I love camping and cooking outdoors and try to get outside all year round. I use some wonderful gear for cooking outside in all seasons (see my third Connemara Dreaming blog) and it also comes in very handy when the power goes down at home, usually when we have deep snow. Last winter we lost power for most of three days but enjoyed cooking inside and outside with a variety of charcoal and wood fired devices. I found the Cobb oven, designed originally for cooking on a boat deck, particularly useful inside (with ventilation!). This versatile charcoal fired oven can roast, grill, fry and even bake. It can stand on a work surface by the kitchen window as happily as outside and is virtually smokeless. But I really like to make my own cooking devices out of scrap materials totally for free.
The Hobo Stove
I came across this idea on the internet ages ago. It couldn't be more simple to make. Get hold of a large tin can, the kind a caterer would use for canned tomatoes. I asked my friend Ali who runs The Beech Café at the Sustainabiltiy Centre (where Permaculture magazine is based) to put aside a couple for me. Simply punch or drill out some holes in the top rim of the can. Make sure they are close together so that you get a good draw. Do similar at the bottom of the can but also cut a small opening with snips to allow you to feed the can with twigs once the pan is on top.
Put the stove on a flat stone or slab to make sure you do not burn the ground around it and to keep it level and stable. Then put in dry tinder (newspaper plus a few twigs will do or dry moss if you like)) and set a good fire. Once alight add a well fitting pan on the top and start cooking. You can control the intensity of the flames by reducing or increasing the amount of wood you use.
Here are a two students who came on a land based environmental course at the Sustainability Centre testing out the device. As you can see, they are cooking some delicious food!
Both photos are taken by Penny Rose
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