Thursday, January 27, 2011

Guess What?!

I've started dutch oven cooking again!  I knew I'd never make it 31 days without dutch oven cooking, but I am going to go 31 days without posting.  So expect new posts next week!!  Woot Woot!!  Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Pots...One Year Later

I've had several requests to do a post on how well my pots held up under heavy usage.  I'd wager that most dutch ovens are used only during the summer months and even then only occasionally.  Its been really fun for me to see just how well they really do hold up. 

First, let me tell you about my pots.  I have a 14" Lodge that is 20+ years old, a 12" Avid Outdoors that is 20+ years old, 2 Camp Chef 10" ovens that I bought in December of 2009 and a 12" Camp Chef that I bought back in July 2010.  I also have a Camp Chef dutch oven table that I bought back in March.

Next, let me recap how I clean and care for my ovens.  I've tried several different ways to clean them.  The one I liked best and stuck with was spraying the pot with a mixture of 1 part apple cider vinegar and 4 parts water, let it sit for a minute or two, then scrape it with a plastic scraper and wipe clean with paper towels.  I'd repeat that as many times as necessary to get the pot clean.  I'd brush the ash off the lids with a stiff paint brush and very lightly oil the entire pot inside and out.  I did re-season them before a cook off, so the last time was last August.

Time for the big reveal!  Here is what my pots look like today:

These are my two 20 year old pots and they did the majority of the work last year. 

These pots are about a year old.  The one in back looks like it needs to be reseasoned before I start cooking again!
 My Camp Chef dutch oven table took a lot of abuse.  My kids loved to start charcoal on it instead of on the gravel where they were supposed to.  And it was used every day, and a lot of times more than once a day.  The top is gray and there are some browninsh/black spots from where my kids set the chimney when they started coals, but other than that, it is in really good shape.  And truth be told, if I went out and used a plastic scrubber on it, it would look almost as good as new.  And I'm going to do that as soon as the weather warms up.  It has held up under heavy torture and is ready for more.  The paint is still in good shape, as are all the parts.  Even the plastic thumb screws haven't needed to be replaced yet.  I would definately recommend this table to anyone who asked.  It was worth every penny and I'll probably get another one this spring.

As far as ovens go, my favorites are the ones made by Camp Chef.  Don't get me wrong, I love my Lodge oven.  But when I compare price and quality, Camp Chef will win everytime.  At around $35 for a 12" they are very affordable and the quality is as good as anything on the market.  (Just a note:  that is my opinion and I'm not being paid to endorse Camp Chef.)

So there you have it!  After a year of heavy use and sometimes abuse, my pots and all my equipment is still in great shape.  I wish the rest of my kitchen equipment held up as well!  I LOVE MY DUTCH OVENS!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cookbook Orders

Due to the small number of cookbook orders, I can't afford to have them printed.  I'm working on some other options that won't have as much overhead as a printed book.  I'll update you on those as soon as I can.  I'm thinking about an ebook that can be downloaded or putting all the recipes on CD.  Let me know which option, if any, you'd be interested in. 

Since the book didn't fly, I'm going to start updating all my old posts on care and cleaning, tools and temperature control to reflect what I know after a year of dutch oven cooking instead of what I knew before I knew anything.

As for those who have ordered a cookbook, you have my thanks for your support and my apologies.  I'll figure how to issue refunds through paypal and have that done by the end of the month.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Just For The Record...

I really hate my oven!  It doesn't cook at the right temps and it bakes so uneven.  The breadsticks I made with dinner last night ranged from dark brown to white depending on which end of the pan they came off of.  I miss my dutch ovens!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Day 365: Pull Apart Bread

Well, I'm finally posting last Friday's recipe after enduring a weekend with 4 of us having strep throat.  I've never had it before and I could go my whole life and never have it again.  We were miserable with 103° fevers.  What a way to ring in the new year!  LOL!

Well, this is it for 2010 and my year of dutch oven cooking.  I've thought a lot about what I would say on my last post of the year.  It really is bitter sweet.  On one hand, I'm sick of cooking in the cold, and on the other hand, I've totally fallen in love with my dutch ovens.  I can't imagine not using them everyday.  I think that with all our modern conveniences we really miss out on some of the simple things in life.  The challenge and satisfaction of creating something when its difficult or when you have no idea what you're doing.  There is a simplicity in dutch oven cooking that I would have never understood if I hadn't had this year long experience.  Its something I wish everyone could appreciate.  There is just no way for me to put it into words, it just takes you back to your roots.  I feel a connection to generations past and have a new respect for those who cooked in black pots everyday on the trail as they settled the West.  I know I've mentioned my family suffered hardships as they crossed the plains in the 1840's with the Mormon pioneers, and this year has given me a tiny glimpse into what their lives must have been like.

It has been a real journey for me.  I started out not knowing anything and relying on books and all of you for knowledge and help.  Now I'm confident in my dutch oven skills and I've grown as a cook and as a person.  I won't lie, this was a very, very difficult project.  It took a lot of planning and work, especially during baseball and soccer season.  Juggling the demands of 7 children, church and community service, keeping up my home...the list goes on.  I'm really proud to say that with the exception of my vacation in July and the week we found out my mom has cancer, I've cooked outside on charcoal everyday.  Very few people can understand just what that entails.  But its been a great ride!  Its something I'd do over again, and I'm a better person for having done it.

There are a few people I have to thank by name.  First is Mark from Mark's Black Pot.  He put a link on his site and helped get the word out about my blog.  Dave Herzog and Ron Clanton, who I was lucky to meet at the World Championships.   Ranes Carter, who gave me the amazing opportunity of being a cooks assistant at the World Championships.  I learned so much from watching the world class cooks in action.  Doug Thornton, president of the Arkansas Dutch Oven Society, for being a guest blogger and following my posts religiously everyday.  And to all of you for reading, commenting, laughing at me and probably rolling your eyes at my sometimes stupidity!  Its been a heck of a ride and I couldn't have done it without you.  Thanks for the emails, the recipes and the encouragement!  I love you all!

Now whats next for me?  I told my hubby to put me on a forced 1 month dutch oven fast, though I don't think it will last that long.  Starting in February, I'll post once or twice a week.  I could never leave my black pots behind, they've become a part of who I am as a cook.  I hope to try some new things that I couldn't do when I was trying to feed a family everyday.  I hope there will be a lot more experimenting.  So don't forget about me...I'll be back soon!

Today's recipe comes from a Pampered Chef cookbook.

Italian Pull Apart Bread
10" dutch oven

1 can Pillsbury grands biscuits
3 Tbs. butter
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
3 Tbs. Parmesan cheese

Melt the butter in a 10" dutch oven over a full spread of coals.  Add the Parmesan, garlic and Italian seasoning.  Quarter the biscuits with kitchen shears.  Add the cut biscuits to the pot and stir well to coat.  Bake at 375° for 25 minutes.  Use 1 1/2 rings plus 2 coals on top and 1 ring on the bottom.  Serves 4-6.

The Finished Product

My camera is charging, I'll have the pic up in a little while!

The Review

This is one of my kid's favorite breads.  I can' believe I didn't post it before now.  It is garlicky and cheesy and delicious.  Grade A.

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