Tag: bushcraft (Page 1 of 2)

6 Campfire Problems & What To Do

You have packed up and headed off for an outdoor adventure that includes lots of fresh air and nature.  You have also decided the best and most cosy way to cook your food would be on a campfire…..a person after my own heart!!  Who doesn’t like a warming campfire and making memories around them?  However, you hit a problem with it.  Let’s face it, building, lighting, and keeping campfires going is an eternal learning curve, but a fun one.  This post is designed to take you through some of the more commonly occurring campfire problems, and what to do about them, so you can (armed with a bit of helpful knowledge) get on and enjoy a successful campfire 🙂

  1. Too smokey:  A smokey campfire is one of the more common campfire problems, and as you can tell from the photo, it can take even the most prepared bush crafter by surprise – the cause, wet wood (I was convinced mine was dry here…obviously not!!)  Wet wood will be hard to light, and will produce a lot of smoke.  I’m not talking about wood that has previously dried out and has now been exposed to a little rain…yes, that will smoke a bit, but on the inside it will still be dry.  Some types of wood also cause smoking.  Generally if you stick with harder woods you should be fine.  Light with smaller softer wood initially to get it going (they light easier), then swap to harder woods as they burn hotter and for longer.
  2. Lighting the campfire in the rain:  Look for naturally protected areas to light your fire.  For example under tree canopies, or cliff overhangs.  But don’t, whatever you do, light it in the protection of your tent!  Start with very small and very dry kindling and tinder (refer to my building a campfire blog post).  I usually carry some of this just to ensure we have a successful lighting, but if you need more, look for it under things where it has been protected from the elements.  Also, if you have a knife or axe you can split the wood, as the inside may be dry and then it will light better with that exposed rather than the damp exterior.  You could even shave some off with the knife as extra kindling, or feather a stick for even better chances of lighting the fire.
  3. Reigniting embers when the flames die down:  If your campfire dies down and you still need flames (if like me you got distracted with children and forgot to add new fuel to the fire), then you can direct a gentle blow into the base of the hot embers, and after a few attempts you should see the flames spring back into life (just make sure you aren’t blowing hot embers all over the countryside as you’ll start a fire!  You need to make sure they stay in your fire pit).  
  4. Keep the fire burning:  Before your flames die down, add another log to them, but make sure air can still get into the fire to fan the flames, don’t suffocate it.
  5. Wood burning too fast:  This usually means that it is too windy and your campfire needs some protection from the wind.  For example, above we have built a wall from rocks, preventing the wind from burning through our wood fuel so fast.  You could also dig a hole into the ground if the area/ground is suitable.  If you do use rocks, don’t forget to cool them down afterwards, and also replace them to where you found them.
  6. Food is not cooking or warming up:  This usually means, for some reason, the heat is not reaching your food.  For example, a very windy day will make your fuel burn rapidly and have huge flames, but the heat will be blown away before it has much impact on your cooking.  On those kind of days, the food needs to sit right on top of the heat source.  If you have foil wrapped food that isn’t so hard, but if in a billy can or balanced on a grill you need to get a little more inventive.  Usually things can be solved with some well positioned wood to balance a pot, or some foil to wrap things up in so they can go straight onto the fire….just remember to check them more often as they will now cook fast!

I hope these hints about campfire problems will give you a helping hand in having a successful campfire or two.  They are such fun to do and we love making one on our outdoor adventures.  Be sure to read my post on campfire basics and tips as well, which covers how to build one and safety amongst other things, and go and enjoy your campfire!!6 Campfire Problems & What To Do, Campfire problems, campfires, fire pits, bush craft, survival, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Campfires – The Basics & Tips

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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

  1. Never leave a campfire before it is fully out as it may harm the environment and wildlife.
  2. Let the firewood all burn down to ash, and spread the ash and embers out a little
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Pour on a little more water; you will hear hissing doing this and produce smokey steam (watch where you are standing!).
  6. Again use a stick to spread the embers out and stir water in.
  7. Keep repeating until you are confident nothing is still alight/glowing.

