Beat the Blerch: Camping 101
An extension of "Into the Woods!", presented on behalf of the Spirit of the Woods.
The following is what happens when your iPhone notes turn into a full-on guide on beginner bonfires and grilling :) May the Spirit of the Woods guide you as you cook and watch over you from outside your tent as you sleep.
So you're making your first bonfire.
Average of 1 bundle of firewood/ meal $7 at both the campsite and local Shaw's
Angled poker and angled grabber in steel we substituted with tongs and the Lifty at the expense of melted plastic, poor grip, and close proximity to the heat
Lighter fluid and lighter brought from home
Few fistfuls of tinder from around the camp such as small sticks, paper leaves
Armful of kindling from around the camp such as branches of varying sizes
Check all wood for dryness
Charcoal Excess charcoal from previous his is a highly helpful bonus
Building a bonfire:
Clear the fire ring of large leftover materials. As well as animals--ours came with a baby turtle :)
Gently scrape excess charcoal to the edges. You can leave some in the center, but having some on the side allowed us to cook on the perimeters later in the night
Position the logs using the one of the methods below. We used both the lean to (meal 1) and log cabin setup (meals 2 and 3). The lean to creates a smaller fire while the log cabin can be large, at 3 levels high, though easily deconstructed or added while remaining stable. This frees your hands and your attention up for other activities which is ideal for a long evening of cooking and more.
Add the tinder and kindling, in that order, to the center. This is below the"cave" of the lean to, or the interior of the log cabin. Given that the fire of the tinder spreads to the side and upwards to fuel the kindle which in turn fuels the logs, mind the placement (tinder beneath the kindling).
Infographic from www.rollingfox.com/how-to-build-a-campfire
My muffin box was sacrificed but this gentle creature was rescued from this fiery pit of death.
Starting and tending a bonfire
Sprinkle lighter fuel on the tinder and kindling
Pick out an excess piece of tinder; ignite it with your lighter then carefully tuck it back to the center of your setup
Actively monitor and tend to the materials until logs show signs of catching. This may take a couple tries and roughly 5 minutes to finally catch. Blow on or fan away the smoke to add oxygen and avoid suffocating the flame.
Bonus: air pump.
According to smokeybear.com: there are three interdependent ingredients needed for fire: heat, fuel and oxygen. An air pump satisfies the third requirement.
"Air contains about 21% oxygen, and most fires require at least 16% oxygen content to burn. Oxygen supports the chemical processes that occur during fire. When fuel burns, it reacts with oxygen from the surrounding air, releasing heat and generating combustion products (gases, smoke, embers, etc.). This process is known as oxidation."
Pump or blow air to the heart of the fire and/or location of smoke to breath life into your creation.
The Spirit of the Woods demonstrates the power of air.
So you're cooking on a bonfire.
A breakdown of our three meals: lunch, dinner, and brunch. Our food, spices, beverages, and tools are a combination of things independently scavenged and from a group shopping spree in Market Basket 15 minutes from our campsite at Nickerson State Park, Brewster, MA.
For our two days, we packed one cooler's worth of groceries and ice to be kept below room temperature, including raw meats and drinks; and two bag's worth of others, including snacks and vegetables.
Our tools included:
Tin toil and tin foil tray Highly useful for serving, cooking, and packing
Wooden chopsticks Highly useful for serving and eating
Tongs Highly useful, but metal would've been better
Paper plates and Zip-lock bags Highly useful, for marinating, storing, and serving
Chinese cleaver knife Moderately useful for cooking
Metal spatula Moderately useful for cooking
Lifty thing Moderately useful for tending fires
Long wooden skewers Moderately useful, but metal would've been better
Short metal skewers Not used
Pressure cooker Not used
First meal (lunch):
Pork chops Seasoned with black pepper. ★★★/3
Portabello mushroom Seasoned with salt. ★★★/3
All cooked on the grill over foil and oil
Second meal (dinner):
Chicken gizzards Seasoned with cumin, garlic, soy sauce, five spice powder, white pepper powder, and more cumin after cooking. ★★/3
Thiccc steak (stew meat) Seasoned as above. ★★/3
All skewered and cooked on the grill over foil and oil. Both half cooked.
Sweet potato, bell peppers, corn, and instant lentils sauce Wrapped in foil and heated either over grill or coals. ★★★/3
Evening intermission Join the Spirit of the Forest for a pitchfork pork chop native dance. Attach 1 long and 2 small wooden skewers. ★★★/3
Dipping sauce Soysauce and Thai chili. ★★★/3
Cocktails Fresh grapefruit juice with Smirnoff vodka, De Kuyper triple sec, and Spindrift seltzer. ★★★/3
S'mores A classic. ★★★/3
Third meal (brunch):
Thiccc steak (stew meat) Seasoned as above and marinated overnight. Cooked with bed of bean sprouts securely wrapped in tin foil and set on the charcoal. ★★★/3
Pork ribs Seasoning...? ★★/3
Chicken thighs Marinated with kimchi and garlic. ★★★/3
Blue fish Seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon wrapped in tin foil and set on the charcoal. ★★/3
Orange offerings To the Treefolk of the Nickerson forest; an essential way to end a camping trip.
Other new/refreshed skills:
Setting up a tent
Flying a drone
Smoking a muffin
Out tent instructions were wrong! Good think we're a smart group of goons.