Tag: camping

How To Cook On A Campfire & Some Handy Rules

We love cooking outdoors on campfires and it’s such a cosy way of spending time together.  I have previously written about the basics of making a campfire, and also how to solve some campfire problems, but in this post I want to run through some methods of how to cook on a campfire and a few handy rules.  I hope you can then head out and enjoy cooking food on the campfire as much as we do 🙂

Methods To Cook On A Campfire:

This list is by no means definitive, but it is what we mainly use to cook on a campfire:

  1. Using a grill:  These come in all sizes, but if you use a smallish one with folding legs, they become a very handy piece of kit.  They can be set up over a fire, avoiding having to put the food directly onto the flames and they keep the food steady.  They are a very light piece of kit too making them easy to pack and carry.
  2. Foil parcels: This is perhaps one of the most used ways we use to cook on a campfire.  It is so versatile and means you can prepare the food at home, package it up, and carry it all ready to cook at your destination.  You can cook all sorts this way, and there is a wealth of foil parcel recipes out there (including in our own outdoor cooking category).  You can place the food directly onto the fire this way, or use the grill option as well.
  3. Pots:  Again these can be placed straight onto the fire (beware of food sticking to the bottom and be prepared for a tough pan scrub at home), or used on the grill.  We favour one pot recipes keeping things very simple.
  4. Skewers:  These are perfect for bread based recipes, sausage, or of course good old marshmallows.  We also have a tasty fruit kebab recipe.

Handy Rules For Campfire Food:

  1. Keep it simple:  The less ingredients the better.  You have enough going on around you, and you will need less equipment, making less clearing up!
  2. One Pot Dishes:  Try and do recipes that just use one pot.
  3. Prep before you head out:  You will need to take less equipment then to use to prepare the food, and it makes it easier at the fire pit, especially if the weather is inclement.
  4. Get the children to help:  They love helping with both the food and the fire…plus they are more likely to eat the food if they have helped cook it.
  5. Make it heart warming, filling, and popular:  Remember this is not a time to try out weird and wonderful recipes that may not be received with enthusiasm.  The meal may need to be used as a morale booster, for energy, and for warmth.
  6. If you are unsure that you will find a fire pit or be able to make a fire, make it a meal that might be viable hot or cold.  Our pizza wraps are a good example of this.
  7. Try and make food that only needs simple utensils (like a spork) or fingers.
  8. Use metal, not plastic accessories such as tongs.
  9. Use fireproof gloves to wear.
  10. Cook safe:  I stick to foods that have a very low risk of breeding anything nasty that will make us sick, and use common sense with food hygiene.

Once you have finished, don’t forget to tidy the area up properly (looking after the area), package and put away left over food so the wild animals are not tempted, and put out your campfire properly (see the link at the start of the post).

I hope this has given you some helpful hints and tips to get you outdoors cooking on the campfires and enjoying it 🙂How to cook on a campfire,campfires, bushcraft, camping, hiking, outdoor cooking, campfire food, www.mammasschool.co.uk

 

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

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

 

 

Campfire Waffles – A Winter Warmer

I have deliberated over whether to share my campfire waffles recipe, as not everyone possess their grandmother’s ancient cast iron waffle iron.  However, I decided to go for it for a few reasons…other than we adore waffles!!  Firstly, this recipe is the same one I use for my indoor waffle iron too (we are talking Scandinavian heart shaped waffles here).  Secondly, if you did want to make campfire waffles I know that you can get hold of these lovely old cast iron pieces of equipment second hand – they are out there (one of my friends has recently managed this).  Lastly, outdoor waffle irons (albeit a more modern and practical version), are now being sold in outdoor shops (I have only seen them online so far but they do exist).  So, I may give you an idea for a new piece of outdoor campfire equipment for your wish list, or you may just want to try them out in the comfort of your own home.

Ingredients For Campfire Waffles (makes 4 waffles):

An oil for greasing (we use either coconut oil or olive oil as that is what is in our cupboard.  Butter definitely didn’t work for us!)

3dl of plain flour

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons sugar

3 teaspoons butter

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

3dl milk

Raspberry jam and creme fraiche for serving

Method To Make Campfire Waffles:

You can either make the mixture at home and transport in an old plastic bottle, or if camping you can make on site.

