For most people, outdoor cooking is synonymous with barbeque, but there are many other ways to cook outdoors. If you have been camping, you are probably at least familiar with the portable propane stoves which provide a burner or two similar to the stovetop burners you have at home. In addition, you may have also heard of dutch ovens. However, I am thinking most people who have not been involved in scouting have probably not heard of box ovens.
This past weekend I attended camp with my son’s cub scout pack. As part of the camp, they worked on their outdoorsman badge, which includes cooking outdoors. The first night of camp the boys all made box ovens. Then we used the box ovens to cook two meals.
The construction of a box oven is quite simple. Basically, you take a cardboard box, cover it on the inside with aluminum foil (wrap it top to bottom and tape it on the outside). Construct a cardboard lid also lined with aluminum foil. (While cooking, this should be weighed down with some convenient item such as a rock.) Finally, push rods made from coat hangers through the center of the box to serve as a rack to place food on. The box should be big enough to fit an pan inside and big enough that your
Cooking with the box oven is quite simple. The rule to remember is one charcoal briquette will account for approximately 25 degrees (Fahrenheit). So, if you are baking something that requires 400 degrees, use 16 briquettes.
In the morning, we cooked breakfast biscuits in our box ovens. We used the type of biscuits where you just crack open the tube, separate them and put them on a cooking sheet. We used a disposable aluminum pan which we saved to use again at lunch.
We also cooked eggs in a bag. This is another creative way to cook which allows for easy cleanup. Basically, you take a couple of eggs, crack them into a zip-lock sandwich bag, add bacon (pre-cooked), cheese, salt and pepper to taste. You seal up the bag being careful to remove as much air as possible. Then you drop the bag into boiling water. For the boiling water, we used a propane stove.
At lunch, we used our box ovens again to cook “pigs in a blanket” (hotdogs wrapped in biscuits), and cobbler.
For the cobbler, we re-used the aluminum pan from the morning. We took two cans of cherry pie filling, dumped them in the pan, poured a box of white cake mix on top of that, and then carefully poured a can of 7up on top of that. No mixing involved. Then we baked it until it looked done. Easy as can be, and it tasted great!
Now I’ve been thinking it would be fun to try baking a pizza on the next camp-out using a box oven. We could buy one of those pre-made crusts, a jar of sauce, cheese, and pepperonis. The kids would love it, and the cleanup would be easy.
Speaking of easy cleanup… for the cub scout camp, we were asked to bring mess kits, and that is what most of us used. However, if you cook with a box oven and also use disposable plates and utensils, you could easily manage to avoid doing any dishwashing.
So, the next time you go camping, don’t just cook, cook creatively. Whether you use a box oven or some other creative method, you’ll feel better after a long day of hiking or other fun outdoor activities if you have an enjoyable and fun meal when you get back to camp.
If your like me and spend plenty of time outside, you probably have a radio nearby. I like to unwind in the evening with some music while indulging in my favorite hobby. I’m sure you can tell my favorite hobby is Dutch oven and Outdoor Cooking along with camping.
After being outside for a long weekend I would find myself looking for batteries or the rechargeable batteries were dead. That’s why I started thinking about an alternative.
“A Solar Powered Radio”
The solar panel charges the battery, the battery runs the radio. The solar charge controller stops the solar panel from overcharging the battery. Simple!
Everything you need to build this project can be found on the internet or the local home improvement store.
What you will need for this project:
Old AM/FM Radio – Free!
12 Volt Solar Panel – About $40
12V Solar Panel Charge Controller – About $20
12 Volt Motorcycle Battery – from $35 and up, mine was Free!
Wire and Connectors Kit – in the toolbox
Soldering Iron and Solder – in the toolbox
Start by opening up the back of the Radio. Find the positive and negative connections. Solder 6 inches of wire to each, 1 (red) positive and 1 (black) negative each. Locate where you want the wires to exit the radio and drill a small hole. Measure and mark wire the wires where they will exit radio. Tie a knot in the wire at that point, the knot should be right on the hole inside the radio. The knot will keep the wires from being pulled out and break the connection. The radio is still capable of playing with batteries is why we bypassed the battery holder.
The Solar Panel came with the swivel base. Mount the panel on a small board as shown. Mount the solar charge controller under it. The panel will shade the charge controller when centered underneath. At this point the solar panel can be connected directly to the radio for a test. The only problem here is when a cloud rolls over the radio stops playing.
We are almost done, add connectors to the radio and solar panel charger wires. Make up four wires 12” long with connectors to match for use as extensions. I screwed the solar panel and charge controller wires to the board and the 12” extensions have alligator clips. This makes it simple, just clip them the screws. Find a nice sunny spot and face the panel towards to sun, set the battery on the ground under the table out of the sunlight.
See the wiring diagram for the final assembly and you now have a solar radio.
You could have a radio like this for under a hundred bucks. I figured mine was paid for in one summer, at about $10 for batteries every other weekend. Think of all the batteries you will save, not to mention money. “Going Green to Save Green”