Roasting marshmallows is one of the easiest activities a person can do with kids. It’s also one they beg to do, usually because they love to eat the sweet treat when it is roasted. But, sometimes, it’s just about getting to hang around near a fire with a legitimate reason to hold a stick over it, usually with quite a bit of extra poking at the coals. We have built a fire and let visiting cousins or friends enjoy the experience on many occasions, roasting hot dogs, sausages, marshmallows, and even popping popcorn over the fire. It’s a lot of fun for kids who live in town, or don’t camp, to get to experience the thrill of getting that orb of goodness to just the right place–golden brown, but not burned–while not letting it drop into the fire because it got too soft in the process. One Easter, we lit a fire and roasted Peeps after our meal. It was memorable and fun. The kids loved it, and I noticed that quite a few of the adults who joined them seemed to be having a good time as well.
The first thing to do when you roast marshmallows, or any other food over a fire, is to get a fire going. We have a fire pit in our back yard, which we use frequently. It is surrounded by rocks and is a safe distance from our trees. We don’t use it during the dry part of the year, usually late summer and early fall, because we don’t want to have any chance of wildfire. Here in the part of Oregon where we live, it is often plenty wet to build a fire, so we get many chances in the course of a year. When it is too dry, we use the barbecue for our outdoor cooking. We also have a portable metal fire pit that can sit on our driveway if we need to use that. Of course, when we are camping, we build fires in the designated fire pit that is provided in our campsite.
After the fire is going well, it needs to burn down to coals, at least in places. If everyone is too eager to “roast,” as we call it, and the fire is still blazing, things burn. Our children like to roast marshmallows every single day when we are camping, sometimes twice a day. They would happily have marshmallows for breakfast as well, but we draw the line at that and won’t let them! A lot of the time, they just eat them plain, roasted to a golden brown, crispy on the outside, and soft in the middle. Often, they burn them, but seem to like them anyway. The marshmallows can be roasted on long sticks that have been sharpened on the end, but usually we don’t use those because they have to be made from green wood and we don’t want to cut a lot of branches off of nearby trees. We have quite a few metal sticks of various sizes that we use. We always carry them in a pouch made years ago from an old pair of jeans. Another option, when we don’t want to pack those, is to use the small Fire Fork. It attaches to any stick that is found laying around and is compact and easy to carry along.
Sometimes, they make S’mores. The traditional way to make them is to roast a marshmallow and sandwich the hot, roasted treat between two graham crackers, including a piece of milk chocolate, and that’s the way our family enjoys them the most. The chocolate melts with the heat of the roasted marshmallow, creating a warm, gooey, mouthful of bliss. Recently, Rob and Patsy got creative and tried something new. They made a S’more using peanut butter cups instead of plain chocolate bars. It turned out great, and I’m sure many other kinds of candy would work as well.