By Keith Fisher
At two years old, my daughter seemed fascinated by the little gray rocks under the big black pots everyone made such a fuss about. With determination on her face she reached out to touch, but I stopped her. I gave her the standard warning. "It will burn you," I said.
After a short time my little girl experienced a burn. I don’t remember how she learned, but she understood the word. She seemed to lose interest in those gray rocks.
Then one day while cooking in five pots, I stepped away to get water from my garden hose. Sure enough, you guessed it, she reached under a pot and burned the tip of her finger. She knew would happen, but she just had to learn for herself. Some kids are like that.
Now she’s a pre-teen and it’s hard to get her interested in the things I like. Dutch ovens are different, however. I think I instilled an interest by forbidding her contact all those times. She has her own Dutch oven and one or two more she claims are hers. She’ll cook in them too, under the right circumstances.
I noticed, as I’m sure you have, that teenagers try to put distance between them and their parents. It just isn’t cool to show interest in anything Dad likes . . . unless, she’s the only kid there, or we cook something exciting.
What qualifies as exciting food?" you ask.
The answer of course, is whatever they eat regularly. If they love mac and cheese, teach them to make it in Dutch oven. Not the kind that comes in a box, learn to make the real stuff, macaroni and cheese casserole, then teach them.
My daughter has developed a love for fettuccine alfredo. I’m not sure why, but it's something she loves, so she makes it. The list is endless. Instead of making the pre-packaged kind, teach them the from scratch version.
Kids also love pizza and the Dutch oven was made for pizza. You can use frozen pizzas, or you can do it from scratch. It's more exciting to make it from scratch. Now, as you might have guessed, I’m going to talk about pizza.
How do you make pizza? You go to the corner pizzeria pay the cash and pig out right? Wrong.
Good pizza consists of four elements crust, sauce, cheese, and toppings. There are many good crust recipes but lets make it easier. Get some frozen bread dough, flatten it out, let it rise, put on the sauce, toppings, and cheese. Let your kids build their own, and let them experiment.
When it is built, put it in a Dutch oven . . . uh wait a minute. If you have ever been in the mountains trying to dig something out of your Dutch oven, scratching the seasoning off, you know there has to be a better way.
A Dutch oven lid makes a perfect pizza pan. Place the lid on a lid holder upside down. (You can use a wok ring or some kind of sturdy prop). The key is there must be room to put coals under it.
Next, put the pie on the lid. Be careful to make the crust the same size as the lid.
Next, turn your pot upside down and place it on the lid. Put coals under and on the top, the same pattern you use for baking. When the pizza is done (when the crust is done), you can lift the pot off. Use a rolling pizza cutter and enjoy.
One note about safety: this method requires caution. The Dutch oven will be hot and lifting the pot off the lid must be done with long sleeved, leather gloves. The ashes will want to fall in you food, and you can get burned, even through leather.
Now that you remember the cautions, I would advise you to practice this before you turn it over to your kids. If all else fails put it the oven right side up and let your kids find the perfect amount of cheese. You may end up eating Dutch oven pizza three times a week, but it’s a small price to pay to get your kids involved. More importantly, though, your kids will learn to love something you love—you will have something in common.
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