WINDSCREEN or WINDSHIELD for your Dutch Oven or Camp Stove

A wind screen or windshield is often necessary to properly cook in the outdoors.  Especially if you are cooking on some type of raised platform.  A platform such as a cook table, or a camp stove placed on a picnic table.

While both cook tables and camp stoves may come with their own shield, they are often too low, and inadequate.

THE THOUGHT
This DIY project was thought out to use readily available materials.  With the idea in mind during fabrication, to use the simplest of tools found in nearly any household.  Best of all, workable by nearly anyone with minimal tool handling skills.

This DIY project shows the basics of building a Windshield for your Camp Stove or Dutch Oven. Numerous modifications could be made to suit your personal needs.

I prefer the higher shield as shown. Both for use, and for ease of construction.

The long sides of mine are made from a 18X25 inch cookie sheet.  The smaller ends are 13X18’s cookie sheets.  These sizes will avoid the need to make any cuts concerning the cookie sheets. These cookie sheets are clamped together with easy to fabricate aluminum angle clamps.

The clamps are snugged up using Thumb Bolts and Wing Nuts.  No tools are required during set up.

While an electric hacksaw, drill press, and drill press vise, makes for an easy job of it. A simple hacksaw and hand drill will do just fine.  Since the DIY clamps are soft aluminum, any required drilling is fairly easy.  Do practice tool safety to protect body parts during fabrication.  Eye protection is mandatory.

My initial build was a Windscreen for my Partner 4 burner stove.  Made with three 18X25 cookie sheets.  I later bought the 13X18’s for use when Dutch Oven cooking on a metal Dutch Oven Cooking Table.

For the Dutch Oven Cook Tables that are wide and rather narrow front to back.  Two sets of an “L” Shape configuration can be arranged to adapt to most Dutch Oven Cook Tables.  They can slide to adjust for whatever width table you may have.  The two longer rear cookie sheets can be clamped together with a C-Clamp or Spring clamp.

In a good wind you might have to use small bungee cords to hold the shield down to the table. (Bungee attached at points away from high heat of course)

OBJECTIVES
*Something simple with minimum amount of complex fabrication.
*Free standing without the use of supports.
*Large enough to surround on 3 sides.
*Minimal cost.
*When not in use, something that stores flat for storage and transport.
*Multi-purpose.
*Easy to setup without the use of any tools.

All objectives were met. I am sure a good scrounger or person that has usable used material can beat what they cost me. For this article, all parts were purchased new, at full retail prices.

Additional benefits are this Windscreen is also easy to clean, and if not being used as a shield, the trays can be used for other purposes such as food prep, as serving trays, or perhaps other functions I am not even thinking of.

MATERIAL
(3) 18X25 Cookie Sheets ($6.75 each) (For a 25X25X25 setup)
or
(1) 18X25 Cookie Sheet ($6.75) + (2) 13X25 Cookie Sheets (2 Pack $10.25) (For 13X25X13 Setup)

(2) Aluminum Angle 1/16 inch 1×36
Both cut in half to make (4) 18 long pieces of angle ($5.37 each)

(4) Thumb Bolts 1/4inch, 20 thread, 1 ½ inches long ($1.18 each)

(4) Wing Nuts ¼ inch, 20 thread ($0.55 each)


These are local all new material prices. Cookie Sheets from Costco or Sams Club. Or a local restaurant supply retailer.   Hardware was obtained from Home Depot. A good scrounger might be able to find this material at a thrift store or garage sale for much less.

FABRICATION (Read through this before starting)
Cut the two 36 inch Aluminum angles both in half to create (4) 18 inch angles.  Make sure all pieces are of equal length.  Trim if necessary.

Mark the 18 inch angle aluminum at 2 inches in from both ends.  Keep these pretty exact so pieces will be interchangeable with each other during set-up.  Meaning the holes will line up with one another.  Its critical, that the distance measurement between the drilled holes on one piece of aluminum angle,  is that same measurement on all pieces of aluminum angle.

If you decide to make additional wind screen parts in the future be sure to use one of your existing parts as a pattern.  That way they will be interchangeable.

