Friday, December 23, 2011

Donna by tree

Donna by tree, originally uploaded by ibnabraham.

One that turned out kina nice. Bit fuzzy, but that works.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Turkey: Final Notes

OK, I found a photo that Mary took of our turkeys when they were poults. Verrrry cute little birds.

And out little ones really liked to play with them. They were, as I wrote, the Broad Breasted Bronze, which is similar in many ways to the wild turkeys here in MN.

We used the largest roasting pan we own.

The little ones stuffed the turkey. Note the size compared to the girls. It weighed more than Inge or Donna.

We had to cover the roaster with Al foil. Mary, the little ones and I got it ready and in the oven at 7am. It was done at about 1pm at 350. But because the temp was high and time was short we didn't do the "low and slow" method--but the meat was fall-apart tender and delicious.

Below is the left breast. 11" at longest, 6" widest, 4" deepest. 

The serving plate held only this breast and the left leg, and a small part of the giblets. 

I bonded the rest of the bird and put the bones in the crock for broth.
With home made cranberry sauce, yams from scratch, mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, and the pies (pican, coconut custard, and lemon merangue) it was hard to get outside after eating to clean the garage and drive the fence posts for the chicken coop.
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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Raising Turkeys for Food: How the experiment went

Turkeys are really cute as chicks. When they grow up, well, for most people, they are not so much cute. We bought 2 turkey chicks last spring. We kept them in a washtub under a light in the dining room for a short time. They whistled their ascending three tone call and started jumping out of the washtub. So I built a lightweight cage (4'x2'x8') to keep them in the yard.

We clipped their flight feathers. One was Righty, the other, Lefty.

Lefty died in a storm in May. So only Righty was left. So, we renamed him "Thanksgiving Dinner".

Turkeys can be very mean. So I made sure that TD was given attention every day.

He was a very gentle turkey and liked to be held and petted. The Sunday School and Wednesday School kids would often play with him and pet him. Though, some of the kids were afraid of him, because they knew what their folks said: Turkeys can be mean.

TD helped me build our hen house. I think our friend Gus became a bit intimidated by TD's affection. While Gus was helping me with the hen house, he decided to put TD outside the pen. TD would come up to him and chuff, warble, and gobble.

TD was a free range bird. So we didn't buy very much feed for him. We had to move the pen often. Because turkeys are like geese considering the amount of excrement they generate.

Turkeys can make good pets. If they are handled frequently.

Perhaps TD was a bit confused, he really liked people. And my dad really liked him. He said goodbye to TD last of all after all our kids before he and mom left when they visited this past summer.

Anyway, the economics:

2 Bronze Broad Breasted turkey chics at $10 each.
about $15 of feed

Total expense, about $30.

TD's dressed weight is about 35 lbs.

Even with the loss of one turkey that's still under $1 per pound. Dressed turkeys were $1.78 per pound at Wall Mart when I checked today.

I think we did well.

Raising Sheep for Food: How the experiment went

From August 2010 to September 2011 we raised two lambs for food: one ewe one wether (castrated). My original intent was raising them to feed our family, but they were also really wonderful pets.

I decided to raise sheep rather than goats or a calf for several reasons.

Goats climb. And goats eat almost anything. It would have been impossible to keep goats from eating shingles or siding off the house or church. As it was, the winter snow prevented us from keeping the sheep in a pen. Goats would have been impossible.

A calf would have taken much more food than sheep needed, plus liquid water through the winter. Sheep, like goats, don't need water. They can use snow and ice very well.

We bought 2 large round bales of hay and 1 of straw for the winter.

The sheep stayed by the house near their hay through the whole winter. In the spring we had to catch them a few times and tether them to keep them from eating the buds of hay from our neighbor's field. That provided some exercize for Mary and me. But they weren't bad for wandering off.

Based on what we learned, if we could regulate their feeding better we probably could have gotten by with only one bale of hay.

The sheep stand on their food and so quite a bit went to waste.

In the spring we needed to sheer them. I borrowed a clippers but found out that I couldn't do it. I either because I lacked the skill or because the sheers wasn't sharp enough. But a neighbor helped us out.

So, here's the economics.

