By Sam Hayward.

These are unprecedented times, with schools closed nationwide and many of us confined to our homes. Not surprisingly, there has been a surge in memes and jokes centred on home isolation, with numerous references to ‘Groundhog Day’. Throw some energetic children into the mix and then begins the countdown to parents pondering if it’s acceptable to list their children on Ebay!

One thing that has been very evident of late (especially with the recent spell of dry weather) is the number of people spending time in their gardens. If you own a BBQ, fire-bowl (or similar) or simply have a safe open space for a ground fire, then you’ve the potential to start an experimental culinary journey! It’s impossible to dispute the unique flavours that are achieved by cooking something over a fire, however people often limit themselves to the stereo-typical BBQ foods of sausages, burgers, kebabs etc. Why not try something different? Get stuck into a versatile home activity that’s hugely enjoyable, and results in a meal at the end of it!

‘Pitta-bread pizza’ or ‘pizza wraps’ are a great place to start, and a way of utilising common items you might have in the cupboard and fridge at home to create something a little unique. To make pittas simply cut open and spoon a small amount of tomato puree or passata inside (spread evenly), then add fillings of your choice. Wraps can be a little more fiddly, requiring them to be filled and then folded so that they can be turned during the cooking process.

To cook, ensure you have a good even bed of embers without much flame. Position your grill above, not directly on top of, the embers (the shelf from our oven works perfectly as an improvised fire grill). Note- it’s a good idea to place a layer of cooking foil on the grill to provide a bit more flexibility during cooking and reduce the likelihood of burning. Place the ‘pizzas’ onto the grill and cook for 5-10 minutes, carefully turning during the process. Serve and enjoy!

For dessert, why not try baked chocolate bananas!? Take a banana (skin and all) and cut down the length of it, then fill with chocolate buttons/chunks (and for you grownups, maybe a tablespoon or two of your favourite tipple – whisky/rum works well). Wrap in foil and place in amongst the embers for approx 5 minutes depending on heat. Remove and carefully unwrap (hot!), then best eaten with a spoon….. and scoop of ice cream if you fancy!

Things to remember:
• Site your fire a MINIMUM of 2-3 metres from any combustibles e.g. garden sheds and hedges/woodenfences (small for cooking, NOT a huge bonfire!).
• Think about and know what you’re burning – e.g. painted/treated woods can release harmful chemicals.
• Don’t leave the fire unattended, especially if there are children about.
• Consider having a bucket of water on hand to extinguish fire if required.
• Meat and other associated fillings should be pre-cooked as the temperatures inside the cooking ‘pizzas’ may not get hot enough to kill harmful bacteria.