Our outdoor cooking journey
We are a Herefordshire based couple who, for the last 9 years, have been importing enamel cookware from Hungary for outdoor kitchens and campfire cooking. We lived in the Balkans, after the civil war, where we fell in love, well and truly, with their generous hospitable nature, campfire cooking and outdoor kitchens. (known locally as summer kitchens)
Communities and the Kotlich
In Serbia we found that many groups gathered round the Kotlich to build community, from family gatherings to the great fish soup making competitions. We discovered that even we had very creative meetings while under a walnut tree with the kotlich bubbling away beside us. The kotlich is a communal activity, everyone can help to stir the pot and put wood on the fire. Sitting round the kotlich inspires trust, great stories and happy memories. We thought, what more could we want for our communities and families back in the UK? We hoped, also, to make it possible for outdoor groups to rekindle that more pimeval, wild and creative side. We already had a strong belief in eating local and seasonally. Over the last few years we have had a great time breaking the taboo of what you can and can't cook in a kotlich.
We wanted to find a market for the local village products we found in Serbia. (as it turned out the enamel we loved so much was made in villages 20 miles over the border into Hungary) At first we stocked small brushes, wooden spoons and hand made baskets as well as the enamel cooking kit. When we came to sell the baskets in the UK they were so cheap we felt we were undercutting local producers. We stopped selling them quickly because we believed in supporting local makers. So for the last 8 years the Outdoor kitchen has been enabling projects among small Roma communities in Serbia, instead of buying their baskets..
When we returned to the UK we came back to a veritble new wave of Forest Scools, Wild Tots and the then, new Glamping enthusiasm. Many people are looking for an antidote to their sedentary, technical roles at work. There has been a new call of the wild. The kotlich kit has been steadily gobbled up by forest school groups, foragers, forest dwellers, allotmenteers, glamping sites and even some well known TV chefs and commentators are in love with their kotlich. Campsites all over the UK are now allowing fires and even stocking firepits so that their visitors can enjoy the sense of self sufficiency that grows while cooking outdoors.
Time to plan your outdoor kitchen
I can hear you saying, that it is too cold in the UK for campfire cooking. It doesn't have to be hot for kotlich cooking. You just need a roof and shelter from the wind. We built our outdoor kitchen in 2016 here in Herefordshire, then had a family week end and made a cob oven. We then had a pizza party on Boxing day with mulled wine and lots of tastey goodies cooked in the woodfired oven. Since then we have added a brick grill with a curved iron hook, from which we hang the Kotlich, the paella pan and grill.
Out and about
Whether you are regular campers or just fancy a picnic in the garden, there is nothing like a campfire and Kotlich cooking. It is easy to make an open hearth and enjoy a gently simmering kotlich – your very own outdoor kitchen. If you don't know how to light a fire don't worry your toddler probably does!
We have many other enthusiasms, most of which involve being outdoors,family and friends, writing, growing things, timber framing and orchards.
We cannot imagine how we managed on our camping holidays before we found this tripod with chain and hanging "Kotlich/Bograc". We stock three different sizes 8ltr. 13ltr. and 20lt. All of them are called "open Kotlich/Bograc", have a strong arched handle, black enamel outside with a mottled grey enamel inside and a rounded bottom. We have two different sized tripods, a paella pan, fire pit and grill. The kotlich is both beautiful and useful, two of the most important things to consider if you are going to buy stuff.
If you have not yet discovered kotlich cooking on a campfire, now is the time!