Do Things the Hard Way Sometimes

I had a bit of fun this weekend with my grill.  It was probably caused by one too many Anthony Bourdain episodes, but I was remembering fondly the cooking styles in India. Namely the wood fired ovens and grills. Now I’m not real great with wood baked breads. So naan was ruled out, but I am pretty good with meats on a grill, so I thought I would try my hand at some pork and chicken cooked over wood heat.

Now, do I have a nice, open sided wood fired grill? No, I most certainly do not. I have my charcoal grill, and a little rocket stove.  I could have used the rocket stove, it’s designed for use with the small sticks I collect. I didn’t really want to cook my meat pieces one at a time over that small rocket stove though. So I made do with the charcoal grill.

The main problem was that the grill goes in on top of the coals, and there’s not room for a big log in there, just broken up small stuff. This meant it took forever to build up a bed of coals, then I had to make sure the grill went on at the right time, I didn’t want to be trying to feed the fire through the grill filled with meat, and I didn’t want to run out of heat before the meat was done.  I marinated the meats, but I think the hour I gave it was probably not as long as I should have.

It was a lot of fun, in spite of all of that. I used up a bit of my stick pile that was getting unwieldy after all the burn bans last year. It was nice not to worry about how much money I had just burned in charcoal. I loved the taste of the meats. Although Hubby, who is a unused to such things, declared there was too much char on the meat for his taste.

The whole experience just reminded me of all the reasons I love doing things the “hard” way sometimes. I save money, I get some practice at great emergency skills. It usually ends up being a usable finished product and no small bit of fun.

It also reminded me that I wanted to try my hand at some grilled breads, and sketch out some of the “must haves” for the wood burning oven/grill I want to build at the Doomstead.

Where do you like to do things the “hard” way? What do you feel you get out of it? Any great ones we all should be trying our hands at? Shout out in the comments!

– Calamity Jane

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15 comments… add one
  • Jarhead Survivor May 15, 2014, 8:06 am

    I used to cook chicken over an open fire. I’d put it on a spit over the fire and let it go. It took a lot of effort and you had to watch out for fat dripping into the fire and causing flare ups. It took a long time and required a lot of attention and turning, but man was it tasty when it was done!

    Could be that’s just because I was so freakin’ hungry by the time it was done, but I really enjoyed it.

    Reply
    • irishdutchuncle May 16, 2014, 4:58 am

      it makes my mouth water, just thinking about it.
      but then I want to scale up the process, and go whole hog…
      (or deer)

      Reply
  • j.r. guerra in s. tx. May 15, 2014, 9:01 am

    Thats how we mainly cook meat out at the ranch, expanded metal (diamond wire) grill set up on concrete block, mesquite wood for the fuel. No container, open to the air. When it gets cold (south Texas cold, just kidding around for you Yankees, lol) placing a Weber type of bar-b-que cover over the fire will radiate heat all around the fire, warming the folks around it. Also ‘sort of’ retains moisture of the meat, it seems to dry out less.

    Takes a while, I grant you but that just gives you time to enjoy the outdoors, time is just daylight / nighttime.

    Reply
    • j.r. guerra in s. tx. May 16, 2014, 8:23 am

      Did the reply May 15 make it – still sez awaiting moderation – am I on time out, lol ? :^)

      Reply
  • Ned Ludd May 15, 2014, 9:26 am

    This past weekend we went camping with friends and we all enjoy dutch oven cooking over an open fire. We made chicken with tomato sauce and wild mushrooms spooned over baked potatoes, one couple made goulash and a third made peach cobbler…The meal could not be beat anywhere no less up in the mountains with friends old and new.
    Dutch ovens are great, they cook evenly and quickly and conserve fuel because they are a closed vessel.
    Maybe not the hardest way but it takes a lot more effort and planning than burgers on a gas grill.

    Reply
  • Pineslayer May 15, 2014, 1:17 pm

    I suppose if you have a Smokey Joe style grill, you could bend or cut one side out of the way to feed the fire easier. I have a fire pit that I want to make more cooking friendly, got a lot of stuff to make some kind of contraption with. I guess I need to get my beer on and stare it down. I really like my little brick Rocket Stove, but for grilling it is less than ideal. I picked up a stack of cinder blocks and thought about building a bigger version.

    Reply
    • Calamity Jane May 15, 2014, 3:48 pm

      Cinder blocks is about the style I’m thinking, especially for the first try, or proof of concept.

      Reply
  • Novice May 15, 2014, 2:00 pm

    I do things the hard way in my garden. Manual hoe (actually a Maddox pick). Mulch with leaves. Fertilize with compost. All by hand. I save my seeds so I never buy more than one pack of anything. I really want to know what it’s going to be like to have to do these things on a large scale post HTF. I’m no Master Jane but, I’m learning.

    Reply
    • Calamity Jane May 15, 2014, 3:53 pm

      Keep at it! I’m no master either, there’s always more to learn.

      Reply
  • Steve suffering in NJ May 15, 2014, 8:12 pm

    Split some firewood by hand. Cut all of mine with a axe and a maul. Good workout plus you won’t be SOL if there’s no log splitter. I cut all my logs to stove length with a chain saw. I keep a years supply split and a years supply of stove length logs at all times. This way I have 2 winters worth on hand.

    That said I stumbled across a video of logs being split inside a car tire. WOW what an idea. I nailed 3 2×4 sections to a large log. Tied a old 18″ tire to the 2x4s . The log to be split goes inside the tire. When hitting the log the split pieces don’t go flying needing to be picked up again. Saves a ton of time and your back by eliminating all the bending over. I’ll post a link to the video if I can find it. If you split by hand you have to try this

    Reply
  • Steve suffering in NJ May 15, 2014, 8:16 pm

    Reply
  • GoneWithTheWind May 15, 2014, 10:46 pm

    I have one of the Volcano grills and you can use it to barbecue or cook in a dutch oven with far fewer charcoal briquets then a barbecue grill. Also look for bargins on charcoal at Walmart in the fall. Last year I bought 80 lbs (well 75.2 lbs actually) of Kingsford for $20 which was about half the regular price.

    Reply
    • Pineslayer May 16, 2014, 12:33 am

      GWTW, I have one of those Volcano Grills. Got it at a Flea Market for $5, score. I have only used it twice, but rumor has it that it makes a good wood burning grill too. It has that ring that works with a big skillet too.

      Reply
      • GoneWithTheWind May 16, 2014, 12:43 am

        It is at it’s best when used for cooking with a dutch oven. Good temperature control and windproof. The trick us to use the right size dutch oven. It should fit inside easily but be fairly snug.

        Reply
  • irishdutchuncle May 16, 2014, 4:38 am

    once the excrement has made contact with the air impelling device, there won’t be an “easy” way to do much of anything…
    (if I could figure out how to build it, a wood fired pizza oven would be a cool thing to have)

    Reply

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