  1. Place all the dry ingredients into a bowl.
  2. Add in the wet ingredients a little at a time.
  3. Beat well inbetween to make sure there are no lumps.
  4. Grease the iron and warm it up in the fire.
  5. Ladle in a portion of mixture and pop on the fire for 2-3 minutes, before turning over the iron to do the same on the other side.
  6. Take the iron off the fire and pop the waffle on a plate.
  7. Serve with a good dollop of creme fraiche and jam.

It might take a few attempts to perfect the timings needed and the amount of greasing needed, but bear with it and keep trying as once you have sussed it out, campfire waffles are well worth the effort 🙂  Excuse my grubby hands below, I was cooking on a fire!!!

Make sure you let me know your thoughts and ideas in the comments below, and I hope you enjoy making your own campfire waffles!

Campfire Waffles, Waffles, Waffle Recipe, Outdoor Waffles, Outdoor cooking, campfire recipes, bush craft waffles, www.mammasschool.co.uk

The Kelly Kettle – A User Guide

My Kelly Kettle and I are inseparable on our outdoor adventures.  We take it everywhere with us.  We enjoy it so much I thought I would give you a basic guide as to how you use it and then you can see if this is something you would like to give a go when out and about in the great outdoors.  The Kelly Kettle heats water very fast using what you find on the ground around you as fuel.  You can also get accessories that can turn it into a stove as well.  Plus, you can use the fire in the base for things such as toasting marshmallows without the stove accessory.  They are simple and fun to use, and a great way of introducing children into bush craft and the skill of lighting and being responsible for fires, as they are small and contained.  It is a great way for them to start learning their bush craft skills for the great outdoors.

Step By Step Guide To Using the Kelly Kettle:

  1. Fill your Kelly Kettle up with water, then set it to one side. 
  2. In the Kelly Kettle base add a small amount of newspaper, and some cotton wool with a little Vaseline on.  This helps ignite the fire a little easier. We carry a little fire starting kit of essentials with us, subscribe to the blog and see what is in our fire starting kit over on the  freebies tab. 
  3. Next add a little kindling.  We tend to collect this as we go along on our hike.  Our preference is small pieces of silver birch bark as they are highly flammable.  Just make sure you are picking it up from the ground (not pulled off the trees), and that it is dry.  Very small, thin, dry twigs work too. 
  4. Then light the cotton wool.  We use a fire steel.  This is 2 pieces of metal, which when struck together produce a spark which will nicely ignite the cotton wool.  We use this as it is generally functioning in most weather conditions, particularly wind and rain!  You can use matches or other lighting contraptions of your choice.
  5. Place the Kelly Kettle on top once the fire is lit.
  6. Continue to slowly feed tinder into the kettle down the chimney (watching for the fire coming up!).  We use leaves, twigs, bark, fir cones, etc.  You get the idea, most things found on the ground are good as long as they are dry.  By far our favourite is the silver birch bark though as it catches so easily, is very thin, so burns well.  The idea is not to swamp the fire in the base though but add slowly to keep it burning. You can also blow through the side holes, if needed, to gently get any embers to catch fresh tinder too. 

The great thing about the Kelly Kettle is it also comes with accessories which can convert it into a stove (they don’t take up any more packing room as they store inside the kettle).  I was really lucky to get the hobo stove for Christmas, and although we love our fire pits, it means that if there isn’t one available en route, I can light our hobo stove and cook safely with it.  It is a great back up to have in the back pack.  I am much happier doing that than making my own fire on the ground.

The Kelly Kettles come in different sizes.  We have the trekker size Kelly Kettle, one of the smaller ones.  I boil it twice when the 5 of us go out, but it doesn’t take too long so I don’t mind.

Have you got a favourite piece of outdoor kit?  Let me know in the comments below and maybe I’ll need to add it to my wish list!!  Don’t forget to subscribe  to the blog and get access to freebies (eBook, recipes, top tips, and our fire starter kit contents).

The Kelly Kettle, A User Guide, Kelly Kettle, Hobo Stove, Bush craft, camping, hiking, outdoors, kettle, www.mammasschool.co.uk

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