A Field Guide to Backyard Campfires

Name one thing better than a good campfire on a chilly night. I'll wait.

Over at the Riverwood Cape Home we've become connoisseurs of good campfire nights; tucking them away in the back of our memories as a constant source of warmth and cheer. And, in an effort not to sound too boastful, we've become pretty good at not just making fires but also creating lovely scenarios that center around the fire.

From the food and drinks to the stories and books, it's about connecting with nature and each other. So, this fall, if you're home with nothing to do on a chilly day, follow these tips for your best campfire evening ever.

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Books to Read Around the Light of the Fire

Word of advice: don't wait until it's fully dark to start your campfire. There's this magic time between dusk and full dark that is the perfect time to cozy up around the fire with a book. On weekends if we're doing a campfire we'll typically start it around 4:30 to get a full hour of light in (and reading) before thinking about dinner.

A few favorite books that I've around around a campfire:

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Meals to Cook and Share

There's something about campfire food. Food cooked over an open flame with that extra level of smokey, charred goodness is just downright delicious. Of course, some of the best meals are the simple ones: roasted hot dogs with chili on the side, s'mores, and campfire pies. . . you just can't beat a classic.

But if you're looking to shake things up a bit, here are a few delicious and different campfire meals to try your hand at:

  1. Pancakes and Bacon – breakfast food might be the ultimate source of food happiness. Make your batter inside then bring it out to your hot but low burning fire and cook on a cast iron skillet (linked below) Here's a super easy and versatile pancake recipe.
  2. Cheeseburger foil packets – veggies and meat cooked slowly in tin foil.
  3. Nachos! – easy and delicious. Perfect for sharing.
  4. Wedge Salad – I made this Saturday night and while most of the work takes place in the kitchen it's great to cook the bacon outside to keep the smell down in your house.

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Campfire Gear and Accessories

Like with any proper hobby there are so many things to collect that can make the experience so much nicer. We really started getting into our backyard campfires early this year and since then have slowly started to accumulate some nice things that really makes it more enjoyable.

  • Barebones Fire Pit - a nice firepit makes all the difference, both for keeping a fire going and for safety. We've had our Barebones Fire Pit for about 3 months now and it was worth every cent.
  • Open Fire Gloves - another Barebones purchase. They're made for fire safety and great to have when you're starting and rearranging the fire.
  • Wool Blanket – for chilly nights a wool blanket over your lap is a must have. Make sure the kind you get can be washed.
  • Adirondack Chairs – the ultimate campfire seat. Perfect for lounging all night long.
  • Marshmallow Sticks – fire roasters are necessary for burning marshmallows and roasting hot dogs.
  • Cast Iron Skillet – honestly a must-have pan for both outdoor and indoor cooking.
  • Open Fire Cooking Grate – an easy way to keep an even temperature while cooking over the open fire
  • Mugs & Plates – I've found heavy plastic or enamelware is the easiest material to trust outside. It cleans well and you don't have to worry about it breaking. These mugs are super pretty too.
  • Log Carrier – to help transport your wood from the back of your property or shed to the campfire site.

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Donning Your Best Campfire Outfit

It's casual weekend vibes with washable items that you don't mind being outside in. Obviously, I would suggest different clothes if you're full-on camping, but a backyard fire can be fun to ignite your inner Paul Bunyan look.

Think jeans or leggings, flannels or hoodies, a field or quilted jacket and boots. I'm not a fan of open toed shoes around a campfire. Wear boots.

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Just A Couple Safety Tips

  1. Don't start a campfire without a structure around it. Fire pits are a must.
  2. Check your local burn bans before starting your fire to make sure it's allowed.
  3. Always have a water source nearby - either a hose or bucket of water
  4. Either wait until the fires fully dies out or douse it with water before going inside.
  5. Don't build a fire too big without the proper space