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General Tips
Box Oven
Box Oven II
Box Oven III
Dutch Oven Cleaning
Hay Box
Mud Oven
Mud Oven II
Pretzel Can Oven
Roaster with handle and storage case
Soft Soap
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  General Tips
  If you are not using cast iron to cook with, take liquid soap and coat the outside and bottom of pots/pans to be used over the fire. This will make the black "char" very easy to remove.
Keep your cast iron pots (and lids too) well oiled.
Remove surplus packaging from foods before heading on your trip.
Make a list of everything you use without really thinking about (ie: salt, pepper, foil) take that list with you when purchasing/packing food for cookouts. And on the same note, make a list of things forgotten, keep it with your troops cooking supplies so they will be remembered next time.
If you have very young girls or have a very limited time for a meal, it is okay to pre-prepare some items: ie: brown the meat, cook the pasta. Have the girls help you do this if possible
Packing the matches in the cooler with the ice is generally not a good idea (sorry this is not really a serious tip, just something I am thinking back about that is making me laugh)
Remind your girls of knife safety, fire safety and other procedures before beginning.
Collect more firewood than you think you will need, but on the same note, just because you have a lot of it, do not be wasteful.
Never leave the campfire unattended.
Don't dump leftover food in the woods near your site.
Make sure the girls around the fire drink plenty of water.
Have fun and even if the food doesn't turn out perfect, be proud of the girls because you know they tried =)
Contributed by: Laura
Bluebonnet Girl Scout Council
College Station, TX
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  Box oven
  The amount of charcoal to be used in box ovens is 1 briquette for each 50 degrees plus 1 extra briquette. (i.e. for 350 degree oven use 7+1 briquette)
Contributed by: Barb
Senior Troop 2589
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  Box Oven II
  One hot charcoal equals 40 degrees. You divide temp you want by 40 and that is how much charcoal you need. To get a temperature of 350 degrees you will need 9 pieces of charcoal
Hope this helps
Contributed by: Kathy
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  Box Oven III
  I made a box oven out of a computer monitor box! I had a hard time getting my hands on a whiskey box. The monitor box was just the right size for us - we made a gingerbread cake in it last year at our Family Picnic - must say, had some parents who were impressed that we were baking a cake while grilling burgers and hot dogs at a park!
Contributed by: Jennie Dalesandro
Brownie Troop #966
Illinois Crossroads Council
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  Dutch Oven cleaning
  My hubby's method of cleaning a dutch oven is:
 Scrape out as much food as you can. Sometimes he uses a 1-inch-wide paint scraper (metal flexible type), to help scrape out more food.
Put the dutch oven back over and under the coals to "burn out" any remaining food scraps. Hubby enjoys sitting by the dutch oven with glowing coals for about 15-20 minutes to do this.
Cool dutch oven, then wipe out with paper towel. The final touch, wipe with shortening or oil.
If your dutch oven is properly seasoned, the food should not stick too bad.
Some people prefer to line their dutch ovens with aluminum foil when making things like cakes, rather than stews and such.
Contributed by: Margo Mead Junior Troop 1095/Brownie Troop 364
Beaverton, Oregon
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  Dutch Oven cleaning (and general cast iron care)
  The method I use for cleaning cast iron depends on what was cooked in it. Here are the two ways I've done it:Paper towels and solid Crisco...While pan is on the fire, wad up some paper towels with some solid Crisco on it and rub sides to get everything off. Depending on what you cooked and how bad the mess was, this can take from minutes to considerably longer than minutes :) Instead of paper towels you can also use burlap. Just have a plastic bag to put it in when you're done.
Hot water...for sticky stuff, I put some water in the pan, put it back on the fire, and heat till it's good and steaming. Next I use tongs and a plastic scrubby (looks like a wad of plastic netting). Scrub the whole thing so as to remove all particles. Dump water (using proper water-dumping procedure). Put pan back on fire. Heat till dry and wipe down with solid Crisco.
For both methods, wipe down with fresh paper towels after it is cool to remove excess shortening.
Other tips...some of which I am certain are personal biases and may be strongly disagreed with by others. Some refer to cast iron in general, others specifically to dutch ovens.
Never use oil to coat your pan. This can cause bubbles in the finish which will eventually rupture, exposing the uncoated iron beneath it and giving a mottled surface.
Invest in a good pair of welding gloves. If they can withstand the heat of welding, they'll be fine for handling a hot dutch oven.
Putting a wad of crumbled newspaper can help reduce condensation and prevent rusting. If in a very humid area, it might be best to put a wedge of folded newspaper along one edge of the lid so you don't seal moisture in, or just store with the lid off. (Note: I live in the desert, so I have never had a problem with moisture. This is taken from notes given me by others...please feel fee to post a clarification if one is needed.)
"2 up + 2 down = 325" The lid of the oven has the size printed on it. For example, I'll use 12 (which is a fairly common size). Using good-quality charcoal, you would put 12+2 on the top and 12-2 on the bottom to give you 325 degrees. To increase the temp, add one to top and one to bottom for each 25 degrees of increase. So, 350 degrees would be 15 on top and 11 on bottom. This is a guideline for general cooking only and will not work for things that require obvious bottom heating (such as browning or cooking in oil) or for very small dutch ovens (like the 4 inch size).
Always use a good-quality charcoal! We use Matchlight and Kingsford, which are the same thing except the Matchlight has the lighter fluid in it (and if you keep the top of the bag sealed it will stay in it).
If your coals have a coating of ash on them, they are not heating as efficiently. Bang them a few times to knock ash off.
Have extra coals handy for replenishing spent coals.
NEVER let ANYONE touch your cast iron with soap! Cast iron is porous and would love to grab onto that soap and make later dishes taste like dishwater.
Don't pass by opportunities to buy cast iron at a garage sale. I have a large skillet I purchased for $5. The rust took me only about an hour with steel wool to get off, and I now have a pan that is as non-stick as any Teflon I've ever owned. As a note, though, this was an old pan to start with, so the casting was smoother and the quality is incredible.
Cast iron skillets are great for baking pan-pizzas in ...and for making funnel cakes
Avoid any cast iron pans with wooden handles.
Contributed by: Sue Moore
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  Hay Box
  I use a Hay Box to make porridge and jacket potatoes. It is excellent for stew but my QM wont let me use it for that, she doesn't trust it!! It cooks meat better than vegetables.