2 lambs at $40 each.
2 Hay bales and 1 straw, total $70.
3 wormings, total $20
sheering $20
Antibiotics $10

Grand total $160.

Counting fence or tethers because these are used for chickens as well as future sheep (around $100)

That would make it $260.

The wether at dressed hanging weight was just over 70 lbs.
The ewe was almost 80 lbs.

That's $0.93 per pound dressed weight and $1.79 per dressed weight including the fencing and tethers.

All around a very good investment for the price of meat.

One great advantage with sheep, we didn't have to mow the lawn as much, and that cut down on the cost of gasoline for lawn mowing. I'm not sure how to calculate this into the cost of the meat. But it was a good benefit.

We enjoyed having Rammy and Ewey as pets. I served a bit of Ewey to our Bible Study group. We were studying the book of Exodus, and none of the Bible Study students had tasted lamb before. I think they all liked it.

Thanks to Mr. Malwitz and Podocheck for sheering and sheers. Thanks to the Sippers for help with dressing the lambs. Thanks to Sara and Betsy for the lambs. And thanks to Glenn Vettleson for the fencer, and Darrow Lundeen for the fence posts.

Thanks also to Drs. Hagan and Bovee for their vetrenary help in my ignorance. I've read Alfred Wight's books (James Herriot's series "All Creatures") but that's not a substitute for real experience.

Now, due to my inexperience I burned out the fencer using improper grounding techniques and copper conductors. We'll get a replacement this spring. Hopefully for under $50. Sarah and Betsy have three more lambs for us coming this spring.

If we get those lambs, we'll have them just for the spring through fall.

All in all, I enjoyed having the lambs. And I'm very glad that we could grow our own food inexpensively. Now I know more about shepherding. That's not an insignificant thing for a Pastor.
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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

ELH 537 For Classical Guitar

A transcription of ELH 537 "Day of Wrath" for Classical Guitar of DIES IRAE, Latin Melody, 13th Cent., altered. Meter 888 888 888

The transcription is found at this link.

Here's a midi file:

This hymn is number 601 in the old Lutheran Hymnary (1913, 1935 Augsburg) of the Norwegian Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Synod; number 607 in The Lutheran Hymnal (1941 Concordia) used by the churches of the old Synodical Conference; number 209 in the Wisconsin Evengelical Lutheran Synod's Christian Worship (1993 Northwestern).
Dies Irae

From The Handbook for Lutheran Hymnal:

Thomas de Celano, friend and biographer of Francis of Assisi, is generally credited with the authorship of this great medievel sequence, the opening lines of which are taken verbatim from the Vulgate version of Zeph. 1:15. Julian, writing of the general acceptance of this hymn, declares:
The hold which this sequence has had upon the minds of men of various nations and creeds has been very great. Goethe uses it, as is well known, in his Faust with great effect. It also furnishes a grand climax to Canto VI in Sir Walter Scott’s Lag of the Last Minstrel. It has been translated into many languages, in some of which the renderings are very numerous, those in German numbering about ninety and those in English about one hundred and sixty. In Great Britain and America no hymn-book of any note has appeared during the past hundred years without the “Dies Irae” being directly or in directly represented therein. Daniel, writing from a German standpoint, says:
“Even those to whom the hymns of the Latin Church are almost entirely unknown, certainly know this one; and if any one can be found so alien from human nature that they have no appreciation of sacred poetry, yet, as a matter of certainty, even they would give their minds to this hymn, of which every word is weighty, yes, even a thunderclap.”
From another standpoint, Archbishop Trench says:
“Nor is it hard to account for its popularity. The meter so grandly devised, of which I remember no other example, fitted though it has here shown itself for bringing out some of the noblest powers of the Latin language—the solemn effect of the triple rime, which has been likened to blow following blow of the hammer on the anvil, the confidence of the poet in the universal interest of his theme, a confidence which has made him set out his matter with so majestic and unadorned a plainness as at once to be intelligible to all,—these merits, with many more, have given the Dies Irae a foremost place among the masterpieces of sacred song.”—Sac. Lat. Poetry, 1874, p. 302.
The translation, one of many excellent ones, is by William J. Irons, slightly altered. It was first issued in the privately printed Introits and Hymns for Advent, issued, without date, very likely 1848, for the use of Margaret Street Chapel, London. Julian has this to say about the origin of the translation:

It is well known that the Revolution in Paris in 1848 led to many scenes of terror and shame. Foremost was the death of Monsigneur D. A. Affre, the Archbishop of Paris, who was shot on June 25 on the barricades of the Place de la Bastille whilst endeavoring to persuade the insurgents to cease firing, and was buried on July 7. As soon as it was safe to do so, his funeral sermon was preached in Notre Dame, accompanied by a religious service of the most solemn and impressive kind. Throughout the service the archbishop’s heart was exposed in a glass case in the choir, and at the appointed place the Dies Irae was sung by an immense body of priests. The terror of the times, the painful sense of bereavement which rested upon the minds of the people through the death of their archbishop, the exposed heart in the choir, the imposing ritual of the service, and the grand rendering of the Dies Irae by the priests gave to the occasion an unusual degree of impressiveness.

[thus far the Handbook to The Lutheran Hymnal]

1. Day of wrath, O day of mourning!
See fulfilled the Prophet's warning,
Heaven and earth in ashes burning.
Wondrous sound the trumpet flingeth,
Thro' earth's sepulchers it ringeth,
All before the throne it bringeth.
Oh, what fear man's bosom rendeth
When from heav'n the Judge descendeth
On whose sentence all dependeth!

2. Death is struck and nature quaking;
All creation is awaking,
To its Judge an answer making.
Lo, the book, exactly worded,
Wherein all hath been recorded;
Thence shall judgment be awarded.
When the Judge His seat attaineth
And each hidden deed arraigneth,
Nothing unavenged remaineth.

3. What shall I, frail man, be pleading?
Who for me be interceding
When the just are mercy needing?
King of majesty tremendous,
Who dost free salvation send us,
Fount of pity, then befriend us.
Righteous Judge, for sin's pollution
Grant Thy gift of absolution
Ere that day of retribution!

4. Faint and weary Thou hast sought me,
On the cross of suffering bought me;
Shall such grace be vainly brought me?
Think, good Jesus, my salvation
Caused Thy wondrous incarnation;
Leave me not sin's damnation!
Guilty, now I pour my moaning,
All my shame with anguish owning:
Hear, O Christ, Thy servant's groaning!

5. Bows my heart in meek submission,
Strewn with ashes of contrition;
Help me in my last condition!
Worthless are my prayers and sighing;
Yet, good Lord, in grace complying,
Rescue me from fires undying.
Thou the sinful woman savedst;
Thou the dying thief forgavest;
Thus to me tru hope vouchsafest!

6. With Thy favored sheep, oh, place me!
Nor among the goats abase me,
But to Thy right hand upraise me.
While the wicked are confounded,
Doomed to flames of woe unbounded,
Call me, with Thy saints surrounded.
To the rest Thou didst prepare me
On Thy cross; O Christ, upbear me!
Spare, O God, in mercy spare me.

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Friday, September 23, 2011

What goes Up....UARS

Upper Atmosphere Research SatelliteImage via WikipediaSing it, Sammy. "Catch a painted pony on a merry go round!"

A big satellite is coming down tonight, and it's calles UARS.

Do you remember when SkyLab fell? I do. And I watched it. I was a sci-fi space junkie. Now I'm in my office, father of 10, 4 congregations, lots of personal, family, and parish duties. But space still fascinates me.

UARS was launched in in September 1991 from STS-48 Space Shuttle Discovery. UARS cost about $750 million to build. (I couldn't find figures on the cost to launch and deploy) The original mission for UARS was 3 years. A paltry $250 million a year. There are plenty of American Taxpayers to fund that!!!!

