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cook-ovr-fire-msg – 6/8/09


Cooking over open fires. Cooking feasts outdoors.


NOTE: See also these files: Opn-Fr-Cookry-art, utensils-msg, iron-pot-care-msg, Kentwell-Hall-art, firepits-msg, camp-ovens-msg, ovens-msg, firestarting-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



From: mfgunter at tddeng00.fnts.com (Michael F. Gunter)

Date: Tue, 24 Jun 1997 16:51:49 -0500

Subject: Re: SC - Feast planning


> What sorts of dishes have folks had good luck with cooking on a grill?

>  We've done pork roast before, but other than that have had problems with

> meat getting dry and overdone.  I'd be interested in other ideas.


> Caitlin


One thing that we do before feasts, and especially before grilling, is to boil

chickens first.  Boil them until they are partially cooked but not falling off the bone. Then cool and place in whatever marinade you desire. Then grill them until they are brown and done.  You shouldn't have the problems with drying when done this way.  Also, this way they cook up fairly quickly and you can serve the

chicken hot.





From: "Nick Sasso (fra niccolo)" <grizly at mindspring.com>

Date: Tue, 24 Jun 1997 19:38:42 -0400

Subject: Re: SC - Feast planning


> One thing that we do before feasts, and especially before grilling, is

> to boil chickens first.


Another concept is to smoke the meat ahead of time. You'll have moist

meat that you can char on the barby or warm in an oven. Lots of

creative optins with smokers.


In Humble Service to God and Crown;




From: nweders at mail.utexas.edu (ND Wederstrandt)

Date: Thu, 26 Jun 1997 11:37:08 -0500 (CDT)

Subject: Re: SC - cooking frumenty for the masses


I have cooked outdoors with grains quite a bit since we wind up with lots

of outdoor events.  I made a mushroom barley stew with leeks out doors.  I

like barley which has a nutty taste that works well with stews.  The best

thing I found is to cook smaller batches and mix them together.  The

biggest problem with grains being cooked on Colemans, over fires and such

is too often the pot is too big and isn't stirred well so the bottom burns.

I use 3 gal pots and mix them when they are hot..  Our events usually have

a minimum of 150 hungry people with a maximum of 350 or 400 and the smaller

pots work better even though the dish takes longer to cook.


        Another idea is to precook your grains a bring them out to reheat

and mix with any other ingredients.  Again I think smaller pots work better

than large.


        One of the best outdoor heating facilities I ever used was a water

heater bottom hooked up to a butane tank.  It could boil a 25 gal pot of

hot water in less than two minutes.  Really good......


Clare St. John



From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>

Date: Mon, 30 Jun 1997 19:00:00 -0400

Subject: Re: SC - Cooking in a Period Environment


L Herr-Gelatt and J R Gelatt wrote:

> How many of you have attempted to make your "camp cooking" period---not just

> the recipes and ingredients, but the fire irons, the pots and pans, the

> beehive ovens and the open spits. etc?


Up to a point. I've used a cast-iron bean pot (buried in a firepit) for

a pottage of canebyns with ham, and have baked in a Dutch oven up on

legs, and used both stone and cast iron bakestones. Can't seem to find a

smith who'll make me a rachingcroke I can afford, though...someday...<sigh>


> It's extra work, I grant you, but I also have had it shown to me that many

> of our recipes are altered by the situations in which we cook them and the

> modern tools we use.  A pie baked in a kettle with coals heaped on the lid,

> and a pie baked in a gas oven,  and a pie baked in a brick bakery oven will

> vary considerably as to taste, texture, and appearance.  I really want to

> try a small event (perhaps our household of 40-odd) with no (or few) modern

> conveniences. Can anyone offer me some advice?


One of my dream EKU (insert name of your kingdom university here)

scenarios is a day  in a tavern kitchen. This would be a class taking

pretty much the entire day, with a brewing, a baking, and meal

consisting of a pie, a pottage, a roast with sauces and a sallet or two.

Possibly a late period sweet. Since this would be a teaching kitchen,

I'd figured on doing about 3/4 of the food in advance, to be reheated in

pots near the fire or in the warm bread oven. (This would go a ways

toward preventing some disasters.) Most of the day would be spent doing

the remaining 25%, slowly and carefully, for both the students (and in

my case, the teacher) to learn some of the techniques.


You might consider something like that...





From: Par Leijonhufvud <parlei at ki.se>

Date: Tue, 1 Jul 1997 08:18:11 +0200 (METDST)

Subject: Re: SC - Cooking in a Period Environment


On Mon, 30 Jun 1997, L Herr-Gelatt and J R Gelatt wrote:

> How many of you have attempted to make your "camp cooking" period---not just

> the recipes and ingredients, but the fire irons, the pots and pans, the

> beehive ovens and the open spits. etc?


I've cooked for small groups of people (10-15) over campfire with only the

tools available: pots (one iron replica, one aluminium "billy can"  type

pots), wooden spoons and ladles, knives, cutting boards. With the

limitations that this implies it works fine, but you should expect that it

takes some skill to work with the fire, and keep a constant temperature on

pots. I've also used what comes fairly close to the viking age skillets,

with good results when making bread.


Make sure you have plenty of firewood, and if you go for much larger

groups you probably should have someone detailed keeping the fire going at

a constant level. This person should have some knowledge of what it takes

to keep a fire going at a constant level (small sticks and constant

replenishment), but this should be ok for a teenager.


Have a convienient method of regulating your pots position relative to the

fire. My prefered setup is a trench type fireplace (say 1 1/2x4'), with a

bar at about 4-5' above. I then hang my pots from it using wooden "double

hooks"[1], but a viking style chain with hooks would work at least as

well. Remember that you can regulate by having the fire on one end, and

moving the pot sideways. For a larger setup this is another person;

stirring the pots and keeping them positioned.


Other useful things: nick a pair of welders gloves from one of your

neighbourhood stickjocks. Useful for handling hot and sooty pots.


If you are going to do anything largish at all, I strongly recommend

getting a table. It makes lots of things much easier.




[1] Join to wooden hooks until you have a "Z" shape (say 5-6" long). Your

pot hangs on one, and a sturdy string from the other. it is then easy to

roll up a turn of string on the upper hood when needed. The upper end of

the string is tied with a loop (large enough to slide easilly) to the bar.

- --

Par Leijonhufvud                  par.leijonhufvud at labtek.ki.se



From: KandL Johnston <woodrose at malvern.starway.net.au>

Date: Tue, 01 Jul 1997 11:44:12 +1000

Subject: Re: SC - Cooking in a Period Environment


L Herr-Gelatt and J R Gelatt wrote:

> I also (with much anxiety, as it was my

> first totally period camp meal) made our dinner with an open spit, and a

> nifty cast iron trivet thingy attached to the spit's upright that held my

> pots over the flame. I am a new woman with a new goal! I want to do some

> historical cooking with the appropriate environment and tools. So here's my

> question:


> How many of you have attempted to make your "camp cooking" period---not just

> the recipes and ingredients, but the fire irons, the pots and pans, the

> beehive ovens and the open . spits. etc?


Yes, Yes, Every year at Easter we hold a comping event, and many of us

experiment with this, and it is really a treat. Fire port of Iron and

clay, open spits have cooked everything from roast and vegies, to baked

cheese cakes and fritters/torts.


This year we hope to get some kind of oven, but type is undecided.

> It's extra work,


Not a lot if your camping anyway


>  I really want to

> try a small event (perhaps our household of 40-odd) with no (or few) modern

> conveniences. Can anyone offer me some advice?


