Sunday, 4 December 2016

Little Balls of Woodshavings Bound Together With Wax

Every good fire needs good tinder, and these bad boys do a proper job.



Back to basics, there are three elements to any good fire; tinder (small bits to get it going), kindling (bigger bits) and then finally the 'fuel'... the really big bits that will burn long and slow.

The outdoor cooking season is over so no outdoor fires for a while... but only just a couple of weeks ago we commissioned our indoor open fireplace in the old house we moved into in the spring. So what a perfect time to test these little things out. Not much to be said really, the pictures say it all.

Create an enclosure of 'fuel', place an 'Ignite' natural firelighter in the enclosure, put a match to it, and then build up a pile of kindling above it before laying down a few pieces of fuel over the now nicely developed flames.

What's not to like? No petro-chemicals, no weird smells, and they simply work.



Sunday, 2 October 2016

Cheese Toasties Over a Real Fire



Keep it simple I say. It was one of those late August evenings, nice enough to be outside, but cool enough to need a fire. I just felt like a cheese toastie. Then I mentioned it and not surprisingly there were no objections.

Making toast over an open fire is a bit of an art in itself, too hot and it will be a disaster, and not hot enough and you will just waste your time. It had to be embers, and in the later stage of their life.

From my arsenal of open fire cooking accessories, it then had to be the braai tool; risk management at its best. If the embers are too hot, just hold the tool higher and you can easily flip it to check the toastie's progress. The way the tool clamps together is also perfect.

For me, the fundamental ingredients are cheese and chilli. Ham and or tomato comes next on the list, but there is no point in overloading the poor things.

This was easy and fun, but it did cool down a bit waiting for the embers to die down enough. The moment the toasties were on our plates, a pile of wood went in the brazier so we could enjoy our toasties in the warmth of the fire.


Warming the plates


Friday, 23 September 2016

Simply Cooking Outdoors



A fairly dramatic lifestyle change has taken place, we have moved, after 15 years, and into what began as a 400 year old rural cottage in Oxfordshire. Call us brave, but then we knew what we were getting ourselves into. The house will be worked on eternally but for now, it's livable, we have a garden and I even have my own woodpile and a new chainsaw that I bought for myself for my birthday.

The transition was not far off hell, but the the saving grace was that is was summer and mostly we cooked and ate outside out of necessity. Firefoodie heaven as compensation.

In the past four months I've cut down three trees, cooked countless meals on an open fire, entertained plenty and spent hours and hours on the tools. It won't end, but it sure is fun.

Originally named Stone Place, we renamed the house Ammonite Cottage, after some delightful fossils that were built into the first walls all those years ago. Found locally, treasured, and now there for all to enjoy. There is even a well in the kitchen.

So a few photos of food, house and garden, just to keep this poor little blog alive.



The remnants of a conifer, seasoning for the winter fires


Breakfast with Sue and Geoff Wier
S

Our first garden party for neighbours and friends





Our Welsh pony neighbours, loving the apples we collect from the ground

Cheese toasties in the braai tool


Snoopy keeping warm under the fire

Lolly nesting in the drop sheets
and the ammonite fossil, two halves split from one stone

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Leg of Lamb Garden Rotisserie

WILL THESE BATTERIES EVER DIE?



Now this isn't the first time I've used my rotisserie since I reported over 3 years ago that the original batteries had delivered 13 meals with 45 hours of motor use. The damn things are STILL going. I've lost count, all I know is that yesterday I was convinced that it was the end. Four hours of rotation with a 3 kilo pay load wasn't enough to take them out. They've been in there since May 2009 (see original post here).

The occasion was a dinner party for ten. The date was set months ago, a sign of how difficult it was to get us all together at the same time. After much deliberation over the main food event, I decided on lamb leg, lean and tender and pretty hard to get wrong. The night before I prepared a marinade of olive oil, garlic, salt and herbs and dropped it off to my local butcher together with the steel spit on Saturday morning. I collected it later in the day, the butterflied legs all nicely rubbed with the marinade and neatly rolled and tied around the spit.


The lamb was kicked off with a hot start, and then cooked away gently for about four hours with occasional sprinklings of charcoal to keep the embers going.

I served it with a warm tomato and mint salsa, roasted sweet potatoes and butternut squash, char-grilled vegetables and grilled asparagus wrapped in prosciutto.

