Seven men, 140+ BWCA Trips, Two newcomers, a food pack and some tips
Nine of us just spent a fist full of days in the BWCA Wilderness . Wind, rain and cold weather ganged up on our mostly veteran group. A hardy lot we seemed to be as we traveled lake-portage-lake by canoe, fished, camped, built fires, cooked and ate well. very well. we waddled a bit on the portages out with smiles on our faces.
Outdoor cooking at it’s best is an art, a skill to learn and hone. So, plan a trip outdoors, bring some food and cook it. how hard can it be?
Fire: A most necessary ingredient
It’s all about the fire. Get the fire right and you will possibly eliminate all kinds of embarrassments. Common scenarios include
1) Build a good fire, start cooking and the fire suddenly dies even though the wood is all there. Clue: keep putting small sticks under the larger wood and graduate to large enough wood to have a sustainable coal base.
2) A well meaning someone adds wood and the fire and it becomes an inferno. Charred food soon to be. Clue: have a good stash of small sticks handy to feed the fire and threaten to whack anyone who wants to put another log under the pan of food (do I need a violence disclaimer here?) Quick get the log off the fire or ruin the pan the food and reputation.
3) It’s windy and gusty and it blows the smoke and flame everywhere. The cook gets the smoke no matter which side you choose. Clue: A mature fire has way less smoke. Again, a good coal base is hot and small sticks make the flame just right. A little smoke flavor in the food is a good thing.
4) You cannot find dry wood. Clues: Old rotten logs often have knots that will pull out of the log and they are full of pitch. shave with a knife and light on fire (usually smoky but make great coals and burn hot). Old stumps from small trees can be kicked out of the ground with some of the roots attached. the roots burn well. shave them if needed. Cut some larger wood and split into little pieces. The inside will be dry. Make shavings with a knife for starting the fire.
Notice the rocks for a wind break, the smaller wood ready to control the heat, the larger logs drying out and ready to be split. Start with boiling water, grab a cup of coffee (smoked coffee anyone?) and get the fish fry going.