Campfire cooking with cast iron
On some mornings, an extra cup of coffee and another log on the fire seem to be the more sensible thing to do. Lately, I have been pushing myself hard, not fully aware of its tiring effect on my body and on my thinking process. I awoke very early this morning, 3: 00 a.m. is early, even for me. I am sitting outside at my firepit and the fire is roaring. The flame is weaving to the left and to the right in a controlled dance. Rising embers and crackling sounds join in, to add more character to this entertaining spectacle.
The sky is clear and the bright waxing gibbous moon is competing with the stars for my attention. The wind is quietly rustling through the forest and all the makings of a beautiful day are already in place. When I refer to this type of beautiful day, I mean a beautiful day to a meteorologist, and not necessarily to an outdoorsman.
I love the stormy days when the Earth and sky are in turmoil. The howling wind that rocks these giant firs and cedars. Days, when the leaves are swirling in the air, and the birds seem to stay at home. Some days, the rain drives itself down to the Earth in an effort to cleanse all that is unclean. This cleansing weather activity is always part of the Spring weather events. Nature is shaking up the forest, the land, and the water in an effort to prepare the season for new growth. The long, cold winter is coming to an end and spring cleaning is the order of the day.
Today is not one of those days. Today is the calm before the storm and hopefully, one that is friendly to my camera. Even though it is easy for me to build a fire or change into a dry set of clothes, my camera gear is not as adaptable to the wet and cold expressions of Mother Nature. When I get back to civilization I must study this waterproofing concept more intently. My waterproof cases do well to protect the equipment they contain, the problem arises when I want to take photos on those crazy days when the driving rain is telling me to stay in camp.
I am new to photography and more a mountain man than a camera man. My friend Richard is more a cameraman than I am, and he spends most of his time in the wilds of the city, as opposed to the wilds of Nature. He does, however, spend lots of camera time in the rainy outdoors. His idea of camping is a night at a 5-star hotel and breakfast in bed. We have become close friends, and while we live very different lives we always listen to each other’s stories whenever we get together.
This chair is very comfortable and I am reluctant to leave it. Standing slowly, I leave its warm comfort to retrieve my shovel and cast iron frying pan. The fire has died down quite a bit and I use the shovel to arrange a neat pile of white-hot coals. I place my frying pan strategically in the center. I split my farmer’s sausage in half to stop their rolling and reduce the cooking time. Their sizzling and aroma quickly attract the attention of my dog. He knows that I will share my bounty and he keeps his eyes trained on the frying pan.
With my homemade spatula, I move them around the pan gently. I do not want to burn them. This gentle rolling is producing a nice liquid for my eggs. They are done now and I remove them to my plate. A small chunk of butter in this liquid fills my nostrils with umami. I drop my eggs in gently. Easy over is my favorite and I remove this hot piece of cast iron from the fire. There is enough heat in the pan to complete the task.
I remove the eggs from the pan and gently lay them on my toasted piece of rye bread. Buttered Rye Bread toast, with farmer’s sausage and dripping egg yolk. As I cut this breakfast creation in half I feel pleased with my effort. I bite into my breakfast and savor the many flavors between these two pieces of rye bread. I am so fortunate to be here, in the early daylight.
My stomach satisfied, My thoughts turn to the Tundra Swan and their activities on the marsh. The day is light now and my visions are suddenly broken by my dog’s ancestral howls to the sky. He wants to leave now, but I have to stay a while and let this meal in my stomach settle itself before I trample my way up the mountain. My expression towards him shows that he understands and he lets me savor the moment quietly.
If you have any comments, questions or suggestions about photography in the wet weather please leave them in the space below. Do you photograph wildlife in wet conditions and if you do, can you provide any suggestions or solutions to this exercise. My camera will love you for it.