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  • #16
    Don't get me wrong - I love the tin-can stoves! Simple and thrifty.

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    • #17
      Just remember, you can no longer use liquid fuels with your homemade stoves. New policy sionce 12/09.

      http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/HealthandSafety/Resources/policyonchemicalfuels.aspx

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      • #18
        Our original can stoves used paraffin and cardboard for a fuel source. No leaking of any fuels into the backpack.

        It's still a viable option for mess kit cooking in that if one puts the tuna can burner inside the mess kit's boiler and uses 3 tent stakes for a "stove" one can even forget the bigger can. The tent stakes are a bit of a problem with sand, but in dirt, they work just fine. The tuna can doesn't leave a burn scar even on grass and the three little stake holes does fit into the LNT philosophy.

        Our tin can stoves used 2 cans - 1 tuna with fuel and the other (3# coffee) was placed UPSIDE DOWN over it and then instead of the elaborate set up described in an earlier post, one just cooked on the bottom of the inverted coffee can. We would put a series of holes around the rim of the coffee can and another around the "bottom" just under the cook surface. The more adventurous also poked holes halfway down the coffee can to run metal clothes hangers through and provide a shelf that would support the fuel off the ground and closer to the cooking surface.

        I just never like dragging a 3# coffee can around, but the tuna can is still around. When the fuel is gone in the tuna can, just make a new cardboard wick and melt in all that paraffin left over from Grandma's jelly jars!

        Like when you're making egg carton/sawdust fire starters, remember how flammable liquid paraffin can be.

        And yes, I know exactly where my church key is!

        Now all you need do is teach your boys how to make a bug light. (Now there's a terrifying idea!)

        Stosh

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        • #19

          I tell the boys that I never ate normal on campouts. I think a big reason that the boys don't know how to use their mess kits (if they even have one) is the adults. Many of the troops I've seen in the Oklahoma City area carry enough cooking gear to start their own restaurant. None of it is the small personal mess kit. The boys have no Idea that you can use the mess kit like a personal dutch oven or that you can bake bisquits or other things in the fry pan / dish. I think making the Cooking Merit Badge an Eagle required is going to go a long way toward changing some of that. Maybe the boys and the adult leaders will learn once more the joy of the mess kit.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Lizardman View Post
            I tell the boys that I never ate normal on campouts. I think a big reason that the boys don't know how to use their mess kits (if they even have one) is the adults. Many of the troops I've seen in the Oklahoma City area carry enough cooking gear to start their own restaurant. None of it is the small personal mess kit. The boys have no Idea that you can use the mess kit like a personal dutch oven or that you can bake bisquits or other things in the fry pan / dish. I think making the Cooking Merit Badge an Eagle required is going to go a long way toward changing some of that. Maybe the boys and the adult leaders will learn once more the joy of the mess kit.
            No adult would be suggesting the boys buy plastic utensils, cups and plates if they knew how to cook for oneself in the woods. Sure, a lot of troops troop-cook, some patrol-cook, but not many can feed themselves individually. A lot of troops have the trailers just because of the amount of restaurant gear they think they have to bring along as Lizardman says.

            When the boys get the fixin's for foil dinner meals, the boys wrap everything up in the foil and then proceed to burn half to the foil. I get out my mess kit, fry up the burger patty with the onions, boil the potatoes and carrots, Then I add some boiler water to the fry pan, add a bit of flour make a gravy, pick out the carrots from the potatoes, mash up the spuds, a bit of gravy on that, little brown sugar and butter on the carrots, and voila - dinner time! I have no aluminum foil with food all over it to try and dispose of either.

            Oh, the boys aren't doing dishes? Wipe out the mess kit into the fire using dried grass, rinse off in the river, cleansing rinse with canteen water and then put back on the fire to sanitize for a minute or so. For those that think this process is not proper cleaning, think about how one "cleans" the Dutch ovens. Is it not the same?

            Nothing better than biscuits and gravy first thing in the morning before the boys get up to their cold pancakes, Pop-Tarts, or oatmeal. I usually make breakfast while the boys are waiting for their Dutch oven coals to ashen up.

            Bisquick and blueberries (or whatever the woods has to offer at the time) make fantastic muffins, huge one in the mess kit as a Dutch oven as Lizardman says.

            The other nice thing about the mess kit is it's storage space. Toss the plastic cup that comes with it now days, Totally useless. Get a nice metal camp cup and use the boiler for storing sugar, flour, spices and such. It'll hold enough stuff for a long weekend with no problem.

            My very first activity as a Boy Scout was a hike and a meal prepared in my mess kit. I haven't found a good reason to change my ways after 50 years.

            Stosh

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            • #21
              Stosh
              I've gotta say..... I'd like to attend a camp cooking school taught by you.

