Let’s face it, food cooked outdoors just tastes better. Doesn’t matter what it is — coffee, pancakes, risotto, a hamburger. I’ve done it all outdoors and it is always extra flavorful and raises my spirits just thinking about it. I swear that I burn off extra calories eating a meal prepared on an open fire just from the gratification alone.
As summer nears and the outdoor dining sets are getting cleaned up, I am thinking about building an outdoor kitchen again. Well, I’m definitely not doing it here because I’m planning on moving to Hawaii (please GOD!) soon, but I still love the thought of just bringing my stock pot, frying pan or whatever outside and making a nice meal for the family outdoors on a Saturday afternoon.
Getting a summer kitchen installed though is a daunting prospect. It’s expensive as all get out and in many cases will take up a lot of space.
But when I think of this, I also reminisce about when I visited my cousins in Jamaica back in 2009. Life there was so simple in so many ways albeit hard compared to our cushy American lifestyle. Yet, cooking outdoors was such a natural thing that made me ask myself “Why do we complicate things so much?” and “How can I emulate this and create my own outdoor kitchen for literally NO dollars?”
Since I have a lawn and there are some other fire-related hazard issues that come up in this part of the world, it will definitely take some additional planning and preparation, but it is possible to accomplish.
Basically, all my cousins do is set up some cinder blocks and lay a grate over it with a fire underneath. Seriously, what else do you really need? A camp stove could work. A small hibachi grill set up on a fireproof table of some sort. Of course, this isn’t a long term solution to the “proper” outdoor kitchen, but is a way to enjoy the pleasures of cooking outside until you are able to afford the real thing.
One idea I like about this is that it enables you to test out different areas of your outdoor space that you might want to use for your real outdoor kitchen. Where is the light best at the time of day you’d like to cook? What direction should the stove face? Where would you like to place your outdoor dining sets in relation to your kitchen?