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Stosh

Mess kit cooking

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A pot blackened on the outside may be clean, or it may not. The same is true for a silver pot, it may be clean or not. I (we) see no need to spend the time to remove the blackening from the outside of the pot as it does not determine the cleanliness so it is a waste of time. Not to mention, the soap and soot removal is one of the messiest activities. Part of this is the soap the outside system has been used for so long by many, they think it must be the only correct way.

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Anyone still mess kit cook?  With the starting of a new troop for Girls, with no startup funds, I was going suggest all the girls get metal mess kits (maybe field trip to the closest army surplus) and teach them how to cook over the fire. 

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I've been a professional cook, and cooking well over a fire, especially with a small pot like a mess kit, is really difficult to do.  Since I consider good food an important part of a good camping trip I prefer to use regular size pans, even over backpacking stoves.

For patrol cooking you can probably either just solicit some donated pots and pans, pick some up at garage sales, or get some basics as a set from some place like Costco.

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Posted (edited)

When I see the words "mess kit," "pots and pans" and "fire," my day is made! :)  The great outdoors!

 

Edited by desertrat77

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I have used the same mess kit for 40 years. Shortly after I said "never again" to my last meal of franks and beans, my brother ordered me a kit from an Amway catalogue his work gave him. It had two pots, two plates, a Teflon pan and grippers as a multi-handle. Add to that a tin cup that I "appropriated" from gear my oldest brother left at the house, and an egg poacher that mom was about to throw out, and I've been golden ever since. The pans were a heavier gague than most aluminum kits, so I could jury rig a Dutch oven or a double broiler with the thing.

For the family, we have a patrol mess kit, a cast iron skillet, and a ditch oven.

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So, I just gave an 'I love it' rep to a post from 2010, lol.

We still have three metal mess kits, but I can't remember the last time anything was cooked in them.  For me, personally, I cook a fair amount over the fire, but not in the mess kit since it's usually for my family of five. 

My daughter does take a metal cup along with her plastic mess kit, so she can heat water for hot chocolate over the backpacking stove.  Our crew and troop does a lot of cooking in the Dutch oven, but again, not the same. Now I'm going to have to throw this out there as a challenge for some of the older scouts who are starting to think they know it all.

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Try a steel pan for a fire. They're relatively cheap, can handle the fire, and do a great job spreading the heat. We bought some for our troop and chucked all the misc crummy pans with junky worn coatings. They should be oiled and not cleaned with soap, but a little soap is okay. They're heavier than aluminum but lighter than cast iron.

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My favorite answer to this:  

   *(( The true author of this article is unknown. It is here copied from the COME HOSTELING newsletter, Sept. 1980, of the Potomac Area Council of the American Youth Hostels, who received it from Dick Schwanke, Senior PAC Staff Trainer, who read it in the APPALACHIAN HIKER by Ed Garvey, who got it from the Potomac Appalachian Trail Conference Bulletin, which quoted it from THE RAMBLER of the Wasatch Mountain Club of Salt Lake City, which reportedly cribbed it from the I.A.C. News of Idaho Falls, which reported it from the 1966 PEAKS & TRAILS. I offer it here for your enjoyment and inspiration. Note that some of the ingredients are a bit dated. Adjust as necessary. Enjoy!))

 

 

"Courageous Cookery"          by John Echo*    

            Once the convert backpacker or cycle camper has accepted the subtle gustatory nuances associated with sustained operations beyond the chrome, he should try the advantages of ultra fringe living so that he will realize what he is paying for his nested pots and pretty pans carried so diligently and brought home so dirty after every "wilderness experience". The following system works. It is dependable and functional. It works on the big rock. It even works when the weather has gone to hell, you are wet and cold and the wind is blowing down the back of your hairy neck. It is not for the timid. It consists of a stove, a six inch sauce pan, a plastic cup and a soup spoon. If you insist on a metal cup, you must never fail to mutter "I'm having fun, I'm having fun", every time you spill the soup on your sleeping bag.

          Breakfast: Instant wheat cereal-- sugar and powdered milk added-- ready two minutes after water boils. Eat from pot. Do not wash pot. Add water, boil, and add powdered eggs and ham. You'll never taste the cereal anyway. In three minutes, eat eggs. Do not wash pot. Add water or snow and boil for tea. Do not wash pot. Most of the residue eggs will come off in the tea water. Make it strong and add sugar. Tastes like tea. Do not wash pot. With reasonable technique, it should be clean. Pack pot in rucksack and enjoy last cup of tea while others are dirtying entire series of nested cookware.

          Lunch: Boil pot of tea. Have snack of rye bread, cheese and dried beef Continue journey in 10 minutes if necessary.

          Dinner: Boil pot of water, add Wylers dried vegetable soup and beef bar. Eat from pot. Do not wash pot. Add water and potatoes from dry potatoe powder. Add gravy mix to taste. Eat potatoes from pot. Do not wash pot. Add water and boil for tea. Fortuitous fish or meat can be cooked easily. You do not need oil or fat. Put half inch of water in pot. Add cleaned and salted fish. Do not let water boil away. Eat from pot when done. Process can be done rapidly. Fish can even be browned somewhat by a masterful hand.

          Do not change menu. Variation only recedes from the optimum. Beginners may be allowed to wash pot once a day for three consecutive days only. It is obvious that burning or sticking food destroys the beauty of the technique. If you insist on carrying a heavier pack, make up the weight you save with extra food. Stay three days longer.

 

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On 1/5/2019 at 11:05 PM, Eagle94-A1 said:

Forget the mess kit. Get a Dutch Oven.  😁

While I enjoy a good dutch oven meal, if that is all one has then not far from the car will one travel (except no portage canoeing).

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The real benefit of "mess kit" cooking, whatever the kit is, it allows the scout to learn and practice on their own before cooking for a larger group.

My kit is a single pot and a cup. Or on rare occassions a single pot, a small skillet and a cup. The traditional scout mess kit had this plus a bread pan (lid) this combination allows for all sorts of experimentation. Using the skillet plus bread pan lid is a dutch oven. But one that isn't as forgiving. By mastering the art of "mess kit" cooking, it is scalable to a larger pot and skillet (and dutch oven).  

After one learns to cook a meal by themselves, then move to cooking with your buddy. Two pots, or a pot plus skillet. Then scale that buddy system to cook with a larger vessel for the entire patrol.

The walmart mess kits are terrible aluminum. The older aluminum is better, the steel skillet plus aluminum is even better. The best is that which is procured and mastered by the scout. The old fieldbooks showed how to customize pots and skillets.

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3 hours ago, DuctTape said:

While I enjoy a good dutch oven meal, if that is all one has then not far from the car will one travel (except no portage canoeing).

To the contrary, I know a few different people that have suffered through lugging aluminum dutch ovens out to favorite backpacking campsites and buried them. I believe some have been out there for ten years or more.

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43 minutes ago, Saltface said:

To the contrary, I know a few different people that have suffered through lugging aluminum dutch ovens out to favorite backpacking campsites and buried them. I believe some have been out there for ten years or more.

Point taken,  but I believe this is an unlikely scenario for most scouts.

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17 hours ago, DuctTape said:

Point taken,  but I believe this is an unlikely scenario for most scouts.

 

18 hours ago, Saltface said:

To the contrary, I know a few different people that have suffered through lugging aluminum dutch ovens out to favorite backpacking campsites and buried them. I believe some have been out there for ten years or more.

Fortunately ours melted a hole in the Al d/o (swapped with one of our Fe models at summer camp, we figure) before the cobbler was added. Otherwise it might have gone on a "long walk" that very night!

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