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Campfires ignite the senses any time of the year, but something about an autumn bonfire makes a blazing fire ring even more tantalizing. The earthy aroma of burning logs mingle with a chorus of bursts and crackles. Sparks float out into the dark night sky while shadows and flames court one another reservedly. Add in a bonfire's ability to warm the air, and the atmosphere, and you've got the makings of a remarkable family outing.
The transition from summer to fall is always a tough one for me. I have to make a concerted effort to keep getting outdoors and exploring with the kids. A few weeks ago that meant planning a short Sunday afternoon drive up American Fork Canyon for dinner. Well, it should have been short. Upon reaching the mouth of the canyon, we were timidly stopped by a park ranger. Taking cues from a sheriff parked nearby, he informed us the canyon was closed for "law enforcement activity." What!? You can't leave us just with that morsel of information and send us away! But send us away he did.
Remember, it's now officially fall. Feeling more than a little inclined to take this as a sign that we should be warmly gathered around our kitchen table, I struggled not to point the hood of the car straight towards home. Only for the five cool-weather loving souls also in the car with me, did I switch gears and head instead to Battle Creek Canyon in Pleasant Grove. Of course, there was no doubt that was where we were supposed to be once we were finally there, even if we were now in the dark (thanks a lot daylight saving) and much later than we'd intended to be cooking.
Will you agree with me that the only problem with having a bonfire and cooking food on a public fire ring is the rusted dirty grate that's always there to greet you? We happened to remember to bring a bristle brush with us this time, but it'll be no surprise that our attempt at cleaning the grate was futile. Which turned out to be perfectly fine because we had a new kabob skewer rack to cook our food on.
Instead of figuring out how to keep the kabobs from sticking to the grate, and how to keep the grate particles from sticking to our food, we put the kabob rack on top of the grate, laid the kabobs in their grooved slots and left them to do their thing. The kabob skewers themselves are flat, rather than the typical round, which kept the food from turning and sliding around as it heated up. Since the skewer ends, not the food, are what makes contact with the rack, turning them was as easy as grabbing the wide handle and flipping them over. No need to scrape and pull at chicken melded to, and adding to, the already dirty public cooking grate.
The kabob rack made this night of pitch black bonfire cooking almost worry-free. A cautionary thought on this particular rack from Cave Tools is this: make sure you have some sort of pot holder or leather gloves when it comes time to turn the skewers. The stainless steel handle gets HOT, which my husband nor I considered until we'd both reached out and grabbed at one. They cool off pretty quickly once you've moved them to the table, but on the grill, be a little careful.
Also, because the rack sits up off the grate (which is what keeps your food clean and rust-free), you may need to drop the grate down a little closer to heat source than you normally would think to. It may have been a number of factors during our interesting night of eating out, but it did seem like the kabobs took longer than usual and dropping the grate to get them closer to the heat seemed to help.
As for the eating, these skewers are perfect for camping and outdoor eating. What's the only thing dirtier than the public bbq grate? Children's hands! Each of the kabob skewers as a thin metal disc at the end which make it easy to slide the grilled food onto a plate without having to touch the food directly.
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