Friday, April 04, 2008

Campfires [CCR]

The spring vacation is a good time for renewing your family bonding. This year we had several experiences that included a trip to my friend’s drive-in theatre, the adoption of two baby goats, and an unexpected litter of kittens from a cat we rescued. The biggest family event was the bonfire. At least my sons wanted to call it a bonfire. We actually built a campfire in the lower pasture. Aaron invited his new girlfriend and the six of us enjoyed a time around the fire. But the night did not forego entertainment.

As a child we built many campfires. You’ve already heard about an ill fated venture into candle making with my cousin. But there were many pleasant experiences with campfires. Often the family would gather during hunting season and camp the night before the big hunt. Everyone would bring something to contribute to what became a chicken stew with a little bit of everything in it. I’m not sure you can find a better tasting stew than one cooked in an old iron pot hanging over a campfire in the middle of the woods.

Rusty Malone and I also had an interesting endeavor with cooking over a campfire. If you grew up around Cherokee and weren’t interested in fishing then something was wrong. So Rusty and I often went fishing. However, this trip resulted in no fish. All we had was plenty of bait, crawfish. We built a campfire and talked about our luck, or lack thereof, when an idea struck. Those folks down in Louisiana cook crawfish. It can’t be that difficult.

Now many folks are reading this information and thinking cooking a lobster and crawfish can’t be much different. The only problem was two teenage boys hadn’t ever cooked a lobster. We only read about it and, at best, saw it on television. But nevertheless, we decided to eat the bait. We built a nice little fire, found us a cooking pot, and began to heat the water. It was our understanding we should boil the critters. But we didn’t know how long. So when the water came to a boil we chunked a couple of the creek dwelling crustaceans into the pot.

I would reckon the crawfish cooked some, but we didn’t know how much. Our curiosity took the best of the moment and we decided it was time to take a bite. Pulling them from the pot Rusty took the first bite after yanking off the tail. It was only customary that I follow his lead but the look on Rusty’s face told me it wasn’t going to be fun. If I remember straight we only took that single bite and the rest of the bait went to waste. But the adventure ended well, we survived.

Back at our campfire over spring break the children brought marshmallows and hot dogs. It would only be tradition to cook them over the open fire. I decided that rather than finding good sticks to whittle into skewers I would buy these metal contraptions from the big box store. They seemed to work well until someone made the fatal mistake of eating a marshmallow directly from the metal skewer device. They survived with only a slight blister on the side of the mouth and I dare not tell on the victim so names won’t be mentioned. But just as we learn about the lessons of the electric fence so we learn about branding ourselves with hot metal rods. But the electric fence is a story for another day.