Algonquin Outfitters

Camp Cooking in a Restricted Fire Zone

MSR Dragon Fly Stove

MSR Dragon Fly Stove

Last week Algonquin Provincial Park was declared a “Restricted Fire Zone” which essentially means that fires of any kind, even for cooking, are not permitted within the park boundaries including all car campgrounds and the interior. This also encompasses the use of wood burning stoves, charcoal, and any stove that does not have a control valve or method of closing the stove to immediately extinguish the flame. White gas stoves (also known as naphtha), propane/propane-isobutene stoves and propane BBQs are permitted. As a camp cooking instructor and author, I feel that another form of stove needing to be banned under these conditions is the alcohol stove. These little stoves are often homemade from pop cans—some versions can tip very easily and it is extremely difficult to see the flame.

Cinnimon Bun Blobs

Cinnimon Bun Blobs baked over a camp stove

If you are a camper that adores cooking over an open fire you’ll need to modify your menu to suit. For some of you there is nothing more scrumptious than a juicy steak, seared on a grill over hot coals. However, that’s illegal under the current restrictions. So what do you do to enjoy that delicious steak when you are stuck with using a camp stove? It’s simple. Just take a generous amount of freshly cracked black peppercorns and gently push them into your steak. Sprinkle the bottom of a well-seasoned cast iron pan or even a non-stick pan with coarse salt. Preheat the pan on medium to medium-high flame and sear your steak on either side. Continue to cook until it is done to your preference and let the meat rest, under a piece of foil, for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix a 1/2 teaspoon of dried parsley and 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice into 4 tablespoons of soft butter. Put a bit of this butter on top of your warm steak and let it melt.

S’mores can be made on top of a camp stove too. You’ll need oven mitts, two foil pie plates and a strip of foil. Simply take 2 graham wafers and place a bit of chocolate and a marshmallow in-between them. Wrap in foil. Repeat. Place 4 of these bundles in the first pie plate. Invert the second pie plate on top of the first and secure the edges with a strip of foil. Place this on top of your camp stove on the lowest possible flame for 5 to 10 minutes; turn the whole thing over once or twice during cooking to ensure that the s’mores don’t burn. Now the kids, big and small, can enjoy the quintessential camping dessert. You could also use a marshmallow roasting stick over the flame of the stove but the pie plate method is much more efficient especially with a group.

Another Fork in the TrailIt is even more important to exercise caution in the park interior where help is further away. I recommend dehydrating your own foods to which you’d just add boiling water or purchasing commercial foods specifically designed for backcountry travelers. Algonquin Outfitters has a great selection of these meals. As wonderfully light as wood-burning and alcohol stoves are, they should not be used during a fire ban and you will need to carry a gas stove that requires liquid or compressed fuel. With the hot and very dry conditions it doesn’t take more than a mere ember to cause a catastrophe.

As you can see, it just takes a little thought and creativity to enjoy camping classics while keeping within the guidelines of the fire restrictions to protect one of our province’s most beautiful parks.

Wilderness Cooking Workshop: Become a Packable Gourmet

When Thursday, August 9, 2012, 10am – 4pm
Location East Beach Picnic Pavilion, Algonquin Park
How to create great meals for wilderness adventures. Have you always wanted to canoe or hike in Algonquin’s stunning Park backcountry? Or are you already traveling in the wilds of Algonquin but having troubles with lightweight food ideas for longer trips? Then this is the workshop for you. Become a Packable Gourmet, presented by The Friends of Algonquin Park, will teach you what you need to know about creating non-perishable menus that are tasty and lightweight. Imagine dishes like Linguini with Red Clam Sauce, Chicken Pot Pie and Hungarian Goulash made with ease in the wilds.Laurie Ann March, author of A Fork in the Trail and Another Fork in the Trail, will discuss:
• how to preserve foods so that you do not have the bulk of a cooler;
• basics of food dehydration and rehydration;
• backcountry cooking gear;
• dealing with dietary restrictions;
• foods for children and pets;
• alternative packaging systems;
• bear proofing your campsite
• how to safely deal with cleanup in the backcountry; and
• any other questions you might have!For this workshop, participants will be supplied with the following:
• a planning workbook on how to becoming a packable gourmet
• a copy of A Fork in the Trail or Another Fork in the Trail [vegetarian, vegan cookbook] (please specify)
• valid Park permit for the day of the workshop
• Laurie’s expert instruction

Maximum 20 participants

.HOW TO REGISTER  Pre-registration required. To register for this workshop, or for more information, contact Lori at The Friends of Algonquin Park at (613) 637-2828 ext. 236. When you call to register, please have the following items ready: a contact phone number and e-mail address; and a Visa or MasterCard number, and your choice of book – A Fork in the Trail or Another Fork in the Trail (vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free recipes). The cost for this workshop is $50.00 plus HST for members of The Friends of Algonquin Park. Non-members pay $62.00 plus HST for the workshop and a one-year individual membership.

All workshop proceeds support the charitable work of The Friends of Algonquin Park.


Laurie March author of Another Fork in the Trail Laurie March author of Another Fork in the Trail

Laurie Ann March is the author of two backcountry cookbooks and she leads a wilderness cooking workshop for the Friends of Algonquin Park each summer.

Her website is

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