The gas barbie all prepped up for the side dishes
A classic prawn cocktail was served with grilled ciabatta as a starter, and a home made pavlova for dessert. It was a great night with good friends and finished off around the fire pit in the garden.

Friday, 2 January 2015

2015 New Year Chilli

2014 was a poor year for this little blog.. not a single post. Shame on you firefoodie. Bizarrely however, the sites visitor numbers remain on the up and up thanks to lots of interest from readers Oz and the US. Strange really, as this content is all coming from a market town in Oxfordshire, UK. So, I have resolved that 2015 is the year to return. There, I've said it, so no going back now. I have some ideas about rearranging the 100 or so posts into a more accessible resource.

Yesterday (New Years Day) was spent preserving some 3,000 or so green chillies, so plenty of time to reflect, contemplate and formulate plans. So on reflection, 2014 was not a year without fire and food, quite the opposite. I got a new Weber (finally!) from my lovely wife as an anniversary present last Christmas and a fabulous gas barbeque for my last birthday. Our brazier got plenty of attention also.

The last two Christmases have featured turkey roasted in the outdoor Weber, and plenty of summer meals were cooked over the brazier. The photo below was snapped with my Blackberry this Christmas, a lovely 7kg bird, and we are still getting through the leftovers.


So back to the chilli, the labels above are on there way to me from my reprographics supplier as I write, so a lovely stash of little gifts will be created. The only problem is that there are only 30 jars, so back to the market for more chillies it seems.

If any comes your way, just scroll down to the post below for plenty of information and ideas about its use. The only thing to add, is that I had hidden a jar from my family and we opened it last week after two years and it was if it had been prepared yesterday.

Happy New Year!

Monday, 16 December 2013

Little Jars of Chilli



It's that time of the year again. Batches 8 and 9 emerged from the kitchen in October and a few lucky people will find some in their post before Christmas. If you are one of them, this is for you. So, how to get the most out of your chilli:

1. Storage

Unopened (yeah right) they will last forever. But what's the point of that. Once opened, add a bit of good quality olive oil to keep them moist and keep them in the fridge. As you use it up, keep adding a bit more olive oil. It seems to drink it up somehow and it makes it last much longer.

2. Strength

To test your tolerance, put a quarter of a teaspoon of chilli on a small slice of cheese. Chew slowly and for as long as possible before swallowing it. This is where you get the full sense of the aroma, I call it 'green-ness', because they smell and taste green. Generally I would add a decent teaspoon to a plate of food.

3. Use

Your chilli is cooked, so to get the best out of it, add it to food after it's cooked as a condiment.

4. My favourite foods to enjoy it with

- Cheddar cheese and crackers
- Cheese toasties
- Bacon and Eggs
- Scrambled eggs
- Pizza
- Pasta dishes
- Bangers and mash
- Added to tomato ketchup
- Soups
- Tacos
- In sandwiches
__________________________________________________________

If you want to know exactly what's in it and how I made it, the whole story can be found from an earlier batch right here.

Enjoy!

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Wood Fired Pizza in the Snow

Imagine my delight. Not only was it one of those evenings when preparing a family meal would be a time pressured challenge, it was also the evening that the wood fired pizza van was stationed outside our local shop. We'd had several days of snow and ice so just getting around was becoming a bit of a struggle. I was actually going to the shop to buy some ingredients for a simple and quick pasta dish, but the lure of the woodsmoke and glimpse of the flames was just a bit much to resist. And, I knew the kids would be delighted.



Unlike pizza chain food (the one named after the game with pieces with dots on them springs to mind, and there was one barely a hundred yards away), these pizzas are thin crust and cooked carefully and quickly in the mobile woodfired oven.

I ordered a chicken pesto, pepperoni with jalepeno and a ham and cheese calzone then hung around to chat with the friendly guys in the van about pizza and fire. You know me.... where does the dough come from?... what wood do you burn in the fire?... how much do you go through?...when do you light the fire?... at what temperature?... how many pizzas will you do tonight? etc. They burn ash. the king of all fire wood. I was impressed.

We chatted while I hung around outside the van in subzero temperatures, thoroughly enjoying myself. If you look at the photo of the oven, the three bottles of olive oil have solidified on the side facing the outside. I snapped a few ropey pics with my Blackberry, mentioned my blog to the guys and said I hoped to write something.

Rico's have about half a dozen vans covering the Oxfordshire area. Ours comes every Thursday. And what day is today? Thursday! Search them out and try one. You won't look back.
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