A Hay Box is like a slow cooker

A Hay box is a large box, I use a old wooden tea chest, not so easy to find these days. I line it with large cardboard sheets covered with foil shinny side out and then fill it with Hay. You then push the Dixie or Casserole Saucepan (pot) into the hay making a round hole. It works even better if you fill it with boiling water before you push it in it seems to mold to the size of the pot better. If using it for porridge I use a double boiler. You heat the contents you want to cook in the pot and then put the pot, with a lid, in the Hay box cover with a hay pillow and then with a wooden lid and leave it to cook. If cooking stew or mince you must boil it for 20 - 30 minutes before putting it in the hay box. Overnight or 6 - 8 hours later you will have a lovely meal which you can make hotter again if you need to. It depends on the outside temperature. The quantity in the pot and the time you leave it.

My tea chest is 16 inches (40cm) x 20 inches (50cm) x 23 inches (58cm) high outside dimensions. The pot I use is 25 liters I think [10inches (26cm) high X 10 1/2 inches (27cm) in diameter] these are rough measurements. The pot must have a lid or you will get hay in the food!!!

I hope this makes sense.
Contributed by: Frances Walshaw
3rd Bridge of Weir Guides
  I've also used a really large cardboard box and rags instead of hay. It seems to work just as well.
Contributed by: Susan Cokley
Leader - Pt Danger Guides
  Yes this is fine if the Hay Box is under cover. We leave ours outside in the wind & rain because it takes up too much room in the store tent. I have also used fibre glass as insulation and it is great, but you have to have sheeting or something to protect skin from fibre glass. Well packed hay is definitely the best.
Contributed by: Frances Walshaw
Kilmacolm Scotland
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  Mud Oven

You need a deep metal container (preferably steel rather than aluminum) with a lid. The container should be large enough to accommodate your backing disk/tray. A large cooking oil tin (as used in commercial kitchens) are ideal. Just remember to wash out the oil. You'll also need a length of metal pipe (downpipe is great) This is used as the chimney.