And we have held feast for 50 people with 6 cooks, a fire minder (very

important person, knows where hot, cool and medium heats are) and one

camp cook fire.


  I'm the cook, Rudolf is the mean fire minder.

- ---------------------------------------

Rudolf von der Drau and Nicolette Dufay

Baron and Baroness, Stormhold



From: Bronwynmgn at aol.com

Date: Tue, 1 Jul 1997 10:46:31 -0400 (EDT)

Subject: Re: SC - Cooking in a Period Environment


At one of my first SCA events, the entire feast was cooked over a wood fire

set in a long, narrow trench to allow enough area for everything we needed.


I'm afraid I can't remember much of the menu except the gingered carrots and

poached pears.  I do remember that it rained lightly most of the day, but not

enough to put the fire out.  The downpour came, literally, as we took the

last pot off the fire and got it under the covered pavilion. We didn't have

to worry about keeping an eye on the fire after that.  The nearby stream, on

the other hand...


We did not use period utensils - in fact, one of the biggest problems was the

fact that someone decided that refrigerator shelves would make good fire

grates.  (Do NOT try this.  They bend under the combination of weight and

heat and try to dump your food in the fire.)  Also, things tend to heat

unevenly, so in rescuing the food that was about to fall into the fire,

somebody grabbed one side of the pot and said "Oh, it's cool, you won't need

a potholder" - which resulted in the guy on the other side getting a nasty

burn.  So it is important to turn and stir pots frequently, and to make sure

there are plenty of potholders available and use them, even if you think it

might not be hot.


Also, on another list (I think) the point was brought up that wind will rob

the heat form your fire and increase cooking times.  Wind breaks are a good






From: Robin Hackett <robin.hackett at wadsworth.org>

Date: Tue, 1 Jul 1997 12:44:43 -0500

Subject: Re: SC - Cooking in a Period Environment


Bronwyn wrote,

>We did not use period utensils - in fact, one of the biggest problems was the

>fact that someone decided that refrigerator shelves would make good fire

>grates.  (Do NOT try this.  They bend under the combination of weight and

>heat and try to dump your food in the fire.)


Oven shelves, on the other hand, worked for me for years. However, I don't

dig anymore. A combination of sand and ceramic tiles work well as a base to

build a fire on, without ruining the ground underneath. Our 15th century

set up (three spits and a pole to hang pots from) can still be driven into

the ground around the tiles and its much easier to control the fire when

you can reach it. :)


>Also, on another list (I think) the point was brought up that wind will rob

>the heat form your fire and increase cooking times. Wind breaks are a good



Yes, they keep you from feeding charred yet uncooked chicken to the King!

Amazing I still cook after that debacle. :)





From: Debra Hense <debh at microware.com>

Date: Tue, 1 Jul 1997 17:15:32 -0500

Subject: SC - RE: sca-cooks V1 #182


There is a lady living in the DC area (originally from Calontir), who can

teach outdoor cookery.  I know we flew her to Calontir to teach an all day

outdoor cookery class several years ago.  Unfortunately, I cannot now

remember her name.  Her husband was Sir Kintegern(sp?).


[Matilda of Tay - that's the cook's name.  She teaches a wonderful all day outdoor cookery class.]


One of the things I most remember about her teaching is the phrase "let the

fire be small, clear and bright."  And she showed us in the fire pit what

she thought the term meant.  We cooked several things that day.  A roast,

stew, pie, and bread over that fire pit that we dug. It was extremely



Kateryn de Develyn

Who's only moved three times since then.  I know the handout is in one of

these file boxes...



From: Mary Morman <memorman at oldcolo.com>

Date: Wed, 2 Jul 1997 13:39:59 -0600 (MDT)

Subject: Re: SC - outdoor cookery


On Tue, 1 Jul 1997, Debra Hense wrote:

> Matilda of Tay - that's the cook's name.  She teaches a wonderful all day outdoor cookery class.  


Mistress Mathilda Tay Gilchrest.  Wonderful, talented lady.  Only person i

have met with a laurel in Housewifery.  But I guess I never thought of her

as being from Calontir...





Date: Sun, 13 Jul 1997 22:31:42 -0700 (PDT)From: rousseau at scn.org (Anne-Marie Rousseau)Subject: SC - Frumenty successes!Hi all from Anne-Marie.Just wanted to let you all know that the frumenty for 120 went over great! It was not gloppy and was not burned and bunches of people came up and said "THAT was frument? But it wasn't nasty!!" Hooray!What we did:Make the frumenty in decent sized batches (about 4 cups at a time) in my really good big Revereware pot with a great lid. Let it cool to room temp and stir in the egg as dictated in the original source. Seal the stuff in boil-in-the-bag seal-a-meal bags, about 2-3 cups per bag.On site, we used the big huge propane burners like they have for crab boils. HEated up water in our biggest pots and when it was at a boil, put two or three bags in the water. Boiled them for about...5 min? Until the bags were soft (ie the frumenty was not all clumpy any more). Dumped the scalding hot and totally cooked grain in big steamer inserts which we kept in the oven until all the grain was done, and we served.For the record, we served the frumenty with stewed mushrooms, also from Curye on Englishe, I believe.Every diner got a little pamphlet with the recipes, including the original sources.Thanks for all the great ideas! For us, at this particular event, the boily bags were a great idea.- --Anne-Marie.+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++Anne-Marie Rousseaurousseau at scn.orgSeattle, Washington


Date: Wed, 17 Jun 1998 11:23:16 -0500 (CDT)

From: cole joan <jscole at ux1.cso.uiuc.edu>

Subject: SC - Re: seeking recipes (Outdoor Feast)


Brenna of Lyonsbane requested a couple of recipes that I don't have and

ideas for an outdoor feast in primitive circumstances. That I have done,

and I have recipes available at


Some dishes are period, some are not.  Perhaps it will spark some ideas.


Hildegarde Stickerin



Date: Thu, 18 Jun 1998 21:14:41 -0700

From: "Anne-Marie Rousseau" <acrouss at gte.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Re: seeking recipes (Outdoor Feast)


Hi all from Anne-Marie


this summer we started cooking exclusively on the fire. what a hoot! An

outdoor feast in "primitive" condiitons is a fun challenge!


we have found that we can do just about anything we would want to do in a

regular kitchen, with the possible exception of baking pies and breads (and

this only becuase we haven't perfected the techniques yet). Stuff that is

very well suited to the open fire concept include:

- --potages and stews...ie anything that you chop up and let boil or simmer

for long periods of time

- --anything yfryd...ie stuff you cook briefly in hot oil (spinach and fava

or garbanzo beans are two options)

- --herbolades...those eggy things with greens

- --rissoles and frytours. You're outside, so for the first time, deep frying

isnt a terrible ordeal!

- --ravioles are perfect! you can even make them ahad of time and freeze

them. Put them in the boiling broth on site, and voila!


Check out Pleyn Delit, that new Medieval Kitchen book, anything by Scully,

Maggie Black, etc. These are fairly good already-reconstructed recipes that

can get you started. Test them out at home first to be sure you like them

well enough to serve to paying customers :), and select recipes that donŐt

seem to be too fussy about heat (ie sauces that might curdle probably are

not suitable for fire, especially, if you're like me and havent figured out

the fine points yet)


have fun! cooking over a fire is a blast, especially when you've started it

yourself with flint and steel!

