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We get a lot of enjoyment out of making and using campfires as part of our outdoor experiences. It adds an extra sense of adventure to our outdoor trips, whether hiking, camping, or just visiting a beach to play, and in the cooler months it makes our meal break a very cosy one. I haven’t always been happy with fires though and learnt a lot through forest school back in the UK before we moved here. Since then I have tried to carry on the experience of eating by a fire as the children loved it. I have learnt a lot over the last 12 months and I thought I might share some basics and tips to help you get started, or give you more confidence if you are new to it.
How To Build A Campfire:
- You will need some supplies first! This is what we use with a lot of success: Newspaper, cotton wool, Vaseline, tiny kindling (very small twigs, or we prefer silver birch bark we have shredded), bigger sticks (thumb width), and larger wrist sized logs. Don’t forget to sign up – you will then get the password to access our freebies page, and you can see what is in our fire starting kit!
- Build a tepee like structure: Small amount of newspaper in the middle, with some cotton wool on top (that has a bit of Vaseline on – this helps light the fire). Then place the kindling around that in a tepee shape, then the larger sticks around that, and then the bigger logs around that.
- Our stacking system: This is a system we use very effectively for our campfires so you could give it a go too. It doesn’t go so high as a tepee structure so is easier to pop a grill over to cook on. We place the smaller sticks in a crisscross square shape, placing a loosely crumpled piece of newspaper and cotton wool with Vaseline on in the middle. Then place a larger log across the top of the stack.
- Once the fire is lit, make sure you top up the fuel before the flames die right down to get it really going at first. If it dies down too much, you need to try blowing under at the glowing embers to get the flames going again. Once it has calmed down a little you are ready to cook on it 🙂
How To Put Out Campfires:
- Never leave a campfire before it is fully out as it may harm the environment and wildlife.
- Let the firewood all burn down to ash, and spread the ash and embers out a little
- Gently pour on some water slowly. We carry extra water for this, to make sure we can always put our fires out. Or if we are by water we take a bucket with us.
- Mix the embers up with a stick, allowing the water to infiltrate more, and bring anything that is still glowing and alight underneath to the surface to be dowsed with water.
- Pour on a little more water; you will hear hissing doing this and produce smokey steam (watch where you are standing!).
- Again use a stick to spread the embers out and stir water in.
- Keep repeating until you are confident nothing is still alight/glowing.
Some Rules For Campfires:
- Use fire pits where you can, or carry a lightweight and portable stove with you. By using provided fire pits, or carrying your own stove, you are helping to protect the habitat of creatures in the area that you have decided to cook in, plus reduced the risk of fire spreading.
- You need to consider any fire dangers for the time of year (e.g. is it very dry?) and bear in mind any local restrictions. You don’t want to spread your fire.
- Take only wood from the ground, never from the trees, and gather it from a wide area. You don’t want to remove everything from one small area as it has a job to perform in the ecosystem providing nutrients and habitats.
- Allow your wood to burn completely down to ash, and then spread them out when you are extinguishing your fire.
- Put out a fire with water not dirt,
- Avoid building your fire on rocks as it will scar them. Also, if near coastal water that covers them after you’ve been and gone, when the water rapidly cools the rocks it may cause them to crack.
- Never leave your fire unattended, it is a fire risk and a hazard to any inquisitive animals.
- If you have moved any rocks, for example to make a bit of a wind break, make sure you return them to where they were.
- Make sure you take all your rubbish home again, to avoid harming animals and the countryside.
I hope these tips will help you to either give campfires a go if you haven’t before, or help you get more confidence if you are a newbie. They really add to the outdoor experience and are so cosy to be around. They also help teach children basic bush craft and outdoor skills (whether that be lighting a fire, looking after a fire, or thinking about nature and the environment when using a fire). However, they must be made and used responsibly and always thinking about safety and nature. Don’t forget to check out our outdoor cooking recipes for inspiration for what to cook on your campfire!! We have lots of ideas both savoury and sweet, so go take a browse and enjoy them 🙂
The beautiful Swedish countryside is full of outdoor fire pits, making cooking outdoors very accessible to everyone. They come in all shapes, sizes, and conditions, but there is no doubt about it, being able to do your cooking outdoors on a hike or a camp, safely and responsibly, adds to the experience and memories, especially for our three children.
