes the fish look extra delicious @UAHiker !
     
  7. Primordial

    Primordial MOA #40 Supporter

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    Cool thread idea! Most of what I do is caveman cooking, but I'll see what other methods I have archived and I'll share.
     
  8. rsnurkle

    rsnurkle Supporter Supporter Bushclass I Bushclass II

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    Caveman cooking counts! (What else would you call roasting a whole onion under a pile of burning wood?)
     
  9. Big ian

    Big ian Scout

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    Following, with interest.
    I know there's a whole thread already devoted to it, but I've just started using the 12" CI DO I got for Xmas last year. Very exciting. I'm looking forward to gleaning a few ideas here for processes to complement the 'one-pot' meals the DO makes.
     
  10. Tangotag

    Tangotag Field Gear Junkie Bushclass I

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    One thing I found helpful was a laser thermometer to transfer temps from indoor skillet cooking to outdoor coal management. I love outdoor cooking so much that I built a garden fire pit for doing just that.
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    Working on a crispy skin roasted birds in the garden pit.
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    Last edited: Jul 18, 2018
  11. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt Old Jarhead LB#42 Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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  12. PAcanis

    PAcanis Supporter Supporter

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    @Tangotag , aside from the food, that is one sweet looking grill grate :dblthumb:
     
  13. Oni

    Oni Guide

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  14. gila_dog

    gila_dog Supporter Supporter

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    I have an old propane bbq grill that has no propane stuff on it any more. It's a great wood grill now. Hamburgers, steaks, and dutch oven cooking are all done on this old grill. For fire wood I mostly use mesquite because it's plentiful, and makes excellent cooking coals. When I do steaks or hamburgers I usually close the lid for a minute or 2 to let it get smokey and give the meat that nice flavor.

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  15. PAcanis

    PAcanis Supporter Supporter

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    Some cooking pics using various methods/gear.

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  16. PAcanis

    PAcanis Supporter Supporter

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    Some more.

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  17. PAcanis

    PAcanis Supporter Supporter

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    And some more...

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  18. PAcanis

    PAcanis Supporter Supporter

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    But wait... ;)

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    You can see I like playing with my gear :)
     
  19. PAcanis

    PAcanis Supporter Supporter

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    More of these than I thought :33:
    Don't mean to be hoggin' the thread.

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  20. PAcanis

    PAcanis Supporter Supporter

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    Trust me, these are the condensed pics :D

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    That would about do it.
    Until I cook the stuff on my kitchen counter ;)
     
  21. GoKartz

    GoKartz El Coyote Supporter

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    @PAcanis - did you bring a nalgene full of pellet stove fuel for cooking??

    I’ll share a couple from the past year:

    Frying donuts
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    Making hot chocolate
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    One of many ricecapades
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    That’s a bonus - freshly carved “spoon” too!

    Ah I can’t wait to get outside and cook again...
     
  22. rsnurkle

    rsnurkle Supporter Supporter Bushclass I Bushclass II

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    Not even a day and I'm already in love with this thread! Thank you @NWPrimate, @UAHiker, @Tangotag, @gila_dog, @PAcanis, @GoKartz for such great action!

    @Tangotag : Do you bring the laser thermometer on trips, or have you developed other ways to check heat and manage cooking temperatures? I know there's a "how long can you hold your hand over the heat" method, but I'm wondering if you've come up with a better approach after playing with the thermometer.

    @PAcanis : Do you like the milk jug cutting board? I'm discovering the big hole in my cook kit seems to be easily carriable food prep surfaces. I've gotten too used to being at campsites with picnic tables for any thing that requires cutting food up.
     
  23. PAcanis

    PAcanis Supporter Supporter

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    I had read it was a good way to carry pellet fuel and it is.
    Plus it burns SO NICE in a gasifier stove.

    Those gloves look like the same deerskin ones I buy :)
     
  24. PAcanis

    PAcanis Supporter Supporter

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    I did while it lasted :(
    I babied it, but a sharp slice here and there with a good knife will put it out of use quickly.
    I much prefer finding a good silicon board and cutting it to size.
     
  25. NevadaBlue

    NevadaBlue —- Roughian #7 -— --- Graybeard -— Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    In the top oven was...

