Hot dogs and s’mores are for amateurs.
If you share a summer meal with longtime outdoorsman and educator Tim Flores—which you can do at a “Campfire Grilling” class Wed., June 27 at Whatcom Falls Park—you can expect exalted menu items such as plank-grilled salmon, fire-roasted root vegetables and herbed veggie skewers.
But that’s not all. In addition to schooling participants on how to create a delicious dinner simply by using the coals from a fire, the Wyoming native will also demonstrate how to start the aforementioned blaze without the use of matches, a lighter or other modern tools of the trade. A focus on sustainable wood gathering, clean air cooking practices and stories related to fire lore and cooking from around the world will also be part of the night’s activities.
“It’s not just a cooking class,” Flores says. “It’s meant to be a way to show how to use your natural resources in a sustainable manner, even in your backyard.”
For example, instead of using propane or charcoal to ignite a summer night’s outdoor dining experience, Flores will show class members how to use plant material waste such as tree limbs, leaves, grass and even dried blackberry thorn vines to feed a fire.
“One of my goals is to help people learn these skills, as opposed to saying, ‘I know how to make fire,’” he says. “The other part of it is cooking over coals; a lot of people have lost that skill. In many other countries, people still cook on fire. But in the United States, it’s almost a forgotten art.”
As an adventure guide and naturalist for the past 15 years, Flores has a lot of experience under his belt when it comes to helping people use all of their senses to both appreciate nature and learn more about it. It’s one of the many reasons he teaches classes like this one.
“The older I got, the more I wanted to share,” he says. “Part of my life is that I teach people and am never a detriment to the earth. Instead, I’m helping it move forward.”
Although he’s a busy man—he works as a cook at the Community Food Co-op, teaches classes through entities such as the Whatcom Folk School, picks up shifts at the Marine Life Center, and is a father—Flores says it’s worth the extra time it takes to do things in a sustainable manner.
And, in addition to being kinder to Mama Earth, he’s discovered the methods he uses to build fires and create meals are ones that also engender community building. Is there anything better, he posits, than sitting around a campfire in the summer sharing a meal with family and friends?
“I think there’s a lot of draw to have a central tool to gather around that isn’t a television or computer screen,” Flores says. “You can cook something while you’re conversing, and the fire is doing the work for you while you’re outside enjoying yourself. Plus, there’s something to be said for cooking food that comes from your own energy.”
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