Camp Cooking - Learn camp cooking, what to use, even what type of wood is best for camp fire cooking
The birches, among the softer woods, serve as the finest fuel for campfires. In particular, black birch excels in creating an excellent campfire, and it stands out as one of the few woods that burn effectively even when green. The dry bark of the hemlock ignites quickly, producing a rapid and intense fire, while white birch catches fire swiftly, even when slightly moist.
Driftwood is a reliable choice for starting a fire, and dry pine knots, the limb stubs of deceased pine trees, are renowned as excellent kindling materials.
Green wood, naturally, burns better during the winter when the sap is dormant, and trees found on elevated terrain make superior fuel compared to those growing in moist bottomlands. Hardwoods are more abundant on higher ground, while the softer woods thrive abundantly along stream margins.
For cooking the midday meal, a small fire suffices to boil the pot and provide enough heat for frying. Simply drive a forked stick into the ground and lay a green stick in the fork, with the opposite end on the ground, securing it with a rock to keep it steady. Hang the pot on the protruding stub intentionally left for this purpose. Alternatively, a long stick with projecting stubs, planted in the ground to slant over the fire at an angle, can serve the same function. Let the pot hang approximately 2 ft. from the ground, gather an armful of dry twigs, and collect plenty of larger kindling sticks.
Now, shave three or four of the larger sticks, leaving the shavings on the ends, and stand them up beneath the pot in a tripod fashion. Place the smaller sticks around them, building a miniature wigwam. While the pot is boiling, get a couple of bed chunks or andirons, approximately 4 or 5 in. in diameter, set and level them on each side of the fire, and place the frying pan on them. When the pot has boiled, a nice bed of coals for frying will be ready, ensuring the meal doesn't smoke.
When the woodsman sets up camp for a single night, he typically builds the fire and starts boiling the kettle while he or a companion stakes the tent. As soon as the meal is prepared, a pot of water is set to boil for dishwashing.
For roasting and baking with a reflector, a relatively high fire is required, and a few sticks, around a yard or more in length, resting upright against a backlog or rock, will direct the heat forward. When glowing coals are desired, one can obtain them from the campfire or split uniform billets of green or dead wood, about 2 in. thick, and stack them in the shape of a hollow square or crib. The fire is built in the center of the crib, and additional parallel sticks are placed on top until it reaches a height of a foot or more. The crib acts as a chimney, resulting in a roaring fire that, when burned down, transforms into a bed of glowing coals.
Camp cooking involves preparing simple and nutritious foods, and when compiling a list, it is advisable to include only staple food items known for these qualities. Personal preferences may vary greatly, but our camping checklist can be relied upon as a helpful guide.