Cooking in nature
There are a lot of different options for food preparation, when cooking in nature. The way you travel influences the food preparation method you are choosing. Are you travelling lightweight, because you have to carry your things far, or will you stay the same place for a long time?
A grill grate
A grill grate is really handy to bring if you are camping. It is a bit heavy, and that is why the grill grate is often used if you don’t have to carry your things far. It is used for a lot of different purposes. When building a fire for embers, such as the pagoda fire, it works as a regular grill. You can grill, roast and toast bread on the grate. It is also really functional as a stabile base for pots and pans. Remember to clean the grate with a wire brush, right after you are done using it, then it will be much easier to clean. When using the grill, it is preferable to have a pair of work gloves, so you don’t burn your fingers.
A storm kitchen
A storm kitchen is a portable stove used for frying and cooking food and drinks when going on adventures. A storm kitchen is portable and lightweight and are often used for cooking, when you are only one or two people. A complete storm kitchen consists of pots and pans, a heat source and a holder that secures access to air, safety and stability. It is easy to use a storm kitchen and they are found with a lot of different heat sources. You can get a storm kitchen with a spirit burner, a gas burner or a multifuel burner.
The spear can be used for a lot of different purposes. Meat, vegetables and bread can be put on a spear or between two branches if you have been lucky enough to find a stick shaped as a trident. It is easy to make a trident for cooking. Find a stick which divides into two in the end and use your knife to make your own trident spear, by removing the bark from the two top ends. You can use your spear for roasting marshmallows, and once they are done you can put the marshmallow in between two biscuits, for a brilliant dessert.
In Denmark the spear if often used to make danish bonfire bread. In danish it is called snobrød, which means twisted bread. It is prepared over the embers from a campfire and the bread is a perfect way to create Nordisk hygge, when you are going on adventures. It is really easy to make snobrød. First you have to find a perfect stick, it has to be a long, strong and straight stick. A thick stick is better than a thin stick, because on a thick stick it is easier to make the snobrød thin and it doesn’t take that long to bake. Remove 20-30 cm of bark from the top of the stick with a knife, then it is easier to remove the bread once it is baked. Making the dough for snobrød is really simple, because it only consists of water, yeast, salt, sugar and flour. When the dough has been left to rise for 30-45 minutes take a small amount and roll it like a long and thin “sausage” between your hands. Once it is long and thin wrap and twist it around your wooden stick. Put your wooden stick over the hot embers from the campfire and avoid flames as they tend to burn the bread. Remember to turn your stick around, so it will be baked on all sides. Once it is done take it off the stick. But be careful – it can be really hot. You can serve the snøbrød with e.g., ketchup or jam, but traditionally it is just eaten as it is.
A tripod with a hook
A tripod with a hook works really well for cooking in nature. Make a tripod, as explained in lesson four, and attach a hook with a string in the top of the tripod. Make sure the string is long enough, so the hook is placed in a good work height for you. By using a tripod with a hook, you can prepare a really great meal, because the embers will give an even heat distribution, when your pot is hanging over the fire. If your pot is standing directly in the middle of fire, it is more unstable and the heat distributing is more uneven.
Cooking in nature is often a bigger challenge than cooking at home. Cooking in nature depends on wind, weather and a good campfire. Kitchen sanitation is one of the things that stay the same, whether you are at home or in nature. The rules and routines are important to remember also when you are outdoors. Always wash your hands before you are going to cook and whenever you have been touching your face or your hair, sneezed or coughed or been to the toilet. Make a small water sink for hand washing and use a clean towel to dry your hands.
Never place food in the sun for a long time, because bacteria love heat. Instead, build an underground fridge. Do so by digging a hole a bit bigger than the box the food is stored in. Put some stone or branches in the bottom of the hole and lower the box into the hole. Roof the fridge with a plate or branches and put turf on the top. Remember to place the fridge near the kitchen and in the shade. Always clean up the camp and especially the cooking area. When you are doing the dishes, follow these steps:
- Wipe the cutlery, plates and bowls with paper
- Rinse the dishes in a dish bowl with cold water
- Wash the dishes in a dish bowl with hot water and soap
- Dry the dishes with a tea towel
- Dish pots and pans in the same way, but always dish them as the last thing
- Put the wastewater in your waste hole or grease trap (see lesson four)
- Wipe the pots and pans on the outside in soft soap prior to using them, then it will be a lot easier cleaning them in the end.
Danish bonfire bread
For 4 people
3 dl water
25 g fresh yeast (or similar dry yeast)
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
500 g all-purpose flour
In a large bowl, add the water and dissolve the fresh yeast in it.
Add the all-purpose flour, salt and sugar.
Let the dough rise for minimum 30-45 minutes.
Now roll large and thin bread ‘sausages’ and twist them around long wood sticks you have cut from trees.
Finally bake the bread over a bonfire.
600 g flour
40-50 g wholemeal flour
300-350 cl water
10-15 g yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Mix water, salt, sugar and yeast thoroughly together. Add the flour a little at a time and knead it well for about half an hour for it to become glutinous.
Set the dough to rise in a cool place for 10-12 hours.
Roll the dough into a ball and allow it to settle a little – e.g. in a bowl where you can keep it for the trip.
Light the fire and place the dough in a cast iron pot with a lid over the fire.
Bake the bread for 35-40 minutes.
When finished it should slide out of the pot. Knock on the bottom of the bread and it's ready if it makes a hollow sound.
Serve with butter and salt.
Burnt Pumpkin with pickled red onions and goat cheese
For 2-4 people
1 Hokkaido pumpkin
1 handful of walnuts
1 picked red onion (pickling juice: water, vinegar, wild spices, salt, sugar)
300g goat cheese
flat leaf parsley
Put pumpkin gently to the fire where there are a lot of hot coals. The pumpkin will slowly turn black but will be cooked beautifully inside. It can take anything between 20 to 40 minutes according the size of the pumpkin. To be sure, put a thin knife through the pumpkin. Little resistance is ok, but it mustn’t be tough.
Put some sugar into a cast iron skillet and wait till it melts. Add walnuts and coat them in caramel. Set aside and chop it when it is cold. We recommend cleaning the skillet soon, because it’s hard to take out the caramel when cooled down.
Open up warm pumpkin on a wooden board, get rid of the seeds, spread the flash, and season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Put some goat cheese on top, add picked onions, parsley and those amazing walnuts. Eat everything except the black skin.