Cooking over a wood fire

When I was a teenager, I would go camping with my aunt and uncle. We would drive many hours to Moose Brook State Park, north of the White Mountains in New Hampshire. This being the North Woods, there was never such a thing as a wood fire ban, as we have on a regular basis here in Colorado. We had a Coleman stove for cooking but every night we would get a good, hot wood fire going and cook some of our dinner over the fire (provided it wasn’t raining, which is did more than I care to remember). There is something very special about cooking over a wood fire. It’s not easy, like cooking over a gas grill. More like cooking over charcoal, but even less reliable. Wood doesn’t burn as consistently as charcoal, so the fire may not burn hot enough for cooking. It burns faster than charcoal, so you have to be vigilant to add more wood and keep the coals going. It’s challenging, largely because most of us lack the necessary skills anymore. When was the last time you cooked over a wood fire? Have you ever cooked over a wood fire?

I recalled these long dormant skills this month. My lovely niece Lindsay was visiting from the east and we took her camping in Rocky Mountain National Park. I cooked the entire meal over the wood fire and dinner was a great success. It sprinkled and rumbled a bit just before dinner. Just enough to add some suspense to the proceedings but not enough to ruin our meal. All my clothes smelled strongly of wood smoke. My eyes burned from the inevitable smoke that blows in your face. But, it was worth the pain, the trouble, the constant tending of the fire. There is something very primal about tending a wood fire and cooking your food over it.

We had baked potatoes, fresh asparagus and garlic sauteed on a cast iron griddle, and a delicious marinated top sirloin. Dessert was smore’s, of course. I’ve included the marinated steak. I’m sure it will taste wonderful cooked on your gas grill, but it will never taste as good as that steak cooked over a live fire.

Ginger-Soy Grilled Steak
[Recipe from]
(serves 4)


 ● 6 tbsp soy sauce
  ● 1/4 cup chopped onion
  ● 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  ● 2 tbsp oriental sesame oil
  ● 1 tbsp chopped peeled ginger
  ● 1 cup chopped green onions
  ● 1 1/2 lb. top sirloin steak, about 1 inch thick

Blend first 5 ingredients in processor until almost smooth; pour into a large glass dish or ziploc bag. Mix green onions into marinade. Add steak and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 1 day, turning steak occasionally.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Pour marinade into small saucepan and bring to boil; then pour into small bowl. Grill steak to desired doneness, about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steak to cutting board. Cut steak crosswise on diagonal into thin slices. Serve steak with marinade as sauce.

Made for campfire cookout. Delicious especially cooked over wood fire.

Link to PDF of Ginger-Soy Grilled Steak


Author: worldplatterblog

I blog about food, travel, and anything else tangentially related to food that piques my interest. I have a degree in Culinary Arts and in Operations Research (it's math). That means I'm pretty analytical and love science, but I also love art. Food is a strange place where science intersects art in continually changing ways. I love writing about all of it.

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