- --AM



Date: Fri, 19 Jun 1998 07:30:41 EDT

From: WOLFMOMSCA at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - Re: seeking recipes (Outdoor Feast)


Primitive Feasts are the best way to actually recreate period foods.  They

didn't have gas ranges or food processors.  They had fire. I've fed 450 off

one six-foot trench fire, using a piece of bent steel as an oven.  Gives you a

real appreciation for what life was like for a real medieval cook.





Date: Fri, 19 Jun 1998 12:19:46 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Re: seeking recipes (Outdoor Feast)


For grins and in response to the message about baking bread on a griddle, I

tried baking a small cottage loaf this past weekend on a griddle covered by

a metal bowl, a high tech version of the cloche oven.  I managed to charcoal

the bottom, perfectly brown the top and undercook the middle.  The problem

was not having a feel for the heat source.


You can bake bread using anything from a flat rock to the covered cauldron,

but you need to experiment to find out what the heat source will do with the

particular oven.  I'm expecting to lose about a dozen loafs before I get the

makeshift cloche to work.  I certainly need to raise the griddle and I may

need to spread some cracked millet on the griddle to help insulate the



The recipe I'm using is:


Dissolve 1 teaspoon dry active yeast in 1 cup warm water. Let the yeast

start to froth (about 10 min.)

Sift 1 teaspoon salt with 2 cups of flour.

Stir the flour into yeast mixture 1/2 cup at a time.

Knead on a floured surface until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Form the dough into a ball.

Let rise about 30 minutes in a covered, greased bowl.

Shape your loaf.

Bake until the crust is brown and the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it on

the bottom (30 min to 1 hr).


As a word of advice, when making dough outdoors, keep some muslin squares

large enough to cover your bowls handy.  Weighted corners are also a nice

idea.  Bugs love fermentation.


Next, why not bake the bread in the cauldron?  Bread keeps well for several

days.  You do not have to bake daily.  And you certainly do not need to bake

at the same time you are cooking your meal.  It has been a very common

practice both  by professional bakers and householders to bake bread twice a



Now if you want fresh bread with the meal and a dying fire is a problem, try

a keyhole fire pit.  Dig a circular pit about 18 inches in depth.  Extend a

trench out from the pit (usually in the direction of the prevailing wind).

The trench should be narrow enough that your pots will fit across it and you

should line the lip of the trench with stones, bricks, or logs to help

support the weight of the pots and keep the lip from crumbling.  Tapering

the trench from 18 inches at the fire pit end to about 4 inches at the far

end helps control the temperature on the bottom of the pot by where you

position it.


Build a fire in the fire pit.  Keep the fire going.  As the fire builds a

bed of coals, transfer the coals to the trench with a shovel (I use a WWII

entrenching tool).  By keeping the fire going in the pit, you keep building

a steady supply of coals, which can be transferred occasionally to the

trench to maintain the temperature of the cooking fire. You can also set up

a spit by the firepit and use it for roasting meat.





Date: Mon, 22 Jun 1998 15:14:03 +1000

From: Robyn Probert <robyn.probert at lawpoint.com.au>

Subject: Re: SC - Re: seeking recipes (Outdoor Feast)


I guess you should start with the philosophical question - are you trying to

cook over a fire to understand and experience what it was like? Or are you

trying to produce food and this happens to be the only available heat source?


If the latter, pre-cook and heat as much as possible and use whatever

implements are useful including those coal carrying dutch ovens, a water

chuffer and anything else which makes the job easier. What about hiring some

big gas burners and/or gas ovens? We did a feast last year for 350 with no

kitchen - we hired everything in.


If the former then on an open fire you can cook things in frypans, on spits

and grill racks, in cauldrons and pots, so why not use recipies designed for

these cooking methods? Add to that some cook-before and heat up options and

you have a big range.


Each year we have a 6 day camping event (Rowany Festival). I camp with a

group into authenticity, so we have our pavillions, bath house, feast tent,

cook tents and open fireplace. We all like cooking and all our evening meals

are cooked over the fire - some from scratch and some pre-prepared. All

researched, all delicious. Our evening board would usually have 15 dishes

and serve 25 people plus ring ins. Many of the dishes were fine for these

numbers but would not be practical for a large feast.


Grab bag of Stuff we learned - dig a trench, not a round pit - much easier

to control the fire and more room for more cooks. Set up two tall tripods at

each end, with a pole between to hang pots from and spits along. Crossbars

on the tripods hold ladles, forks etc out of the dirt (and a pair of leather

gloves for hot pots). Start your fire and prep WELL before it gets dark.

Cook on coals. Don't use cressets to give light - wicks in open oil is too

dangerous (candle laterns are OK). 3 legged ceramic pots are very stable and

(in stoneware) remarkably solid. Chinatown sells big cheap iron ladles and

other useful tools. Also cheap stoneware pots. Solid blocks of ice will keep

food cool longer than drink type ice (I made an icebox by lining a tourney

chest and drop in lid with  1" solid foam - stays cool for 1 week). Frozen

stews and potages help keep other things cool. UHT milk and cream don't have

to be kept cool until opened. Chardwarden is fabulous on porridge the next day.



- -----------------------------------------------------------------

Robyn Probert



Date: Tue, 23 Jun 1998 10:45:48 +1000

From: Lillian Johnston <LillianJ at bethlehem.org.au>

Subject: RE: SC - Re: seeking recipes (Outdoor Feast)


The best way that we have found is to have one person, not a cook, in

charge of the fire. They can control the temp, have low, medium and hot

spots for people to cook on and it is usually a fire bug around who

would love to play with the fire for an extended period. The fire pit

then becomes a conversation area, with people dropping in because they

know some one will be there.





Date: Tue, 23 Jun 1998 10:57:11 +0200 (MET DST)

From: Par Leijonhufvud <parlei at algonet.se>

Subject: Re: SC - Re: seeking recipes (Outdoor Feast)


On Tue, 23 Jun 1998, Robyn Probert wrote:


> Grab bag of Stuff we learned - dig a trench, not a round pit - much easier

> to control the fire and more room for more cooks. Set up two tall tripods at

> each end, with a pole between to hang pots from and spits along. Crossbars

> on the tripods hold ladels, forks etc out of the dirt (and a pair of leather

> gloves for hot pots).


Make the tripod taller than you think is needed: nowadays I seldom make

them less than 5 feet.


Use pot-hooks or chains with hooks (as seen in Viking age finds) for

suspending pots, then you can adjust the elevation of the pot as needed.

For limited size pots (up to, say, 15-20 lb total mass) I prefer the

home made style: two wooden hooks tied together in an "S" shape, and

some (strong!) cord for adjustment. Unless you know how to do these you

should ask a local woodworker to help you out; the trick is to carve

them so that the the load is on the wood, not the lashings.

Unfortunately I've never seen any indication that the lever type rigs

for suspending pots are period, since you can make some really nifty

setups with them.


Quick slow-down of the boil in a pot (if well suspended, a gallon of

boiling stew in your lap is No Fun): make it swing back and forth over

the fire. Works better with longer suspension chains than shorter.


> Cook on coals.


Differing opinion here, I prefer the flames. As long as you keep the

flames even it is IMHO faster and more efficient (or maybe I just like

to watch the flames). Use small pieces of wood and keep replenishing

them often. Have plenty of firewood handy, and (for larger setups) a

designated fire tender.


Don't worry about pots getting black from soot: they work better that

way, so why polish them after every use (some people do!)?


> Solid blocks of ice will keep food cool longer than drink type ice (I

> made an icebox by lining a tourney chest and drop in lid with 1" solid

> foam - stays cool for 1 week). Frozen stews and potages help keep

> other things cool. UHT milk and cream don't have


Use evaporation cooling for keeping stuff cool, or bury in the ground.