The purpose of UARS was:
to study human effects on the planet's atmosphere and its shielding ozone layer. The UARS mission objectives were to provide an increased understanding of the energy input into the upper atmosphere, global photochemistry of the upper atmosphere, dynamics of the upper atmosphere, the coupling among these processes, and the coupling between the upper and lower atmosphere. This provided data for a coordinated study of the structure, chemistry, energy balance, and physical action of the Earth's middle atmosphere - that slice of air between 10 and 60 miles above the Earth. The UARS was the first major flight element of NASA's Mission to Planet Earth, a multi-year global research program that would use ground-based, airborne, and space-based instruments to study the Earth as a complete environmental system.[2] UARS had ten sensing and measuring devices: Cryogenic Limb Array Etalon Spectrometer (CLAES); Improved Stratospheric and Mesospheric Sounder (ISAMS); Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS); Halogen Occultation Experiment (HALOE); High Resolution Doppler Imager (HRDI); Wind Imaging Interferometer (WlNDII); Solar Ultraviolet Spectral Irradiance Monitor (SUSIM); Solar/Stellar Irradiance Comparison Experiment (SOLSTICE); Particle Environment Monitor (PEM) and Active Cavity Radiometer Irradiance Monitor (ACRIM II). UARS's initial 18-month mission was extended several times – it was finally retired after 14 years of service.
 It worked until Jan 1992, fixed in June, broke again 14 months later, a partial fix was made months later, then in 1995 the earth sensor broke which led to a solar array failure, three fo its batteries failed in 1997, then in 1999 its backup tape recorder started to fail. A few of the sensors still operated, but UARS was decomissioned in Dec 2005 (14 years after its launch) and brought down to a destructive orbit that month. The International Space Station had to dodge the UARS one time so that the astronauts abord wouldn't be space dust.

The Highights of the UARS mission can be seen at this website.

But those Highlights aren't really objective science if you are willing to search through the scientific literature.

What matters tonight is that there will be a pretty fireworks display. Sammy Davis, Jr. put it to music, "What goes up, must come down!"  I hope some of you can record it with your cameras.

It was pretty expensive fireworks. Someone should enjoy it.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Help Building a Hen House

 Well, we're finally getting started on the hen house so we can have eggs during the winter.

I framed it with 2x4s. The siding, roofing, flooring, windows, and door are all scrap from neighbors.

The kids want me to cut a half-moon in it so it looks even more like an outhouse.

I want it to be servicable and not really visible from the church.

Clara, Elsie, John, Sophie, Stella, Donna, and Inge are all helping with the details.

Mary, Louisa, and Matt also helped to move the frame back behind the house.

We also had some special help from our Turkey.
Thanksgiving Dinner is supervising my work on the door.
Any time the drill squeaked or made noise Thanksgiving Dinner had to make his gobbling sound.

I think he is probably lonely. Lots of chickens, 2 sheep, but the other turkey died in a storm last May. So he walks around us puffing up his feathers, rattling his wings, and chuffing at us.

Really, he's very gentle, just wants attention. Have you ever held and pet a turkey? Well, he's helping get the hen house done.

I'll need to get more scrap siding in the morning and a couple of palates to scavange for floor boards.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Cheap Pans for Camp Grilling or Home Grilling

There are times when we buy really cheap baking pans for use on the fire or grill. Like the cheap pizza tins, these are usually available at any K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Target, or grocery store. A brand like EZ-Baker from G&S Metal Products Company makes a lightweight steel pan that costs less than $2 and most often are on sale for less than $1 per pan.

We get the plain pans and then season them. Besides being inexpensive, this seasoning is what makes them extra useful over the fire.

Seasoning steel pans is the process of burning/oxidizing some kind of fat over the cooking surface of the pan. The oxidized fat turns into thin layers of carbon. This thin layering of carbon then prevents the food from sticking.

Mary picked up a couple of 7"x1.5" squares, a couple 7"x10x1.5" pans, and a couple 13"x9" cookie sheets.The goal was grilled chicken, grilled yams, and grilled sliced potatoes.

Preparing the pans:
The pans work better and last longer if you season them before use.

At first use this means:
  1. Washing the new pans and rinsing thoroughly.
  2. Drying the pans in heat.
  3. Letting them cool.
  4. Coat the pans with a thin coating of high temperature oil (using a paper towel or some such): peanut, canola, grape seed oil, or--like most people--pork lard.
  5. Place the pans in an oven heated between 250 and 350F. Bake for an hour and run a new coating of oil/lard, return to oven for another hour.
 Let them cool, wipe off, store or use.

Cleaning the seasoned pans is done without much - if any- soap. And typically, after the pan is emptied, scraped, then I'll put some oil on it and set it on the grill/coals to re-season the surface.