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    A pumpkin pie!

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    There was pizza in the bottom one, but I forgot the pic. After the pizza, since the oven was hot, a batch of sourdough biscuits went in.

    And then this...

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    Became a delicious Cowboy’s Casserole.

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  26. rsnurkle

    rsnurkle Supporter Supporter Bushclass I Bushclass II

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    :eek: Good to know! At some point I plan to cut an old flexible cutting mat to fit in the bottom of my pot and see how that goes. I just like the look of having three raised sides to help corral food
     
  27. Primordial

    Primordial MOA #40 Supporter

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    Breaking in my buddies new pot with some fish stew.

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    Pretty simple....just resting on the coals. Panfish, rice, hardtack.

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  28. Primordial

    Primordial MOA #40 Supporter

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    A small cutting board or two is invaluable. You can dedicate one for just cleaning game and fish.

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  29. PAcanis

    PAcanis Supporter Supporter

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    I'd rank it right in there with trying to use tin foil more than once. It works, but is it worth it?


    Very nice use of hardtack :dblthumb:
     
  30. Primordial

    Primordial MOA #40 Supporter

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    Super simple. Super delicious...

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  31. PAcanis

    PAcanis Supporter Supporter

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  32. GoKartz

    GoKartz El Coyote Supporter

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    I’ll have to give it a try sometime! And I love those gloves, use them daily.

    @NevadaBlue wow! I’m gonna have to step up my Dutch oven game!
     
  33. Primordial

    Primordial MOA #40 Supporter

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    It's so hot where @NevadaBlue lives, that he can just stick his dutch ovens in the sun for an hour or two and he can cook food without fire.
     
  34. gila_dog

    gila_dog Supporter Supporter

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    I keep a little bamboo cutting board in my camper. It's maybe 10" x 12". It cost almost nothing on ebay. My knives sure appreciate it.
     
  35. Tangotag

    Tangotag Field Gear Junkie Bushclass I

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    Mostly used in the garden fire pit. The main takeaway is wood coals are hotter than charcoal and you really can use less heat than you think you may need. I almost never primarily cook over direct flame. Moving wood coals to your food is the key.

    Keyhole fire.;)
     
    oddjob35, bacpacjac, Bobsdock and 4 others like this.
  36. NevadaBlue

    NevadaBlue —- Roughian #7 -— --- Graybeard -— Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    Excellent advice. The thermometer is a good learning tool. Once you have used the dutch ovens for a while, you learn what it takes to cook what. I am still learning.
    I DO know that wind is a heat thief. Even as hot as it is here @Primordial :p , the wind just sucks the heat away from the ovens. A good windbreak is essential for reasonable cooking times and temperatures.

    I will be using my laser to do some testing. Never thought of it.
     
  37. Oni

    Oni Guide

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  38. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt Old Jarhead LB#42 Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    redbeansriceand sausage.jpg


    Cooking dinner during a power outage (it was inside but I did use the camp stove)


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    My granddaughter and I cooking up some sausage on the fire pit.
     
  39. Paulyseggs

    Paulyseggs Supporter Supporter

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    I need to cook more outside . Kinda bums me out that I don't

    I was eyeballing a roll up cutting mat at the dollar store . also had small bar cutting boards . About the size of my hand
    These are nice. I got one from a Boars Head demo at work .
     
  40. Big ian

    Big ian Scout

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    I've had a few tries with the new 12" deep DO in the last week/ten days, first was chicken and dumplings which came out great but I made WAY too much (like the full 8qts), second was Lazy Cobbler which was a partial fail (I mismanaged my heat because I didn't understand the baking process for that particular dish. Still tasted good though).

    3rd effort was the Lodge standard Pineapple USD cake except with local black cherries (currently in season here), made on the sly this evening after dinner while the SO was over on the neighbours patio having a glass. Came out perfectly, and everyone was suitably impressed at the flip and general fact of baking a cake out-of-doors. I'm particularly pleased as the neighbours in question personally run a very successful small chain of local bakeries specializing in unique cakes (not the fancy-to-look-at heavily iced kind, more the unique and super delicious homemade kind). No pics, as it was all gone before I thought of it.....