(Back*woods*, not backwards.)

- --

Par Leijonhufvud                           parlei(at)algonet.se



Date: Thu, 9 Jul 1998 15:05:47 SAST-2

From: "Ian van Tets" <IVANTETS at botzoo.uct.ac.za>

Subject: SC - Re: sca-cooks V1 #813


There was a short discussion on the difference between cooking

over fires and the pointers we need to remember.  One I learnt from

cooking under an open chimney is to keep lids on pots. Soot doesn't

taste nice.  If boiling liquid off, then leave the lid propped up on

a spoon, and allow more time than usual.





Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 18:44:25 -0600

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - Fw: Fireplace cooking info anone?


You can find the International Dutch Oven Society at:



A couple of books, while not about fireplace cooking specifically, may help.


J. Wayne Fears, Backcountry Cooking  ISBN 0-914788-19-1 (hb)

        ISBN 0-914788-20-5 (pb)


Mel Marshall, Complete Book of Outdoor Cookery  ISBN 0-442-26437-2


Unfortunately, both are probably out of print.





Date: Fri, 30 Oct 1998 15:02:44 -0500

From: "R. Trigg" <rtrigg at hoflink.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Fw: Fireplace cooking info anone?


>Does anyone knowof any sites or books wtih recipes for fireplace or Dutch

>oven cooking?


Your friend might try "Hearthside Cooking" by Nancy Carter Crump, ISBN

#0-914440-94-2; EPM Publications, Inc., McLean, VA; $19.95. It contains

18th and 19th century recipes with methods for cooking on a hearth.


Lady Nostas'ia Stepanova

Barony of Ponte Alto, Atlantia

(Alexandria, VA)



Date: Fri, 30 Oct 1998 14:09:13 -0800 (PST)

From: Donna Hrynkiw <donna at Kwantlen.BC.CA>

Subject: Re: SC - Fw: Fireplace cooking info anone?


>Does anyone knowof any sites or books wtih recipes for fireplace or Dutch

>oven cooking?  Thanks!

>-Janna Baron



There's a bit of info about dutch ovens (not a 'recipe' per se) at:




donna at kwantlen.bc.ca



Date: Thu, 19 Nov 1998 23:54:51 EST

From: kathleen.hogan at juno.com (Kathleen M Hogan)

Subject: Re: SC - A new thread


We did a "Robin Hood" theme for our Chocolate Mine Raids a few years back

at a site that had NO kitchen facilities.  We cooked a venison stew in a

cast iron cauldon over an open fire, and served it with lots of bread and

cheese.  Probably the simplest feast we've ever done and it was enjoyed



Caitlin NicFhionghuin

House Oak & Thistle

Shire of BorderVale Keep, Atlantia

Augusta, GA



Date: Thu, 11 Feb 1999 15:00:35 -0500

From: renfrow at skylands.net (Cindy Renfrow)

Subject: Re: SC - Re:


>Speaking of which, perhaps those experts still at home/on this list may tell me

>what is their favorite recipe(s) to use when cooking out of doors?  the feast

>in july is going to be outdoors, for my entire house (about 35 people) and I

>have access to grocery stores (read:small town, 160 people) about 10 min from



My favorite is the fabled 'obscene chicken'. ;)  The bird is placed upright

on a grill over the coals, or dangled on a string, & repeatedly brushed

with flavored batter til done.  The bird is very juicy & delicious.


Cindy Renfrow

renfrow at skylands.net



Date: Thu, 11 Feb 1999 15:12:38 -0500

From: "Alderton, Philippa" <phlip at morganco.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Re:


The easiest thing to cook outdoors for your carnivorous friends would be a

Hunter's Stew. It has different names in different cultures, but basicly,

all they'd do is take the days catch, whatever it might be- birds or game,

throw it in a pot and boil it until it was tender. While you might not have

access to wild game, you could try, say, a leg of lamb, a chunk of pork,

another of beef, a couple of chickens, maybe a duck or a rabbit, and so

forth- sort of a carnivore's bouillibaisse)


The other option in roasting your chosen meats over a fire, which is easy

enough to do if you're experienced with grilling outside- just choose your

firewood carefully- oak, apple, and hickory are all tasty, but stay away

from things like pine unless you want your food to taste like turpentine)





Date: Fri, 12 Feb 1999 08:47:30 -0800

From: Anne-Marie Rousseau <acrouss at gte.net>

Subject: Re: SC - outdoor feast info


Hi all from Anne-Marie


we're asked about what recipes we like to do outdoors. Well....:)


We've spent all of last summer cooking all our meals over an open fire,

using only 15th century appropriate recipes. (we're doing 1470 Bruges

re-enactment). Our conclusions were that ALL of the recipes out there work

over an open fire! Lo and behold, unless they require an oven, it is all

well suited. Amazing, no? Especially when you consider that that's how THEY

did it :). (the oven thing could likely have been gotten around using

modern dutch ovens, etc, but we decided not to, and got our baked goods

from the "bake house")


Seriously, its pretty cool that so many medieval recipes are essentially

"hack to gobbets, spice til its good and boil till its done". Thickening is

done with particulates and/or reduction that dont require fussy heat like

an emulsion thickener. Even rice and barley, if you have a good pot with a

good lid work just great.  My only "cheat" is that I'm not comfortable

cooking large hunks of animal flesh (my insta read thermometer isnt really

15th century appropriate, you know? and I've gotten food poisoning once

from underdone chicken. Ugh.) over the fire and often in the dark, so I

often will pre-cook whole chickens, roasts, etc at home, and then grill or

spit them over the fire to warm them up.


So my advice is to pick your favorite medieval recipes with impunity. They

were originally meant to be cooked over an open fire, so you cant go wrong.


- --AM



Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 20:57:54 -0800 (PST)

From: Laura C Minnick <lainie at gladstone.uoregon.edu>

Subject: Re: SC - Outdoor cooking


On Thu, 18 Feb 1999 RoseThstle at aol.com wrote:

> Does anyone have any ideas how to cook a roast slowly on site?


My friend Ivar Juana-Sweetie (Sorry- I can't spell that fool Norse last

name of his) has these cool clay-baker/smoker oven things that are called

a 'Komodo Pot'- Japanese, I think. When I made Cormarye for my feast

several years ago, we roasted the pork in the Komodo Pot and it was

wonderful. They are rather expensive though, IIRC. But I understand that a

Weber-style kettle BBQ, top down and coals low, does a decent enough job




- -

Laura C. Minnick

University of Oregon



Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 07:49:46 -0500

From: "Margo Farnsworth" <margokeiko at esslink.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Outdoor cooking


>> Does anyone have any ideas how to cook a roast slowly on site?  \


Lodge makes a cast iron game cooker (a longish oval type dutch oven).  If

you have a fire pit, you could place the roast inside, put the lid on, and

place coals around the outside and on the lid.  This takes some monitoring

to get the hang of what temperature the inside of the oven is reaching.  We

also bake bread this way.



Torvald's Hird

Canton of Ravenhill, BBM, East



Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 08:25:36 EST

From: Mordonna22 at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - Outdoor cooking


RoseThstle at aol.com writes:

>  Does anyone have any ideas how to cook a roast slowly on site?


The day before, burn enough wood in a 55 gallon drum to build a bed of coals

deep enough to bury your pan.  Place the roast in a large, covered roasting

pan sealed with dough.  Bury in the coals and cover with a layer of dirt.

