Try fireplace food at your next party
We threw a party at our place and wifey cooked a great spread of appetizers, but those weren't the most popular foods...
For a laugh, we placed on the fireplace mantle an arrangement of hot dogs, buns, condiments, and some s'mores supplies - and put a bunch of roasting/toasting sticks in a basket nearby.
It turned out to be a wild success. People lined up to roast their dogs and it was a great conversation starter.
We had so much fun that my wife and I went "camping" in the living room one night soon after. We set up a tent and sleeping bags to sleep in, turned off all the lights, and made a fireplace dinner: baked potatoes and garlic on the coals, corn, veggies, burgers, etc. It's a hoot!
What can I say, I'm wierd.
what you describe sounds like a lot of fun, but what disturbs me is the line about turning the lights off. fireplaces are the #3 cause of house fires (after cigarettes and xmas trees), and i think you're...er..."playing with fire" to be doing it in the dark. bad enuf when you're just sitting around one watching TV, but when you start to add utensils going in and out and in and out and....
leave the lights on!
and don't forget to close the flue when it starts backdrafting!
i really worry that you'll just eat, roll over, and go to sleep.
Basil, I don't agree with your assessment that sharing a meal around a fireplace is dangerous. In my experience, most fireplace fires are the result of unattended fires, lack of a screen, dirty flues or exceeding the BTU capacity of the fireplace, usually by mixing wood with manufactured logs made out of paraffin and sawdust.
If you're sitting around the fire, it's inherently attended. Everyone should have their flue cleaned seasonally. Don't mix wood and manufactured logs in your fireplace; it's unsafe and will result in disgusting food. Be careful to have a fireproof surface in front of the fireplace in case you accidentally drag out hot embers. Never, ever close your fireplace flue if there's a fire in in your fireplace.
Captain Greg Spence
Travis County Emergency Services District #4
re: Greg Spence
fair enuf, i wouldn't want to argue with an expert! it just strikes me that noone has a "nonflammable surface" in front of their fireplace (8 inches or so usually), and as such the suggestion is to sit on your CARPET doing this. with the dragged embers bouncing around, it seems to me that the DARK is an added problem. not in seeing the embers, but in seeing the edge of the nonflammable surface...as well as the shoe and the extinguisher used to quash them.
more importantly, tho, i was concerned about people FALLING ASLEEP around the fire. food...dark...just seems to be asking for it to me. how many people here go to bed without doing the dishes? same thing.
as for the flue, i would never close it when the fire is going, but isn't there an issue in the opposite direction? something to the effect of: if you don't close it soon enuf afterwards, still-warm embers will fly up onto the roof?
i thought most "fireplace" fires were actually roof fires, to be honest.
btw, what is the issue of mixing wood and pressboard? why is that inherently dangerous? and what "manufactured logs" are pressboard anyway? all the ones i see in the shops seem to be some kind of WAX.
Basil, I'm not sure where the pressboard thing comes from, but virtually all manufactured logs are made out of paraffin and sawdust. Using these products in conjuction with wood can create enough heat (measured in British Thermal Units) to exceed the capacity of a manufactured fireplace.
I've never seen a fireplace where the carpeting runs up to the edge of the firebox. Mine has 18" of stone in front of it. Still, I do put down a heavy half sheet pan to cut down on the mess and catch any loose embers. BTW, embers glow in the dark, making them easy to see.
Your chimney should have a screen on top to catch any hot embers and to prevent birds from nesting in in the off season. Never close your flue while the fire is still hot as you may expose yourself to carbon monoxide poisoning.
As for passing out, everyone should do this at their own risk.
This is a cool way to cook. For a number of years around the holidays, we've used the family's old metal popcorn popper, made to pop over fire. Very early American version. No butter, just popcorn cooked (in any number of (wrong/incinerated and careful/rightly popped) ways. The main taste was smoky -no butter, just the corn over the coals. We loved watching the show of the kernels popping. We also have baskets for burgers, from childhood camping, and recent fish. Thanks for the memories. We might have to try this before spring.
Your story reminds me of the time my sister and I went camping some years ago. We'd bought a Jiffy Pop to pop after dinner, but either we did something wrong or we got a dud, because the corn didn't pop -- it burned. We just left it on the grate on the fire pit and eventually went to bed. The next morning we awoke to see 4 or 5 chipmunks sitting on the now cold grate chowing down on the kernels.
One of my most vivid childhood memories is of the power going out and cooking dinner in the fireplace. My father was so impressed with my mother's ability to just switch gears (or fuels), we ate the same menu she was planning, of which I can only remember peas, but I remember the pan she cooked them in, the way they tasted, how you had to pay attention to capture them on your fork by candlelight.
It must have been 30 years later that I gave that pan to my youngest brother and impressed upon him what memories it could cook up. I think I gave it to him because it was a rice-cooking sized pan, but I couldn't cook rice in it (it takes me 2-3 months to get rice right on a new stove). But I can still remember those peas, and eating by candlelight for the first time.
Thanks for the memories. If the fireplace in my apartment worked, I'd try the hot dog thing, but it exists as a gourd storage station:-)
re: Joann Creekmore
I own a set of fireplace cooking tools. For burgers and veggies, I use a basket grill like on the attached link.
The roaster forks are great. The larger ones hold about four hotdogs.
Dislaimer: I've never bought from that site before, just did a quick google search on "fireplace cooking tools"
re: Joann Creekmore
Congratulation, Dave! You've discovered a great way to cook. We often put various ingredients on a skewer and heat tortillas along side. When the skewer's ready, you grab a hot tortilla and empty the skewer into it (squeeze and pull.) Instant delicious taco with no mess! I also have a rod running along the top of the fireplace, underneath the mantle. We hang various meats on butcher's twine and place a drip pan underneath. It produces delicious roast meats, especially the duck breast. Also, try cutting a grill to size and place it over the coals for all kinds of treats.