    The more I cook with this thing, the more things I want to try. It's especially nice to use when it's really hot out, as you don't heat up the house with the conventional oven.
     
  41. Big ian

    Big ian Scout

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    Still hot out here, so still trying to cook outside.

    This is just mac & cheese for the kids for dinner, but on a Rocket stove! Too bad there's no visible fire for the pic.....
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  42. Big ian

    Big ian Scout

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    Made dinner for the neighbours this evening, only thought of this thread after the fact (too late for pics), but I busted out the propane burner from my turkey deep frying kit and used the 12" DO as a deep fry pot to cook up about 4 birds worth of fried chicken (coleslaw and skillet jalapeno cornbread made in the regular kitchen).

    I was a little nervous about committing myself to such a big meal, having never deep-fried this way before, but DO worked awesomely as a vessel, and the burner made it super easy to regulate the temperature. When all was said and done we had 9 full and impressed adults and 6 happy kids, and just enough leftovers to make me happy. I still have a big black pot to clean up, but this was way quicker and tidier than cooking a whole turkey, the stand/burner just needed a wipedown, I had laid out cardboard to take up any splatter (there was very little, but we live in bear country), and no fry smell permeating the house for 2 days, so a happy wife.

    Sorry 'bout the lack of pics but I thought this thread deserved a bump. Here's my prep recipe:

    I didn't have Berbere so I doubled the paprika, some sweet, some smoked. I also didn't double-fry it, I cooked it once and held it in a hot oven to finish (there was tooooo much to fry twice).
     
  43. rsnurkle

    rsnurkle Supporter Supporter Bushclass I Bushclass II

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    :35::35::35: thank you for the bump and the report on the recipe!
     
  44. Primordial

    Primordial MOA #40 Supporter

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    I can't look at this thread with out having easy access to something to eat.
     
  45. MrFixIt

    MrFixIt Old Jarhead LB#42 Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    I'm having fried chicken for lunch because of what @Big ian posted earlier...
     
  46. rsnurkle

    rsnurkle Supporter Supporter Bushclass I Bushclass II

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    Time to spam this thread a bit. I managed to get out in the woods over the weekend, and while I was prepping those food photos, I pulled up some older ones, too.

    Practice tasks #002 to #004 were: cooking with wood in a new multi-fuel stove (#002), the double boiler technique for quinoa (#003) and putting it all together in one of my favorite recipes, quinoa, mango and avocado salad (#004). I learned that 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water just *barely* fit into my 700/750ml cup. The double boiler worked great (several sticks in the bottom of the big pot keep the cup from touching the bottom) especially as I needed to load and reload the wood stove. Mixing the recipe ingredients outside got interesting because I forgot olive oil, hand sanitizer, napkins/paper towels, wanted to finish before dark, and had only one large container (the 1600ml pot), which was full of brown boiled-stick water. I ended up taking everything in side to combine things, but in hindsight, I did have enough extra water to have rinsed and then boiled to sanitize my 1600ml pot, then use it as a mixing bowl.
    [​IMG]
    here's the recipe

    My next efforts involved brown rice in a titanium pot (005), rolling out dough with a chopstick (006), and cooking in a my stainless steel pan (007). The brown was ok, but not amazing, I want to practice getting the timing on it down. The rolling dough stick was a nice idea, but needs a lot of fine tuning. (I was trying to copy the method used for rolling out potsticker dough.)
    [​IMG]

    The next set of entries is a little more interesting: the debut of my coal roasting test runs. This involved a successfully roasted onion (008), an unsuccessfully roasted sweet potato (009), and an unsuccessful boiling water in paper test (010).
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I also had quick session with a titanium frying pan: eggs (011). I need to decide whether a separate container to scramble the eggs is always necessary, and to cut back on the oil until I started burning things, in order to figure out the margin of error it gives me.
    [​IMG]

    And (out of order) there was an on-the-river picnic that I helped organize (020), no photos. Biggest in-field issue was one of my underlying themes: improvising or bringing stable, clean working surfaces for cutting and serving food. For this trip I also figured out a semi-decent way to rinse lettuce before cutting it, but not so decent as to assume I'll do that again.
     
