Friday, 10 January 2014

Cooking on the fire.

The fire grill with wind shield, stain steel pan & the lid on the ground below.
For almost a year now we have been lighting a fire every Friday on our outdoor days (when we stay outside until lunchtime), last year our Board of Governors gave every teacher an amount of money over and above our normal annual requisition budget. I knew that I wanted to buy a Haba fire grill, I had seen them in action in 2 Scottish settings I had been lucky enough to visit & I also knew I could never normally justify spending that much money on a single piece of equipment. Ours was bought from Muddy Faces last January & it has certainly more than paid for itself a year later. Then the PTA, known as Family & Friends at my school agreed to buy some additional pieces for the fire grill e.g. a wind shield & big stainless steel pot. With the annual requisition allocation we bought a lid for the grill as well. 
The Haba Fire Grill comes complete with the grill pan.
So far with this years class we have cooked sausages for a party, popcorn & heated milk to make hot chocolate. On Fridays I make a seating circle around the fire so the children can enjoy watching the flames & sit chatting around the fire. It never ceases to amaze me that as soon as I start to set the fire the children will start to gather around the seats. Even if it is raining the children will just get on their waterproofs & sit on the log seats, usually on a Friday morning a lot of them have on their 'rain gear' anyway as they know they are outside for a longer period & get more engaged in water play or messy play.
I am always looking for easy recipes to use on the fire but more importantly ones that won't spoil appetites later at lunch. A few weeks ago Lesley from Takoma Park Cooperative Nursery School was also looking for a healthy-ish recipe for a camp fire she was planning at her school. Martin from Highway Farm Activity Centre suggested baking apples with cinnamon, sugar & butter. This was declared delicious by all at Takoma Park, so I decided to try them for this weeks cooking activity. When the 3 of us were chatting about this Martin suggested adding some marshmallows too. 
Takoma Park's baked apples on the camp fire.
We have a great apple cutter that makes perfectly even slices so we used that to cut the apples & then the children added some sugar, a little butter & 2 mini marshmallows. (I forgot the cinnamon for the first 3-4, so decided to just ditch it this time)

We wrapped the little parcels of apple (we used 1/2 an apple for each child) in tinfoil and then lit the fire & put them on the grill. It had been raining on & off all morning & I did toy with bringing the fire in under the covered area but then it eased off enough to attempt lighting it in the usual spot. With the wind shield the rain was kept off the flames long enough for the apples to cook. The smell was amazing, it really did smell like apple crumble. 

They took about 20 mins to cook until they were softened & then a little while longer to cool down enough for the children to eat. 
Windmill's baked apples!
Of course as always some of the children didn't want to even try them, some didn't like them but then others ate about 3 portions! This was a great cooking activity & one we will be trying again after we had tried all the other recipes first!

14 comments:

  1. Yum! That sounds just lovely. I'm fond of pancakes outside as they are easy to make and prepare too. It's seems that you now have the poshest fire kit in the country!

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    1. Oh I may need to build up to pancakes! I think the Haba grill is a great investment if you have a set place to use it & keep it permanently. Thanks for linking up too.

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  2. This is amazing. What a valuable experience for the kids and adults. How many adults do you think I would need for eight kids in order to include a fire? Not sure how licensing would feel. ~Jessica

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    1. It's all about how you approach it Jessica. I planned a Friday because I know I have a student that but as time goes on & the children are more aware & used to it, it's possible to have just 2 of us but it's never actually happened that way. I started with a disposable BBQ with a hula hoop around it to mark the safety zone. It's what you would feel comfortable with but ideally to want 2 adults to be around the fire at least.

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  3. What a fantastic experience for the children, and you are teaching them valuable safety lessons regarding fire in a fun environment. The apples sound delicious - have you tried bananas with a little chocolate nutella spread into the opening? (made with a knife and split length-wise). Thanks for linking up and sharing your outdoor fun with Country Kids.

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    1. Thanks Fiona, have done bananas with choc & marshmallows but not Nutella, another one to try!

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  4. What great fun, such a good experience for the kids. #CountryKids

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to pop over Sara. It is a fun experience & something to look forward to on Fridays.

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  5. What lucky kids! I must try the baked apples. Cooking on campfires is brilliant and pancakes are soo easy! Make the mix up before hand or even better get the kids to do it. Messy but super fun :-)

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    1. Oh now that's 2 of you mentioning pancakes will have to do it now! I'm going to do the apples in the oven today for dessert they were that good!!

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  6. This looks like an amazing learning environment for children, I definitely wish my daughter's school had something like this :)

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  7. Wow I love that you have a campfire every week - you must be one of the coolest preschools ever! I would also love to know any other ideas for foods / recipes to cook over the fire if you ever get a chance :) x

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    1. Thanks, it's a pity it's not more common. Oh will do planning bananas stuffed with chocolate this week.

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