Some Rules For Campfires:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Allow your wood to burn completely down to ash, and then spread them out when you are extinguishing your fire.
  5. Put out a fire with water not dirt,
  6. 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.
  7. Never leave your fire unattended, it is a fire risk and a hazard to any inquisitive animals.
  8. 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.
  9. 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 🙂

Campfires the basics and tips, campfires, how to make a campfire, campfire rules, outdoor cooking, camping, hiking, www.mammasschool.co.uk

The Swedish Kitchen – Cooking Outdoors

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

  1. Carry your food, water, and fuel for the trip
  2. Have a little fire starting kit ready made up.  You can see what is in ours here
  3. Allow lots of time.  This is not an activity that can be rushed, both for safety and enjoyment reasons.
  4. Be prepared to improvise, whether with cooking accessories, or fuel supplies.
  5. Let your children help.  It teaches them valuable skills.
  6. 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
  7. Use fire pits when you can, or a stove if there isn’t one.
  8. Take ALL your waste home.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.The Swedish Kitchen-cooking outdoors, Campfire, campfires, outdoor cooking, campfire cooking, bushcraft, Sweden, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perfect Pizza Wraps

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

  1. Tortillas
  2. Tomato puree
  3. Grated cheese
  4. Salami

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

  1. Take a piece of tin foil and lie the wrap on the top.
  2. Spread tomato puree over half the wrap surface area.
  3. Then add your toppings….for us cheese and salami
  4. Roll it up, and then wrap it in the tin foil.
  5. 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.

Hope you enjoy them as much as we did if you give them a go 🙂Perfect Pizza Wraps, Campfire Pizza, pizza, outdoor cooking, campfire cooking, camping food, bush craft food, outdoor food, Hiking food, www.mammasscholol.co.uk

Apple and Cinnamon Porridge – A Warming Breakfast

This apple and cinnamon porridge breakfast is quick and easy (a big plus point when you are outdoors), tasty, and very filling.  It’s perfect for starting the day in the great outdoors, or as a snack to make when out hiking for the day as it will give you lots of energy.

Ingredients For Apple And Cinnamon Porridge 

(This is for one portion)

1 cup of oats.

1 cup of milk of your choice (we’ve made it with both cows’ and plant based milks).

Half an apple.

Teaspoon of raisins.

Teaspoon of cinnamon powder.

Teaspoon of vanilla essence.

How To Make Apple And Cinnamon Porridge

  1. Dice the apple, leaving the skin on is down to what you prefer.
  2. Then put all the ingredients into you pan and warm through
  3. Beware with cooking porridge on a campfire that it can quickly stick to the bottom and burn, so stir regularly.
  4. If getting a little dry just as some more milk.  For example, when I am using oat milk I seem to need more than when I use cows’ milk.
  5. Then serve and enjoy!!

I hope you enjoy eating this simple but yummy apple and cinnamon porridge recipe as much as we do, and let me know in the comments below how you found it.

Apple and cinnamon porridge, campfire breakfast, campfire porridge, hiking food, camping food, bush craft, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Outdoor Play For Teenagers – 11 Ideas

Outdoor play for children is so important for all ages (read here to find out why), and in this mini series of posts I will run through some varying outdoor play ideas for different age groups of children.  This post is all about outdoor play for teenagers.  This age group is such fun as you extend their boundaries, give them more independence, and more challenges.  Outdoor play for teenagers is still very important, and also in continuing to foster their love of nature and the outdoors, so when they are ready (very soon) they will want to continue out of their own initiative.  These outdoor play ideas for teenagers are supposed to do all of that…be fun, challenging, and help connect them to nature.  I hope your teenagers enjoy trying them.

Outdoor Play For Teenagers

  1. Climb a mountain, large peak, or hill together:  This will allow them to take a little responsibility for packing, looking after themselves, and some basic map reading but on a grander scale.  The time together will allow for some lovely bonding time as well.  They will like the sense of adventure too.
  2. Cook on a campfire:  We cook on a campfire regularly and my three smaller children are up to speed on fire safety, and hopefully are learning skills they can then use in the future.  With a teenager, take it that step further, and allow them (supervised) to cook the meal on the campfire.
  3. Take a hike at night time with them.  There is a good collection on the website for the National Trust if you fancy trying one of theirs.  For an extra challenge they also do night runs
  4. Let your teenager lead you for a wild camp.  Let them plan with you where to go, lead in the pitching, and any activities/organisation while you are there.
  5. Learn to surf….you might find this another fun one to do with them for something new to try!
  6. Swim in the sea (make sure they are safe and supervised!!).
  7. Go on an off road cycling adventure.
  8. Make colourful nature textiles using sun dye paints.  Mine have just done simple fabrics, but you can make cushion covers, t-shirts, the list is endless.  The effect is beautiful.
  9. Build a raft and try to sail it (again make sure any activity around water is safe and supervised).
  10. Build a mini pond.  This is a great activity for them to add a feature to your own outdoor space, however small.
  11. Learn to use (supervised) some other bush craft equipment.  My three love the Kelly Kettle.  It is fun and easy, and gives them a good start to fire making skills on a smaller scale.

