Tips on Cooking for a Crowd:
Have you ever had the experience of needing to cook a large quantity of food for a huge crowd of people? Was it insanely stressful and something you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy? Well we’re here to suggest that it doesn’t have to be the struggle of the century every time you need to cook for more people than just your immediate family. Using your Bear River Rocket Stove, you can even make these situations fun. If you need to cook for a girls’ camp, a Boy Scout group, a church gathering, a family reunion, feeding friends and neighbors during an emergency situation, or any gathering where the number of people will be larger than your typical basketball team, we have some tips that should make cooking for large groups easier.
Plan Ahead. The first tip may seem a little obvious, but is an important one that may often go overlooked. The first and, probably most important tip is to plan. You may think that planning is overrated and not necessary. However, as with all events and honestly all of life, planning is essential and eases the pain of cooking for large crowds. So plan for the number of people, the type and quantity of food, a space big enough to hold everyone, having enough wood for the stove and anything else you can think of. The key to avoiding stress the day of the event is to plan and be prepared for all possible scenarios. Realize that Murphy’s Law applies here: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” At least that’s usually how it seems to go. But, preparing for the worst and planning will make sure that you’re ready to make it work as smoothly as possible.
Enlist Help. The next tip is another important one. And it’s another tip with a helpful life lesson attached to it: Not only accept help, but also enlist others to help. Many times, the stresses of hosting come with the thought that all must be done by the host or hostess. So, tip #2 is swallow your pride and get others to assist with your cooking. When you’re using “The Little Guy,” rocket stove there’s room for two to cook comfortably on each side, but using “The Freedom” or “The Shepherd” rocket stoves allow more people to help. Four people can be cooking on “The Shepherd,” and 2-4 people can cook on “The Freedom” at one time.
Gathering wood is another job that should be delegated. As is cooking, serving, setting up, cleaning up, and all other little jobs. Just about every single task in life can go smoother and be easier on all involved if everyone is working together. So get over your need to control everything, and let, no require, that others help!
Choose Quality Wood Over Brush and Sticks If You Can. Of course, in a disaster, any fuel will do. But, given the choice, it’s better when the wood is as dry as your father’s humor. Wood that is about the thickness of your thumb works best. We at Bear River Rocket Stoves cut scrap wood into 2-foot lengths about an inch in diameter. We store 10-gallon buckets of wood in order to be ready to cook whenever. This kind of wood will ensure you don’t need nearly as much fuel.
Understanding the burning properties of your wood will help you be able to judge how fast and hot the fuel will burn. Common opinion shows that birch, black walnut, white ash, honey locust, and oak are the best types of wood to use in your wood-burning stoves because they burn slower. We use a lot of pine, which burns hot but quickly.
Small twigs and dry bush will also work, but you will need that in large quantities, as it burns faster. If you do use smaller twigs, tie them together in bundles to make feeding the stove an easier task. This project is perfect for your younger helpers, such as your youthful scouts that have finished doing other needed projects.
Simplify. The next tip is to simplify. Now obviously if you’re in an emergency situation, this one comes naturally. You’ve got to use the resources you have. But if you’re cooking for a planned gather, simplifying is the answer.
So many times in life, and in hosting, we think we need extravagance to be good. But this is rarely, if ever, the case. So much stress can be avoided in cooking for crowds and life in general if you just simplify. So don’t worry about making some intricate, complicated dish to make your guests happy. There are many great, delicious dishes that don’t require too much work in which you don’t need to stress yourself out too much. Some suggestions include: Pulled pork, pastas, taco meat, enchiladas, Mongolian barbecue, steak, hot dogs, hamburgers, and of course, breakfast foods. A simple meal with can make the Bear River Rocket Stove cooking experience run so much smoother. So remember to just take it down a notch and simplify the meal as much as possible.
Serve Buffet Style. When you cook on the rocket stoves, serve the food buffet style. If you have a bunch of people that are going to be eating, you are not going to want all of them right up against the grill to get their food. That makes that space crowded and will only slow down the process of cooking. Plus, these are large stoves designed to feed a crowd and they will get hot! Keep everyone but the cooks away from the stove and designate “food runners” to supply the buffet table.
Set up a table away from the rocket stoves with large containers to put the food once it has been cooked. Doing so will allow you and the others cooking to have the space necessary to do the cooking and not feel too much pressure or too crowded while directing the food line in an orderly pattern. As people are also more prone to want to serve themselves, a buffet allows them to take only as much food as they want and not be overloaded by another person piling the food onto their plate. Naturally, in emergency situations or gatherings where food is carefully proportioned, assigning food servers at the table is the way to go.
Cooking for large groups of people can be a stressful thing. But it doesn’t have to be an event you don’t enjoy for the sole reason of having to cook. Following these tips and any more than you can think of, will help to make these events run smoother, be more efficient and be more enjoyable for all involved. So roll out the rocket stove and get ready to feed an army!