Junior Doughty (Edited 6-24-06)
I cooked the pot of beans in this recipe at my fish camp. The camp doesn't have air conditioning, so in the summer I do most of my cooking on the outside propane burner, on one of the camp charcoal grills, or over a campfire with my portable tripod. I didn't have my tripod, so I thought I'd show you folks how to cook by hanging a pot from a rope.
First, I used a nylon rope. If you use nylon, use a rope, not a cord. Nylon stretches. A cast iron pot full of food is heavy.
The chain has 2 hooks: one at the bottom to hold a pot bail and one at the top to adjust the length of the chain. At the bottom edge of the photo you can see the upper hook. With a heavy pot hanging from the end of the chain and a fire at your feet, it is difficult to adjust the slider. I adjust it just once so that the bottom of the pot is slightly above the firewood, i.e., in the boiling position. Then when the pot needs raising to a simmer position, I hook a lower chain link to the upper hook, raising the pot.
With your chain hanging from a basketball-diameter loop at the end of your rope, throw the chain end over a limb. My limb was about 10 feet above the ground. Pull the rope until the hook on the end of the chain is about knee-high from the ground, then tie off the other end of the rope to a tree, etc. Place your firewood beneath the dangling end of the chain and there build your fire. Got that? Throw the rope over the limb and then build your fire.
I can't emphasize enough the fact that most people build cooking fires much too large. You want a fire smaller in diameter than your pot. Hat-sized is fine.
Your fire blazing a little, not a lot, hook the pot to the end of the chain and adjust the slider, if needed. Then add your ingredients and start cooking. If you have to adjust the slider again, do it. That probably means that your rope is too small and has stretched.
Easy Kitchen Method:
Here you see me at the beginnging of the cooking process adding a smoked ham hock and a sliced, 1/2" thick cross section of a ham. The smoked ham hock looks burned, but it isn't. I smoked it myself. Click here to see how I did it.
I watch the hams at the local grocery store, and just before they go out of date the store puts them on sale for dirt cheap. I throw one in my buggy and get the butcher or deli to slice it in 1/2" thick slices for no charge. When I get home I put 2 slices to a zip sandwich bag and throw them in the freezer. That gives me a couple of months of cheap ham for frying and for adding to beans. I haven't paid full retail for a ham in years.
Red Beans 'n' Rice:
If you're tent camping, put the dry and liquid spices the recipe calls for into a 20 oz plastic soft drink bottle at home. When you're ready to cook in the woods, add 1 of the 8 cups of water to the bottle and give it a shake, then dump it in the pot.
It's hard to beat a pot of beans simmering over a campfire. Try ‘em on a rope and watch the other campers come over for a look.
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