questionsany charcoal/campfire grilling experts know what…

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When I camped, I just brought the grill (the bars you cook on) and not the body of the grill where you put the charcoal. I also brought some charcoal and lighter fluid. I'd make a ring of stones that would nicely fit the grill, and build a fire in the ring using a mixture of charcoal and fallen wood. Small aromatic stuff. If the fallen wood was dry enough to light directly then I'd skip the lighter fluid, otherwise I'd use it to get the fire going. I also had a second firepit next to it that was just right for my wok. You want the wok ring to be small, the size of the ring you use on the stove for it. I'd use the wok to cook breakfast; bacon, sausage, eggs,tortillas, french toast. I'd use the grill for things like meat, corn, veggie skewers for dinner, and if we wanted something like soup, chili or stir-fry we'd use the wok for that. I did use a propane stove for coffee. I have never understood cooking on a gas grill. I see no difference between that and my kitchen stove.

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If you have access to a fire pit then I would go with a German tripod grill. There's ones like this or you can build one out of three pieces of pipe and a chain and a grill/grate. I'd never seen one before until we went over to our German friends' house and he cooked a bunch of pork steaks on it over hardwood. They were great. It's really lightweight and easy to use. You adjust the length of the chain and lower or raise the grill to get the right temperature. Spin the grate around and the meat cooks evenly without hot spots.

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@zuiquan: Thanks for the suggestion, that looks like a neat device. Brilliantly simple. I fear it might take some practice to get it set up right with the height/location of the grill. Once the food is on there I imagine it gets much more difficult to adjust height or position. That is the only thing making me nervous. Hopefully I can find one in a store nearby to take a closer look though, I am intrigued.

Still hoping for some light on my original question. Does anybody have any info on using campfire embers in a webber grill? Is this a stupid idea?

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@moondrake: good simple idea. Might use this for my cast iron skillet (with woot "!") in the morning. I was originally hoping to find or fashion something like a long handle out of some pipe to maneuver the skillet in the main firepit from a safe distance, but making a separate pit is simpler. Not sure if the state park would allow that though now that I think about it for a second..

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wood embers are too inconsistant a heat source if you're looking to get the best tasting food. You can use the fire pit just start with charcoal and a simple grill grate and stand. When the food is done add the wood and sit back to enjoy your meal. If you want that smoke flavor from the wood then soak some tasty smoking wood in water (hickory, apple. etc.), wrap it in tinfoil, and add it to your charcoal. This works great and you don't have wood ashes flying up into your steaks.

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Other than getting something like a biolite I would say use what you are comfortable with. There should be no issue using wood from around your camp site to cook with if you bring a stove/grill. If it is the flavor of charcoal that you enjoy then bring charcoal either with the lighter fluid already in it or bring your own. Check w/ the park as many have different rules about grilling/fires depending on the season/dryness of the area.
Letting us know what you plan on cooking is a big help too as there are a lot of options. It might be easy as getting something like this

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Helps to let the fire die down and push some coals to the side to cook over. You can always push more under the food if necessary. Just us a grill grate over some rocks - Just make sure there isn't anything that would catch fire (grass, etc.) under the area you will be cooking on.

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@nmchapma: Thanks, that is generally what I was thinking. Seems like such a waste when there is so much natural fuel available. But ya I was worried about temperature consistency and burning time. Mainly I just want to avoid making a fool of myself in front of the 9 to 12 people I talked into camping with me. Some are camping enthusiasts and some are noobs (who I would like to enjoy their first camping experience). We're driving to meet there from 3 or 4 different cities so I am trying to coordinate everyone. Very fun. Would hate to get there with a grill and no charcoal cause I thought I could use embers.

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@philosopherott: Thanks for the advice. A couple of my friends (who are coming) have the biolite, so we should be set for stove type stuff. I am not so much determined to get the flavour of charcoal, but I like the long burning even heat. The latter suggestion you mentioned is what I was referring to by the one-time use type stuff I didn't enjoy. Plus you gotta hold it over the fire for ages or find some insecure prop. Just wasn't as smooth as I am used to with cooking food.

Only thing I know I am bringing at this point are some hand-made burgers (so they will be more delicate than store-bought patties), but I am sure other people will bring other grilling food.

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@countdown: There's loads more better options than the one I linked, you can build your own for next to nothing and make it so the chain is adjustable throughout the cooking process. I just wanted to give you an idea of what they're like. If you want you can drill an eyebolt through one of the poles and run the chain through there, a peg or hook on one of the legs lets you set the height where you need it and move it when you want to. You can use embers to cook with in a charcoal grill but you've got to get your timing down and that takes a good bit of practice. You can also just use a grill and build a fire in it if you really want to. Not the greatest but it works.

