Happy Labor Day

By Keith Fisher.

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well being of our country. Labor Day: How it Came About—what it Means

While serving a mission in Canada years ago, I enjoyed the Boxing Day Holiday. Celebrated on December 26, I was told it’s the day set aside for the servants: mail carriers, waiters, gas station attendants, and etc. It’s the day you prepare a Christmas box for the people who serve you.

In America, where business is the national religion and successful businesspersons our heroes. Please take time to remember that without the American worker, business would’ve foundered hundreds of years ago. Capitalism would be a byword. Providing employment and a living wage for Americans must be the purpose of those heroes. Be careful that the profit margin doesn’t get in the way of your duty, and remember who really blessed you with your success.

Labor Day, by tradition, is the last great party of summer. It marks the beginning of the season when we prepare for harvest, cooler temperatures, and shutting ourselves indoors. The Holiday doesn’t have to be the end of your outdoor cooking experience, however. There will be more holidays ahead, hunting season, and much more camping to do before you winterize your summer gear.

As for the Dutch ovens, I cook all year. I enjoy the peaceful loneliness of shoveling snow from the patio, and leaving my pots to simmer while I step indoors to get warm for a second. I learned to keep my head back from the lid, when stirring, lest my glasses fog up. Trust me, it will be worth it, when you sit down to eat a Dutch oven Christmas dinner. All your guests will praise your efforts and admire you.

Several years ago on the deer hunt, I was camp cook and had planned to make shredded pork enchiladas for supper. A storm came in that morning, and by afternoon, a blizzard was upon us. I estimated the winds to be forty miles an hour. (I’m sure I overestimated, but it was a strong wind.) I set my jaw, braced myself against the wind, piled coals on the windward side of the lid, and started roasting a pork loin. That evening the wind died down, but it was freezing. I shredded the meat, rolled the tortillas, placed them in a Dutch oven with sauce and cheese, and 45-minutes later, we had a wonderful dinner. Deer hunt would never be the same. Warmed over chili was out, and I became a hero.

On another occasion, I actually did shovel the snow from the patio, set up my kitchen, and made sweet and sassy chicken, rice, and a great vegetable stir-fry for Christmas dinner. My grandmother even loved it, and she always made a traditional turkey dinner for Christmas. I have too, many times, in Dutch ovens, but the oriental Christmas Dinner will live in my family’s memory for years to come.

The point is to keep using your Cast iron. No need to put it away—but if you must store it for the winter, check the seasoning. If it’s rough and dry put a light coat of oil on. If it’s smooth and shiny you will probably be okay, but to be safe against rust, put a thin layer of oil on. (You can heat up the iron in the spring and burn off any rancid oil if needed.)

Next, you need to prop the lid open to allow the moisture to escape. Roll up a piece of paper towel or tin-foil and place it between the lid and the oven. I remove the lid entirely, and store the oven separate from the lid. (In a coming blog, I’ll talk about storage boxes and other ways to store cast iron.) It’s also a good idea to place a sheet of paper towel loosely in the oven. It will collect moisture and prevent it from settling on the iron.

But remember: A Dutch oven kept hot, with food in it, gathers no rust.

Sweet and Sassy Chicken

  • 5 chicken breasts
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 medium onion
  • Your favorite sweet and sour sauce
  • Tabasco sauce and Cayenne pepper to taste

Dice onion and peppers and sauté with a dab of olive oil. When soft, add chicken breasts and stir. When chicken is done, 165 degrees, cover with sauce and sprinkle Cayenne and Tabasco to taste. Let simmer until serving.

Serve on a bed of rice and dip extra sauce on top.

Return to the Neighborhood.


Kim Thompson said...

Great ideas for year-round cooking. And yep, this confirmed it--you're amazing. :)

Nichole Giles said...

Oh yuuuuummmmm! I love oriental food, and have never tried it in a dutch oven.

Don't be surprised if you hear a knock on your front door Christmas day and six people are standing there wondering what's for dinner.

Just kidding. Sort of. I seriously have to try that delicious sounding recipe.