Winter weekends are the best! Sleep in. Coffee in the sun room watching the birds feed, reading, scrabbling online with Cathy and thinking about Sunday dinner.
A few years ago I was introduced to hearth cooking by Paula Deen (http://www.foodnetwork.com/paula-deen/bio/index.html). With her "hey y'all" and cast iron pots, I was hooked. Not to mention that the cooking took place in the hearth. Say no more! The wheels were in motion. I removed the ugly fireplace screen and doors to open up our own hearth.
Jim and I drove up to our neighbourhood fireplace store and purchased a fireplace crane swivel arm, rushed home and installed it!
Then began the quest for a good camp dutch oven. Where else to look but to Lodge Cast Iron in Tennessee y'all! "The Lodge portable "camp stove" is the pot that does it all. The flanged lid holds hot coals and inverts for use as a griddle. The integral legs allow the oven to sit perfectly over hot coals." Craziness is ordering 13 kl of cast iron online. For a surprisingly measly amount, Lodge ship to your door. Well worth every penny.
The day I discovered that I could use coals in the fireplace was a "why didn't I think of this before" day. Royal Oak is the coal of choice. It's all natural wood with no filler.
Other musts: an inexpensive charcoal chimney starter, a lid lifter and lid stand and a good pair of oven mitts. The sky is the limit when it comes to hearth cooking. It doesn't have to be fancy shmancy at all. In our hearth, leftover paving bricks from are back patio are often used to prop up cast iron cookware such as a griddles or frying pans. The coals can be set in the middle of the triangle of bricks and the cookware is set on top.
I've always had a penchant for "Little House on the Prairie" : )