Finally, summer has arrived! It has been a long time coming for those of us in the Pacific Northwest, but the sunny days are here again! For me, summer is all about the outdoors. We get so few warm months up here, that we have to take full advantage when they finally get here. For me, that includes lots of camping and backpacking. Really, I feel that it is not a proper camping trip if you are not cooking on that nice big fire that took you half of the evening to build and tend.
As a kid, our family always cooked on the fire. Mainly the standard hot dogs and marshmallows, but we later progressed to baked potatoes, and some really yummy foil packs full of chicken and vegetables. A couple of years ago, I even learned how to cook biscuits on a stick and it sparked something in me…I had to learn how to bake on the fire.
I absolutely love chocolate chip cookies. I would eat them every day if I could, which is why we never have them in our house! But naturally, cookies were my first choice for trying out my baking skills over the open fire. I received a dutch oven as a Christmas gift last year (thanks, Mom!), so I was well on my way to cooking the worlds best campfire cookie!
The dutch oven’s first voyage was across the San Juan Channel on a 5 day kayak trip. The trip was somewhere between car camping and backpacking. We were limited to the space available in the kayak, but not too limited by weight, so my heavy little dutch oven came along!
Before the trip, I did a ton of reading up on how to use the dutch oven. Unfortunately, most of the directions that I found online recommended using charcoal briquettes, and that just wouldn’t do. First of all, we wouldn’t have charcoal with us on this trip, and second, using charcoal kindof kills the spirit of what I was trying to do. I want to bake on the fire that I built out in the rugged wilderness! So I just went for it, utilizing the grate on the fire ring to hold the dutch oven up away from the coals a bit. I followed some of the recommendations that I had read online and placed some parchment paper in the bottom of the dutch oven, topping the lid of the oven with a couple of charcoal logs that I was able to grab out of the fire.
I learned two things durring this experiment. First, burnt parchment paper makes everything taste horrible. And second, placing the dutch oven directly over the hottest part of the fire is not advisable. The contents of the oven burned almost all the way through within about three minutes.
On my second try, I felt around the fire for a location that seemed about equal to sticking your hand in a pre-heated oven. It’s hot, and you can hold your hand there for a little while, but you don’t want to linger. I ditched the parchment paper and oiled the oven really well. I also pre-heated the lid of the oven over the hottest part of the fire.
While baking, I rotated the oven every few minutes and re-heated the lid a couple of times. In about 15 minutes, to my surprise and delight, I had the perfect campfire cookie! It was delicious, and a great end to a long day on the water.