I hope you have enjoyed these ideas for outdoor play for teenagers, and let me know how you get on!!Outdoor Play For Teenagers, teenagers, teenager outdoor activities, outdoor activities for older children, teenagers outdoors, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Raspberry And Coconut Porridge – A Fruity Breakfast

This fruity breakfast porridge makes a good start to any day, whether hiking, camping, or even in the kitchen at home 🙂 It is fruity, tasty, and healthy, and it certainly warmed me up the day I cooked it! 

Ingredients for Raspberry And Coconut Porridge

This will make one serving, so just multiply the ingredients by how many people you have….it makes a decent portion size too.

1 cup of oats.

1 cup of coconut milk – add more if it becomes too stiff, but one was fine for me.

Handful of raspberries – mine were frozen, but to be honest if I’d taken fresh out that day they would have frozen anyway!!

1 teaspoon vanilla essence.

Non essential:  cocoa powder (sprinkle) and desiccated coconut (spoonful).

Method For Making Raspberry And Coconut Porridge

  1. Pour in coconut milk and add oats.
  2. Stir until warm.
  3. Add raspberries and stir until mushy, then add in the vanilla essence.  At this point you can add desiccated coconut if desired. One of our trio doesn’t like strongly flavoured coconut food so we didn’t.
  4. Serve into a bowl and sprinkle cocoa over the top, but make sure it isn’t windy or else you might just end up wearing it!!!

Raspberry and Coconut Porridge, porridge, oats, breakfast oats, camping food, hiking food, campfire food, outdoor cooking, bushcraft, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

 

Snow Ice Cream

Snow ice cream is the perfect way to use some of that cold white stuff up, and turn it into a tasty snack while you are out enjoying playing in the snow. With only four ingredients (although you can add more/different making various other flavours), snow ice cream is very simple and your little ones will love it!!

Ingredients For Snow Ice Cream

(This will serve 2)

Four cups of snow

One cup of preferred milk (we have made it both with cows milk and plant based milk for the vegan in our lives)

Quarter of a cup of sugar

Vanilla essence as preferred to taste

Method To Make Snow Ice Cream

  1. Get milk, vanilla, and sugar ingredients into the bowl.
  2. Put snow in and gently fold it into the mixture.
  3. Serve as preferred….we added sprinkles and sauce 🙂

You can see how easy this was to make as our little lady was in her element making it for everyone, not to mention the four portions she then consumed afterwards!!! Snow Ice cream, outdoor cooking, winter outdoor food, snow food, winter food, camping food, hiking food, ice cream, outdoor food, www.mammasschool.co.uk

Chocolate Breakfast Oats – A Campfire Breakfast

Do you want a nice easy campfire breakfast?  These chocolate breakfast oats will not only warm you up, they will fill you up. and they are tasty too!

Ingredients For Chocolate Breakfast Oats:

2 cups of rolled oats

2 cups of milk (we used oat milk as one of us is vegan)

1 tablespoon agave syrup (this can be honey or maple syrup too)

1 tablespoon cocoa

tsp vanilla essence

This makes it for 2, so adjust as appropriate

Method To Make Chocolate Breakfast Oats:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together and place in the fridge overnight 🙂
  2. Next day reheat over your campfire for a tasty breakfast
  3. We did it this way as we were off hiking for a sunrise breakfast.  However, if you are camping and can’t pop them in the fridge overnight, just make them and warm them up straight away.  They still taste good!!  And you don’t have to limit them to breakfast either 🙂

Chocolate Breakfast oats, hiking food, camping food, campfire breakfast, breakfast, campfire food, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

Allemansrätten – Our Impact On Nature & How To Minimise It

Allemansrätten is a unique Swedish concept, of the right of public access to roam freely almost anywhere in the countryside.  However, a few responsibilities come with this privilege.  We need to take care of nature and wildlife, respect landowners and others enjoying the countryside, respect the land and leave no trace that you have been there, and do not disturb and do not destroy.  It is a very rare concept, allowing you to enjoy the Swedish outdoors (which is important here in Sweden and I have written more about it http://mammasschool.co.uk/living-abroad/enjoying-outdoors-in-sweden-get/ ) in its full glory.  Despite not all countries having allemansrätten, there is still an impact of us enjoying activities such as camping, hiking, and cooking outdoors, so I want to discuss how we can minimise the impact and why.