(another discussion of seasoning pans)

Using the pans:
For yesterday's picnic at Old Mill State Park we had
  • 2 Split Chickens
  • Yams
  • Potatoes
Split Chicken
  1. Two chickens 3-5lb.
  2. I split them up the sides along the thin ribs below the breast up to the wish bone. Then I chop off the rest of the neck.
  3. The giblets and neck are placed in the bottom of the pan. 
  4. The inside of the back and front halves are seasoned.
  5. The front is placed on the cutting board and pressed until the breastbone breaks or lays flat. 
  6. Put the front in the pan, skin/breast up, tucking the wings.
  7. Put the back in the pan overlapping the bottom of the breast, skin/back up, tucking the drum sticks.
  8. Season the top/skin side. Add other ingredients if desired.
  9. Cover with heavy aluminum foil.

Place on hot coals, takes between 40 minutes to an hour. Use a thermometer to check the breast through the foil, if it's at 182F then it's ready to eat.
You can take them out of the foil and use direct heat if you desire for finishing.

  1. 4 Medium Yams peeled cut, sliced, with 1 onion, cut and sliced and 4 T butter. Place in smaller square pans, top with onion and butter. 
  2. Cover with heavy aluminum foil. 
  3. place in coals for 30 to 45 minutes.

  1. Slice potatoes thin, coat with a bit of olive oil.
  2. put on cookie sheet, cover with Al foil.
  3. Burn the potatoes up on the coals on the grill. Possibly the sheet was to thin, or I got distracted. Grr.
  4. Throw them away.
  5. Try something different next time.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Camp Cooking Tools

Baked Chicken (top) with fried beans and onions.
Food preparation while camping for a few days can be a challenge.  The goal is to be able to prepare really good food inexpensively.

Also, we cook for more than 10 people at a time. So the tools need to be efficient, capable, and serve multiple purposes when they can.

Camp cooking is different than cooking at home on the grill.

First, you will have limited equipment with you. You can't just run into the house to get a different pan or tool. You can't finish off undercooked meat in the oven. So there will be a period of trial and error in getting up to speed using the tools you take along for food preparation. You may find that some things are not worth taking. And you will quickly learn what you should have taken.

Second, the kinds of food you prepare is a choice of what you can take with and what you can acquire. What you can take with you is determined by how much space you want to dedicate to foods that need refrigeration, water supply, and non-perishables. Foods you can acquire depend upon whether you will buy at local providers or gather your own foods -whether foraging, fishing, or hunting (local laws will apply). This second choice will also affect the kinds of tools you choose to take with you.

I'm going to describe the tools we typically take with us in our family van for food prep. We also take dishes, plates, silverware, cups, etc.

In short, the process for choosing tools over time is this:

  • Plan tools by meals and method of cooking,
  • Do your cooking the way you planned.
  • Take notes on what works and what wasn't so good.
  • Adjust your plans next time.


We acquired an old used Coleman two burner white gas stove for $15 which we use. But as white gas is relatively expensive (especially in tourist areas) we tend to use it as a secondary. Our primary cooking area is the camp fire.

Cooking on a stove like this can be a challenge. I've found two main problems in using this tool. I'm not counting the regular maintanance; cleaning, keeping the valve oiled, pumping, etc.

The first problem is precipitation. Water splashed in the burners reduces the efficiency of the flame and makes the flame hard to regulate.

The second problem is that cookware, pans and pots, need to be heavier and thicker to distribute the heat without burning the food. Thin steel camp cook kits for backpacking, for example, require a lot of attention to prevent scalding and burning over the gas flame because they don't distribute the heat from the flame very evenly.

Sterno Burner

 Our last resort compact cooking surface. Yes, we've had to use it, and we're glad we had it with. But cooking for a family of 12 is not advisable. I think we picked this up at a and army surplus store in Mankato for $2.

Camp fire/pit
Rock Ring. (someone else's photo)
 The style of campfire pit varies from place to place. Truly primitive campsites may require that you gather rocks for a ring and then put them back when you're done.

We've experienced: rock rings; steel rings; steel ring with grate; single sided, double sided, and triple sided fire pits with and without grates; standing grills with and without grates; and prefabricated stone or brick grills.

