Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Design and build of a chuck / patrol box. Part #1.

As I have gotten older, and more accustomed to enjoying a good meal instead of just gagging something down,
I have realized there is a huge difference in how I pack for caomp cooking now a days versus when I first started out camping on my own.

Flash back a good number of years, not going to admit how many, but I had a then old, Volkswagen bus at the time, you can guess...
I pull into a camp site, Thankfully I had the bus with the box over the engine compartment built out to make a whole bed,
so no need to set up a tent, but how to cook?

Oh yeah, one pot, one skillet, a grate to go over a camp fire, and if I was lucky,
I remembered to bring a fork to stir stuff at eat with.... I always had a pocket knife, and I was prone to whittling sticks down to a nice sharp point to skewer hot dogs and what not with...
And of course I had to have a separate cooler for the food because I wasn't going to give up an inch of space from the beer!

Yes, I spent a LOT of evenings roasting hot dogs / bratwurst over a camp fire for dinner. Come to think of it that sounds like a good idea right about now.
But I digress...

There are only so many instant oatmeal breakfasts, and skewered hot dog dinners that can be sustained, for health, and taste reasons. As time and wisdom marched on, it became obvious I had to elaborate the art somewhat.

As my camp kitchen grew, shrank, and finally got whittled down to a defined list of must haves outside of the food itself, I determined that I needed a way to organize it, and keep it handy to just toss in the back of the truck and go!

I needed to design a chuck box. Or at least build one. The first step to building one is to design it, and to design it, I need to know, what did I need to hold?

After years of camping, and whittling down the camping cooking supplies and accessories, I have it honed such that I have everything I need, and nothing more.

The Wildersport camp kitchen consists of the following items, most of which are well used, and either bought new on deep sale, or used cheap / hand me downs.

#1. The heart of the camp kitchen is the stove. I started with a propane stove, but that got expensive to operate. We use a Coleman dual fuel 2 burner liquid fuel stove. It is kind of old school, but it works so well I have no reason to go back to expensive propnae!
#2. I must admit, I would be lost without my cofffee, and while I can tolerate percolated coffee, drip brewed is so much better. My Coleman Camping Coffee Maker does the trick very nicely. I have it stowed in a protective stuff sack, and the carafe is wrapped in a towel when not in use. I keep a ziplock back of unbleached coffee filters in the container, although I am considering changing out to one of those permanent filters to reduce waste.
#3. While I have very little nice to say about anything TexSport makes as I have had VERY poor experiences with their Tents that leak badly fall apart and flap like a hurricane in a slight breeze, I have to give kudos where they belong. I have an Ozark Trail (Walmart house brand) Stainless Steel Family Cook Set, which I discovered later on was made by / a relabelled TexSport. It is pretty simple, 3 descending size stainles steel pots, and one skillet that doubles as a lid for the biggest pot. They are all copper clad bottoms, and while the metal gauge is thin for weight reduction, they do work well. Yes you need to stir a LOT more than you would with cast iron cookware, or even heavy gauge stainless you would use at home, but for at camp this has been great! It also included but I don't think the new ones do, one of those little plastic drinking cups that doubles as a measuring cup. That piece works poorly as either and should not be bothered with...
#4. Coleman folding camp oven. Just like the coffee maker, this takes up a burner on the stove, but it is MUCH easier to pack than a dutch oven, and makes it super easy to make baked goods at camp. This is a great setup for those mornings you have to have those roll biscuits and gravy for breakfast!
#5. Nylon ladle, slotted spoon, spatula, pasta ladle fork thingy, wire whisk, and tongs. The pieces I have are odd, they are Pampered Chef hand me downs after we upgraded to their deluxe models for the kitchen.
#6. Large mixing bowl, medium mixing bowl. and collendar Plastic. These can be had cheap at the grocery store or even cheaper if you shop around at the resale shops and garage sales. Good for making pancake batter, scrambing eggs, mixing whatnot...
#7. This should probably be #1, but never, ever, ever, ever forget your CAN OPENER!
#8. Small acrylic cutting board. No brand name known. About 8.5x11 x .5: thick.
#9. Plastic plates, bowls, and drinking cups. 6 each. I use some cheap reusable plates, and bowls. The cups are 32oz insulated mugs with a sealable lid. Keeps bugs away a bit better.
#10. Silverware service for 6. I have some cheap Stansport I think nesting fork, spoon, knife sets that I have been gathering over the years. They are cheap and effective. They also take up little space.
#11. Garage sale kitchen knife set in home made canvas knife roll.
#12. Collapsible camp bucket for use as a wash sink.
#13. Double ziplock bag of scrubby sponge, and biodegradable dish soap. (Campsuds).
#14. Swiss Army knife to whittle those sticks!
#15. Lantern. I prefer the Coleman Liquid Dual Fuel model. And I use the soft side case.
#16. Extra lantern mantles, fuel funnel, and windproof / waterproof matches.
#17. Picnic table cloth because without exception, every single park picnic table I have seen is at best disgustingly unsanitary, and of course the stainless steel table cloth clips to keep the table cloth from becoming airborne.
#18. Small loaf pan, cookie sheet, and muffin pan to fit inside the camp oven.
#19. Pot holder, wash cloth, and dish towel.
#20. Coleman Pack Away folding camp kitchen stand. Does not need to go IN chuck box, but should be used with. Provides good amounts of prep space.

Now that we have identified what needs to go into the chuck box, the next step is to figure out how big everything is, and start sketching it up. For that we need to lay it all out, and get busy with measuring tape, pen and paper. But that is all the subject of another entry....

 Until then get out there, and find your own, road less travelled.