Thursday, September 03, 2015

Outdoor Cooking with a Hobo Stove

I managed to do a bit of camping this Bank Holiday weekend and the weather was good enough to stay dry….and so I decided to experiment a little by building my own ‘Hobo Stove’.  Yes, that's right, we have a decent enough income and lifestyle that frees us up doing what we like (when we're not working) and I'm trying to act like a Hobo?

I thought I’d try and make my own heat source from scratch rather than buy one of these portable stoves that derive their energy source from gas canisters.  Besides, it’s much more fun experimenting.

We arrived at the Station Campsite, Carrog after a day of touring sunny Llangollen and Pontcysyllte. The rain that started as we were driving to Carrog had stopped only to be followed by more sun as we arrived (you cannot predict Welsh weather).  We checked in, found our spot by the River Dee and pitched up our tent.

Now for the Hobo Stove: I used an old stainless steel IKEA utensil caddy (the one with the holes on the side and bottom) and stood it proudly on a metal wire pot holder in my fire pit. 

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because every one keeps the cardboard from their toilet rolls, right? 
I used an empty toilet roll stuffed with cotton wool soaked in paraffin (Vaseline) as my fire-starter for the charcoal briquettes.  

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Come on baby... 
The cotton wool catches the sparks from my flint easily and the paraffin burns long enough to light the charcoal briquettes.  

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Fire starter...twisted fire starter.  
Once the fire got going I lowered the briquettes carefully on to the fire using my tongs, being careful not to smother the fire out too soon.  The holes in the caddy are excellent for providing oxygen to help the fuel burn.  I would occasionally waft my camping plate at the side of the stove to try and help the briquettes burn, but this probably wouldn't have been necessary had the wind picked up. 

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getting there...
After about 20 minutes the briquettes were burning nicely with a nice even heat and were ready to cook on, indicated by the white ash that coated the surface.  

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burny, burny 
Suzanne had at this stage prepared a pot of chicken and vegetables to cook over the stove.  This was going to be the test of the ‘Hobo Stove’ – should we succeed, we would be rewarded with a filling ‘Hobo Stew’; and should we fail, we would go to bed hungry*. 

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is it done, yet? 
It took about an hour for the stew to boil, but the briquettes gave out an even heat.  There was no need to try and control the temp of the stove, but I did have to occasionally prop up the lid on the pot to adjust the outlet of steam.

After 2 and a half hours of cooking:

Chicken stew, anyone? 
Dinner was ready.

The briquettes burned for another 2 hours after and emanated enough heat to toast some marshmallows to make S’mores for dessert.  Except we didn't have any marshmallows…

*The Grouse Inn was a 5 minute walk from the campsite and served non-Hobo food – I think Suzanne’s definition of success versus failure was the complete opposite of mine.

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