I cooked up my specialty for dinner tonight, hash brown potatoes, green pepper and two scrambled eggs. Typically I'll add butter and cheese to the mix, but I'm all out at the moment. The process is simple. First I shred 1 or 2 potatoes into a glass bowl (I used to spend about 10 minutes cutting them into small pieces until Jill showed me how much easier it was just to shred them) dice up a green pepper, add it to the glass bowl.
Then I start the fire. I've become pretty efficient at this task in the past couple weeks. I'll pick a left over coal out of the fire from the night before, heat it with a lighter for about 10 seconds to get some nice glowing embers, blow on the embers until more and more of the coal starts to turn orange, then I put the coal into the fire in contact with some dry tender (which is usually chips of wood that fly off as I chop my fire wood, and bark from the wood) I blow on the coal to get it hotter and to cause it to spread, it starts to heat up the tender, smoke forms, then BAM, a flame, blow on it a few more times, then add a log.
I've found it takes four pieces of wood, 1 inch in diameter and 8 inches in length each, to cook dinner, these four pieces of wood equate to less than one regular size log. It's quite efficient, it takes about as much time to start as it does to preheat an oven and gives me about 15 minutes of high hot even burning fire. Once the fire is going I oil the pan and put it on the grill which rests on two bricks, and sets directly in the fire. the potatoes and pepper take about 10 minutes to cook. I flip them every minute to avoid burning. right as the potatoes finish cooking a crack to eggs into the pan, the eggs scramble and cook almost immediately and dinner is served.
As I enjoy my meal, the fire is still going. I think about what a shame it is to waste 5 minutes of good flames, but I don't have anything else prepared, and by the time I do the fire would be out. Then, I catch something out of the corner of my eye. It's a grasshopper, they are all over the place. As I walk from my car to the tipi each evening hundreds of them jump in the tall grass on both sides of me, and just the other day I started looking up recipes on how to cook these bad boys up. I had planned to try it soon, and now was a perfect opportunity.
The fire was raging, the grasshopper was hanging out on the tipi canvas. I walked over causally (there's really no need to sneak up on a grasshopper, they don't get spooked until you actually try to swipe them) batted it to the ground and crushed it with my cutting board. Maybe not the most humane way to kill a grasshopper, but there weren't any instructions on that part in the recipes. Then I saw he had a buddy right next to him, so I repeated the process. I took the grasshoppers, put them in the frying pan, added some more oil and put them over the fire. they only took a few minutes to get golden brown and crunchy. Actually, I think I over cocked them a bit, they tasted like burnt popcorn, but delicious no the less, there was no ick factor whatsoever. I look forward to perfecting the cooking of these little guys and adding them to some of my everyday dishes.
Now before you get judgmental and think to yourself (or to me) how gross it is to eat a grasshopper, let me tell you they are an excellent source of both protein and fat and are eaten in many countries (along with hundreds of other bugs) throughout the world. And before you tell me how disease ridden and unhealthy it must be, let me assure you that it's much healthier than the MSG, High Fructose Corn Syrup, trans-fat, artifically colored/flavored, Hormone injected meal most Americans consumed this evening.