For most people, outdoor cooking is synonymous with barbeque, but there are many other ways to cook outdoors. If you have been camping, you are probably at least familiar with the portable propane stoves which provide a burner or two similar to the stovetop burners you have at home. In addition, you may have also heard of dutch ovens. However, I am thinking most people who have not been involved in scouting have probably not heard of box ovens.
This past weekend I attended camp with my son’s cub scout pack. As part of the camp, they worked on their outdoorsman badge, which includes cooking outdoors. The first night of camp the boys all made box ovens. Then we used the box ovens to cook two meals.
The construction of a box oven is quite simple. Basically, you take a cardboard box, cover it on the inside with aluminum foil (wrap it top to bottom and tape it on the outside). Construct a cardboard lid also lined with aluminum foil. (While cooking, this should be weighed down with some convenient item such as a rock.) Finally, push rods made from coat hangers through the center of the box to serve as a rack to place food on. The box should be big enough to fit an pan inside and big enough that your
Cooking with the box oven is quite simple. The rule to remember is one charcoal briquette will account for approximately 25 degrees (Fahrenheit). So, if you are baking something that requires 400 degrees, use 16 briquettes.
In the morning, we cooked breakfast biscuits in our box ovens. We used the type of biscuits where you just crack open the tube, separate them and put them on a cooking sheet. We used a disposable aluminum pan which we saved to use again at lunch.
We also cooked eggs in a bag. This is another creative way to cook which allows for easy cleanup. Basically, you take a couple of eggs, crack them into a zip-lock sandwich bag, add bacon (pre-cooked), cheese, salt and pepper to taste. You seal up the bag being careful to remove as much air as possible. Then you drop the bag into boiling water. For the boiling water, we used a propane stove.
At lunch, we used our box ovens again to cook “pigs in a blanket” (hotdogs wrapped in biscuits), and cobbler.
For the cobbler, we re-used the aluminum pan from the morning. We took two cans of cherry pie filling, dumped them in the pan, poured a box of white cake mix on top of that, and then carefully poured a can of 7up on top of that. No mixing involved. Then we baked it until it looked done. Easy as can be, and it tasted great!
Now I’ve been thinking it would be fun to try baking a pizza on the next camp-out using a box oven. We could buy one of those pre-made crusts, a jar of sauce, cheese, and pepperonis. The kids would love it, and the cleanup would be easy.
Speaking of easy cleanup… for the cub scout camp, we were asked to bring mess kits, and that is what most of us used. However, if you cook with a box oven and also use disposable plates and utensils, you could easily manage to avoid doing any dishwashing.
So, the next time you go camping, don’t just cook, cook creatively. Whether you use a box oven or some other creative method, you’ll feel better after a long day of hiking or other fun outdoor activities if you have an enjoyable and fun meal when you get back to camp.