LUKE CLAYTON: Campfire cooking from home

This past week on one of those cool, clear mornings, the urge to do a bit of campfire cooking hit me. I had fashioned a couple of ‘pot hangers’ from a dry cedar limb and another from a deer antler and was anxious to put my old cast iron Dutch kettles to work. My wife saw me rustling around the fire pit in front of my little cabin situated in the trees behind the house and asked what I was up to.

“Going to cook a pot of camp beans and some pork over the campfire,” was my reply. She still hasn’t completely fathomed the reason I like to cook over a campfire when we have a new electric stove in the kitchen! I just tell her I like doing things the old way. In truth, using the old cast iron pots that have accompanied me on hunting and fishing trips for much of my life is quite comforting and brings back many fond memories.

Luke has been cooking with cast iron for most of his adult life.  He first began using the old kettle on the right in the last sixties when his uncle presented it to him for a birthday present.

I’ve had one of the kettles since my teenage years. It has a recessed lid for holding coals which makes it ideal for baking or frying. I’ve cooked everything in the old pot from fried fish on the creek bank in East Texas to grouse I shot up in the high country of Colorado. On this most recent cookout, my menu was barbecue pork backbone and a pot of pinto beans, seasoned with wild onions, chili powder, salt, garlic and a bit of brown sugar. I began by getting a good ‘cook fire’ going with dry pecan and mesquite wood. For the past few years, I have been cooking with seasoned wood from B&B Charcoal. It comes in a bag and is convenient, especially when I need to start a cooking fire quickly. I usually begin by lighting a few charcoal briquettes and then split the chunks of dry wood into smaller pieces, which makes regulating the heat on my cook fire easier. I always keep one or two big chunks of mesquite burning to insure I have plenty of coals.

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