Allow to roast overnight.





Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 10:04:45 -0600

From: "Sharon R. Saroff" <sindara at pobox.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Outdoor cooking


>Does anyone have any ideas how to cook a roast slowly on site?


We used one of those large drum-shaped grills and roasted the meat slowly

over coals. We was the Barony of Bergental at a Pennsic when we hosted the

House Runnemead dinner (landed barons & baronesses of the East).  I have

read that this was done in period by Jews when cooking the Sabbath stew

Hameem (Name in the Talmud) also known as Cholent. The pot was surrounded

by hot coals which cooled slowly and cooked the contents overnight.  To

keep it warm after the coals became just warm embers, the pot was wrapped

in a blanket.  My source for this information is a recently published book

called "The Jewish Kitchen" by Alena Krekulova & Jana Dolezalova.





Date: Fri, 19 Feb 1999 22:12:59 EST

From: SigridPW at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - Outdoor cooking


lainie at gladstone.uoregon.edu writes:

<< > Does anyone have any ideas how to cook a roast slowly on site?   >>


Depending on how big the roast is and what you have for heat, you can wrap

your meat in foil and throw them in the charcoal.  Wrap it several times, and

turn it every so often.  I've done this several time to good effect.  It seems

to work as well on good cuts (I've done prime rib this way) as well as the

cheaper ones.  Charcoal is better than wood (more even and controllable heat),

but it can be done.  I wouldn't recommend wood fire for a first attempt.

It's really much more work.


Lady Giuglia Madelena Sarducci



Date: Fri, 21 May 1999 06:31:30 -0500

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - OT - STIRBRIDGE VILLAGE (Fireplace cooking)


> I would like to have a good reference to

> fireplace cooking other than boyscout type hand books (not that there's

> anything wrong with them, but they say different things than fireplace

> cooks say).


> Melisande


Goldenson, Suzanne, and Simpson, Doris, The Open-Hearth Cookbook, Feasts

from your Fireplace;The Stephen Greene Press, Brattleboro, Vermont, 1982.

ISBN 0-8289-0471-5


Maybe not the book mentioned, But useful.





Date: Fri, 21 May 1999 09:07:26 -0400

From: "D. Clay-Disparti" <Clay at talstar.com>

Subject: Re: SC - OT - STIRBRIDGE VILLAGE (Fireplace cooking)


I am going to buy the other book, but thought you might like information on the

one I have had for quite a few years...


American Wood Heat Cookery  by Margaret Byrd Adams

Pacific Search Press   ISBN  0-914718-91-6


This is mostly geared to the wood stove but I found it useful while cooking over

a wood fire while we were putting our utilities in on our place in North Carolina (which has gone the way of all things past, sob, sob.)





Date: Fri, 21 May 1999 10:58:44 EDT

From: Acanthusbk at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - OT - STIRBRIDGE VILLAGE (Fireplace cooking)


I imagine this is _Hearthside Cooking_ by Nancy Carter Crump. I have a

description on my website at




Acanthus Books




Date: Wed, 15 Sep 1999 09:28:51 -0400 (EDT)

From: cclark at vicon.net

Subject: Re: SC - For Submission to the Chronus


Mordonna wrote:

> ... Grill over a hot fire, until the pork is done in the

>center.  Save any drippings ...


I was just looking at some period pictures in _Fast_and_Feast_ by Bridget

Ann Henisch, and it looks to me like it might be better to grill/roast

*beside* the fire, not over it. That way the drippings pan can go next to

the base of the fire, with the heat going up away from the pan and the

drippings going only into the pan and not into the fire.


The spatial arrangement would be something like this:





wood     pan


But I haven't yet started learning to cook with fire, so take this to be no

more than a hypothesis.


Alex Clark/Henry of Maldon



Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2000 16:12:35 -0700

From: Steven Cowley <scowley at uswest.net>

Subject: Re: SC - a grid?


Lurking Girl wrote:

< I've seen a widget of that ilk at Syke's Sutlering at Pennsic.  Almost

    picked it up last year, too--I am hoping to do all-open-fire cooking for

    our camp next (this?) year, though I think I'm biting off more than I

    can chew. >


Cooking on an open fire can be a very rewarding experience.  Especially when

everything comes together.  Anyone can be successful at it if they are willing to be patient and practice.  As in any other of the almost forgotten arts, it takes time to learn to do it well.  You can be a 5 star chef in a modern kitchen and turn out magnificant "period" dishes and still destroy a pork chop in the fire.  I have been working at this skill for more than 20 years now, long before I ever heard of the SCA, and still manage to ruin a dish from time to time.


A couple of thoughts on the subject that might be of general help to anyone who

ventures down this almost forgotten path.


1. For beginners, stick to food stuffs that you are familliar with. This is not

   the time to be trying out that new recipe you just received.  Work with

   recipes that you know the characteristics of.

2. Heat can be your best friend or your worst enemy.  Find and use the most

   consistant burning fuel available. Don't bring in a truck full of cut up 2x4s

   and expect to accomplish much more than a stew. Generally, the longer your

   fuel burns, the more consistant the heat.  Don't be afraid to bring in a bag

   or two of charcoal for your first venture.  It will be worth its weight in


3. Wind IS your worst enemy.  It blows the heat away. Make sure that you have

   some sort of wind break that you can move around as well as work around.  I

   have cooked successfully with two feet of snow on the ground, and been unable

   to bake a cake on a warm summer day, due entirely to the wind.

4. Cast iron pots and pans are your friends.  They will distribute and hold the

   heat better than almost anything else in this environment.  Thus you will

   need less fuel to do the same job.

5. Have fun!  Bread on a stick can really liven up a camp. Especially when

   everyone has to cook their own.


There are a lot of other howtos and whatfors, but the bottom line is, with careful planning and lots of practice, you can eat very well without ever turning on a propane stove.  I wish you all the best.  I just wish I could be there to cook with you.


Steffan of the Close



Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2000 16:02:34 -0800

From: "James F. Johnson" <seumas at mind.net>

Subject: SC - Cooking over 'fire' was re: a grid?


> You can be a 5 star chef in a modern kitchen and turn out magnificant

> "period" dishes and still destroy a pork chop in the fire.  I have


Interesting. I grew up in mundane Scouting, cooking over campfires, and

later cooking in commercial kitchens. I find it easier to cook over wood

fires, charcoal, or gas ranges in a commercial kitchen than I do on

electric elements often found in domestic households and a few

'community' kitchens. I can look at a flame and judge it's heat.

Elements baffle me and I tend to try to under set the temperature and

raise it gently if needed. I'm more likely to burn stuff on an element.

Just me, I suppose.


One basic practice I like to stress is, except for gas ranges, I prefer

to cook on coals, not flames. Whether they are the convenient charcoal

coals, or the burnt down firewood, coals give a more consistent heat and

soot the pot less. Flames are fickle from the slightest breeze and are

either too much or not enough. It is always frustrating to get a good

bed of coals going, only to have some helpful person pile more wood on

the fire and start it blazing again. Like cooking over a blowtorch.


And, yes, cast iron is very valuable.


One more thing, is to give yourself time. It will take time to burn down

to coals, it will take time to heat up the cast iron. And I try to have

a pot ready for dishwater at hand all the time, so whenever I'm not

using a spot for cooking, the pot goes on to get a head start on heating

and not to waste the coals.





Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 13:16:50 -0500

From: "Jeff Gedney" <JGedney at dictaphone.com>

Subject: Re: SC - a grid?


