Really embarrassed to be asking this question about S'mores, but....
Hi there! I am a Big Sister to an eleven-year-old girl who has always lived in cities and doesn't belong to Girl Scouts. I took her out for a drive through Red Rock National Park (near Las Vegas) Saturday. She was thrilled by the scenery, and she started asking me questions about camping. I explained that DH and I used to go camping quite often, but not anymore because of his arthritis. I asked her if she'd ever been camping and she replied no, she hadn't, but she'd like to.
I want to give her a tiny taste of "camping" by taking her out to a park and grilling hot dogs and making s'mores. However, I'm embarrassed to say that we always used a propane stove when we camped, and I know zip/zilch/nada about using charcoal.
Aside from the obvious food stuff and sticks to roast the marshmallows on, what do I need and what should I ask for at the store to make said charcoal fire? How long does it take to get charcoal hot enough to roast things over? Do you need lighter fluid, or kindling? How do you dispose of the coals--and make sure they're cold enough to dispose of?
I've seen these kind of aluminum pan-type-thingees that people are using in parks...any thoughts about those?
Thanks in advance...I'm still really embarrassed about not knowing this stuff at my age--I WAS a Girl Scout, after all!
Could you use a propane stove? I always use one now in Colorado because I don't do open fires or charcoal in any dry western states. If you use charcoal then make sure it is in an established grill or pit rather than making your own. Some charcoal is self light, does not need lighter fluid, but I would generally get lighter fluid. It takes awhile to heat up, the coals will look red when you move them around or kind of gray, ashey when they are hot. I cannot recall how long it takes. The biggest thing is to make sure the fire is 100% out when you leave! Dumping water on it, stirring and checking for any hot spots can take a long time but take that time carefully.
It sounds like fun!
When I was young and single I used to roast hot dogs and marshmallows for 'smores on my gas range then when camping on a portable propane grill. Now I just start a wood fire using wood, charcoal lighter fluid and long handled butane lighter. I am too impatient to use charcoal as in my experience it takes too long to get hot enough. Any chance you could get the same experience with a portable propane grill? No fuss, no clean up.
I wonder if you could get the same effect with Sterno and one of those things that is like a basket on a handle to roast in a fire.
Aside from the above suggestions, charcoal isn't that hard. Buy the self starting kind. But a can of lighter fluid too, just in case something happens, but just pile up your charcoal, light it, let it burn until white hot and then spread it out a bit. You have to let it burn a while to it gets to that white hot stage. Use the hand test. Hold your hand over the coals and you should be able to hold it there for 5 to 7 seconds. Also, if you are having a camp fire, eventually the wood will burn down to this hot dog and smore level and you don't have to get charcoal.