Cooking and Pioneering

Pioneering, in Scouting parlance, is building things with rope and wood. Knots and lashings, along with various sizes of trees branches, used to create something useful or fun.

One of the most useful things I know of is something we called a Chippewa kitchen. There are couple of designs. The one we always used looked like this.
It should be made stable, and of a height that the upper platform is about the same height as your countertops at home. The point where the four corner poles meet should be about nine or ten feet in the air. You make that lashing first, then stand the quadrapod up and spread out the legs. The side support lashings and the tabletop can then be added. After the lashings are complete, the level tabletop should be covered with two to three inches of clay mud and allowed to dry and harden overnight.

Now you have a platform that you can stand at, three to four feet square. Room to set your pots and pans, a space to build a cooking fire, and a central point to hang a pot over over the fire if necessary. Keep the fire controlled, using a shovel to move coals from a larger fire in a pit or fire ring. The cook and helpers are no longer squatting on the ground, they are standing and cooking at a comfortable working level.

Struggling with smoke, trying to control the size of the cooking fire while keeping it fed, burning the food or losing it to a pot that tips over, all things of the past. The Chippewa kitchen is home woods made civilization. It is also a perfect platform to set out your dutch ovens on, the hard level clay holding the ovens and charcoal, allowing you to treat them like pots on the stove.

I made one of these for a camp when my oldest son was in college. We used it two months in a row, camping both times in the same location. At the end of the second camp, I enlisted help, loaded it on a trailer, and took it home. I set it up on the side of the house, did minor repairs, and used it when we grilled out.

It lasted for about two years before the wood began to rot and I finally had to retire it. During that time, some of my son’s friends came into town to go camping. They had never been to our house before, and were working off instructions he had emailed to them. When they arrived, I answered the door. Making small talk, I asked if they had any trouble finding the house.

They laughed, and one of them said, “Oh no, once we saw that camp kitchen sitting in the yard, we knew we had the right place.”

A dutch oven in long term storage is bad for the soul.
-— Blaine Nay


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