It’s a safe bet that Bear Grylls can start a campfire. It’s also a safe bet that Gordon Ramsay can effortlessly whip up an amazing S’more. The fact is Gordon isn’t the guy you’d go to for survivalist tips on building and starting a campfire. I’d also imagine Bear Gryll’s idea of Tree bark S’mores filled with seal blubber and an insects isn’t suited for most palates.
So, we’ve stepped in to fill whatever gaps you may have.
We went to Fire Department Captain Caroline Stevens of the Joint U.S. Army and Airforce Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) near Tacoma, Washington, for campfire advice. We asked Nicole Dembeck, an award-winning chef based out of Boulder, Colorado, for simple S’more recipes and Stephanie Perry, owner of Rumor’s Wine Bar in Olympia, Washington, for which wines to pair with each of the S’mores.
Capt. Stevens is responsible for seven fire departments that cover approximately 86,000 acres of land that more than 200,000 people call home. They fight fires everywhere from airfields to the woodland fires that have been ravaging Western Washington during the last few summers.
Before heading out to make S’mores, Capt. Stevens’ offers the following advice, “Make sure there isn’t a burn ban in the area and, even if there isn’t, make sure that it’s not too windy. A strong gust can carry an ember a long way and a single ember is all it takes.”
For a good campfire technique, Stevens suggested that campers encircle their fire pit with rocks, clear out brush and detritus in an area eight to ten feet around the pit. Keep firewood near the pit, but upwind, and keep a bucket or a source of water nearby just in case.
“Make a game or song out of ‘Stop, Drop and Roll’ with the kids, especially younger ones, so they know what to do if their clothes catch on fire. But make the song fun and entertaining. You can find a bunch of versions on YouTube,” said Capt. Stevens.
Build the actual campfire using with the cone method or the log cabin method.
The cone method is when you lean logs upright and leave a bit of space for dry kindling and small pieces of wood and air in the middle of the cone. The log cabin method is also simple: lay the logs much like you would build a Lincoln log cabin and ensure there is an empty space in the center to lay kindling and smaller sticks.
Light the fire with a longer grill lighter or a flint and steel tool. If you are having trouble, use the small fire starter logs and bricks. Do not unwrap the bricks from the paper, simply light one side of the packaging and place it in the fire near enough to the kindling that the fire will rise to meet the surrounding logs.
Once the fire is up and roaring, try these delicious recipes.
- White chocolate
- Fruity Pebbles
- Graham Crackers
Instructions: Toast the marshmallow. Prior to removing from stick. Dip the Marshmallow into a bowl of fruity pebbles and twist. Combine fruity pebble encrusted Marshmallow, White Chocolate, and Graham Crackers
Stephanie’s suggested pairing – Jones of Washington Late Harvest Rieslings.
The Voodoo S’more.
- Maple bacon
- Caramello Bar
- Graham Crackers.
Instructions: Cook the maple bacon on a cast iron pan over the fire. Once cooked, cut the bacon into small bacon bit chunks. Toast the marshmallow. Place Marshmallow over a portion of the Caramello bar and bottom graham cracker. Top with bacon crumbles and other half of graham cracker.
The Apple Pie S’more
- Apple Slices
- Cadbury Milk Chocolate Bar
- Caramel Sauce
- Graham Crackers
Instructions: Toast Marshmallow. Place toasted Marshmallow on top of a Portion of the Cadbury Milk Chocolate Bar, Apple slices, and Graham Cracker. Drizzle with caramel sauce and top a pinch of cinnamon.
The Berry Patch S’more
- Blackberry or Raspberries
- Dark Chocolate
- Graham CrackersInstructions: Sort of obvious by now.
- Hershey’s Chocolate
- Graham Cracker
Stephanie’s wine suggestion for the Classic S’more, “I know it’s not a wine from the Pacific Northwest, but I’d highly recommend Lustau Spanish Vermut.
And just in case you happen to get burned by a marshmallow, Steven’s told us, “Marshmallow burns are usually first-degree burns and best washed with cold water. Let it dry and keep it clean. With anything more serious, make sure you have your first aid kit that includes a non-stick dry gauze, cover the burn area and see a medical provider as soon as you can.”