Stack 4 of your 18 inch aluminum angles together.  Clamp in a vise if available to avoid having the stack twirling around and hitting you during drilling.   If no vice is available use another method and proceed with caution.  Drill a hole at your 2 inch marks, and drill down through all 4 angles stacked together.  You start the hole on the inside of the V of the the angle.  Use  a 5/16 inch diameter drill bit.

Make sure the drilled holes on the first end of the stack do not become misaligned.  Then Drill the other end at your mark using the same method.

The idea is to create 4 identical parts that can be interchanged even if flipped around or used with any other piece.  Identical meaning the measurement distance between the drill holes are equal on all angle parts you fabricate.

Clean up any drill burrs and sharp edges with a wire bush, wire wheel, file, sandpaper, etc.

SET-UP
Insert your Thumb Bolt through a stack of two angles.  The  Flattened Thumb end of the bolt should be on the inside of the V of the angle aluminum.  When held in place with a finger the angle aluminum prevents the bolts flattened thumb head from spinning. (No wrench required)

Loosely thread the wing nut on the threaded end of the bolt.

Repeat the bolt insertion and wing nut on the other end of the two aluminum angles.

Hold 2 of the cookie sheets up in a vertical position, with the top cooking surface side facing each other in an “L” shape.

Slip the clamp over the joint of the cookie sheets.  One angle of the clamp with be on the inside of the cookie sheet joint.  The other angle of the clamp will be on the outside of the cookie sheet joint.

Tighten the clamps wing nuts when correctly positioned. Repeat for the other corner to create a three side wind screen. (No tools required)

The whole set-up pretty much stores flat when not in use.

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CAMP STOVE LEVELER

I was tired of not having a level camp stove when using a picnic table.  Fabricate a leveler.  Here is a simple, relatively inexpensive solution.  It uses common materials.   If you have a welder and a hack saw this is a couple hour project.

The idea for this leveler has been rattling around for some time.  You may have to alter this to accommodate your stove.

(4) Sections of 1 inch x 1/8 angle iron
(4) 3/8 Coupling Nuts
(4) 3/8 x 2 1/2 Elevator Bolts.

While I buy my steel at a steel supplier, it is available at Home Depot or Loews. Just be prepared to pay double at the big box stores.

4 pieces of appropriate length 1 inch by 1/8 angle is used. The ends are cut at 45° angles and the length is made 1/4 inch longer on the inside measurement, than the outside dimensions of your stove. That gives a little bit of play (1/8 inch all around) in case something is slightly off.  Be sure to square up each corner before welding.  Also gap all weld joints to create your exact dimensional length measurement, before welding.  Depending on your stove you may have to add a middle support(s) using 1 x 1/8 strap.

My 4 pieces that create a rectangular leveler frame, are clamped to a welding table upside down. The bottom of the 45° seam is welded. The vertical corner seam is welded. (DO NOT WELD THE INSIDE OF THESE SEAMS)

When all four corners of the leveler are complete.  Grind your welds to your finished preference. Clamp the rectangular frame down to your welding table, top side up.

Weld your “coupling nuts” to the sides flush with the front edge. End of nut should be flush with the table top (and the finished bottom of the frame) Grind welds if needed.

Finish paint with high temp flat black.

 

 

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RETURN OF THE LODGE 8 inch 2 qt L8C03 Dutch Oven

I was pleasantly surprised to see Lodge is once again producing the 8 inch, 2 qt, L8C03, Camp Dutch Oven.

I have 3 of these smaller camp style Dutch Ovens.   One unmarked, and 2 Lodge marked.  I had picked all of them up in the past.  New then, they were selling for around $39.00.  Then Lodge started revamping their foundry and these were suddenly discontinued.

As with anything you can’t get, someone is willing to pay to secure one.  At the highest I saw them new in the box, listed on eBay for $125.00.

These smaller Lodge are some of my most coveted pieces of cookware.  I normally solo camp.  They are perfect for that, or for two people.  I would even stretch and say they would accommodate cooking for 4.

Try our lasagna recipe that works perfect and fills it to the brim.

Do you need to only bake a half dozen homemade biscuits?  How about a small cake, or deep dish apple pie?  The L8C03 handles it with less food waste and fewer charcoal briquettes.   Less space and weight for your vehicles or small camping trailers.

