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Unusual But Effective Cooking Methods

Who says camp food has to taste blah? With minimal effort, a troop of North Carolina Scouts has gotten creative with campfire cuisine to cook up mouth-watering entrees.

“We get a lot of stares when we’re at a camporee and start cooking fish over the campfire,” says 17-year-old Scout Jordan Mitchell, Troop 33, Charlotte, N.C. “I tell them fish over a fire tastes great and it’s really not hard to do after you’ve done it a few times.”

In Troop 33, the Scouts will starve before the leaders will cook for them.

“[Cooking]’s actually kind of fun,” insists 13-year-old Scout Hayden Hoffler, as he flips up the lid on a mailbox-turned-camping stove.

The Scouts in Troop 33 are practicing recipes used by Scouts for generations. But some of Troop 33’s recipes have a twist. For example, their mailbox stove lets them bake, simmer and even stay warm on windy days when campfires aren’t practical.

Here are some of the troop’s favorite recipes.



Fresh fish, cleaned inside and out (trout, crappie, bluegill, perch, brim, catfish or bass)

About 1/4 cup olive oil

Juice from 1 lemon

staked-fish.jpgSalt and pepper

Dried parsley

Wooden skewers 12 inches long

Mix olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and parsley together then brush on cleaned fish. Starting at the tail end, spear skewer through fish, with pointed end coming out through mouth.

cooked-fish.jpgPlace fish in coals (no flames) head first with tail sticking up straight. Cook for about 10 minutes until flaky (165 degrees).



kneading-dough.jpgflour-bag.jpg3 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

4 tablespoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt


baked-bread.jpgbaking-bread.jpgMix dry ingredients in a gallon-size plastic bag. Stir in water gradually to form heavy dough that isn’t sticky.

With floured hands, roll into balls and pat flat into biscuit-size cakes or “bannocks.” (You can also cook it as one large flat cake.) Coat with flour to prevent sticking. Bake in oven or pan until done.



1/2 pound stew beef

1 tablespoon oil

3 carrots (not peeled)

2 potatoes (not peeled)

1 onion (diced)

cooked-stew1.jpgseasoning-pot1.jpg1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 teaspoons sugar

Parsley or dried parsley flakes

Cut beef into bite-size cubes. Brown beef in oil in bottom of two-quart pot. Add water to cover meat and simmer for 30 minutes. Chop vegetables (leaving potato and carrot unpeeled for extra vitamins and fiber) and add to pot. Add spices and additional water to cover vegetables. Simmer covered 1 to 2 hours until vegetables are cooked.



Whole chicken

Salt and pepper

Fresh sage (diced)

Heavy string (100 percent cotton)

Hardwood sticks (green) about 12 inches long with bark removed (Do not use soft wood or wood with sap.)

roasted-chicken.jpghanging-chicken.jpgSeason chicken inside with salt, pepper and diced sage. Tie chicken securely with string. Spear the chicken with sticks to help maneuver it while cooking. Using another long piece of string soaked in water, make a loop that wraps around the sticks and hang chicken from thick branch pounded into ground securely. Cook over coals, letting drippings fall into pan, which keeps drippings from creating flames. Occasionally, turn chicken end over end. Chicken is done when thermometer reads 165 to 170 degrees.



Whole chicken

Salt and pepper

Fresh sage (diced)

Heavy aluminum foil

1 large smooth river rock or 2 medium-size smooth rocks

cooked-stone-chicken1.jpgburlap-bag.jpgchicken-in-foil.jpgClean stone(s) and place in fire. Make sure each stone is dry; residual moisture could result in popping rocks. Season chicken inside and out with salt, pepper and diced sage. Using tongs, place stone inside chicken. Wrap chicken tightly with foil. Place inside gallon-sized zippered bag (to catch juices). Place bagged chicken inside of a burlap bag filled with straw or dried grass or leaves (this acts as insulation). Tie burlap bag and let cook 5 to 6 hours. Chicken is done when thermometer reads 165 to 170 degrees. The burlap bag can be left to cook at your campsite or carried in a backpack. The stone cooks the chicken as you walk.

45 Comments on Unusual But Effective Cooking Methods

  1. 🙂

  2. one time our troop went on a 20 mile hike and one had frozen bread another had tomato sauce and cheese (also frozen) and aother had frozen meatballs. when they camped out at the peak all of it was dry. they cooked the meatballs and tomato sauce and had meatball sandwiches at the peak. (they were awesome!!)

  3. hey l like the recipes i see hear, but like the others who are asking i would like to know to to make the mail box oven. Can u plz upload a video on how to make it step by step like the other pioneering projects that i have seen on this site.Is this a version of the reflector oven?

  4. old school scouter // October 9, 2010 at 11:15 am // Reply

    hey i did the backpack chicken once was GREAT

  5. Walking Everywhere I may Travel 350 // January 17, 2010 at 10:32 am // Reply

    Scout Camper’s Peach Cobbler in a Dutch Oven is a really delicious recipe. When you cook the peach cobbler in a dutch oven covered in charcoal briquets, the peach cobbler really turns out really well. In a hardwood campfire, the peach cobbler also comes out as a really great camping cooker’s delight.