I shall attempt to reply to a few of these:


> > 2. Heat can be your best friend or your worst enemy.  Find and use the most

> >    consistant burning fuel available.  


> Last year (the first year I worked over an actual firepit, and I did have

> stove backup) I didn't have actual fire_making_ problems, unless you count

> being stuck in camp all damn afternoon to keep an eye on it. :-/  The major

> problem was smoke.


Here you should use the wind to your advantage.

Determing the general direction of the prevailing winds that day.

They may vary a lot, but the general tendencies will show if you watch

where the smoke goes, patiently Once you know the "prevailing" wind

direction, keep your back to it, and the smoke should blow away from

you, generally.


Other hints:


make sure that you have a hook or some other tool to pull the put to you

somewhat, Closer to the edge of the fire pit, if you need to get into it.

That will allow you access to the contents relativly free of smoke.


For your big pot, unless you are baking, you might try not making the fire

ALL the way around it, to allow access form that side fior stirring. as long

as the ingredients are stirred, it doesn not matter that much if the heat is

applied to one side or all wht way around. Cast iron and stirring will

distribute the heat effectively.


Before you start cooking rake the large unburnt chunks of wood ( which

generate the bulk of the smoke ) AWAY form the coals ( Which generate

the bulk of the heat ), preferably in the direction the prevailing winds tend

to blow. As the large chunks burn down to coals, rake them into the

area where you are working. this will allow you to keep a replenishing

supply of cooking coals. ( this is actually an old blacksmith's trick )


> >   3. Wind IS your worst enemy.  It blows the heat away.  Make sure that you

> >      have some sort of wind break that you can move around as well as work

> >      around.


> How large does such a thing need to be?  Ankle, knee, waist?  I would

> like to rig an actual roof over the cooking area, because getting

> rained on while tending the stew really bites, but even with our tiny

> cooking fire and a high roof, I imagine the Fire Safety people would

> have a cow.


Typically, the sides of the fire pit are fine, if the pit is deep enough, or there is a wall of rocks around the pit, to the height of the cooking grid.

You want the avoid a excess of wind below the cooking level (Above it

the heat is lost to you anyway!), unless you are smoking meat.

You will want to make sure that the wind break allows air to flow

into the pit at ground level, to keep the fire form starving for oxygen.


A roof would not be useful for a windbreak.

Also keep in mind that a wall or other vertical surface close to the firepit

will draw the smoke to it when the wind blows, so you probably do not

want to try a high wind break with a roof anyway, since that will only

ensure that _you_ are smoked like a kipper.


Use an umbrella. inconvenient, but the best option, as far as fire safety

goes. ( cloaks and ponchos can ge useful but you have to mind the

trailing edges around the fire. ) have a friend hold, if you need both






Date: Wed, 5 Apr 2000 14:41:43 -0500

From: "Decker, Margaret" <margaret at Health.State.OK.US>

Subject: RE: SC - How do I get started?


On Tue, 4 Apr 2000, Heather-Enaya Parr-Blake wrote:

> I am new to the field of cooking and feast in the SCA.

> I belong to a newly founded (well nearly founded) shire

> in Northern Kentucky. I am looking for a source for

> recipes and gear. Particularly in the gear department,

> I am looking for pots and pans heavy enough to come through

> campfire/hearth cooking.

        Everyone else has said a lot about pots & pans etc. I would

recommend also that you invest in a 100% wool skirt or dress and a 100%

linen chemise, apron , and head wrap. Linen is slower to catch fire than

cotton and wool is even slower (usually only smolders). Linen also makes

wonderful dish towels. And please keep an ABC fire extinguisher near at hand

as well as a first aide kit. We hate loosing new members, especially to






Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2000 15:14:51 -0400

From: "Siegfried Heydrich" <baronsig at peganet.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Fire pit cooking


> I have a bit of a delimma I was hoping you good folk could help me with.

> Milady wife and I have taken an interest in cooking over an open fire. We

> recently bought a spit however, we have no real idea how to cook with the

> bloody thing. How does one gauge the height at which the food should be kept

> from the fire? How do you interpret temperature on something as variable as

> an open fire? Are there any books available on the subject or is this one of

> those trial and error things?  Any assistance you could offer to pave our

> way in the venue would be gratefully accepted.


> Aengus MacBain


    Use your hand - literally. Place your spit at about the height where

your hand can't stand the heat. TURN the spit at least every 5 minutes, and

even that's pushing it. Use a meat thermometer; if the outside is charring

and the inside is cold, raise the spit and go longer. DON'T pull the meat

off the spit until it's 160 degrees (varies with the meat, but that's a good

guideline) AT A JOINT.

    The ol' mark I eyeball is a useful tool - when it looks done, let it go

a little longer (unless you're an unrepentant carnivore, in which case you

should show the meat the fire, frighten it badly, and then rip it into

small, chewable pieces), and then check the thickest part of the meat. If

you use a thin knife, run it in, leave it for 3 seconds, and lay the tip on

the inside of your forearm. You can gauge the doneness very accurately that

way.If you're doing fowl, pierce the leg joint, and observe the color of the

juices. If it's clear, it's ready to eat. If it shows red (bloody), leave it

on a bit longer.

    And basic hint #1, don't cook over a fire. Cook over COALS. A fire will

char, but not cook, it'll burn. What you want is a slow, even heat, and

that's what you get from coals.





Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2000 15:40:20 -0400

From: "Jim Revells" <sudnserv5 at netway.com>

Subject: Re: SC - Fire pit cooking


Hej! Aengus,

        I have done a lot of Pit /Open Fire Cooking.  The best thing to do is let

hardwood (or use Real Hardwood Charcoal not briquets) to burn down to coals

then place the spit at a height that is too hot hold your hand for more

than a few seconds (this is a judgment call & you learn by doing it).  Then

keep a spray bottle of water handy to knock down any major flames that

threaten to burn the meat (very important with pork, again how high you let

the flames get is a judgment call). The only sure way to judge the temp is

with a Meat Thermometer, especialy with Pork & Fowl (most cook books have

temp guides in them that will work).  


        If you are talking about cooking in pots then you stir & watch them to

make sure they are cooking at a warm, simmer, or boil as required (you also

get good at judging the temp of your pots by feel).  There are some good

books on Cast Iron cookery that can be gotten from merchants like Smoke &

Fire or others that do the Buckskiner events (at thoes events you are not

allowed to use a colemanstove).


        Campfire cooking can be alot of fun & you can get some great flavors.



who one year had a restaeraunt at Pennsic where I cooked only with




Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2000 16:15:09 -0400

From: grizly at mindspring.com

Subject: Re: Re: SC - Fire pit cooking


Greetings Aengus MacBain!


Welcome to the world of pit/coal cookery!  I have done more and more roasting over coals recently and offer a little more to what Sieggy has already given.  The key, IMHO, to sucessful cooking over coals/fire is temperature control.  Once you have mastered that, you can do most anything you need to do.  You can vary the temperature you are cooking at by banking your coals to one place or another.


For example, the meat to be cooked on a whole lamb carcasse is mostly on the legs.  So, you would want to pile your coals so as to direct the heat mostly to those areas so they cook before the ribs become charcoal.  You can use a rake or stick to maneuver the coals (in this example, I put them in a wedge at the head and tail of the beast with the open end toward the center like this <-> so that the point is under the very end of the animal).  If you decide the heat is to high or cooking too fast, you simply move the coals a little further away, and closer to intensify the heat. Maintaining constant heat source is aslo useful, so add fresh coals occasionally as they begin to burn out.