 

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Its Nearly Time – Cathedral Gorge Dutch Oven Cookoff

Final preparations are going on for me today.  Loading the trailer and taking inventory of camping gear and cooking utensils.

This coming weekend is the annual Cathedral Gorge Dutch Oven Cookoff (September 16th, 2017)  Sponsored by the Nevada State Park and surrounding businesses.  The weather is looking to be near perfect.

This cookoff is a big deal.  At least for the competitions we normally attend.  There are normally around 50 cooks, and some of those preparing multiple recipes.  We have seen crowds of people (250+) showing up to taste, vote on their favorite, and just plain enjoy the day.

If you are in the area, be sure to come out and support the event.  Enjoy the food, enter the raffle, and enjoy the beautiful Nevada State Park.

Cathedral Gorge State Park Website

Map it

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WAFFLE DOG TIME

While many of you have been enjoying camping away the summer months, some of us have been getting “cabin fever”.

Most of the country gets “cabin fever” when cooped up during the winter months.  Ironically those of us that live and camp in the desert southwest mostly “hole” up the hot summer months.  Then start camping as the summer heat starts to wane into cooler temperature of the approaching Fall season.

So for some of us it is time to dust off the waffle dog maker, air out the sleeping bags and tents, and start prepping for prime camping season.

Does anyone have any tried and true recipes for use in a waffle dog maker?  I need one for Corn Dogs, and another for Waffle Sausages.

Email us at :  info@toponautic.com
We will list your recipe(s) and credit your name.

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DUTCH OVEN COOKING COMPETITION Sept 16 2017


It’s nearly that time of year again.  Camping and Dutch Oven Cooking Competition at Cathedral Gorge State Park near Panaca, Nevada.

Link to the official State Park information

Actual competition cooking is on Saturday September 16, 2017

A group of us camper/Dutch Oven cooks have been attending this event for years.  The rangers at this State Park make this the best cooking competition we have ever competed in.  Aside from the awesome prizes the rangers solicit from supporting businesses, they just make this plain fun.

This is not IDOS sanctioned and the rules are lax.  Just plain old fun!  Be prepared to come up against a lot of very good cooks.  The competition is tough!

Be prepared to arrive early and to stay until after dark.

Even if you don’t participate in cooking.  The whole day can be taken up hiking early in the morning, then wandering around watching the cooks prepare the food.  Judging and serving food to the public, is early evening.

Buy your raffles tickets and take a chance on winning prizes and supporting a great event.

Many of us start arriving Thursday and Friday to also spend a few days camping.  Sites are first come first served.  Though the rangers have always made room for everyone even if it means “dry camping” off the edge of the pavement near the picnic area.

This time of year expect warm days and cool nights.  The Milky-way will blanket you in the sky above.  The coyote’s will sing you to sleep at night.

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CORN STICK PAN verses CONVECTION

Las Vegas in the middle of summer is easily hitting 110°F daytime temperatures. For some that is not conducive for enjoying a hot bowl of Chili. Many reserve that cuisine for chilling winter days.

Not me. I enjoy Chili year round. Then Chili isn’t at it’s best, unless you have cornbread as a side to accompany it.

On a hot day outside I often drag out the crock-pot to make a batch without heating up the kitchen. While I am a cast iron connoisseur, I am certainly not firing up some charcoal and Dutch Oven cooking when it is a scorching +110°F outside either. Thinking about getting the kitchen oven up to 425°F for a batch of cornbread doesn’t sound too appealing either. That heats the whole house up.

This is where vintage Cast Iron meets the modern Counter-top Convection Oven. The combination works well together and doesn’t kick my air conditioner on more than normal.

Now I am sitting back enjoying a bowl of Chili. Dipping my hot buttered corn sticks in some maple syrup. What a killer combination. Both in the cooking technique, as well as the food paring.

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Chuck Box – Wood Box

Credits for this Chuck Box version go out to Paul Bridgewater.  Paul was kind enough to share his Chuck Box concept, and some photos.  I am kind of envious.  I wish I had the patience and the work space/shop to produce these.

Paul gives some insight on his design with the photos.  Also some dimensions that might prove helpful.

Paul says his first ones were 3/4 plywood construction.  His words “Too Heavy!”

He now builds these from 1/2 Birch Plywood.  The legs are 1x4x36 Oak.  These are custom made for the Scouts.

