Saturday, July 29, 2017


Butane stoves are great for cooking without electricity, and can be used indoors with a little ventilation. Butane stoves are generally inexpensive and can be found for as little as $18, at just about any sporting goods store or super store, such as Walmart or Target, and sometimes in grocery stores. Butane fuel canisters generally last for about two hours on high and four hours on low. Butane doesn't do as well in the cold, so during colder weather, warm up your can of butane by holding it next to your body or under your arm before use. Keeping it warm will extent the burn time for each canister of fuel. The shelf life for butane is indefinite, when stored in a cool, dry place. Butane stoves also come in a double burner version.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Another fun way to cook is to use a box oven. Box ovens are amazing! They do a great job at baking foods outdoors. Using a box oven is a great way to make cooking with charcoal much more efficient. The box oven keeps heat contained inside the box instead of allowing heat to escape from the coals into the air. And the best thing about a box oven is that you can make one yourself!

To make a box oven you'll need:
  • 1 heavy-duty cardboard apple/fruit box (20 inch x 13 inch and 12 1/2 inch high.)
  • Heavy-duty aluminum foil
  • Plastic roasting/cooking bag (for optional window)
  • HVAC tape (looks like duct tape but shiny like metal)
  • Spray adhesive (optional)
  • Baking sheet
  • Cooling rack and 4 soda cans filled with rocks (or a converted portable grill cut to fit)
  • Blanket for insulation (optional)

Cut out a 4″ x 9” window at the top of one of the sides of the apple box, if desired (note: some heat loss will likely occur through the window). Cut a 1″ x 4” hole on the bottom of both ends of the box to allow air to get to the coals. Tape a piece of the plastic cooking bag (double layer it) over the window area. If there are any other holes in your box (i.e. holes for handles or gaps in the box), cut extra cardboard to make a patch and cover the holes. Cover any cardboard patches with metal tape on both sides of the box (inside and out).

Cover the box completely with aluminum foil inside and out. This works best by spraying the box first with adhesive, attaching foil, and securing with the foil with the aluminum tape. Cover the box well, making sure none of the cardboard is showing so it doesn't burn. Also note, be sure to cover the box with the foil shiny side out, so it will reflect the heat better. The matte side should be what you stick to the box.

To bake with your box oven you'll need:
  • Charcoal briquettes
  • Matches
  • Long handled tongs
Place a sheet of heavy-duty foil (make sure the sheet is longer than your box), shiny side up, on level ground or use a baking sheet. Space soda cans on the foil/baking sheet to support the cooling rack. Position the cooling rack so that only the very corners are resting on the soda cans. Check to make sure the cans aren't spaced too far apart to prevent the box from fitting over them. You can regulate the temperature of your oven by the number of briquettes you put in it. One briquette equals approximately 35 degrees F(ie. for 350 degrees, use 10 charcoals). Using tongs, place hot briquettes on foil, spreading them out evenly between the cans and along the edges. Don't pile all of the briquettes in the center because your food will burn. Place them around the edges exactly where the red arrows are pointing at in the image below.

To preheat the oven, place the box over the hot coals and empty rack and let it stand for 5 minutes. The charcoal will become whiter as the heat spreads. Once preheated, carefully lift the box straight up off the coals and rack, taking care not to tilt it, and place it beside the ground foil, face down. This holds trapped heat in the box. Quickly place your food on the cooling rack that on top of the soda cans and replace the box over the coals.

The charcoal will burn for about 35-40 minutes. When longer cooking times are required, you can add more hot charcoals by slightly lifting the box and slipping them in with long tongs. We found that if a recipe calls for 45 minute baking time and it is warm outside, no additional charcoals are necessary. Remember, one briquette equals approximately 35 degrees F (350 degrees=10 charcoals).

For more tutorials on making and using box ovens, click here, here or here.

Monday, July 24, 2017


From "The Refiner's Fire," by James E. Faust:
Some years ago president David O. McKay told from this pulpit of the experience of some of those in the Martin handcart company. Many of these early converts had emigrated from Europe and were too poor to buy oxen or horses and a wagon. They were forced by their poverty to pull handcarts containing all of their belongings across the plains by their own brute strength. President McKay relates an occurrence which took place some years after the heroic exodus: 
A teacher, conducting a class, said it was unwise ever to attempt, even to permit them [the Martin handcart company] to come across the plains under such conditions. 
[According to a class member,] some sharp criticism of the Church and its leaders was being indulged in for permitting any company of converts to venture across the plains with no more supplies or protection than a handcart caravan afforded. 
An old man in the corner … sat silent and listened as long as he could stand it, then he arose and said things that no person who heard him will ever forget. His face was white with emotion, yet he spoke calmly, deliberately, but with great earnestness and sincerity. 
In substance [he] said, ‘I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about. Cold historic facts mean nothing here, for they give no proper interpretation of the questions involved. Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that company and my wife was in it and Sister Nellie Unthank whom you have cited was there, too. We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism? Not one of that company ever apostatized or left the Church, because everyone of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with him in our extremities. 
‘I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it.’” He continues: “‘I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there. 
‘Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.’ (Relief Society Magazine, Jan. 1948, p. 8.)