The same principals can be used with cauldrons/pots.  You can use adjustable chains to raise and lower the pot, and bank the coals into a big circle to manage the heat: smaller circle for more intense heat and expand to draw heat lower.  It takes some finesse and practice to get comforatble with it, but it is incredibly enriching in the process.  Cooking this way requires an intimacy with your fire and your food to know what is does and doesn't do or like.  


niccolo difrancesco



Date: Sat, 28 Aug 2004 22:07:26 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] another one to bookmark

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Speaking about other websites to bookmark--

William Rubel who wrote The Magic of Fire book

has a list now of open hearth demo's and teachers






Date: Thu, 18 Nov 2004 07:26:43 -0500

From: Stephen Bloch <sbloch at adelphi.edu>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Period Cooking Styles and Vessels Project

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Christianna wrote:

> Two years ago many of you who attended the SCA Cook's Potluck at Pennsic saw

> the pottery cooking vessels I'd been playing with that day.   Mistresses Cori

> and Honnoria from Aethelmearc had thrown a variety of pots, a skillet, a

> pipkin, and a few bowls for cooking with, and asked me to bring some period

> recipes to try them out in.  The object was to test the cookware out  to see

> how it worked, held up, where improvements needed to be made, etc.  I had

> great fun squishing in the mud up on top of Mt. Aislinn and had a lot of

> success and good opportunities for feedback.  One thing we noticed for sure

> was that the cooking method definitely affected the food product. I  did "An

> Excellent Boylt Sallad" with spinach in the pipkin and it was fabulous.  I

> have not been able to reproduce it the same way since.  I've come up with

> some tasty spinach glop, but nothing that approached the texture I got with

> a slow coddle in hot ashes.


Last spring Lady Andrea MacIntyre decided to do a careful,

scientifically controlled experiment on cooking vessels: she mixed up

a large batch of some chicken-stew sorta thing from Menagier (I don't

remember exactly what recipe), divided it in thirds, and cooked one

third each in a stainless-steel pot, a cast-iron pot, and a tinned

brass pot, all over the fireplace in her home.  She brought all three

to an event the next day and invited the populace to do blind

taste-tests.  To my palate, one tasted "thin", "metallic" (turned out

to be the stainless steel); the second tasted more robust, but a

little harsh (cast-iron), and the tinned-brass was clearly the

richest and most flavorful of the three.  I gather this is consistent

with what other taste-testers said.


                                      John Elys

     (the artist formerly known as mar-Joshua ibn-Eleazar ha-Shalib)

                                  mka Stephen Bloch

                                  sbloch at adelphi.edu



Date: Wed, 22 Jun 2005 14:17:36 -0400

From: "Phlip" <phlip at 99main.com>

Subject: Re: RE: [Sca-cooks] trivets and dutch ovens

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


> So I hear many folks referring to 'temperature control' in cooking in an

> oven, and why using actual flame is bad.. And so, I ask.


> How do you determine the temperature inside an 'oven' without a gauge  

> or opening the pan?


Experience, mostly. Coals tend to be pretty much the same temp unless you

blow air on them. Blowing air is why I can get my forge fire up to temps to

forge weld steel, or burn it up, if you aren't careful. From the basic coal

temperature, experience tells you how close or how far from the fire to have

the food. If you see black smoke, it's probably too hot ;-)


> How do you keep the coals burning hot long enough to bake anything?


By working them. If I'm using wood to develop coals in a fire, I have a fire

burning fairly close to the cooking area- 1-2 ft- and rake coals from the

fire over to the cooking area as I need them. Using charcoal, I add fresh

charcoal on top of the burning coals about every half hour. It's something

that you need to watch as you're doing other things, but not something you

have to stare at.


Any fire requires more management than, say, a gas or electric stove, and

just like those stoves, experience tells you when things are too hot, pretty

close to right, or too cool, as well as when the food is cooked. In

questionable cases, you can always use one of those instant read

thermometers, until you get the knack.


> what indications are there to show the existing temperature of a  

> fire/coal pit?


Black smoke, too hot. Black fuel, too cool ;-) Generally, as I said, a pit

of coals will be pretty much the same temp, particularly if you're using

briquets. Different woods burn at different temps, but when you use the

coals, actually all you're burning is the charcoal you made yourself in the

fire- basicly, pure carbon. The fire and flames are removing all the

impurities. It's a bit more complicated than that, but for a rule of thumb,

all coals are burning at the same temp. The variations come with how much

air the fire is receiving, and how many coals you have in a heap. Usually

most people cook with a coal bed that is roughly about a foot and a  half in

diameter, and don't force oxygen in with a blower, so you're getting pretty

close to an average condition, and that's what you're cooking from.


Saint Phlip,




Date: Wed, 7 Sep 2005 21:29:01 -0600

From: "TheBard3" <thebard3 at earthlink.net>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] OOP- A Book I Found

To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Found a fairly good read a while back, The Magic of Fire by Wiliam  

Rubel, and was wondering if anyone else has read it?


It's basically written about ways to cook over live coals/fire.  

While there aren't many recipes in it I found that the way he  

describes the process of cooking gives quite a bit on insight that  

might help out when you're cooking on something besides a stove.  And  

thanks to this book I actually made an edible ashcake (long story,  

deals with camping trip and forgotten fuel bottle).


James P.



Date: Wed, 07 Sep 2005 23:26:04 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] OOP- A Book I Found

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


He's a good guy and it's a good book. He's also SCA friendly.

Home page is here http://www.williamrubel.com/

I had the pleasure of meeting him in person at Leeds Symposium

in 2004. He's an interesting guy. His next book is on baking, I think.




TheBard3 wrote:

> Found a fairly good read a while back, The Magic of Fire by Wiliam  

> Rubel, and was wondering if anyone else has read it?



Date: Thu, 8 Sep 2005 07:46:22 -0400

From: "Elise Fleming" <alysk at ix.netcom.com>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] OOP- A Book I Found

To: "sca-cooks at ansteorra.org" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Johnnae wrote:

> He's a good guy and it's a good book. He's also SCA friendly.

> Home page is here http://www.williamrubel.com/

> I had the pleasure of meeting him in person at Leeds Symposium

> in 2004. He's an interesting guy. His next book is on baking, I think.


From things I observed and heard last year he's also a bit controversial.


I'm a nobody in the culinary history world but he greeted me effusively at

last year's Leeds Symposium and started to talk about his book.  It was a

bit self-promoting (although I'm guilty of that myself!) and off-putting.

From what I heard at least one noted culinary historian say, he pumps

others for information and then uses the material as if he discovered it.

This has led that culinary historian to refuse to answer in detail any more

questions from Rubel.  Doesn't diminish the usefulness of his book -  just

gives a spin on what goes on behind the scenes.


Alys Katharine



Date: Fri, 21 Oct 2005 21:12:48 -0400

From: ranvaig at columbus.rr.com

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Period Cooking Outdoors

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


I cook a  9th c Hiberno-Viking feast for 30+ people with no modern

facilities.  We have water at a tap a block away, two braziers/above

ground firepits (no fire on the grass), two tables, a small clay

oven,   ice chests, an assortment of hand forged steel and cast iron

pots, wooden and metal bowls, and other kitchen stuff. Ice and

bottled water is available on site too.


This is living history in the middle of an Irish festival, surrounded

by people, and the real point is demonstrating period cooking.  I try

hard to keep modern things out of the kitchen, but we don't have the

budget to have everything perfect, so we use some modern but not too

obtrusive things. There are no recipes from this time, so all are my

best guess, based on foods known to be used here/now. and later



I've found the small braziers to be inadequate, they just don't build

up coals you can cook with.  So we are hoping to upgrade the

facilities next year.  I'm hoping to get make some pottery too... our

setup is just too metal heavy, but I haven't found much on cooking

pots for our time.