We've learned to check into what the campsite has available and to assume that the provided grating may not be usable either through disrepair or bad design.

Two sided without grate at our site in
Gold Basin Campground
Granite Falls, Washington 2009
So we carry a couple types of grating.

The biggest issue in expense with using the fire pit is the cost of wood/charcoal. In some places the charge for a small bundle of wood (18" long by 16" diameter) has been as high as $6 per bundle. Most national forest and parks allow you to gather fallen wood.

So two other tools are very useful: a hatchet (for splitting and chopping), and a camp saw (for cutting lengths). You can use the hatchet for both, but the saw is faster for cutting lengths. But then, you might need to keep a kid busy for a while--don't tell him you brought the saw.

Beware of local wildlife (bear, cougar, skunk, brown recluse, rattle snakes) as well as poison ivy, poison sumac, wild parsnip, etc.

Cooking over fire will discolor your cookware. In addition to the carbon blackening the cookware, steel will change color depending on how hot it was and how quickly it cools. The stock pot on the right in the photo above is steel, it's lid is blueish/purple with wavy lines of green and yellow. All this is to do with the reflectivity of steel during the tempering/annealing process. Kinda cool.


 Free standing foldable grating is excellent in almost all the cases mentioned above.

We also carry a couple of sizes of grating from old grills: a small 15" round from an old webber grill, and a 24"x12" oven rack extension.

Pizza Tins

We carry at least three of these cheap steel pizza tins. They do bend and flex in the heat. They work best over coals rather than flame. One is used to keep the flames that may erupt off of what is being fried, the other is placed on top as a cover to keep the oils/food from erupting into flame.

We clean them by placing them in the coals after cooking is done. They are shiny when you buy them, they loose this color right away for the same reason as mentioned above.

Baked chicken drumsticks
between two Pizza Tins
 I've also used a pair of these as an oven set between the coals and the back of a 2 sided pit to bake meat, fowl and fish.

Aluminum pie tins can be useful in a similar way, but they burn up pretty quickly if the fire is hot.

Fry Griddle
The pizza tins are too thin for even frying over a fire. We were given a thick aluminum griddle by my grandparents. Steel would be better, I think, because of the tendency of the aluminum to warp with use. Also, aluminum will burn if the flames are hot enough. And that can happen when grease from bratwurst or something else gets into the fire.

We use the third pizza tin to cover the griddle. The griddle is cleaned in the same way as the pizza tins: by placing it in the coals to burn off the oils and food.

Like the pizza tins, the griddle can also be used as a cover for other pans. You can see this in the photo on the top of this article.

The cost of these griddles can be high. Watch garage sales and look at places like Goodwill. You can get them really cheap.

Coffee Pot

Camping without coffee? Ugh!!!!

We have two percolators that go over the fire or on the stove. Our older percolater is the aluminum in the picture below. Only ours is pretty well carbonized.
If you use a pot without a filter or percolator you can make "cowboy coffee".

We inhereted both our coffee makers. But they are available used. Just keep your eyes open.

Cooking Pans
Lightweight Steel
Mary bought a set of thin steel cookware from REI (I think) back when she was in college. They've lasted well and are excellent over coals. But because the steel is so thin they can be problematic over flames.

The self-stacking design is great for packing. The largest kettle is 1/2 gallon. We've used it for oat meal/grain cereal, soups, boiling, and even raisin noodle kugel (with rice noodles). But again, they need to be tended carefully or you will get scorching, scalding, and burning.

Heavy Pressed Aluminum
 We inhereted a family sized vintage set of stacking Palco Pressed aluminum camp cookware. Eight aluminum plates, eight green plastic cups, silverware, pots, lids (which are also fry pans) and handles. This belonged to my grandparents who had it since the late 1960s, I think.

Heat distribution is better than in the thin steel. The large pot is just over a gallon. These work well over stove or fire.

Fry Pan
A few years ago I bought the Coleman 9 1/2" steel folding camp frypan at some place like K-Mart.

It's the pan you see in the photo at the top of this article. Works great. We use the lids from the backpack cookware as a lid for the fry pan.

A very useful and long lasting tool.

The handle is, unfortunately, rubber coated. This makes its use over fire a choice. The rubber will burn off. But if you're carefull, you can keep this from happening too quickly. Use glovess. Molten rubber is almost worse than 400 degree steel. You can let go of the steel, the rubber sticks to your skin and keeps burning.