There is no knowing what you will find until you reach one. Some are marked on trail maps, others are not, but they are little gems tucked away in the Swedish countryside, usually complete with a stunning view to admire whilst you eat your tasty treat. Some are very basic, just a few rocks. Others are luxurious, with the ability to set your grill rack at different heights, and complete with picnic tables. Sometimes a kind person has provided wood for the fire and left it in a little shelter, and occasionally there is a bucket which you can use to collect water in (which we then have standing next to the fire as a safety precaution). Due to not knowing what we will come across, and being out with three small children, I carry our fire wood (I’m getting quite strong!), just to be on the safe side. As we get more experienced and the children get older, then we can think about rummaging around the ground for fuel supplies. There is something very special about being able to cook over an open fire, and we now have made a habit of doing this at least once a week, rain, sun, or snow…..in the winter it provides a well needed warming meal, and in the summer, a break in the hike to relax while the children play for a few hours. If you need any ideas of what to cook (both sweet and savoury), I have lots of outdoor recipes that are quick and easy 🙂 The provision of the fire pits have benefits far more reaching than just being able to do your cooking outdoors. They allow you to connect together, and pause a while from whatever adventure you are on. Usually we are hiking. The children either immerse themselves playing in nature, or are busy helping me, learning good bush craft and survival skills as they go along. They have now all learnt what you need and how to start a fire, as well as looking after it, and putting it out safely. Also, importantly, they have learnt how to behave around a lit campfire.
Top Tips for Cooking Outdoors
- Carry your food, water, and fuel for the trip
- Have a little fire starting kit ready made up. You can see what is in ours here
- Allow lots of time. This is not an activity that can be rushed, both for safety and enjoyment reasons.
- Be prepared to improvise, whether with cooking accessories, or fuel supplies.
- Let your children help. It teaches them valuable skills.
- Leave no trace of you being there, so there is less impact on the environment. If you’ve moved rocks to create a windbreak, put them back etc
- Use fire pits when you can, or a stove if there isn’t one.
- Take ALL your waste home.
- Put any fires out completely before you pack up and leave. We don’t want wildlife hurt, nature harmed, or it to become a safety risk.
- If you are using firewood from the surrounding area, only use from the ground. Don’t go chopping or tearing branches from trees and bushes.
We really enjoy eating our food cooked on a campfire, and I find the children tend to eat better too!! Make sure you check out our outdoor cooking recipes, and next week I will go over campfire basics, and campfire problem solving here on the blog.
In previous recipes I have experimented using both Swedish flat breads and French baguettes to make pizza meals, and both have been a success. However, today’s idea of pizza wraps wins hands down over those two, according to the taste testing panel of my crazy trio. They were so easy to make, very quick to cook, and extremely tasty to eat.
Ingredients For Pizza Wraps
- Tomato puree
- Grated cheese
You can play around with the toppings and add in/take away what you fancy. This combination was both simple and worked well. Don’t forget your tin foil to cook in.
Method To Make Pizza Wraps
- Take a piece of tin foil and lie the wrap on the top.
- Spread tomato puree over half the wrap surface area.
- Then add your toppings….for us cheese and salami
- Roll it up, and then wrap it in the tin foil.
- Place them on the fire, but only leave a minute or two before turning, and then the same again. These cook very fast. Watch for the tin foil scorching and as soon as it does it will be ready.
Friday 11th May (fredag elfte maj) is chokladbollens dag….yes, that’s right, they have a whole day dedicated to eating chokladbollar (chocolate balls)! The longer I live here, the more I feel this country is the perfect place for my sweet tooth to have taken residence. It seems there is always a yummy treat to spend a day officially celebrating! We have celebrated cinnamon bun day, “Fat Day” with semlor buns, and waffle day. Now it is time for chocolate ball day. So, in order to show we were integrating well into Swedish culture and life, we whizzed up a batch of these no-bake treats (like we really needed a reason!!). Give them a go and tell me what you think.