  6. ill try these out soon


  8. i want to make a stove like that

  9. troop 84 Hi // March 10, 2009 at 12:41 am // Reply

    Can any of u put any recipes with bisquick and a mess kit? In Hawaii we have a thing called Makahiki.Theres a cooking challenge and The key ingredient is bisquick.I need a recipe that is less than 45 min. to make.

  10. mailbox stove? sounds fun 😀

  11. I will try this one calledmailbox Stew with troop 321.

  12. has anybody ever heard of cooking ribs in your attic? I have a friend that claims he has seen it done – I live in Florida and the temp in my attic can reach over 135 degres…….Any thoughts?

  13. I really liked the fish

  14. BOYSCOUT45 // May 29, 2008 at 4:03 pm // Reply


  15. // April 9, 2008 at 1:45 pm // Reply

    Good news. We will be posting instructions on how to make the mailbox stove in a few days. It has just taken some time to gather the information and photographs. Thanks, everybody, for your patience.

  16. all hose look really good but this comes from a guy who puts chips on his sandwhiches at lunch.and hay i think cooking is fun to it isn’t just for ladys.

  17. Scout 1139 // March 5, 2008 at 9:23 pm // Reply

    Please post how to make the mail-box over and give tips on how to keep it clean, maintain it over the years and what should be but over it or in it to keep clean and not sick of the viruses we can get from it.

  18. Ric in Oregon // February 22, 2008 at 8:16 pm // Reply

    PLEASE how do you make the mailbox stove? There must be 15 request posted here all asking the same question. Is the charcoal in the bottom? are there vent holes in strategic locations to keep the fire alive? is there a way to adjust the heat, by controlling the venting,,,, I have been unable to get mine version above about 300 degrees and cannot get bisquits to brown….

    PLEASE ANSWER: How to make the oven.

  19. Please post how to make the stove

  20. I like the stone chiken idea

  21. FYI – A BBQ thermometer works well to monitor the temperature and adjust the fuel/fire.

  22. Thanks for the info, now P L E A S E ! ! POST the instructions on how make the oven. Would an temp gage from a BBQ grill be of any use for this oven. Thanks for the recipes,yum-yum !!

  23. Thanks for the Mailbox Oven idea. I made one this weekend using your picture as a model. The first batch of biscuits turned out great. I might look for a method to insulate the oven when using it in cold weather to prevent heat loss.

  24. Man that is cool post some instructions my troop wants to make one!!

  25. Being a scout my self,I that is pretty cool that you can do that. I am going to try doing it some time. My mom would like to know where you are in North Carolina.

  26. our scoutmaster made us a great strawberry cobler at summer camp.

  27. Our scoutmaster made our troop a great strawberry cobbler at summer camp.

  28. Scout Camper // December 24, 2007 at 3:08 pm // Reply

    You should try peach cobbler in a dutch oven.



    Canned peaches with juice

    Brown Sugar


    Mix Bisquick with peach juice

    Put some in the bottom of the Dutch Oven

    Then put peaches

    cover with rest of bisquick and peaches

    let it cook for a while

    when it is almost done sprinckle brown suger on top

  29. snowboard guy // December 7, 2007 at 9:36 pm // Reply

    Awesome stove/oven!Could you post instructions on how to make it?

  30. That is so great. How did you make the over. Our troop would like to make one.

  31. Gotta get cooking // December 5, 2007 at 9:15 pm // Reply

    That is one heck of a cool oven! Please please please tell us how they made it. Better yet, show us. This would make a great cookbook, or maybe how to recipe cards we can keep in our kits.

  32. Thx for the great recipe

    But how do u make the oven

  33. the name that they name this article “unusual cooking” that sounds offensive because it really works and also i might try that kind of cooking too so i don’t have to buy pots and pans from the market.

  34. Old Scout 1960 era // November 25, 2007 at 12:49 am // Reply

    The Mail Box Oven reminds me of a story I heard about George Washington Carver when he was at Tuskeegee University. He took a wooden barrel, lined it inside with plaster (so it would not burn). Then he took a small table and cut a small hole in the ttop of the table. On top of the table he placed a couple of bricks to hold a pot of food. Next he put the barrel open end down on top of the table over the pot. Below the table right under the small hole he placed a lighted kerosene lamp. In a couple of hours he could cook a meal for the whole student body. Meat, potatoes, vegatables, soup and pie all cooked with perhaps a cup of kerosene for fuel.

  35. how do you make the mailbox cooker i want to make them for my troop

  36. That is so Cool HOW DO YOU MAKE IT?

  37. Come on we all just want to know 1 thing

    HOW DO YOU MAKE IT!!!!!!

  38. Cool butt I whant to now how to make that. My troop would like that

  39. Outdoor Scout // November 17, 2007 at 11:42 am // Reply

    I would also like details on the mailbox cooker. It looks like a fun item to make and use.

  40. mailbox stove is a very cool addition to your troop gear, the recipes look great I look forward to sharing this with our troop. I would love to get directions to build the stove. I have searched net with out any luck.

  41. I really want to know hom to make my own mailbox oven. Mabye it could get added to the projects provided by BL? Very cool idea!

  42. Just one question, how did they make the “mailstove”. I’ve got a pretty good idea but i need details

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