WORDS:: Chyka Keebaugh
PHOTOS:: Lisa Atkinson
One of my most favourite things about winter is lighting a fire...
It’s the little things that make it such a fabulous winter ritual. Collecting firewood, scrunching up the paper, and setting up a neat little stack of kindling is all in the fun of it. Then being able to sit, with a drink in hand, listening to the crackling sounds, makes it all so worth it. So let’s supersize it with a backyard bonfire to really give Winter a good kick start.
Of course, it all depends on the size of your (or your family's or your friend's!) garden or farm. I am lucky enough to have my parent's sprawling country property, so setting up this bonfire was the most fun I've had outside in a long time! It set the perfect scene for an evening with friends under the stars.
How to set up the perfect bonfire
- Collect all the dry wood you can, including various sized twigs to use as kindling. Remember to never pick branches off a tree, they are too green to burn and will just smoke.
- Dig a shallow, circular hole in the ground and surround the edges with bricks or rocks. If you chose bricks do make sure they are fire proof ones (when some bricks get hot from the fire they can explode - and nobody wants that). This edging will keep your fire from escaping.
- Arrange your wood, twigs and paper inside this circle, aiming for a pyramid style structure and light.
- Be careful of lighting the fire, do not use any sort of flammable liquids to give the fire a boost. If you have collected plenty of twigs and a good assortment of long burning logs, keeping the flames going shouldn’t be a problem.
Setting up a fun bonfire gathering is very simple. It’s an event that can be completely styled with what you have in your home, and then it’s really just a matter of bringing it outside and making the area cosy. Don’t just place an assortment of chairs around the fire, get a little creative with what you’ve got. Bring out your blankets, cushions and rugs for a cosy set up that costs nothing. Piles of cushions with blankets you can wrap around your shoulders are perfect for sitting next to the fire under the stars. Lanterns always throw off a beautiful glow, so have them light up your drinks and food areas. You can use wheelbarrows for your drinks (don't forget to attach a bottle opener to the barrow for easy opening) and flat, wooded areas to set up your food.
One more quick thing… How can you even contemplate sitting near a fire and not want to snack on delicious melting marshmallows wedged between biscuits with a smear of chocolate? Did someone say ‘smores?
In the USA, they use Grahams crackers, but these biscuits aren't so easy to find in Australia (although they are available at the USA food store). So take the hassle out of this and use chocolate digestive biscuits. Simply melt your marshmallow on a skewer and then place between 2 biscuits. You will definitely go back for more.
Fun smores combinations to try out…
- Salty Caramel Bacon = Cracker + chocolate with salted caramel + crisp bacon + marshmallow
- Fluffernutter = Chocolate cracker + peanut butter + marshmallow
- Strawberry Banana = Cracker + sliced strawberries + sliced banana + marshmallow
- Lemon Meringue = Cracker + lemon curd + marshmallow
- The Elvis = Cracker + peanut butter cup + banana + marshmallow + (bacon optional)
- Grasshopper = Chocolate cracker + mint chocolate + marshmallow
- Strawberry Nutella = Chocolate cracker + strawberry slice + Nutella + marshmallow
- Cinnamon Caramel = Cinnamon biscuit + dulce de leche + marshmallow
Smores inspiration via the kitchen.com