Although imaginative and unique, this isn't a recommended cooking method. Compost pile temperatures just don't get hot enough to kill harmful bacteria. Mr. Beck's compost temperature measured between 160 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit and that's not always high enough to kill harmful bacteria. The USDA recommends temperatures no lower than 325 degrees for cooking poultry.

This next extreme outdoor cooking technique can be even more dangerous because, well, you may not live to taste the food.

Cooking With Lava

Think of it as a way to get in touch with your inner caveman. John Alexander, owner of the Dolphin Bay Hotel in Hilo, Hawaii, devotes a page of his Web site to his own special recipe and describes how to cook with lava.

The tools and ingredients are about what you'd expect:

1. A supply of molten lava: approximately 2 shovels full.

2. Game hen.

3. Heavy protective gloves

4. A shovel that you'll never use again.

5. Eight banana leaves

Wrap the meat in the banana leaves (leave a small opening to vent escaping steam) and place it on one scoop of the lava. This becomes the base of the oven." Top the leaves with the other scoop of lava and let it cool. Within about 45 minutes, the lava cools; the banana leaves burn to ash; and your hen is ready to eat. Opening your oven" is easy: just hit the hardened lava with your shovel.
Safety tip: be sure to select a slow-moving lava flow. Some have been clocked at speeds up to 37 miles per hour.

Five-minute Ice Cream

Now let's end our culinary adventure with some dessert. How about a frosty bowl of liquid nitrogen ice cream?

You'll need:

1. Liquid nitrogen: Approximately 2 liters for an average recipe. Check with your local liquid gas suppliers and be sure to compare prices. Some suppliers charge extra for delivery or container rental.

2. Heavy gloves: The liquid nitrogen is cold enough to freeze your skin on contact. No ice cream social should end with a trip to the emergency room, so be careful handling the ingredients.

3. Your favorite ice cream recipe.

4. Stainless steel mixing bowl: The larger, the better.

5. Wooden spoon for combining the ice cream mixture and the liquid nitrogen.

Put on the gloves and pour the ice cream mixture into the stainless steel mixing bowl. Slowly pour the liquid nitrogen to the ice cream and stir with the wooden spoon until the mixture is frozen and the nitrogen has evaporated. This should take five to ten minutes. Serve immediately. Stir in more liquid nitrogen if the mixture melts too quickly.

Although you may never be tempted by the world of extreme cooking, these techniques do supply you with interesting conversation topics for your next dinner party. Nobody needs to know that you prepared the food using a boring, conventional stove.