Outdoor Cooking:

There is no doubt cooking outdoors on a campfire adds to the outdoor experience and memories, but it must be done safely and respectfully.

  1. Use fire pits where you can, or carry a light and portable stove with you.  Allemansrätten means we have the ability to cook on campfires on our outdoor expeditions. However, by using provided fire pits (we are lucky having a lot here in Sweden), or carrying your own stove, you are helping to protect the habitat of creatures in the area you have decided to cook in, plus reduced the risk of fire spreading. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Allow your wood to burn completely down to ash, and then spread them out when you are extinguishing your fire.
  5. Put out a fire with water not dirt,
  6. 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.
  7. Never leave your fire unattended, it is a fire risk and a hazard to any inquisitive animals.
  8. 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.
  9. Make sure you take all your rubbish home again, to avoid harming animals and the countryside.

Pop over to my Outdoor Cooking category for some delicious outdoor recipes on my blog.

 

Hiking:

Hiking is good for us for so many different reasons.  Allemansrätten here means virtually nowhere is out of bounds.  I have written many times about the actual benefits of being in nature and the great outdoors .  So, I won’t go into detail about that here, but feel free to click on the links to read more 🙂  However, collectively enjoying the countryside means we will have an impact on the environment.  So here are some tips to help reduce that impact:

  1. Be polite and leave room for others.  Don’t take up the whole trail or path, so passers by are pushed off it.  People need to stick to them as much as possible…….
  2. Following on from my last point, trails are there for a reason, so use them.  It prevents us from trampling over the rest of the area and destroying vast quantities of the environment with our boots and feet.
  3. Be aware of wildlife, it is their home and they can be easily spooked.  Try and view them but not too close, give them some respect.  You don’t want to scare them as it could have disasterous consequences like mothers running off and leaving their young.
  4. Take all your rubbish home, EVERYTHING! Personal rubbish (I carry dog poop bags to clear up after us) as well as fruit peelings, and the usual more obvious rubbish clutter.  It can harm and injure animals, as well as look unsightly and harm the ecosystem.
  5. Don’t take anything…..only photos.  Each thing is part of a complicated ecosystem and has a function.
  6. Try and move quietly (we really struggle with this one!!).  You are going through someone’s home.
  7. Keep any pets you take with you on a lead.  It not only avoids them spooking the wildlife, but stops them veering off the trail too.

Wild Camping:

Allemansrätten means you can enjoy a “wild camping” experience.  We’ve enjoyed a wild camp , but you need to think carefully about how you go about it, and remember you are making a home in someone else’s home…you are a visitor.  Here are some tips to lessen your impact on their home:

  1. Avoid loud music and activities.
  2. Keep your group small.  Not only is it better for the environment, you’ll see and hear more too 🙂
  3. Try and leave any pets at home, but if they do come, keep them on a lead.
  4. Leave no trace you were ever there.  Tidy your campsite up after.  This not only means rubbish, but return nature to how it was…those boulders or rocks you moved to sleep more comfortably?  Pop them back.
  5. Bear in mind how you treat campfires or toileting activities as we have already mentioned above.
  6. Give animals space to use any natural water supply, especially early morning and evening.
  7. Do not leave any food out.  Not only does it attract animals (and some may be unwanted, especially for us living in Sweden), but it can also harm them.  Containers can injure, and some food can make them ill.
  8. Use biodegradable dish washing soap (or as we do, wipe them after a meal and save the proper washing up until you get home).  Spread any dish water out over a wide area.
  9. Only camp for a short time in any one place.

 

I hope you have found all these tips helpful as to how you can get into the great outdoors and enjoy it responsibly.  Do you think it’ll help you on your next trip out to be more considerate to the environment?  Comment below and let me know, especially if you think I have left something vital out 🙂

Allemansrätten, Our impact on nature and how to minimise it, allemansratten, every mans rights, Sweden, outdoors Sweden, impact on nature, hiking, camping, bushcraft, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

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