Campfire Cooking: What NOT To Do

Being new-ish RVers (and inexperienced campers), I have learned that preparing meals for a family goes most smoothly when I cook in an uncluttered kitchen.  Things start to get a little bumpy when my tiny cooking area is messy, and become downright hilarious/frustrating when I attempt to cook over the campfire.

Cooking Inside The RV:  Convenient and Cluttered 

Generally speaking, we do most of our cooking inside of the RV or we take our electric skillet outside to cook.  I feel most comfortable having all of my supplies at my fingertips.  Like a mini-version of my home kitchen, the RV kitchen is fully functional, with a microwave, a three-burner stove and a double sink.  There are cabinets, a refrigerator, and a little counter space, although I sure wish there was more.

“There is a place for everything … and everything has a place.”

This saying couldn’t be truer when 4 people and a dog squeeze into a 28 ft metal box.  We have to be super-organized while cooking (or doing anything) in our RV or else the clutter seems to multiply all by itself and quickly becomes overwhelming.  I try to keep up with the dishes and put them away so I can cover the double sinks,  which helps to expand my meager counter space. Some day I will think of a way to expand my counter space, which will be a day of celebration for the entire family.  Hooray!

Cooking Outside:  Singed Arm Hair and Ash-Flavored Burgers

Cooking outside is a different story.  I am not a happy tent camper and I’ve never made a true campfire until we bought Bessie. For me, cooking outside consisted of firing up a gas grill.  Therefore, I am awed by people who effortlessly cook their entire meal over a fire.  I see them when we camp and study their activities with curiosity/jealousy.  They are laughing with their families, enjoying a beer, strolling over to the fire from time-to-time to gently rotate their evenly cooked food.  Clean-up is a snap for these brilliant campers.  They throw most everything away and VOILA!… Time for smores!

I am slowly learning the art of cooking over a fire, but it’s not something I do all that often. We probably should invest in some special cookware and long utensils to prevent singed arm hair, but I always forget.  So I struggle along, crouched over the hot fire like an inept caveman, sweaty and sooty, with a towel tied around my arm and the under-sized utensil.  We use lots of aluminum foil in place of pans.  I lose at least 2 hotdogs/burgers in the fire (and only serve the ones that I can retrieve without chunks of burned wood embedded in them!).  When the meal is over, we transfer all of our dirty dishes, pans, condiments, extra food… back into the RV and do the dishes.  Paper plates help with the dishes, but I still have to wash pans and utensils, so what’s a few dishes more? (Whew! I get tired just writing this.)

I’ll get better at the whole campfire cooking thing.  Eventually.

Until then, I’d love to hear how you prepare your meals when you are RVing.  Do you cook outside?  If so, what tools and tips do you use to evenly cook your food and keep your arm hair?  If you cook inside of your RV, what have you done to cope with the teeny-tiny counter space?

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  • Reply Mary March 9, 2015 at 11:50 pm

    Since we live in our RV full time, I am more selective on what I have in my cupboards. We boondock all the time, so water conservation is a must. We don’t have room for dutch ovens, or I would take them, as they are so easy to cook with. There are a ton of recipes for dutch oven cooking that are delicious. The best way to cook with them is over charcoal briquettes, then you can regulate the heat better.
    As far as more counter space. You can have someone make you an extension that is on hinges. Flip it up when you need it, and down when you don’t. I had that in our first RV.

  • Reply Horatio Hocktengruber 13th May 12, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    OK Since you insist,, morn hobo v/s true hobo… with a little shopping internet `or garage sale ?? keep your eyes open for a cast iron pot at least 1 1/2 gallon with a carrying handle to hang on a hook … rater than look for the proper heavy sticks for a tripod,, make one of metal rods long enough to allow you to select a few high , med., low positions for the pot or alum. foil bags, baskets… the pot for chilli, stews soups.. also a windscreen to keep the heat under the pot instead of gone in the wind…

    Funny how we forget when looking for answers to almost anything between a—z with today’s electronics answers are at your fingertips in wikipedia.. Try search Hobo Cooking,, also maybe other thought’s like hobo Village cooking..

    Just to add a little story to my comment,,, When I fired Steam Locomotives seemed like bums and hobos set up camps near our water towers for some reason ?? many times as we had slowed the train speed to spot stop the tenders water tank cover , i would kick lumps of coal out of the engines floorboard onto the ground so they could pick it up and use it to keep warm..

    Happy Camping Kids,, Horatio

    • Reply Chris Hughes May 14, 2015 at 8:08 am

      Hi Mr. Hocktengruber (the 13th),
      Thanks for the tip on the the tripod. We’ve been eyeballing one. Also, I’m always amused by your hobo stories from days gone by. Ted and I still remember you talking about the difference between “hobos” and “bums”.
      Love you, Grandpa!!

  • Reply Horatio Hocktengruber 13th May 12, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    can’t find a way to correct a word,,, my post should have started with the word ((modern))

  • Reply Horatio Hocktengruber 13th May 12, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    As your friend mary suggested an extension.. In the above photo your counter ends near a door to ?? If possible to block the door,, would be one way to add on a removable or hinged extension or off the front side over the drawers…

    • Reply Chris Hughes May 14, 2015 at 8:05 am

      Hi Horatio!! 🙂
      The front side of the drawers is EXACTLY where I’m hoping to put a counter extension. You are brilliant. It’s like we’re related or something.
      Love you, Grandpa!

  • Reply Campfire Cooking: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back – CU On The Road May 10, 2016 at 7:42 am

    […] The first article the Campfire Cooking series: Campfire Cooking:  What NOT To Do […]

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