              I'm glad this thread popped back up today. I was planning to bring up a very related point at our troop committee meeting tonight. An ASM added to the agenda a point to discuss about needing a second patrol box. Not that I have any designs on changing the plan or direction, I do still want to put a bug in the ear of the SM and ASMs.....

              I've often felt that it would be good in many ways for the boys to kit up as if every camping trip is a back country camp (hiking, canoeing, etc.). All the big stoves, table, canopies, and other equipment certainly has a place and is needed.... but I think the boys would be much better equipped if cooking and camping as you are describing was better practiced. I know I wish I had more experience doing it for one!

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              • #22
                My first Boy Scout experience was outside the Scout Hut. I had just crossed over from Webelos and our Scoutmaster busted out his backpacking stove and mess kit. He poured out some BBQ sauce and dropped a couple smoked wienies in the frying pan. I can still taste it today!

                Since I've been Scoutmaster the older Scouts insist that we MUST bring the big RubberMaid tote will all the gear, propane stoves, etc. I hate it and wish they'd agree to at least trying to cook in a much simpler way.

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                • #23
                  The reason I do well with mess kit cooking is a number of years back I got really tired of the junk the boys were eating and as I got older it didn't always agree with me and my diet. So I went back to exclusively eating what I brought.

                  I try and change it up so the boys, if they wish to eat better, can check out what I'm doing and maybe try it themselves next time. Even though I cannot buy in larger quantities like the patrols/troops can, I keep my costs below that of the boys. At summer camp I cook for the adults. It's one of the perks I have to get them to come.

                  I cheat a bit on the mess kit end of it on occasion and use my #8 Dutch oven or a bit larger frypan for quick stir-fries.

                  Stosh

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                  • #24
                    The farther one has to walk from the car to the campsite, the less cooking gear is carried. As Stosh discussed, less cooking gear doesn't require inferior meals. I personally do week long (or more) backpacking trips covering (sometimes) over 20 miles a day. My mess kit is a small pot and a cup. I eat very well. It takes practice and preparation. As stosh also said, the boys learn by watching. They saw me make a one pot jambalaya using the small 1.5qt from a patrol kit for the adults one night. The next meeting they asked me for the recipe. They made it for themselves on the next trip.

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                    • #25
                      Good point, DuctTape. When I was younger we cooked over fires and soaped pots. We got very good at making coals and setting up rocks to be just the right height off the heat. And there were no hot spots. We didn't have patrol boxes or stoves or any of those headaches (you bring the pot, you bring the spoon, you bring the soap, we're good).We did cook as a patrol except for making starch-on-a-stick types of things. Right now I'm battling to get patrols to just bring what they need. Few adults see the point. I brought up the idea of cooking over a fire and the boys are interested. One problem we have is that there is usually a fire ban in the summer and we'd have to bring a truck load of wood in the winter. We could do charcoal.

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                      • #26
                        What's with the soap? That's why they come with a carrying case!

                        No one like to go out camping with a "new" mess kit. The quicker it looked veteran, the better.

                        Do you put soap on the outside of your Dutch oven, too?

                        Stosh

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                        • #27
                          I never understood the soaping thing either, even as a scout. Growing up, all my cook gear was black on the bottom. In scouts we had to soap and clean the bottom of the patrol pots. I started to bring my own blackened ones. Still bring my own as a scouter and let the other adults soap and clean the bottom of theirs.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by jblake47 View Post

                            Do you put soap on the outside of your Dutch oven, too?

                            Stosh
                            Nope! And I won't put one in my pack either You guys sound like the scouts that are proud to eat burnt food I like clean pots, what can I say. But I suspect a lot of the need was from using the fire before we had coals. That and we used pine. That stuff has a lot of soot.

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                            • #29
                              What's soot on the outside of a cooking vessel have to do with burnt food?

                              And I have no idea if MattR understands the basic concepts of thermal science. A cooking pot with a shiny bottom reflect heat away and thus requires more fuel to cook the food. Black bottom absorb heat and thus require less fuel and thus cooks more efficiently. This is why Dutch ovens all are made with dark metals and mess kits outsides should not be overly cleaned.

                              Just because it's sooty doesn't mean we don't wipe them off before storing away either in our chuck boxes or our backpacks.

                              (Pssssst, DuctTape, do you think he bought that BS?)

                              Stosh

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                              • #30
                                Black pots have nothing to do with black food. I have a few scouts that figure it's easier to burn the food and say they enjoy it rather than cook it right, so I figure you might rather say you like black pots than clean ones. I know, bad joke. As far as dark pots absorbing heat better, I'd think as the soaped pot gets black, it too will absorb heat better. I do remember that our pots never got that clean.

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