Cooking With Fire!

Hello and Happy Valentines Day to all of our fellow campers and chefs out there!

Gourmet Girl Denise here from the Loire River Valley in France. I don’t know if you all know that I have purchased a home here in the Loire Valley, and the transaction was finalized on Friday the 9th of February. Time to pop that bottle of bubbly! The house is an old one from the late 18th and 19th century, both because it was added on to in the 19th. Here is a picture of it.

It is a huge house that needs a lot of work to make it habitable, but the bones are good! And there are 2 hectares of land included. That’s 4 acres for my American friends. About a third of the property is covered in Poplar trees, which in France is a cash crop. Have you seen those round boxes that contain Camembert Cheese? Well, that box is made of Poplar wood. But I digress!

Here is what I really want you to see. In the future kitchen exists a huge bread oven! That’s wood storage below and top left is the entrance to the oven. The bread paddle came with the house.
I can not tell you how excited I am to fire that baby up and bake some bread and some pizzas! I love the idea of it all, but don’t know a thing about how to fire it up and actually bake in it. So I turned to Youtube and lo and behold! A tutorial on how to cook just about anything in an old bread oven. Here it is!
I can’t wait to try it out!

You may be wondering what on earth this has to do with camping, but it is exactly the same thing. Cooking with fire! Anything I can do in my bread oven can be done over an open fire at your campsite in a Dutch oven. You can even bake bread in one. The Dutch oven acts as the bread oven in miniature.

The extra large fireplace in the dining room is equipped with a strange apparatus toward the back of the fireplace, which I am afraid is not visible in this photo. I didn’t know what it was at first. It looked a bit like a zig-zag made of iron.Come to find out that it is a series of hooks from which to hang your cast iron Dutch oven! Each hook brings the Dutch oven either closer or further away from the fire, to regulate the cooking temperature. All families used to cook this way before there were stoves and microwaves. And while they had their Coq Au Vin bubbling away in the Dutch oven on one half of the fire, they would have their Tuscan grill set up on the other half ready to grill up some sausages. An economy of motion! Folks in the old days did not waste energy! I happen to love the simplicity of cooking over an open fire. And the results are always amazing once you get the hang of it.

to get you in the mood for the coming camping season, check out our many Dutch oven recipes in our book, The Gourmet Girls Go Camping Cookbook. And please feel free to comment on our posts and share your camping and Dutch oven experiences!

Well, I’m off to the new house to begin the renovations with visions of a warm hearth and the smell of bread baking in my old brick bread oven.
Happy camping and cooking!
Denise, Gail and Lindsey

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