Comfortable Counters

by Keith Fisher

When you cook outdoors, do you use a table? Just like in your Kitchen at home, It’s easier to work from some kind of counter space. Whether it’s opening cans, rolling out bread dough, or marinating meat, the tasks are made harder by using a flat rock, (if you can find one). Even a pick-nick table isn’t the best surface, especially if the sloppy family used it last. You know, Joe, Sue and their kid, Messy Michael.

There are many portable camp tables on the market,
look here. Most of these are lightweight but being so, they tend to flatten if you set anything heavy on it, (Like a full Dutch oven).

When we started competing, we used a long, but narrow card table. It was made special as a base for a sewing machine, so the legs were a little longer than a normal card table. Making the counter height about three feet. We used that table for the first year and I noticed a pain in my back from leaning over. I measured and decided that if the tabletop was just a foot higher I could roll out piecrust in comfort.

I bought some one-inch PVC pipe, cut it to specific lengths, and painted it brown to match the color of the table. It worked great. All I had to do was slip my extensions over the legs making the height just right. However, there wasn’t enough room for two cooks working at the same time.

At that time, most cook-off directors provided a table of some kind to use for preparation. We stacked our hot and cold water coolers on one end and used the rest for prep. We found ourselves fighting over the card table, and since my partner did most of the mixing and preparing, and I did all cooking, I lost the battle.

My life changed, when I watched a team get ready to cook. Before putting a tablecloth on the banquet table, they slipped 9-inch extensions over the legs at the bottom and raised the table to countertop height. In light of my card table extensions, I wondered why I hadn’t thought of the banquet table. I used 1 ½ inch PVC and made several extensions.

When the Mighty-Lite Table Company came out with a sturdy plastic version of the banquet table, we all wanted one. I got a six-foot version when the generic brand came out. I used my extensions and had several countertop height tables to work from. I could wash dishes on one end and knead bread on the other. I even had room for my chuck box. Now
Mighty-Lite makes a table with height adjustable legs, but for other tables, consider the extension.

Keep in mind a 9-inch extension only works on a table with a curved bottom leg. See the picture. If your table has straight legs, you will need to make your extensions longer to accommodate the length.

Now, a note about use, When you use your plastic table as much as I do, and you take it in and out of the back of your truck, you’ll probably notice dirt and grease collect on the table top. It’s okay, just remember to use a tablecloth and periodically clean the surface with a water and bleach solution. The solution not only cleans, but it sanitizes to protect against the sloppy family. You have to scrub harder for some grease stains from the back of your truck. And keep in mind that a hot Dutch oven will melt plastic. get a piece of wood or use a trivet.

Tables can be a blessing when you have one, they can be a curse when you don't. Making it comfortable to work at them, makes cooking funner.

Return to the Neighborhood.

1 comment:

Tristi Pinkston said...

Pie crust . . . yummmm . . .

I'm all about working at tables and counters of proper height. Makes all the difference in the world.