Dig a small trench in the ground and place your container side down on top of the trench. There should be enough room underneath your container to light a fire. Place your drainpipe at the back of your oven so one end is in the fire trench and the other end is taller than the top of your oven.

Now coat the whole lot with mud, Mud pie consistency. To work effectively it should be fairly think. Remember this is the insulation. Remember also to leave open the top end of the chimney and front of the oven. Allow the oven to become fairly dry then light a fire underneath it. This will "cure" the mud and make it really hard and solid.

To use the oven light a fire underneath. A small "twiggy" fire seems to work best. If you have a round container you can slide your food tray straight in. If you have a square container then you will need to put in some kind of cake racks to lift your food trays up from the bottom of the oven. Don't forget to put on your lid, you may need to prop the lid closed with a branch or something.

While I've never cooked meat in this style of oven, it's great for cakes, damper, pizza etc.
Contributed by: Susan Cokley
Leader - Pt Danger Guides
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  Mud Oven II

You dig a trench, place a biscuit/cookie tin on its side over the end of the trench, build a mound of mud over all of the tin apart from the open mouth (this gives insulation)and light a fire under the tin.

Bread, chicken, all sorts of things can then be baked in the tin/mud oven. The lid of the biscuit tin makes a door and you can seal it on using a bread and water dough.

Timing of your cooking will depend on the type of fire etc so you'll just have to experiment!!

Have you tried hay box cooking??
Contributed by: Marilyn
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  Pretzel Can Oven

A few folks have been asking about the Pretzel Can ovens. I will try to explain it the best I can. This type of oven lasts a long time (I think mine are 20+ years old), but is a lot of work for a one-campout thing.

Take a 3 pound pretzel can (or potato chip) and lay it on it's side. Draw a line 1/3 the distance between the table and the top of the can on both sides of the can. This is where the oven rack will be. Punch (or drill) small holes about 1-1/2" apart down the line on each side. The holes need to be large enough for a metal coat hanger to fit through.

Take several wire coat hangers and straighten them out. Cut them so that you have enough straight pieces for the number of holes. You can get two wires out of each hanger. Put the wires in the holes on one side of the can and out the holes on the other side. This is your rack.

If you have the lid, cut the bottom 1/3 off and file the edge. Make sure the lid covers the area above the rack. This is your oven door. You can just make a door out of heavy duty aluminum foil if you don't have a lid.

Get a small pie pan or Jiffy Pop tin (I prefer the Jiffy pop because they have a handle) to use for your coals. Contour the pie plate to the bottom of the can.

To Use: lay the can on the ground and secure it with logs, rocks, etc to keep it from rolling. Light your coals in the pie plate OUTSIDE THE OVEN. (One briquette = 40 degrees F) After the coals are white, put them in the can and put the lid on. Preheat the oven, with the lid on, for a short time while you prepare your cake/muffins/pizza, etc. Cook your food for the amount of time called for in your recipe.

Use good charcoal and make sure you start out with full briquettes. If the weather is cold, you need to use more coals, cook food longer or really insulate the oven. Try not to open the door until the allotted time as much heat escapes that way.

I hope that helps, if you still have questions e-mail me privately.
Contributed by: Cheryl Hamm
Council Trainer, Senior Advisor
Freedom Valley GSC
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  Roaster with handle and storage case
Materials Needed: 2 cardboard tubes from clothes hangers for pants
1 reg. clothes hanger
wire cutters
Instructions: Straighten the regular clothes hanger (leave hanger twisted together).
Cut clothes hanger in half (You will have two prongs).
Insert twisted part of regular clothes hanger into cardboard tube from pants hanger. (This is your roaster with a handle)
The other cardboard tube will be your storage case. Just insert prong end of roaster into cardboard tube for storage.
Contributed by: Dana Reding
Cross Timbers GSC
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  Soft Soap

Instead of buying liquid soap why not make it from the small pieces of soap which are too small to shower with. Just grate the soap pieces and cover with water in a sealable container. Shake it around a bit to mix it up.

My guides love making softsoap, they would use an entire bar of soap if I would let them.
Contributed by: Susan Cokley
Leader - Pt Danger Guides, Australia
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