I cook everything on site.  The pork was cooked the day before and

kept in the cooler. The butter and cheese were demos the day before.

Someone brought me fresh nettles, so we made nettle cheese, it was

finished after dark, and got a bit carmelized and was lovely.  The

duck, chicken and barley were finished an hour before serving, and

left covered in the pot.  Just before serving we cooked the oatcakes

and veggies, sliced and reheated the pork.  Things went pretty well

this year, but I had a few planned dishes that didn't happen.




Last years menu was:

Braised Pork with Cormaye Sauce - pork, mead, garlic, cumin,  

coriander, pepper

Braised Chicken with leeks and parsley - chicken, leeks, parsley

Braised Duck with onions, thyme, and honey

Braised roots - carrots, parsnips, turnips, parsley root

Barley with hazelnuts

Oatmeal Littiu - oatmeal, milk

Cured salmon - salmon, sugar, salt, mead, dill - this was made ahead

Mustard sauce,  - mustard, mead, honey

Garlic herb sauce - garlic, sage, parsley, bread

horseradish sauce - horseradish, vinegar

Plum sauce  - plums, celery leaves, cumin, honey, wine, vinegar

Bread, Oatcakes - made on site

Nettle Cheese, Dill Cheese, and butter, made on site

Pears, plums, peaches, berries

radishes,  celtic salt,

honey - from the hive of one of our members

Mead - made on site the year before


> I would ask the aid of the assembled for resources on cooking in a

> period manner for camping.  I'm contemplating cooking for about 50-75

> people at a site that lacks modern facilities, so the idea of doing

> this in as period a style as I can manage intrigues me.

> My focus would be "Middle Eastern" period foods, and mostly snack-type

> stuff on top of this (I have the Miscellany, as well as some Ottoman

> cooking resources) but I'm not tied solely to that theme.  Any

> resources (books! books! books!), or advice, the assembled can give

> would be of help, and greatly appreciated.


> ----asim



Date: Tue, 1 Jan 2008 18:59:32 -0800 (PST)

From: Helen Schultz <meisterin02 at yahoo.com>

Subject: [Spit-Project] Book Recommendation

To: Creating period spits <spit-project at lists.ansteorra.org>


This list has been rather quiet of late, so here is something to think about <grin>.


I had recommended the following book earlier last year, but hadn't really read much of it then.  Well, I've been looking at it all day today (in front of a toasty fire in the fireplace on a snowy New Year's Day in Indiana), and I find it is full of great instruction for cooking over a firepit... although his recipes are for cooking inside with a fireplace, most of them can be very easily adapted for firepit cooking.  He has several really good chicken recipes (including spinning ones), and even tells you just how long to cook them... as well as some good lamb, fish, and other meats.  He explains how to measure the heat of your fire with and without modern appliances, and all sorts of different mostly period tools and equipment to use.


He also has used a couple Medieval recipes as a basis for his own renditions... and has a decent bibleography attached.  I highly recommend this book to everyone on this list!!


?The Magic of Fire, Hearth Cooking,? by William Rubel. ISBN: 1-58008-453-2  Published by Ten Speed Press, 2002.   This is an excellent book on how to cook over an indoor hearth.  Although meant for the modern person, most of the techniques are very close to Medieval.  Contains at least 100 recipes and lots of great photos of hearth cooking.


Meisterin Katarina Helene von Sch?nborn, OL

Shire of Narrental (Peru, Indiana) http://narrental.home.comcast.net

Middle Kingdom



Date: Tue, 12 Aug 2008 15:12:29 EDT

From: Bronwynmgn at aol.com

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Pennsic Camp Cooking

To: sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org


<<Anyone else have Pennsic cooking experiences to share?>>


Two, in fact.


I did indeed use the (VERY) sour cherries from my friend's medieval species  

of cherry tree to make Another Crust of Tame Creatures at Pennsic.  This  was

my first time baking in my Dutch oven, and due to a combination of  

circumstances, I found myself not only having to go through the myriad steps of the recipe including making pie dough from scratch on a very hot day, I also had  to tend my three year old and the fire while doing so.


The three year old was easily occupied for most of the prep and cooking  time

by filling a big bowl with water and letting him lounge/play in it where I  

could see him from the kitchen.  His white braies will never be the same,  alas

:-)  If I remember how I did it correctly, I started the fire so I could start  

getting coals.  Then parboiled the chicken and put it in a colander to  cool,

reserved the necessary broth and got rid of the rest.  Got a bright  idea and

put my ceramic pie dish in the top of the ice chest to cool, so the  dough

wouldn't immediately melt to mush in it.  Made the pie dough,  resisting the urge to use my hands to get the butter in and sticking with the  pastry cutter,

which annoys me, and using ice water and cold butter. Still  could barely roll it and get it off the board because it was so soft.   Popped the pie dish with

the dough back into the cooler.  All the while  adding wood to the fire and

watching the three year old trying to find a way to  fit his entire body into a

bowl smaller than he was.  Boned and cut up the  chicken and fried it in butter

because I didn't have any lard.  Put chicken  and cherries into pie dough and

popped it back into the cooler.  Made the  egg portion of the dish, and had a

bit of trouble with this because I've never  thickened something like this

over the heat before and got it too thick, so it  sort of sat on top of the

chicken instead of seeping down between the meat and cherries.  Put a rack in the bottom of the Dutch oven, put the completed  pie in, covered it, got the

coals into the Dutch oven hole in the fire pit, put  the oven in, and put coals

around sides and top, at which point camp mates came  home and took over the

three year old.  About half an hour later we had a  lovely pie, with only the top edges of the crust burnt and the custard nicely browned.  Very tasty.


The second campfire cooking  event was the Drye Stewe for Beef, which  was

pretty darned easy.  Two chunks of pot roast into the Dutch oven on a  rack,

pour red wine over it, cover with chopped onions and sprinkle with blade  mace,

whole peppercorns, and whole cloves, and cover it an bake it.  I had  help for

the fire, the child , and the onion chopping  (and getting me  blade mace from

Auntie Arwen's) on this one.  It came out quite yummy, and even our camp

"confirmed sceptic about medieval meat dishes" (pronounced dislike  of

meat/fruit/dessert spice combos) raved abut it and wants me to make it  again next year.


Brangwayna Morgan



Date: Fri, 24 Apr 2009 13:03:32 -0400

From: Johnna Holloway <johnnae at mac.com>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Wood-Fired Cooking

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>, Creating

        period spits <spit-project at lists.ansteorra.org>


New book of possible interest for the summer season.


Wood-Fired Cooking: Techniques and Recipes for the Grill, Backyard

Oven, Fireplace, and Campfire/ by Mary Karlin. The book provides "A

collection of 100 /contemporary/ recipes for the range of wood-fired

cooking options.

200 p.

Contents:    Cooking with fire -- Wood-fired basics -- Becoming an

efficient wood-fire cook -- Baking flatbreads and rustic artisan breads

-- Wood-fired grilling -- Campfire cooking -- Wood-fired roasting --

Clay-pot and cast-iron oven cooking -- Baked on the hearth : savory

tarts and galettes -- Low & slow : braising to barbecue -- Wood-fired

sweets and desserts -- Wood-fired pantry basics.


Learn more about the author and the book at her

website: www.elementsoftaste.com .




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