Bobby pic

Did you ever have a little mess kit? It’s one of those aluminum-cooking kits that you might have used in the Boy or Girl Scouts. You could have had one in the military. They consisted of a plate and an additional plate that would hook together with a handle. There would be a pot with a top and a coffee cup. All this would fit together in a neat little package. A knife, fork and spoon that would hook together were included and would fit on the handle or inside. Some of these had a bag and would hook to your belt. Mostly, we just put this mess kit in backpack and headed for the woods.

Now 50 years have passed since I went camping with a little kit like this. I did find out all those years ago that sneaking a candy bar or a bag of potato chips into your backpack was a lot better than any cooking kit. If you could get a peanut and jelly sandwich and a Pepsi in the bag you would be set. Still, I had to try all those different things that could possibly be cooked. I tried it all. Eggs soup and even did the deal where you wrapped hamburger and potatoes into tin foil and threw it in the campfire. After making all this mess, I tried all the wilderness camping tricks of cleaning up. That means taking your dirty plates and pots to the river and washing them with sand and river water. I guess that is why we went camping on Fridays and came home on Saturdays. We had all day Saturday to recover from eating half cooked food and using dirty cooking utensils and such.

Now most of my friends that cook outdoors use grills and iron pots and pans. Just the other night they were discussing how to clean their grills and pots. Without many exceptions, most cleaning their grills with a pressure washer. If some insect had taken up habitation in the grill, an air compressor would blow out the intruder and you would be back cooking. The iron pots and pans posed a little different problem. Sand and a trip to the river was still close to the top of the list for cleaning. A pressure washer would work on the pots too. One guy just heads to the carwash and uses the degreaser and then the pressure washer and he has clean everything.

After you have a clean pot you still have work to do. This freshly cleaned pot would rust if you didn’t season it. That is, get it coated with a protective layer of grease. These guys even had secret formulas for seasoning their pots. They ranged from cooking a pound of butter in the pot to burning up a pound of bacon and letting it sit in the pot overnight. Sounded like loading the shotgun shells with an ounce of lead and an ounce of powder.

Some guys admitted they didn’t do much cleaning. They would boil out a gallon of water and then start cooking again. Some of their pots sounded like pure nastiness. They did cook some good stuff though. I’m glad I never looked in the pots they cooked it in.

Most of these guys don’t camp out either. Their cooking now is done in special cook sheds that have running water and cookers and grills that don’t need much attention. Better for me, I’m never around when they clean up. I’m afraid that if I saw what was really around the cook shed I would never be able to eat again.

There is still a PB&J sandwich if all else fails.