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A Celebration of Campcraft and Camp Cookery - April 8, 2023

Dan Foster

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Eight of us gathered around the fire on Saturday for a full day of campcraft and cooking. We built a pair of cooking fires and sipped freshly-brewed coffee, and then whipped up brunch using a combination of camp stoves, fire grates, pots, and frying pans.



We reviewed knots and set up a ridgeline using the bowline and trucker's hitch, and then pitched a group tarp beneath it using taut-line hitches, and prussik loops and wooden toggles so we could slide it back and forth and take it down quickly.


We hiked and bushwhacked through a stand of dead white pines, a hemlock grove, an open field, and some boggy areas, foraging for fire starting materials. Back in camp, EVERYONE started a fire using just a spark from a ferro rod and the materials they had gathered. It was a highlight of everyone's day, especially mine, to hear an exclamation of joy and see a puff of smoke quickly turn into flame as fires flared up.


Fallen trees were quickly processed into stacks of kindling and firewood, and two group cooking fires were soon turning logs into cooking coals. Peppers were fire roasted and peeled, chicken was grilled, garlic heads were dug out of the morning ashes, smeared across buttered bread and wrapped in foil, veggies were seasoned and skewered. Oysters were shucked and slurped. Garlic was sauteed, broth was heated. A cooking support was placed over the fire and carefully checked and leveled with a shallow pan of water, checked and leveled again, until it was perfect.

The paella pan was lowered, onions were sauteed, rice was oiled and toasted. The paella construction began. Seasoned broth was added. A rapid boil ensued. Coals were moved, removed, added-back to maintain the simmer. Chicken, clams, chorizo joined the dish. Artichokes, fire-roasted peppers, peas. More liquid. More fire.

On the other fire, garlic bread toasted, and veggie kebabs roasted. A simulated raccoon lazed nearby, hopeful. More chilled beverages and oysters were slurped. The paella rice absorbed the last of the cooking liquid and began developing soccarat, the prized flavorful crust of rice on the bottom of the pan.

We all gathered around the table and enjoyed a magnificent banquet. It truly was a celebration, and everyone played a crucial role in the day's success. I can't wait to do it again!


Edited by Dan Foster
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