"Just curious- does everyone here find the time and energy to boil water with a fire is worthwhile? Or do you tend to just end up using alcohol?"
Sorry for the double post, but I didn't see this part of your question so I'll go ahead and give you my humble opinion on this.
The short answer is that yes, I find the extra time and effort involved in boiling water (or just cooking in general) with fire is definitely worthwhile. While, in a relative sense, boiling water with an alcohol stove is much faster that using a wood fire to do the same job-- in an absolute sense it's not that great of a difference in my opinion.
For instance, if you have one hypothetical stove that boils water in 1 minute and another that boils water in 2 minutes, then it's true that the first stove is twice as fast as the second one, but in an absolute sense in the real world, all it gains you is 1 minute.
I think this same thing holds true for cooking with fire. It does take longer, but probably only about 15 minutes longer if you are honestly counting everything involved. I find that this 15 minutes is not only worth the trouble, but rewarding in it's own right. To me, it's just a really enjoyable experience to make fire.
To make a small cooking fire, you really don't need that much wood. In dry weather with any sort of forest cover, making a fire is really quite simple once you've had a little practice. I can usually collect wood, have the fire lit, and be cooking in 15 minutes, and that's not even rushing. All you really need is small stuff to cook with (no bigger than your thumb, preferably smaller).
The key is to collect dry tinder and kindling during the day when you're hiking (I keep a big ziploc bag on hand for the collection). This does two things: 1) It allows you to still make a fire later on even if it happens to rain, and 2) It dramatically speeds up the fire making process at night (acquiring high quality, dry tinder and kindling is nearly always the bottleneck to fire building; once you have that part done, it's a breeze).
As far as practical considerations go, I have found that it is much easier (and less hassle) to make a fire at night than in the morning. This is for a couple of reasons:
1. You can continue to enjoy a fire at night once you're done cooking.
2. You can monitor the fire at night while it dies out and ceases to become a forest fire risk without this task eating into your hiking time (actually, there are few things more enjoyable to me than gazing into the dying embers of a fire on a starry night, but I digress...)
With that said, you can certainly cook with a wood fire in the morning (I have done it for years) but you need a way to put the fire out quickly (i.e. a nearby water source) so that you can get on with your day and not leave a forest fire risk of smoldering embers. If you are cooking with a small twig stove, then this isn't as much of an issue because you will not be generating that many coals to begin with, but it is still a consideration to take into account.
Personally, I will generally cook a big dinner at night, keep any leftovers in a tightly sealed container in the hanging bear bag, then eat said leftovers in the morning along with a light breakfast of something like reconstituted whole milk and granola (just something fast and easy that doesn't require cooking). This let's me get out quickly but also fills me up.
You can also use a hybrid system of cooking with wood fires at night and with alcohol in the morning. Lots of options to choose from and it'll be up to you to find out which one works best for you personally.
Lastly, if you like to cook anything that requires significantly more heat control than simply boiling water, then a fire is far and away the best backcountry cooking method I have found. It is a complete breeze to simmer something for 30 minutes on the coals of a fire, but it is a total bear to do that on most alcohol stoves. In short, cooking with fire opens up a lot of culinary opportunities that are simply impractical to try on alcohol stoves. The sky is the limit.
Oh, and as an added benefit, bugs will come nowhere near you when you're cooking (due to the smoke of course). This can oftentimes save your sanity on very "buggy" trips. And yes, you and and all your worn clothes will smell like a campfire for the entire the trip, but there is nothing wrong with that. I think of it like I'm being slowly seasoned, but in a good way.
Can you tell I love cooking with wood fires? ;)