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I am having flashbacks from my youth - some crazy, drunken relative making "Dirt Chicken". He dug a pit about 2 feet deep, put charcoal in the bottom, let it burn a bit, then wrapped chicken pieces tightly in foil, placed them on the coals, filled the pit with dirt and let it cook overnight. I remember it being fall-off-the-bone tender and delicious the next day! (Must have been too young to know about salmonella!) Anybody jump right in here with more details, as mine are kinda fuzzy!

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@countdown: bring the charcoal, if the group is that big I'd bring a small grill with a lid also. You'll look dumber if you don't have a back up plan and it rains one night. You'll never get breakfast cooked in a wet fire pit no matter how much charcoal you have :-) If you really wanna look like a pro and make sure the less experienced have a great time try making Hobo meals or using a dutch oven :-)

EDIT: nothing wrong with a practice run in the mean time

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@zuiquan: Thanks for the extra info, hopefully I can check one out in person somewhere. I do like it, its just so far from what I was expecting :).

@nmchapma: good tips. I think someone will be bringing their dutch oven. Fun fact, in south africa they call it a potjie (my SA friend pronounces it poy-key). There is a lot of dutch influence in SA. Almost certainly doing some hobo meals as a backup.

@hot72chev:: That sounds epic. I would be interested to hear more if anyone has details (or I might try google when I am not at work).

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If you are not permitted to make a separate firepit for the grill, you can just set some rocks inside one edge of the larger firepit that will provide cooking structure. The rocks in the firepit will actually hold the heat for quite a long time which will be nice if it gets cool at night. We use wood in my standard charcoal grill all the time, but we use it as a flavor supplement to charcoal, as charcoal has long and steady cook time. Wood's just very unpredictable, especially found wood.

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Dutch oven, or just foil-wrap and throw it into the coals. Those are always the best meals.

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EDIT: Edit was submitted and appeared but now 10 minutes later its gone again. In SA the dutch oven is called a potjie. Potjiekos is the name of the genre of food it makes.

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EDIT: My edit was submitted in time and appeared when I refreshed the page, but now its gone 10 minutes later.
In SA the dutch oven is referred to as a Potjie, not Potjiekos (which is the name of the genre of food it makes).

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Thanks for your question. I led me obliquely to this website. Now I have a fall project to work on.
http://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/how-to-make-a-personal-fire-pit-for-cheap/

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@countdown: This is a good breakdown for hole cooking. I was on a survival training week years ago and we had hole rabbit. Best meal I had the whole time. Thankfully, it was the beginning of winter so we couldn't find any bugs to eat.

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My only thoughts to add would be about the timing: If you want to take coals from the fire, it means you will likely need to take from a fire you've had going for a while. It would likely be harder if you want to take from an actively burning fire (one being used for heat/light with fresh logs) which may be the case around dinner time. If everyone is gathered around the fire chatting, someone in there kicking up extra smoke and ash trying to sneak some coals out is probably going to be unpopular. Of course, after you finish up the tasty dish, you may be forgiven :)

With the exception of spits (e.g., hotdogs on a stick/coat hangar/etc) and covered items directly in/near the fire (e.g., foiled foods or dutch ovens) it's easier to plan your cooking with something else (IMO, of course). If space or anything else is an issue you can make it work, but it sounds like you are planning enough in advance to find a good solution!

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BioLite has a grill attachment now

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@ryjaek: Thanks for the feedback. your second paragraph summarizes my opinion on campfire cooking entirely. This is "car camping" after all.

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@philosopherott: goodness, what will they think of next. I'll have to tell my buddies that already have it.

PS: our square/triangle colours are inverted (for now). Just sayin.

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@countdown: Car camping? Make manifold dogs!

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A great camping treat : wrap oranges up in foil and stick them in the coals. After dinner, unwrap the warm oranges for a yummy juicy treat.
Sort of like baking apples in the coals with a different twist.

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@countdown: This is the Voice of Experience whispering in your ear: it's not cheating to do a practice meal or two on your equipment before leaving home. Doing so can avoid not only humiliation but also frantic runs to whatever fast food or Home Depot store you can find. And there's never one within an hour's drive when you're desperate.

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@ceagee: When I was a little scrap in Campfire Girls back east, on our camping trips we'd cut a spoon sized hole in the skin of an orange (preserving the cut out piece), scoop out the orange with a spoon and eat it, then pour gingerbread batter in to about 2/3rds full, replace the cap, wrap tightly with foil, and place in the coals for an indeterminate period of time (I was a little kid). I would guess maybe an hour? Then we would peel and eat the World's Most Delicious Gingerbread.