Cooking without Power

Discussion in 'General Preparedness Discussion' started by BobR1, Jan 14, 2011.

  1. BobR1

    BobR1 Well-Known Member

    The wife and I got into Mountain Man Rendezvous probably 15 or more years ago. By the way Historic Reenactment is a very good way to learn survival skills, while being politically correct.

    I will cover this for back yard use, not historic reenactment correctness.

    Dutch Ovens are commonly used to cook at these events. So we started buying dutch ovens. They come in sizes from 5" thru 16" in the Lodge Brand. They come in standard, and some sizes also have a deep version. The common Boy Scout size was 12" I believe. You need a few items to go with the dutch oven such as a Lid Lifter, as well as lid holders. You use the lifter to pick up the lids, you set the lids on the lid holder to keep them clean while cooking.
    Another item that is handy for back yard use is a 55 gallon barrel wind screan. Cut a 55 gallon barrel off 17 or so inches from the bottom. Now cut about 1/3 of the remaining barrel down to about 2" from the bottom making an opening. I have mine setting on concrete blocks in the back yard. Filling the blocks, and center cavity with sand probably would not hurt either if you plan on leaving it in place. You turn the wind screen to keep wind off your pots. This keeps the wind from cooling your pots, as well as burning your coals up fast. It also contains the coals so you do not start the grass on fire. After the coals are totally dead and cold you can just dump them out of the barrel wind screan.
    Charcoal: most dutch oven recipes are geared towards Kingsford Charcoal. The brand is not as big a deal as the briquet size. The 1/3 larger Wal-Mart ones mess up the math somewhat.
    You can cook most things in a Dutch Oven at 325 deg. The formula for 325 deg in dutch ovens 10" and larger is twice as many briquets as the oven size, Divide them in half for top and bottom. Now take away one from the bottom half and add it to the top.
    10" = 11 on the top and 9 on the bottom total 20
    12" = 13 on the top and 11 on the bottom total 24
    14" = 15 on the top and 13 on the bottom total 28
    16" = 17 on the top and 15 on the bottom total 32

    For pots smaller than 10" remove an extra one from the bottom on the formula above.
    8" = 9 on the top and 6 on the bottom total 15

    To raise the temperture adding one Briquet top and bottom = +25 Deg

    Do a few extra Briquets, some will be small, broken etc. They start better in a Charcoal Starter also. Not required, but handy to have.

    Dutch Oven Preperation. I will get some disagreement here. I have done this several ways. What I have found is it does not matter much. Wash the pot, oil with Olive Oil, and start cooking in it. It will get seasoned.

    Distribute the charcola briquets evenly top and bottom. Tongs make this easier. Now you can cook anything you would normally cook in your oven using your normal recipe's. In addition you can cook most stove top items in a Dutch Oven as well.

    You can do your cooking on coals from a wood fire also. This required a much higher skill level that briquets for things you can mess up like cornbread, cakes, pies, bread, etc. If you play with coals start with things that are hard to burn first, like soups until you get a handle on judging the temperature by feel. It does not hurt to know how to cook over coals incase your charcoal runs out.

    NOTE Dutch Ovens will cook stacked.

    A reason to have several sizes.
    You might want to heat up a can of corn in a 6".
    you might have a caseroll in an 8"
    Corn Bread in the 10"
    Baked potstoes in a 12"
    Roast and vegatables in a 14"
    Bread or Rolls in a 16 or 14 Deep.

    The most we have ever had stacked was 7 for Thanks Giving Dinner.
    Corn in the 6" and homemade rolls in the 16" with a Ham, sweet potato suflet, stuffing, etc in between.

