The winter months bring us a perfect opportunity to focus on outdoor cooking. There is an assumption that Summer is the time for outdoor cooking. In fact, cooking during Winter means we have a fire for warmth and also some tasty hot food and drink to help us manage the temperatures and still be outside.
This term, Miss Elvy's Curious School of the Wild groups have been extra focused of cooking outside. We always do campfire cooking but we have given ourselves permission to experiment and try all of those things that we've always wanted to but haven't, just in case they don't work. Experimenting with food feels very risky when you have mouths to feed for sustenance, warmth and morale!
It has mostly been a success and we have always had our usual emergency supply of "just add water food" available for the worse case scenario.
Some inspiration might help you to have a little experimentation of your own. Don't feel as if it must be foolproof, we all have a lot more to learn from trying it out and not knowing the outcome for a change! It will feel like a real and small adventure.
There actually aren't too many great books on cooking outdoors to be honest, not like other areas of cooking but these are our go to books that see us through most of what we need and enough of new cool stuff to try for the first time.
These are all books that I own and use. There are more that we use but I will introduce you to these four books, for a tasty starter!
All of these books are available on Amazon.
This book has really genuinely exciting and adventurous recipes and cooking processes. This is a great book if you want to wave goodbye to the old favourites and take it up a notch. It has actually good information about kit, different fires and the food ideas are organised seasonally which is a nice touch for those who live and think seasonally. There is also a little nod towards foraged foods. If you are early on in your outdoor cooking journey this might overwhelm you a bit. I would say this is a book for pretty confident outdoor cooks although there are still a handful of pretty simple ideas too.
Vegetables on a bed of Hay
Venison in an Earth Pit
Super basic great for beginners and simple ideas to make food with kids. Illustrated, no photos. It could be a good book for an older, capable child to use on their own as it is very step by step. Does also have some ideas that are not on a stick, which are super simple. It is also a small book so you could feasibly take it with you in your kit. The recipes all have cool outdoorsy fun names that might help you to persuade kids to eat up! Some of it is more on the treat side of campfire cooking. Can also buy it's sister book "cooking in a can". which is actually quite a science based approach to outdoor cooking and we have used it on wild science projects.
Rangers Apple Pie
Honey bears delights
A cheap small book that you could pack in your kit. An intro with helpful hints about dutch oven cooking.
Then literally 101 recipes! No illustrations, no photos but packed full of ideas. Organised into sections for Breakfast, bread and rolls, main dishes, sauces, soups and stews and desserts. For that reason it is great as you can look up exactly the kind of thing you are imagining that you want to cook and then find lots of suggestions.
The timings on these need to be looked at, as much cooking in a dutch oven is very slow. Not great if you are only out for an hour or so.
Golden honey sourdough rolls
Chocolate peppermint cake
Mountain man breakfast
Part of the Do book series, a tiny bit hipster! This book was a really nice gift I received. Organised in a useful way if you may cook in varying environments, forest, beach, mountain, river. Nice photography and written by someone who you know totally loves and embraces cooking in the wild. It does talk through kit and various methods which will be helpful. It covers a range of abilities and does include forest bread or twist bread on a stick and two sieve popcorn to ease you in gently! It also isn't all baking, it has very achievable wild recipes and lots that I have also never tried but feel I could easily with the groups and kit I already have. A good all rounder and a pretty safe choice for all levels of wild cooking experience and confidence. Also small and under £10.