I gave a down-low of all the camping supplies we pack, but there are lots more things out there!
One popular item that our friends love but we don’t have are pie irons. (Also known as camp cookers, as well as mountain pies, pudgie pies, hobo pies, pie sham or toasties.) These are nifty and versatile utensils that have a cooking compartment made of two pieces of metal hooked by a hinge, with wooden-handled metal rods to make maneuvering easy. You put the food in the compartment and close it, nestle it right in the coals for cooking. You could also use just one side as a small skillet.
Pie irons are generally made from aluminum or cast iron, but my friends prefer the cast iron ones. (And it seems from my research, it’s the general public consensus as well.) You can read more about the pros and cons here. The images above show the traditional square ones, but they also come in different sizes as well as shapes (round and rectangular). This page has a good list of types of pie irons offered by one company (Rome), though I’m sure you can find similar products by other companies.
What kinds of food can you make with a pie iron? Here are some ideas passed on to me by my friend, Jason. He says the trick is to not overfill the cookers.
- pie (canned pie filling between slices of white bread)
- pizza (pizza sauce, cheese, and pepperoni between slices of bread)
- camp potatoes (potatoes, spices, and maybe a little cheese)
- grilled cheese (two slices of bread with cheese)
- biscuit or sweet roll (uncooked refrigerated biscuit or sweet roll)
Once you load the food, you put it into the fire until it’s done (golden brown on both sides). If you branch out into the other shapes and sizes of pie irons offered, that will expand even further the types of food you can cook. (Like waffles!)
Here are some other websites I found with recipes. (Note – I have not tried any of them!)
- Pie Iron.com – several general recipes, with links to two cookbooks you can buy if you want to go more in depth
- Mustard Seeds: Camping Recipes Revisited – links to six pie iron recipes, complete with great pictures and detailed instructions
- About.com Pie Iron Recipes – a long list of user-submitted pie iron recipes
- Best Camp Recipes: Pie Iron Meals – another collection of pie iron meals, as well as other camping recipes
With a little creativity, you could use the pie iron for almost any individual sized meal while you’re camping. There is a bit of a learning curve, so be patient as you experiment for the exact placement in the coals and length of time needed to cook properly. These probably aren’t good tools for younger children as they can be very hot, but for older children it can be a fun way for them to cook their own meals.