The challenges of cooking over fire

I know that a good Quest is difficult and slow, and as a 21st-century working apartment dweller, I have found this one especially so.  I am having to re-learn some things I knew how to do when I was younger, with very little spare time to do it.

When I was about 13 I was a Boy Scout.  One of the merit badges I earned was camp cooking.  I remember one family camping trip where I did all the menu planning, cooking and cleanup.  My sister remembers that trip very fondly indeed.  I don’t recall so many details of what I cooked, though it seems most of it was over a campfire: biscuit dough twisted around sticks, steak chunks on skewers (a steel skewer branded the corner of my mouth by accident) and so on.

And in learning how to use these different kinds of stoves, I’ve constantly faced their disadvantages when compared to our convenient (and deceptively inefficient) kitchen amenities: soot, small burner sizes and limited heat control.  It’s no surprise to me that most of the youtube videos I’ve watched of people using rocket or woodgas stoves show them cooking very simple things, or just boiling water.  And really, for camping, that can be enough.  But part of my Quest is to find more than that.

People have been getting creative with camp cooking for quite a while now.  I poke around a bit on Amazon and find a pretty good selection of camp cookbooks, most of them geared either towards a campfire or pressurized liquid fuel stoves.  And they look interesting:

I’ll bet I could get a lot of ideas from these about how to cook a nice civilized diversity of meals, and I would hope that some of the advice about how you can vary the heat from a campfire can apply to something like a rocket or woodgas stove.


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