Cast Iron Dutch Oven Set

castironsetThomas has the griddle and the skillet from this wonderful cast iron 7 piece set.

With a dutch oven, as well as casseroles and pot roasts, you can bake in the coals from your bonfire. The beauty of cast iron is it’s non stick and lasts forever. You’ll be able to hand it down to the next generation!

The  set contains:

  • 4.5 qt dutch oven and lid;
  • a pot stand;
  • a lid lifting tool;
  • a frying pan;
  • a pot;
  • a large ridges gridde;
  • a wooden presentation box.

Bake, griddle, fry, boil… on equipment which will last more than your lifetime.

Remember cast iron will rust if you don’t take care of it. After cooking, rinse clean, and dry thoroughly. Then rub with a little vegetable oil. Treat them with love and they won’t let you down.

Under £70: Buy from Amazon – BBQ-Bull® – Dutch Oven Set in Wooden Box, Cast Iron, Set of 7


Magnesium Flint Fire Strikers

flintYou need to light a fire with something. Matches get soaked, flints fail on lighters and the fuel runs out. You need a reliable backup when camped away from shops and civilisation (hammocks strung outside ASDA tend to get funny looks).

What are magnesium fire strikers? Black metal rods with a thumbnail sized plastic handle. The rods are made from magnesium and have a strip of flint running down one side.

When you need to light a fire, you shave little pieces of magnesium off the stick onto tinder, and then strike the other side of the stick with the attached green metal rectangle. Hey presto… fire.

You shave the stick and strike the flint using a hard metal object. Most sticks come with a striker. The striker in the picture is the green rectangle.

People either love or hate these magnesium fire strikers. The main reason for people not liking them is no-one having explained how to use them. Unless you know that a new fire striker has a thin plastic coating which needs scraping off first, your first couple of attempts at using the striker will bring disappointment. Put simply “plastic don’t throw a spark!” We believe many a cheap striker has been unfairly thrown in a bin.

As with any new equipment, play with it before it becomes a necessity. Get to know it, how it feels, and feel comfortable using it. Isn’t that half the fun. Make a spark, light a bonfire or your barbecue. Do it in the garden and not in the living room, or you’ll have your daughter tell you off. Trust me… they do.

Another tip? You’ll find it easier making a spark by using the back of your knife to strike the flint rather than the soppy piece of green or orange metal provided.

My favourite

ministrikerSome strikers work better than others, and I was surprised at how effective a tiny one was which came with my knife. When you check on Amazon, it gets a 5 star rating. It’s called the Mini Magnesium Flint Fire Striker Spark Lighter (a bit of a mouthful) by AoE Performance. Well worth the investment and having this tiny striker as a back up. If anything, buy two. My spare hangs from a carabiner on my tarpaulin ridge line. The  second is in a pocket in my knife sheath. At £1.49 each, they’re a bargain (and so small there’s no excuse not to carry two!).

What do you light?

Striking a spark onto wood or coals directly is going to cause you frustration. You need either tinder or good firelighters. Tinder is anything which catches a flame easily. It can be grasses, wood shavings, feather sticks or firelighters.

Make life easier and take home made firelighters. These take a spark from a fire striker and give you a lovely ball of flame (even without magnesium shavings). See our post “Tips for Firelighting: Vaseline“. These are fantastic, and hold a flame far better than shop bought fire lighters, even in the wind and when it’s wet!

Don’t expect a fire striker to get logs burning, even when using firelighters. Those firelighters need kindling heaped on top before you’re piling up the logs! I keep a small sack of kindling in the boot of the car. You can buy one from most petrol stations (at least you can in my part of the country). Nothing is worse than setting up camp in rain and finding no dry wood to burn. A sack of kindling will give you enough wood to at least cook on for a night.

If you’re camping with children, send them off gathering sticks. Break them off into 6” to 1foot long pieces, and put the thinnest on the fire lighter first when it’s blazing. You’ll be good!


Potless Barbecued Mussels

You may have heard mussels should only be eaten in months with an R in them. That’s a folklore, and actually applies to oysters. That said the saying has some wisdom as it stops harvesting during months when the mussels breed (which helps maintain their stocks) and removes the risk of the mussels being contaminated by algae blooms which can occur in summer months.

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Potato Grenades – Fire in the Hole

IMG-20150812-01094That first night on the holiday. You want something filling. You don’t want to spend an age preparing food. You  want something warming and full of flavour…

Welcome to the potato grenade (some call it potato “bomb”).

Now what is this culinary delight? Stuffed baked potato, but you can do the preparation the night before you leave for your campsite. Simply take an apple corer to a potato and stuff the hollowed out core with your preferred filling. Take the cored out centre, cut off the ends and use these as plugs to stop the stuffing from leaking up. Wrap your potato grenade in tinfoil and you’ve a perfect ready meal to cook on your first night bonfire.

Get your campfire going after your hammock is set up, throw the tinfoil bundles on the fire, and you’ll have about 40 minutes to potter or just chill out until a hearty meal is ready.

While baking potatoes are perfect to use, I prefer sweet potatoes, and as with anything in life, they’re better wrapped in bacon!

Our  favourite fillings:

  • garlic butter;bbqpotato
  • garlic butter and cheese;
  • stilton;
  • chopped jalapenos and cheddar cheese;
  • ham and cheese;
  • tinned chilli concarne;
  • Stinking Bishop cheese;
  • diced chorizo, cheddar cheese and garlic butter.

Let your imagination run riot.

Cooking time varies according to the heat of your fire. An easy way to check without burning your fingers is to squeeze the tinfoil bundle with your tongs.

If you come up with more creative filling ideas, please post a comment.

Did you know? Stinking Bishop cheese gets its name from Mr Bishop, who used to supply pears to the cheese maker. Cheese rounds are soaked in pear juice add to their flavour. Mr Bishop didn’t have an odour problem, but a rather intemperate disposition. If you haven’t had stinking bishop before, be prepared for a scent of teenage trainers which will contaminate your rucksack, car, fridge and anything it comes into contact with. Wrapping in cling film does little good, but “oh man” it tastes amazing.


Smores the Merrier

toastingmarshmallowsMost of us will have enjoyed toasting marshmallows round a fire. Twenty years ago I remember a large biker (whose father was chief rabbi of Berlin) who’d manically shout “Daleks’ Brains” each time his marshmallow set alight and dissolved into a gooey mass. This was the same biker who gave me a mild concussion when someone dared to put vegetables on his barbecue. A corn on the cob hurled into the darkness found a target. Years later, whenever I toast a marshmallow I can hear his manic cry.

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