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leslie's guiding traditions

For their backwoods cooking, Guides use a range of different types of fire. Each starts with clearing the ground, or turfing, with collecting 'punk' - small twigs, pine cones, dry bark, and with collecting a woodpile of ash, birch and other woods.  

After that, what type of fire to choose depends on your purpose. For a campfire, or for a fire to produce ash, the best choice is the cobhouse. It is built by stacking sticks alternately, to create a chimney. It's advantage for campfires is firstly that the outer frame, with two sticks one way and two another, creates the chimney which directs smoke upwards rather than into people's faces - and it is also a stable layout, which is a significant safety consideration.

For cooking in pots, a hunter or trapper fire is ideal because it provides a safe, solid support for the pots, to hold them in place while they are being heated. To start, place two logs the right distance apart for the pot, with the ends of the logs facing into the wind. This means that when the fire is lit between the logs, the wind will fan the flames and keep the fire burning steadily.  

Grilling is always best done on a reflector fire. A couple of stakes are driven in at the back, at a sloping angle, so logs can be stacked to create the reflector surface itself. A fire is then built in front of the reflector panel, so that the heat it produces is retained. The food can either be 'planked' - fastened to a board which is propped in front of the reflector surface - or 'suspended' - hung from a crane or support over the fire, whilst benefiting from the extra heat reflected towards it.