We had heavy rain over the weekend at my house. It looks like difficult weather has come to stay. Perhaps it’s time for us to talk about shelters and cooking tents.
I remember setting up to cook between two buildings at the Davis County Fairgrounds in Farmington, Utah. I didn’t have an awning, tarp, or anything. We were a little worried when the fog rolled in off Farmington Bay, but it soon burned off and the sun shined.
It was a great day. Many folks learned about Dutch oven cooking, and all the food was delicious. The success was short lived, however, by afternoon, thick clouds rolled in and rain seemed eminent. We hurried to finish and get packed, but the water put out my fire.
Wind driven rain and hail got into the drawers of my chuck box. At one point, I noticed a river of water dripping off my cowboy hat. It could’ve filled a five-gallon bucket in minutes. We were wet, cold, and miserable. I had to clean the rust off of everything when I got home.
On another occasion, I stood shivering under two Easy-Ups. the wind and rain was coming down in horizontal sheets. I was the advisor for my ward’s Varsity scouts while they competed in the Scout Expo cook off. In an effort to get warm, I turned my backside to a propane stove and caught my shirttail on fire. The boys did well, the food was good, but everyone wondered about my ability to lead boys.
Over the years, I’ve cooked under many covers and in many shelters. I even cooked inside a few buildings. I watched portable awnings blow away, and I’ve cooked in the open air. Here are my conclusions.
When you cook outdoors, you must deal with wind, fire, rain, snow, and sunshine. Too much of these can make your day miserable. A good shelter can help. If you opt for the open air, remember you’re leaning over a fire. Why add more heat to you’re body by standing in the hot sunshine?
A portable awning works well for this. I call these Easy Ups after the brand name. There are a few brands of these and if you keep an eye out, most of the stores put these on sale after the season. The last one I purchased cost $65.00 on sale and it’s better than my other one, which cost more. There are two standard sizes of this type of shelter, 12X12 and 10X10. The latter size fits in a parking space and can be taken almost anywhere.
Another shelter that works well, is the plain old tarp. If you can tie off four-corners, or use a frame, this can be the cheaper solution. Cooking under your awning attached to your camp trailer can work fine, but as I found out last summer, microburst winds can cause great heartache.
There are portable car garages, and makeshift carports that work well but most are too large for just one camp kitchen. If there is a pavilion use it. But keep in mind if you are too closed in, you’ll breathe the fumes from your charcoal.
I cooked under my carport one winter, using a cheap brand of charcoal. I had a cold at the time, and I believe the overdose of chemical fumes made my cold worse. By January, I had pneumonia. I threw my stock of cheap charcoal away, and started cooking in a less sheltered area.
In the case of the driving rain, I recommend an anchored cover. Close in one or two sides to keep the wind out, but allow for a draft to carry away the fumes. Ideally, you will have a shed awning with three sides closed in and a blower vent above the cooking table. But that’s the subject for another time.
Return to the Neighborhood.