The Joys of cooking over an open fire.

I just got back from a month of camping at my bugout, if you can call roughing it with a motorhome with full hook-ups camping.  We’ve got a power pole on the property and we’re a stone’s throw from the lake.  It’s peaceful, and I can’t even begin to tell you how many nights I would start a fire, sit back and just watch the lake and let the crackling of the fire relax me as I ponder how to next take over the world… er… write more books.

One of the things I do like to do though, is cook over the fire.  Yes, I could have used a charcoal grill, or even my little propane grill… Instead, this is how I prefer to do things.  See… there’s a new little grocery store in the town near the bugout and they get their meat from a local (an hour away) butcher.  The quality is awesome.  I did everything from slow smoking, to charcoal grilling… yet my favorite is still wood fire.

I started with split hardwoods, with some chunks of water soaked apple.  While the main fire was started and I was letting it burn down some, I patted dry my steaks and then liberally rubbed in my own blend of seasonings.  I love Lawry’s Seasoning salt… so that’s part of it, then a blend of garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper and chili powder.  Then I let the steak rest, covered while things burn down.  When the flames aren’t kicking up past my grate, I liberally coat my grate with oil.  I do this, because if I don’t, it’ll rust, just like cast iron and the food will stick to it… so I put the oil on, add the soaked apple wood and wait for it to smoke.

Then it’s time to put the steak on.  Oh man, I throw it right over the hottest part of the fire till the outside is seared, then I flip it.  I know this is kind of redundant because everybody knows how to grill, but this is my story and I’ll tell it like I want to! So I sear both sides, then I slide the grate off the hottest part of the fire and find the coolest portion.  I finish cooking the steak there until its cooked on the outside, pink and moist on the inside.  The seasonings and wood smoke make me wish I didn’t have to come home, where it’s been raining.

Now, this same grate has also done the same job as a grill, in as far as grilling burgers, dogs, warming the buns, making grilled cheese sandwiches… to actually using a cast iron skillet on it, cooking bacon.  Let me tell you… you don’t want to be outside, cooking over a wood fire, sizzling bacon in your under britches.  Gives a flare up new meaning, if you know what I mean.

Cooking over a wood fire takes experimentation.  Raise the cooking height, lower it… move the food around, move the wood around (without coating food in ashes), how much wood to put for where… how much smoke you want… but just like grilling with charcoal, it’s an awesome experience and it’s results are mouth watering.  Getting good at it now will save you trouble and heartache later, should you ever have to know how to do this to survive.