    I have a Cylinder Stove Company Horse Packing wood stove. I have the large size one. It came with a SS 5 gallon water heater, and one side extension. NOTE: Get a second side extension so that you have one on each side. Much handier when moving a coffee pot with coffee, a second one with dish water, and a couple skillets around.
    All stove parts will store inside the stove for storage and transport. I would not put the water heater box inside. It has pipe legs that screw on. Standard pipe size. I believe longer legs are an option. For outdoor use I use 1 section of stove pipe. I do not have a damper in the pipe, I regulate the heat with the sliding draft on the door.
    The best wood is dry oak split small. One year old Slabs cut up into 16" lengths seems to work good also. If you are not a real woodsman a small pile of charcoal under a few pieces of wood will help get it started. Do not get to carried away filling the stove full of wood. It will get much hotter than you think. Add a stick or two as needed while cooking.
    If you can cook it on the stove top at home, you can cook on a cylinder stove in the back yard, or in a tent.
    I have a steel stake about 30" long with a removable cross piece on the top making 4 utensil holders. I hang my fork, spoon and spatula and tongs from it to keep them clean.
    Suggestion: have a couple BIG granet wear coffee pots around. The kind you used to see in westerns by the chuck wagon. Lots of hot water is handy for washing dishes, taking a bucket bath etc. Not to bad to have around for a cup of hot chocolate either.

    Keep your wood dry, and a supply of charcoal on hand. Keep Oilve Oil around, your cast iron will love you for it.
    Use your dutch ovens often, it keeps them in shape. The only thing cooking on cast iron can hurt is your figure.
  2. The_Blob

    The_Blob performing monkey

    :congrat: on a dutch oven Thanksgiving dinner! :2thumb:

    I would do something like that, but I don't think my family is that patient :ignore:

  3. GoldenBoys

    GoldenBoys Active Member

    I wanted a charcoal starter for camping to use with my dutch oven, but didn't want to carry a big one. I made one out of an old 2 pond coffee can. I cut the bottom out of the can and punched a series of holes around the bottom with a church key, then cut a round piece of expanded steel (like heavy diamond patterned screen) that would fit tight in the can at one of the ribs. It works like a charm and doesn't take up much room.
  4. OldCootHillbilly

    OldCootHillbilly Reverend Coot

    Good stuff there. I won't comment on the seasonin cause everbody does it different. I'm old school when it comes ta iron.

    Another neat idear is take a galvanized water bucket (metal one anywho) an a plow disk. Set the disk on the bucket an put yer coals on that. Raise's that oven a bit so it ain't so hard on the back plus ya don't damage the ground. Camgrounds appreciate that!

    Iron be the best way ta cook shorta smokin!
  5. BasecampUSA

    BasecampUSA Sr. Homesteader

    Great thread BobR1...

    When I worked in Chattanooga, I drove over the Lodge cast iron foundry's factory store where they sold all the "blemished" goods for about half price. You couldn't tell what was blemished though! - I stocked up...

    I got into cast iron cooking on a wood cook stove way back in the late 60's when I lived up in the Colorado mountains.... you just can't beat it!

    We've cooked on a wood stove here on the 'stead for the last 35 years.

    As for the dutch oven... best thing there is for camp cooking, if you don't have to pack em far.

    - Basey
  6. Frugal_Farmers

    Frugal_Farmers Good ole country folk

    Depends on what you plan on cooking on it. Years ago, and I do mean years ago, we had one of these in a GP Medium tent and had it stoked so hot it was glowing. Don't see how this would be any different than us cooking on our wood burning stove. You will need to play with the heat depending on what you plan to cook. We have made flatbreads, soups, boiled water etc... on our stove.

    Best recommendation if you have already ordered it is to set it up and try it out yourself.

    Just a side note, the vent stacks on these babies get extremly hot. Make sure your vent stacks don't burn your garage down.
  7. The_Blob

    The_Blob performing monkey

    does anybody else just toss those vent pipes into the 'metal projects' pile and use heavier gauge ones? :dunno:
  8. BasecampUSA

    BasecampUSA Sr. Homesteader

    Yeah, I know :rolleyes: There's a scrap-guy up north here that had literally hundreds of those stoves laying around outside rusting to heck! Pathetic! He must have thought all his stuff was made of gold (like most "junkies") -and wanted $50 apiece for em! He finally got arrested and went to prison for tons of hazardous waste he hauled in his scrapyard and after that people just went in and salvaged what they wanted of the small stuff for free. I got 4 of the best that were left, for nothing.

    You have to screw these brand of flimsy vent pipes together with sheet metal screws or you'll have a disaster... unlike some "shove-together" types you can usually get away with not fastening.

    BUT, it's a good idea to fasten all chimney pipes with screws! Never take chances... cheaper than building a new house ;)