So what do you need to make this gooey treat for chokladbollens dag?
Ingredients for Chokladbollar:
250g soft butter
400g rolled oats
175g caster sugar
4 tbs cocoa powder
4 tbs strong cooled coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
This made around 30 balls, but I think it should easily reach 40-50 if you don’t have a 10 year old chocoholic deciding the size of them 🙂
Method To Make Chokladbollar
- Whizz all the ingredients together, apart from the coconut.
- Pop into the fridge to allow them to go a little firmer.
- Once firm, roll into small balls, and then roll each ball into the desiccated coconut to cover it.
- They should keep in the fridge for around a week….ahem….if you haven’t got me living with you!!
These are very easy and quick to make, and perfect for little people who enjoy “helping” in the kitchen. Although to be fair my little lady is actually a help now, rather than a hindrance. As for the twins……….!!!!
Bare feet….my trio love having them!! But why, as grown ups do we tend to shy away from letting them do it? Conformity? Our adult brains weighing up the consequences of dirt and injury? Why do we stop it so much when it leads to a child feeling so free and less encumbered? As my little lady says, she “loves sinking her toes into chocolately mud”!!! I now bite my tongue and let them get on with it (within reason…I’m not about to let them trundle over areas with broken glass or anything!). Let me see if I can persuade you too with the following seven reasons 🙂
1. Our feet used to be just fine walking bare. Shoes can change how they function, and also damage them, as well as have knock on effects on ankles, hips, knees, and backs. Going with bare feet allows the feet to develop the way they are meant too.
2. It’s a sensory experience and makes children happy to experience all the pleasure from that. My children love squishing and squelching the mud through their toes. They like warm soft grass to tickle their toes and they can feel it like a bouncy cushion. They love feeling warm sand on their bare feet, and wetness from puddles.
3. Going with bare feet increases the body’s and foot’s strength. We worry about injury and illness to the feet, but in fact going without shoes can aid us prevent these more (within reason!). Increasing the foot’s strength can prevent injury, and toughening up of the skin of the foot can give it more protection. In fact, shoes provide the perfect environment to grow and trap more fungus and bacteria.
4. Going with bare feet helps proprioception (spacial orientation from stimuli), and also vestibular development. It is due to the direct connection between the child (via their feet) and the terrain they are walking on. How many times has your child tripped over due to their footwear? Footwear can hinder our nervous pathways and we gain more of them from having bare feet.
5. You can feel connection with nature more 🙂 I am a big one for wanting children to connect to nature more, for reasons I go into more depth elsewhere on the blog. Have a look at the following links:
6. Children feel freer…..anything’s possible when you feel free and less encumbered. Life is more enjoyable with a feeling of freedom!
7. It’s a researched and proven stress buster!! So, what are you waiting for, kick off those shoes and socks and get out there and enjoy a bare feet life with your little people 🙂 We have a lot to learn from them!
On Easter Monday we headed out for an outdoor adventure, and I was trying to rack my brain with a way of using up a little Easter chocolate with a new campfire treat. I came up with fruity s’mores! They were given the thumbs up by my testing trio, plus Dadda on this occasion, and we will definitely be making them again.
Ingredients For Fruity S’mores
- Mini marshmallows.
- Mini eggs – but chunks of chocolate will work too if it isn’t around Easter time! We also had vegan chocolate to use for Dadda.
- Foil to wrap them up in.
Method To Make Fruity S’mores
- Take an apple and a corer and remove the middle of the apple.
- Alternately stuff into the gap chocolate eggs (or chunks) and mini marshmallows, until the middle is bursting.
- Wrap in tin foil, and pack. All ready to pop onto your campfire.
This is such a tasty and easy treat. Give it a go and let me know how you get on 🙂