  47. rsnurkle

    rsnurkle Supporter Supporter Bushclass I Bushclass II

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    My recipe trip was car camping at a state park campground. I managed the fire in the fire pit, and otherwise played sous chef to my friend who organized the menu, ingredients, and lead anything beyond moving stuff into and out of the fire. However, I took good mental notes, so I'm including this all for my practice. We started the food component of the trip by roasting an eggplant (013), which was later mashed (by spork) and turned into baba ghanoush (for the hike the next day). The eggplant was triple wrapped in foil and I saw no evidence of charred skin for the 55 minutes it spent surrounded by coals (no coals underneath), rotated when I remembered to turn it. At this point I'm starting to get more comfortable with roasting, especially with a foil barrier.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    That evening also included a cast iron skillet pizza (014) made over the fire, which needed a thinner dough layer, but otherwise worked out great. I'm also counting my marshmallow roasting as practice, since it's been a while since I whittled a roasting stick (015).
    [​IMG]

    The next day started off with eggs, cheese, rice, and soy chorizo steam-cooked in bell peppers (placed in individual foil "cups" around the bottom of the pepper) over a backpacking stove (016). The eggs and cheese just barely fit onto the top and kind of spilled out, so in the future we wanted to mix everything together before putting it into the peppers, instead of the layers we had. Aside from the difficulty of monitoring the eggs with cheese on top of them, this was delicious, and just required some patience (over an hour of cooking time).
    [​IMG]

    Lunch was on the "trail", the baba ghanoush, crackers, sliced sausage and cheese (017). This underscored the importance of work surfaces for me: I didn't want my crackers to drop to the ground, so I put them directly on my pants in my lap--the pants I had been wearing for basically the past 24 hours, including 3.75 miles of overgrown, rain, dirt, and thorn-covered forest trail.
    [​IMG]

    Dinner was a roasted sweet potato and fajita veggie mix (018). Unlike that morning, I had the time (and extra hands) to get the damp wood processed down for a tipi fire, so we moved back to cooking over the fire, with foil boats for the sweet potato and cast iron skillet for the onions and peppers. The skillet did well(no surprise to many of you I'm sure), however the sweet potatoes weren't quite finished roasting in their foil boats by the time we were too hungry and tired to wait any longer.
    [​IMG]

    Our final meal of the trip was a breakfast of roasted summer squash, mushrooms, and cheese smeared between tortillas and lightly fried in the cast iron skillet over the fire(019). The summer squash smeared really well on the tortillas, so we've made a mental note to try other soft squashes (like butternut) in this same role. My friend's cast iron skillet again did a wonderful job turning mixed flames and coals into an even heat source for cooking. I need to finish re-seasoning mine and get it out into action sometime.
    [​IMG]
     
  48. Big ian

    Big ian Scout

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    Nice write up, your menus are way fancier than what I plan.

    Curious, did you have anything over the pizza to direct heat down (a la Dutch Oven lid), or was all the cooking from below?

    I got out for a quick 2 nighter last week, did egg (crystals), cheese (babybels) chopped dried salami and pita for b'fasts. I got the egg crystals here, and they are really actually very good, just needing some S&P (which I forgot). I mixed 3 eggs worth with 1-2 tbsp of olive oil right in the anodized aluminum pot I cooked them in, no sticking issues at all. All cooked over a Trangia.
     
  49. rsnurkle

    rsnurkle Supporter Supporter Bushclass I Bushclass II

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    Thank you! We're not fancy all the time, but do like making a fun meal part of the trip when possible. For the pizza we had a sheet a foil over the top for about 2/3rd of the cooking time. It needed to be secured (the fire's rising warm air would push it off otherwise), but it helped get our cheese topping melted.

    Those eggs sound tasty to me! Do the crystals keep alright once opened?
     
  50. Big ian

    Big ian Scout

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    Well, I've had them 6 weeks, cracked the jar a month ago. SO far so good. IIRC, the expiry on them is like 2 years out, I'll check when I get home.

    Edit: Expire in March 2021. Loads of time to eat 48... well, 42 more eggs.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2018
    Paul Caruso, bacpacjac and rsnurkle like this.

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