cooking in a fireplace

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

Our fireplace as a large swig bar that was used to hold a cast iron cooking pot. I'm ashamed to admit but in 10 years I haven't used it. Are there any rules to cooking this way? I assume hot coals are better then high flames, but no real clue what what to to do otherwise. I was thinking of trying a pot of chili or stew first, any help? cooking times? Is it really any different from cooking on a grill?

Columbus, OH(Zone 5b)

I don't think it's that different.
On my daughter's blog she posted a photo of cobbler she made in a cast iron pot on her outdoor BBQ
Scroll down you'll see it.

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

That's a fine looking cobbler! And the same pot we have for camping. I need to just jump in and give it a try. It seems so unnatural to be cooking in the living room. lol Yet a waste of energy to be using the kitchen while there is a perfectly good fire going.

Tell your daughter I enjoyed her blog. I've had a few 'is it a rooster/hen' debates with my DH :0)

Columbus, OH(Zone 5b)

I think Laura (my daughter) would love to be able to cook in her fireplace.
I'll let her know you enjoyed the blog.

I was reading on another thread about hoe cakes, seems they were a favorite of George Washington, they are some kind of cornbread paddy cooked on a hoe over the coals in the fireplace.
If you have an extra garden hoe about you may want to give that a go while you're at it *S*

Nelly Custis's Recipe for Hoecakes:
General Washington's typical breakfast has been described by members of his immediate family and several guests. His step-granddaughter, Nelly Custis Lewis, who was raised at Mount Vernon wrote...He rose before sunrise, always wrote or read until 7 in summer or half past seven in winter. His breakfast was then ready - he ate three small mush cakes (Indian meal) swimming in butter and honey, drank three cups of tea without cream...

"...The bread business is as follows if you wish to make 2 1/2 quarts of flour up-take at night one quart of flour, five table spoonfuls of yeast & as much lukewarm water as will make it the consistency of pancake batter, mix it in a large stone pot & set it near a warm hearth (or a moderate fire) make it at candlelight & let it remain until the next morning then add the remaining quart & a half by degrees with a spoon when well mixed let it stand 15 or 20 minutes & then bake it - of this dough in the morning, beat up a white & half of the yolk of an egg - add as much lukewarm water as will make it like pancake batter, drop a spoonful at a time on a hoe or griddle (as we say in the south). When done on one side turn the other - the griddle must be rubbed in the first instance with a piece of beef suet or the fat of cold corned beef..."

- Excerpt from a letter written by Nelly Custis Lewis, Martha Washington's youngest granddaughter.

Modern Adaptation of recipe:


8 3/4 cups white cornmeal
1/4 teaspoons dry yeast
1 egg
Warm water
Optional: You may want to add salt to the batter
Shortening or other cooking grease

1. In large container, mix together 4 cups white cornmeal, 1 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast, and enough warm water to give the mixture the consistency of pancake batter (probably 3-4 cups). Cover and set on the stove or counter overnight.
2. In the morning, gradually add remaining cornmeal, egg and enough warm water to give the mixture the consistency of pancake batter (3-4 cups). Cover and set aside for 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Add cooking grease to a griddle or skillet and heat until water sprinkled onto it will bead up.
4. Pour batter, by the spoonful, onto the hot griddle. (Note: since the batter has a tendency to separate, you will need to stir it well before pouring each batch.) When the hoecake is brown on one side, turn it over and brown the other. Serve warm with butter and honey.

Grand Saline, TX(Zone 7b)

Mmm with honey, those sound good. I think I'll stick with a skillet tho. I noticed that an alternative name for them is 'ash cake', that's probable what I would end up with if I tried cooking with a hoe.

Columbus, OH(Zone 5b)

No doubt, it's interesting what people put up with years ago... like a potato baked in the ashes... you know they weren't wrapped in foil.

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