Stock Pot 
One of our stock pots is visible in the photo about campfires above. We use a 2 gallon or more sized second-hand steel stock pot for camping. Primarily it is used for heating water over the fire to be used in cleanup, dishes, etc.

Tongs are used for handling hot food, hot coals, and hot pans.

Get sturdy but cheap steel tongs without any plastic in them.

Some have a locking feature to keep them closed, while nice, this feature can be annoying. And the locks usually don't last too long.

The food handling use is obvious. But, handling pans might not be. Suppose you have a gloved hand (for pans) and a tongs. You're moving the chicken around, but then a log falls and you need to quickly remove the pan. Use the gloved hand and the tongs to move the pan. Don't take the time to put on another glove. Then use the tongs to re-arrange the coals. Move the pan back.

We usually carry 2 or three with. They're good for serving too. And if you're still cooking, the eaters might need one for the hot corn on the cob you just grilled.

OK, there are three different types we've found useful.

 The rubber scraper/spatula is great for getting stuff out of cans and into the frypan, etc.

The stiff/or somewhat flexible putty scraper/spatula is great for cleaning debris off of pans.

The steel/all metal spatula is ideal for the grill. A long handle is very useful. Again, just a little flex, mostly stiff.

Again, there are three kinds, with three purposes: Cooking mitts/gloves, leather gloves, and welders' gloves. If you can only get one kind, get welders' gloves.

Gloves are necessary in handling the hot (400 degrees +) pans as well as handling burning logs.

Cooking mitts tend to be under insulated and have plastic fibers in them. These can melt into your fingers and hands. Get a well insulated mitt with all natural fibers. If you can, find a good grilling mit, not a common oven mitt.

Leather gloves can serve very well, but they get destroyed by handling the coals. I have a pair of Wells Lamont work gloves made of split grain cowhide that have lasted quite a good while. These don't insulate as well as the others, but they are a good camping tool for other reasons as well. So they can serve this dual purpose

My favorite campfire cooking glove is the leather welding glove. Just the right amount of dexterity with good protection.

Gloves will get grease on them. Cleaning leather gloves is not complex. Generally scrubbing/brushing with soaply water, drying and re-oiling with mink or neat's foot oil.

Cutting Board

Wood breaks too easily, but you can set a really hot pan on it. Plastic works really well, but melts if you set a hot pan on it. We bring one of each.

There's a good article about this topic at wikipedia

The types we find most useful are:

Paring Knives 
We get several of the cheapest possible paring knives, but we do also carry one Chicago Cutlery in our kit. The cheap knives have very flexible blades. The Chicago Cutlery blade is nice and stiff with a bit of spring to it.

General Use Knife
For general use we have a few Coleman fixed blade knives we've picked up over the years. They're good for gutting, skinning, and even cutting steak and veggies at the table.

Fillet or Boning Knife

Fillet/Boning knives are useful especially if you are acquiring meat or fish in the wild.

Chef's Knife
A Chef's Knife with a nice wide long blade can make cutting up veggies a simple task. It's also a lot easier to use this on a melon than a paring knife.


 Cleavers are great in so many ways: from controlled thin slices of veggies to beheading a bird.

We have this Faberware soft handled cleaver. The end cap fell off just after the first use, but otherwise it's been great and very well used for the past year.

A good Steel and Stone
Keep the knives sharp and their edges straight.

Other tools
Of course, you may need some forks for helping to prepare meats and veggies, spoons for stirring and such. Possibly even skewers if you want to do shishkabobs.

A couple ways to start a fire: Lighters, long lighters, waterproof matches, magnesium and steel, and a candle. Most places will have sticks to rub together, but that takes considerable practice to do quickly. Maybe bring some charcoal starter fluid, it helps a lot on rainy days.

Two special tools:
A Can Opener - if your are taking canned foods, a knife can work, but it's dangerous

A Bottle Opener- If you plan to take corked bottled bevereages.


  • Plan tools by meals and method of cooking,
  • Do your cooking the way you planned.
  • Take notes on what works and what wasn't so good.
  • Adjust your plans next time.