The legs are slotted to aid in leveling.  The box is 36″ Wide, 24″ tall, and 15 1/2″ Deep.

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CHUCK BOX 2

This is “Chuck Box V.2” for me.  My current upgrade, from previous Stanley “Fat Max” tool boxes that I used for several years.  My latest upgraded version uses these Rigid Brand Stackable and Wheeled tool totes, shown in this article..

Ever since covered wagons,  I would imagine the Chuck Box has been a common term.  Before that, I am sure migrating people had a simpler and smaller means of transporting some of their precious spice items.  Those items that were not easily obtained foraging natures surrounding supplies.

If you have camped many years you have probably changed out your own method of carrying your own staples.  Having your items with you, rather than being dependent on an inconvenient source to purchase (forage) your own items while camping.  I say this is version 2 for me, but that is version 2 in a recent sense.  In reality I have tried numerous configurations over  a  lifetime of camping.  All common containers many people use, such as Tupperware or plastic shoe boxes.

My current method is “Rigid” totes.  I hope people viewing the blog take the time to forward us photos of your own “tried and true” method. We want to add them to this article. So tell us a little about yours and about yourself.  Or what you think of ours?

Ours does not have the “coolness ” factor of a handcrafted wood Chuck Box, but they are highly functional.  The boxes have been along on multi-day trips, Dutch Oven Cooking events, and regular campground camping.  We have ours loaded so we are not wanting of anything.

We use 3 Stack-able and Wheeled totes made by Rigid.  Finding ours at Home Depot for about $130.  They seal well against rain, have latches to slow down critters, carrying handles, and side handles that also serve to latch all 3 together as one unit.

The totes are often left on the picnic table at all times (unless in bear country) and they have never had the critters get in them.  They also sit out, getting rained on at times.  When we return home from camping, the used items are replenished.  Everything is kept inside the house so the ingredients are always fresh and ready to go for the next trip.

Dry Ingredients such as flour, pancake mix, etc is rotated when we replenish.  We dump the unused portion out on foil. Refill the used portion from new supply in the house, then dump the older ingredient now on the foil, back in on top to fill our camp container.

 

The top box is all spices and several small containers of Crisco.  This box is equipped as well as my home kitchen.

 

 

The middle box is the dry ingredient box.  Larger containers of things like Flour, Sugar, and Coffee.  In in their own larger screw lid containers.  There is also extra room for cookbooks and bags of backup items.  A couple containers do double duty.

 

The largest box, on the bottom is also wheeled and has a telescoping handle to assist in wheeling all three boxes as a single unit.  This bottom box is my catch all for small cutting boards, utensils, knives, and silverware.

Here is a list of items in my three boxes.  I cook with large groups and can cook or bake anything with what I carry.  Adjust your items to suit your needs.

Top Box

(8) 1/4 Cup containers of Crisco
Spray oil
Salt
Pepper
Cilantro Flakes
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Italian Seasoning
Paprika
Corn Starch
Baking Soda
Baking Powder
Nutmeg
Cinnamon
Ginger ground/powder
Nutmeg ground/powder
Clove ground/powder
Burger Seasoning
Chili Powder
Cumin Powder
Vanilla Extract
Sage
Dry Milk
Cayenne Pepper
Bay Leaves
Vegetable Oil
Dry Yeast

Middle Box

Flour
Sugar
Powdered Sugar
Coffee
Brown Sugar
Vanilla Coffee Powder
Buttermilk powder
Oatmeal
Cornmeal
Pancake Mix
Cookbook(s)/Recipes

Bottom Box

Utensil Box
Mixing Bowl
Cutting Boards
Hand Mixer
Tongs
Serving Spoons
Several sets of Knife, Spoon, Fork
Oval Metal Plate
Butcher knife
Bread knife
Paring knife
Can opener
Wine/Bottle Opener
Measuring Cups
Measuring Spoons
Whisk
Scissors
Pot holders
Ladles
Wooden Spoons
Spatula
Biscuit cutters
Rubber Batter Scrapers
Butane Lighter Sticks
Spare Lantern Mantels
Aluminum Foil
Plastic Wrap
Sifter
Small Vegetable Oil
Vinegar
Agave Syrup
Pancake Syrup

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