Cooking in the outdoors whether for survival purposes or just for the fun of it, can be very enjoyable or a real hassle. There are many factors and variables that can turn the best of intentions into a gourmet nightmare. Obviously, if you have all of the cooking equipment you need with you, then your chances for a culinary delight are greatly improved. But in a survival situation, the reality is ‘It ain’t gonna be no Pic Nic’. Let’s face the truth, when you are scrubbing for grub it should be easily prepared, contain the necessary nutrients your body needs and hopefully have a taste that is reasonably palatable. I realize some types of foods are going to taste bad enough that they could gag a maggot. Although we are able to make them taste better, or at least a little bette
The first item on our list will be fire. Cooking fires to be more precise. Not all types of fires can be utilized efficiently for cooking. What we need for cooking is a good bed of hot coals. In the majority of cooking cases it will be the coals and not the fire itself that should be utilized. That is, unless you are browning, toasting or reflecting the heat of the fire. Always try to use hardwoods for cooking since they burn slower and hotter than softwoods. Always avoid evergreen trees if possible. The resins in the wood will cause the fire to burn inconsistent and will often impart a bad taste to roasted foods. Always have a bed of coals large enough to cook your foods. Heat regulation is very important. A good rule of thumb are the hand and second count method. Place your hand approximately four inches above the coals and count the seconds before you have to remove your hand from the heat. This may seem like foolish thing to do. But unless you have hands of steel you won’t linger to long. The length of time you are able to hold your hand near the coals will give the approximate temperature of the heat. A simple chart is below:
1 second or less=450-500 degrees F.
2 to 3 seconds =400-450 degrees F.
4 to 5 seconds =350-400 degrees F.
6 to 8 seconds =250-350 degrees F.
There are many efficient cooking methods and all will get the job done, some are simply easier to use than others. Ash cooking for example is a very old method and works well. I must stress again, always use hardwoods for ash cooking. By simply laying food on top of the coal bed it will cook just fine. Very little if any ash will stick to the food. Besides, a little ash will not hurt you anyway..The early mountain men and pioneers would prepare dough and roll into balls or flatten. They would then lay this prepared dough directly on the hot coals. Often the outside will burn somewhat,but this does not create a problem or ruin the bread. After baking, break open the dough ball and eat the soft inner bread. If the crust is not to brown, brush off ash and eat the hard outer crust. Or dip in coffee. Everyone should try this. I have a complete article written specifically for ash cake cooking. Take a look and read.
Meats can be cooked in the same manner, the heat of the coals will sear the outside of the meat and trap the inner juices. After cooking, the ash will easily brush off the meats. This meat will be absolutely delicious. Potato’s and tubers can be buried in the coals and left to cook. They will also develop a hard outer crust while cooking. To eat, simply cut open the hard crust and eat the contents. Potatoes or tubers may also be packed in a layer of thick mud or clay and buried in a bed of hot coals then left to bake for approximately 20 minutes or longer. After cooking, break off the mud or clay shell and eat the prepared foods. Many types of foods may be prepared in this manner. In the months ahead I will describe other types of cooking methods. In the meantime, try the methods described above. You will be surprised at the delicious meals you are able to prepare using very little. Good luck.