Pleasure Practices with Sami Schalk: Fires and fancy s’mores

Embracing fall over an open flame.

Embracing fall over an open flame.

Illustration by Rachal Duggan

Fall is upon us. As a June/Cancer baby who adores lying in the sun and hanging out in or on large bodies of water, I have historically bemoaned the arrival of cooler weather as simply a sign that winter is around the corner. This year, though, I’ve decided to shift my mentality and embrace some of the specific pleasures of each season. I’ve made plans to pick apples and pumpkins, walk in a corn maze, coordinate plaid outfits with friends, and do lots of outdoor fireside hangouts. This month’s pleasure practice is about the last of these activities.


There are lots of ways to have safe fires this fall. If you have a backyard you can build or buy a fire pit, either one that’s in the ground or a stone or metal one above the ground. There are also propane fire pits for those of us less skilled in fire-making techniques. I live in a condo building with a balcony so fire pits aren’t an option, but last fall I happened upon an Instagram ad for the Maryland-based company City Bonfires. I bought a pack on a whim and totally adore it. I used about four of them over a few weeks. City Bonfires are small metal tins with food-grade soy wax and a plant-based material that burns like a tiny 4-inch bonfire on your patio table or, if you don’t have private outdoor space, on a picnic bench at the park or in the sand at the beach. They burn for about three or four hours and you can put them out then re-light them again if you only want it to burn for an hour or two. I like lighting them while I eat dinner or read outside, and I particularly like being able to make s’mores for one with little effort. No finding kindling or maintaining a fire required!

Being able to roast a marshmallow on my balcony and make s’mores on a whim also means I can get creative with them and that brings me a lot of pleasure. I love fancifying my old Girl Scout camp standard.

So your basic s’more is graham cracker outside,  and chocolate and roasted marshmallow inside. But there are so many ways to shake up your standard camping tradition. First and foremost, you can upgrade your ingredients. Buying cinnamon graham crackers, dark or flavored chocolate, and extra-large or flavored marshmallows for example is a good start. Here are a few other ways to upgrade your s’mores:

  1. In place of graham crackers use: Rice Krispy squares or cookies (I personally recommend using Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies or Oreos split in half). You could also use Kit Kat bars in place of the graham crackers and the chocolate, but be warned, you wanna eat that baby fast, it’s gonna get messy AF.

  2. Add more ingredients such as Nutella, peanut butter, cookie butter, apple butter, honey, caramel sauce, sliced strawberry or banana, a sprinkle of cinnamon or chili powder, shredded coconut, or sprinkles.

  3. Go savory: A savory s’more is probably against the Girl Scout handbook code of conduct, but I’m gonna suggest it anyway. Try adding sea salt, bacon, a potato chip, or a pretzel to make a salty/savory s’more.

  4. Ditch the sandwich concept entirely: Slide your roasted marshmallow off the stick and put it on top of a freshly baked cookie or brownie in a bowl. You’re gonna want a spoon for this one.

Just because summer’s ending doesn’t mean our outdoor pleasures end too. Badass bitches always find a way to create pleasure and joy! So go make a (safe!) fire this fall and whip up some fancy ass s’mores.

Interested in City Bonfires? You can get 15% off your order by using code SAMI or clicking this link: http://citybonfires.com/discount/SAMI. Disclosure: I get 10% of the profit from purchases made using my link or code.

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