[Spit-Project] Some conclusions about open fire cooking

Saint Phlip phlip at 99main.com
Sat Aug 18 06:08:07 PDT 2007

On 8/14/07, Michael Gunter <countgunthar at hotmail.com> wrote:
> Okay. I'm starting to get a handle on some of the
> basics of open fire cookery. After doing a few meals
> I've learned some things.
> First off, "Spinning" techniques without a heat directing
> hearth take a very long time and seem to be a bit
> inefficient. If you don't have any form of spit or oven
> and a lot of firewood it will do but it takes around 3 hours
> for a chicken and a lot longer for a roast.
> I haven't done spit cooking yet but I don't think it will
> take as long. The coals and fire must be constantly
> tended and watched. We also found that sometimes
> the string burns through if not positioned just right.

Gunthar, my apologies, but I realized, after the enterprise, that I
had some light wire that might have done the job. Certainly it would
have been worth experimenting with, to see if it gave things a useful

> Dutch Oven cooking, although not period, is definately
> the way to go. It takes a third of the time, far less coal
> and is almost "fire and forget".

Yep. My Dutch oven cooked that lamb much faster than I expected.

> Ceramic pottery cooking is wonderful as long as you are
> careful. I highly recommend it.

I think this makes the third year that we've done it- Christianna had
that class in our camp before the Potlucke during Pennsic 34, IIRC.
One thing we were very pleased with, was bringing the water up to a
rolling boil, without destroying the container. And, we didn't break a
single piece this year, although a couple mild pops were heard.

> I need more period cooking devices: trivets, spits, pottery,
> etc....they knew what they were doing and so it is best
> to copy what you can.

And, as you find designs, send them my way. I'm starting to develop a
group of students/associates who'll be happy to try to make anything
you guys can come up with ;-)

> Heat directors are your friend. Even a simple windscreen
> shows a marked improvement on cooking efficiency.

Anybody comes up with ideas for one that would collapse, let me know.
I have a couple ideas myself.

> Meat cooked over coals tastes so much better than basic
> roasted meats.

Amen. brother ;-) We didn't do much cooking in camp this year, but the
burgers we did over the fire were great ;-) Think I need to build
another cavalry grill. Got the makings, just need to put them together
and pack them next year.

> We finally got the wonderful portable hearth just before
> we left for Pennsic but we haven't had the chance to put
> it together yet.

Was hoping you'd bring it- I'd really have liked to see it.

> I still want a Scappi setup.

Had the steel, just didn't have the time. Next year...

> Any cooking adventures anyone wants to talk about?
> Gunthar

I was rather thrilled at using my Omigosh wok for a stir fry over the
fire, Saturday night. Worked rather well ;-) And, the pair of matching
fire pokers I now have, compliments of the haed work of the guys I was
teaching, ought to be really useful in future fire enterprises ;-)

Saint Phlip

Heat it up
Hit it hard
Repent as necessary.


It's the smith who makes the tools, not the tools which make the smith.

Denial of evidence is not refutation of evidence.

Blessed be the self-righteous, for they shall inherit themselves.

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