Jul 13, 2010

Open Fire Cooking

This past weekend, I decided to prepare for my most recent and grand experiment.  Open fire cooking.  Now, I suppose that I could have simply done this on the BBQ grill with charcoal, and it would have, likely, been easier.  There's just something about an actual fire...  Indeed, I was amusing myself, as well as my son, who probably likes fire a little too much. lol

I first needed to begin acquiring what "tools" I didn't already have.  Among them, the single most important... the fire pit.  (I just didn't think Housing would appreciate me digging a hole in our front yard and creating one there.  So, I decided to compromise...)

Now, my neighbors have a fire pit that we often congregate around together...  I didn't want to have to borrow theirs, though, and I could have purchased one like theirs for a good deal less than I spent on the one I ended up with.  But, as I told Dh when we were discussing it, I wanted to spend a little more and buy one that would serve us well in the years to come, even after we're on the land in Missouri.

As I was shopping, I took many things into consideration because, let's face it, there are a lot of options on the market at the moment.  I could have bought a metal one, one with a table around it...  The things I was thinking about as I bought it was something that would last; something that was sturdy because we have a lot of kids between our family and our neighbors', and something that would be good in which to place a Dutch Oven.  I also didn't want to break the bank!  The result was a clay fire pit, which I picked up from Lowes...

I figured it wouldn't be too much different from cooking on a hearth, and, as Dh mentioned, it will probably be more weather resistant than a metal one would have been.

So started our grand cooking experiment...

Now, we have a cast iron Dutch Oven... somewhere...  It's likely among the camping stuff that has been "buried" in the garage behind Dh's workbench.  (Did I mention that cleaning out the garage is on my list of "things to do" while Dh is deployed?  Something else I'll share once that occurs...)  Given that I just wasn't up to digging in the garage yet, I decided to cook with aluminum foil.

For the experiment, I cooked chicken and garlic, which I drizzled with a little olive oil and white wine, shrimp with garlic, a mix of yellow squash, zucchini, and mushrooms, and red potatoes, which I cubed.  For dessert... because I had a sweet tooth later that evening, we had a revised version of "campfire sundaes", which comprised of cut up bananas, peanut butter, and a couple of marshmallows.  Everything was cooked on coals in aluminum foil pouches...

How did it go?  Not too bad for a first time.  I do have to work on my sense of timing a bit.  The chicken actually cooked more quickly than I had expected, so I sat it off to the side to "keep it warm" while I cooked everything else.  Unfortunately, it ended up getting a bit over-cooked and dry.

The shrimp... (Mental note:  Use uncooked shrimp)  I had forgotten that it was already cooked and should have only been heated up...  So, that came out a bit rubbery.

The veggies and potatoes came out really well, though, and the sundaes were delicious.

So, it wasn't a complete failure...  Definitely a learning experience and something that I will be doing again over the course of the summer.

On another note... My son is very happy that we now have a fire pit of our own and is talking about using it, even during the winter.  Might have to try out a recipe or two that I have for hot drinks.  We'll see...  After all, it gets really quite cold up here during the winter.

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