Random summer thoughts

We are having an incredibly mild summer thus far around the old Pondee – temperatures are averaging a good 10 degrees below normal for July this year and we are really enjoying it to its fullest.  Getting a lot of little projects taken care of and that old grill seems to get fired up every day or two – the last was for a huge mess of kielbasa sausage and hot links – and I am ready to break out the Lodge iron table to mess around with cooking some stuff over coals again, including a bit of outdoor baking.

Thinking about coals, I asked Heidi to pick up a very inexpensive 14″ cast iron plant dolly from the local Big Lots store, (around ten bucks).  I plan to remove the four casters, burn off the black paint, then “season” it with Crisco on the propane grill. The threaded holes, where the casters were, will be filled with bolts matching the threads, just long enough to get a height of about 1 3/4ths to 2 inches – or just high enough to clear a ring or two of good old Kingsford coals. This will serve as a round cast iron grill/stand for flat-bottom cast iron pans and possibly a dutch oven that doesn’t have legs.  I can use an inexpensive pie tin to hold the charcoal on the lid if desired – or swap in a lid with a charcoal “lip” on it.  Not anything I really “need” – but something to “play” with. 😉

For about 5 years now, I’ve had a nice, heavy, cast iron Tuscan Grill:

Cast iron Tuscan grill

Cast iron Tuscan grill

These are 14″x14″ and perfect for use around a wood fire, simply shoveling/flattening a pile of hot coals from a good sized fire to cook over.  The legs screw into threaded holes and it stands about 4 1/2 inches high. The tool that looks almost like a pry-bar permits you to move it around while its hot, or set it over a hot bed of wood coals, the way my old Grandpa did, without burning yourself.

Now, I’m not much for cooking over a fire as long as I still have Kingsford coals available, so I’ll be looking around the local Home Depot for bolts the right size/thread to replace the legs with to get about 2″ of clearance for cooking over a single layer of “civilized” Kingsford coals, similar to the idea above with the former plant dolly.  (Of course I will keep those legs and the flexibility to use it for its original purpose – wood fires have served camp cooks a lot longer than Kingsford).  Have actually used the Tuscan grill on the Lodge table once or twice before, but with limited success due to the excessive height. (Stacked layers of Kingsford coals are not a good thing in my opinion – bit of a waste unless you are using one side of a Weber-style kettle grill and indirect heat to cook with). This idea will promote a setup for frying/etc. over coals using materials I already have without having to squat down. (My old back *loves* that Lodge cooking table). 🙂

One more idea I’ve been mulling for a Summer project is to finally build a solar food dehydrator. That is a pretty good stretch to think of it as “outdoor cooking”, but shoot – the kids might like it.  Back in the 70’s there was a lot of interest in using the power of the sun to heat homes/water, for cooking and yes, using it to dehydrate/preserve food in the fashion of our Indian ancestors – but its something I just never got into. I *have* messed around with stuff like using a reflective automobile sun visor and a bucket to boil a (black) pot of water well enough to cook hot-dogs in it to the glee of a couple of very young granddaughters who *loved* the hot-dogs.  Today, with all of the rage being “Solar Power” and “renewable energy sources” – I think the grandkids might be interested in this kind of backyard project.  We shall see. 8) If this works out – I may try my hand at building a solar oven next year.

This entry was posted by dave on Wednesday, July 7th, 2010 at 12:33 am and is filed under Random thoughts . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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