Sunday, July 23, 2017


As Pioneer Day approaches, it's a great time to reflect upon the stories of Mormon pioneers whose examples of selfless service and sacrifice can teach us to become more like our Savior.  One of my favorite pioneer stories is the story of Ephraim Hanks. 

Here is the record from Ephraim's journal:

"Being somewhat fatigued after the day’s journey, I retired to rest quite early, and while I still lay wide awake in my bed I heard a voice calling me by name, and then saying: ‘The hand-cart people are in trouble and you are wanted; will you go and help them?’ I turned instinctively in the direction from whence the voice came and beheld an ordinary sized man in the room. Without any hesitation I answered ‘Yes, I will go if I am called.’ I then turned around to go to sleep, but had laid only a few minutes when the voice called a second time, repeating almost the same words as on the first occasion. My answer was the same as before. This was repeated a third time. 
“When I got up the next morning I said to Brother Brown, ‘The hand-cart people are in trouble, and I have promised to go out and help them;’ but I did not tell him of my experience during the night. 
“I now hastened to Salt Lake City, and arrived there on the Saturday, preceding the Sunday on which the call was made for volunteers to go out and help the last hand-cart companies in. When some of the brethren responded by explaining that they could get ready to start in a few days; I spoke out at once saying, ‘I am ready now!’ The next day I was wending my way eastward over the mountains with a light wagon all alone... 
"I reached the ill-fated train just as the immigrants were camping for the night. The sight that met my gaze as I entered their camp can never be erased from my memory. The starved forms and haggard countenances of the poor sufferers, as they moved about slowly, shivering with cold, to prepare their scanty evening meal, was enough to touch the stoutest heart. When they saw me coming, they hailed me with joy inexpressible, and when they further beheld the supply of fresh meat I brought into their camp, their gratitude knew no bounds."

In the October 1856 General Conference, while the desperate handcart pioneers were still on the trail and in danger of starving and freezing to death, President Brigham Young said, "Your faith, religion, and profession of religion, will never save one soul of you in the celestial kingdom of our God, unless you carry out just such principles as I am now teaching you. Go and bring in those people now on the plains, and attend strictly to those things which we call temporal, ...otherwise your faith will be in vain."

Because Ephraim Hanks was temporally and spiritually prepared when the call to action came, he was able to lift spirits, ease the suffering of the desperate and likely saved lives that day. We, too, can be valiant like Ephraim by being prepared to answer the calls that come.

To read more of Ephraim Hanks' account, click here. To learn more about why we should be prepared, click here.

Friday, July 21, 2017


Propane stoves and grills are great for outdoor cooking. There are various kinds of propane stoves, grills and cooking devices in multiple price ranges, making propane a universal cooking source. Most propane camp stoves and grills should only be used outdoors. Unlike butane, which can be stored and used indoors with proper ventilation, propane should be used and stored only outdoors, unless specified otherwise. A 14.1 oz. propane tank provide between 2-4 hours with a small stove, and 1.5-3 hours with a larger stove. A 20 gallon tank will provide approximately 7.4 hours of burn time when fully open.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


The Herc Oven is a cooking appliance that uses thermal energy from tea light candles by releasing radiant energy back into your food. When using the Herc Oven outdoors, be aware of the weather conditions, as wind could put out the flame on the candles. Regardless of the weather conditions outside, by using the Herc Oven indoors, you can bake, cook and dehydrate without the use of electricity or gas. The Herc XXL oven requires the use of 20 tea light candles, which can provide approximately 4-5 hours of cooking time. The oven is made of heavy-duty stainless steel, and weighs roughly 29 lbs. The Herc XXL costs right around $400, not including the tea light candles. A smaller version, called the Herc-Eco, uses only 10 tea light candles and costs around $200.

Several bloggers who've used the Herc Oven give it rave reviews for quality and it's ability to do a good job at cooking a variety of foods, from meats and veggies to breads and desserts. It's dishwasher safe and easily disassembles so it stores flat. The cost and the need for candles seem to be the biggest drawbacks to the product, but the versatility and the variety of foods you can cook indoors in a no-power situation without fuel(other than candles), seems to be one of it's greatest features. 

For product reviews and additional information on the Herc Oven, click here, herehereand here.

Monday, July 17, 2017