Saturday, December 7, 2013

Christmas Dinner-Apocalypse Style

How would Macgruber make his Christmas dinner? Get me a cardboard box, some tin foil, four empty cans and some wire! A situation may arise where you have no access to conventional methods of cooking your food and you have to be inventive and tactically sound. Eating raw or undercooked meat is a death sentence and during times of harsh realities you do not want to be letting nefarious characters or even wild animals know where you are and what you are having for dinner. Open fires and the smell of food being cooked is
like getting on a loudspeaker and inviting everyone in the area over to check out what is going on. This follows the same logic as the military in regards to smoking at night. The smell of smoke and the glow of fire or cigarettes may seem trivial to consider as a possible danger to you, but put yourself in the shoes of a desperate person who has no food or warmth. They will seek you out like a shark to blood in the water. The way to avoid this entire situation is to just go raw vegan. I am a carnivore and love eating meat so vegan is not an option for me. Coming up with methods to cook food in a manner that is safe and concealable is easier than you think.


 When I was a younger lad my father and his buddy took my friends and I backpacking on the Appalachian Trail for 8 days living only out of our packs. One night my dad and his buddy broke out this folded cardboard box lined with tin foil and started to assemble this contraption that looked like something out of a 50’s era sci-fi movie. After taking some ribbing from us kids about their contraption, they put a turkey in this thing and went about their business. A few hours later they unveiled a perfectly cooked turkey feast. At that point I looked at my burrito that was burned on the outside and still frozen on the inside and realized that being without conventional methods of cooking doesn’t prevent you from eating well, lack of imagination does.

The cardboard box oven can not only cook everything your home oven can, it will conceal almost all visual heat signature created from cooking and will minimize the smell of food being cooked.

The items you will need to cook with no electricity or utensils are simple and abundant, all you need is to build an oven is:

·         Cardboard box with top or fabricate top with extra cardboard

·         Tin foil or thin metal to line box

·         A sturdy riser for each corner (soda cans, flat rocks, brick etc.)

·         Field expedient grill grate (woven coat hangers, chain link fence reinforced etc.)

·         Heat source (wood, coal etc.)

·         Pie plate or similar item made from extra tin foil to hold your heat source

The perfect box for this oven is a printer paper box; if those are not available fabricate your own box to look like one. It is imperative to have a removable top. If you are a show off you can seal it completely and cut an oven door on the side of this masterpiece. I like things to be simple so I use the removable top, line the soon to be oven with tin foil or pliable thin metal and be meticulous about this step, we don’t want you burning your dinner. Heat retention is key to the success of this oven. Once the entire inside is lined (including the cover) you will want to place your risers on the corners of this box to keep what you are cooking elevated over the heat source. Soda cans are great for this but you can use anything that won’t burn easily. You could also use metal that goes through the box as kind of a grill grate instead of the risers. This would work, but keep in mind that you have to add the heat source and the grates tend to get in the way. Making a grate that sits on the risers in a sturdy manner can be challenging depending on the situation, but a few pieces of metal in a grid pattern will do just fine and can be moved according to what you are cooking to achieve direct or indirect cooking. Heat dispersion and control will be a challenge if you just dump your heat source in the bottom of the box. Using a pie plate or making a dish from found materials will give you the power to place your heat source where you want and will also let you adjust the heat source while cooking if need be. That is all you need to make yourself an oven that works surprisingly well and that will not give off a visible flame and will keep the smell of delicious baked goods at a minimum. My father and I used this method while backpacking and camping and it was a success every time except when we added too much coal and the oven burst into flames. Luckily the Cornish games hens didn’t burn too badly. These ovens get about a dozen uses out of them before you have to do some form of maintenance or repair depending on how hot you get it. Once the main course is cooked put a pie or cobbler in there as a nice reward for your hard work.

Thanks for reading, try the oven out and leave me your feedback on how your meal turned out!