Anatomy of a Potluck Party

By Keith Fisher

Did you ever have a DOG? No, I’m not talking about eating dogs. DOG is an acronym for Dutch Oven Gathering. It’s a phrase adopted by Dutch oven cooks, and is widely used in those circles.

You'd never know it since the temperatures have been so cool, but with the passing of Memorial Day, summer is upon us. Time to start thinking of backyard parties and camping trips. I’m sure you know how to throw a dinner party, but let me talk you into a special kind.

For my wife’s birthday a few years ago, I planned an event. I was into a Dutch oven hobby. I wanted to cook, but I didn’t want to cook all the food. The solution of course, was the proverbial potluck party. Not just any banquet though, I wanted to have a Dutch oven affair. I knew some of my relatives and friends cook in Dutch ovens and I wanted to cook with them.

It was fun. The dinner was delicious, and I learned a few things that I’d like to share with you.

  • Secure a place to hold it---Backyard or park pavilion?
  • Plan ahead---Will you need an extra Dutch oven table?
    Access to restrooms? Perhaps you will need a source of water?
  • Send an invitation. Mine said: Come and cook in your Dutch oven or
    bring your favorite potluck dish. List cooking times and eating times.
    Emphasize the relaxed atmosphere.
  • Plan what you are going to cook.

This might seem simplistic, but so is Dutch oven cooking. When I held the birthday party I mentioned, one of my friends came by and watched my preparations. I started cooking a 12-pound turkey and he shook his head.

"It’s amazing," he said.
I looked up from placing coals on the lid. "What is?" I asked.
"It’s amazing you can cook something that big, with only a few coals."
I grinned and sat in my lawn chair. "Yes, it is, and you can kick back and relax while you do it."

One more thing to note, If you happen to be involved in Dutch oven cooking competitions, and your guests know it, tell them you are cooking something simple. For some reason your guests will tend to shy away from cooking around you. Help them relax and have fun.

When the big day comes, put your feet up, have fun talking with your guests. You might find they’re interesting people. Then, when it’s time to eat, enjoy the smiles and the compliments.

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Whenever the Rooster Crows

By Keith Fisher

Before we know it, we’ll be in the middle of the patriotic season. Inevitably, we’ll have the opportunity to cook or attend one of the many fund raising breakfasts offered on those holidays. Since my blog is dedicated to out-door cooking not just Dutch oven, let’s talk about breakfast in Camp.

When I was a kid I remember waking up during camping trips and watching my grandfather make breakfast. He loved to cook in the mountains and he designated himself camp cook. His pancakes from scratch were the best, and he could flip an egg with finesse.

Grandpa is gone now, and because of my Dutch oven hobby, I have assumed the title. I love getting up early and watching the sunrise as I flip waffles cooked on top of my propane stove. "Did he say waffles?" you ask. Yes I said waffles and they are delicious. You’d be surprised how thrilling it is to serve waffles to campers who are expecting the old standard, pancakes, for breakfast.

According to Wikipedia, Waffle irons were brought to America in the 1620s. In 1869, Cornelius Swarthout patented the first U.S waffle iron. This iron sat atop wood or gas stoves. A hinge that swiveled joined the cast iron plates in a cast iron collar. A few years ago, one of the Utah based distributors commissioned a casting company to make a copy of the originals. As you can see it has wood handles but the pivots are the same. I got one, and after a lot of seasoning I found it very relaxing. You can find one of these irons here

The way it works is this: place it on the stove. Mix up your pancake mix. Turn on the burner when it heats up turn it over and heat the other side. Then spoon the batter onto the bottom and close it up. When your waffle is cooked on one side, turn it over and cook the other side.
  • Lower the stovetop so you can work sitting down. Set the bowl and utensils next you so you can remain sitting.
  • Seasoning is not enough. It helps to spray the iron before each waffle with cooking spray.
  • You will destroy a few waffles until you get the hang of it.
  • Cooking times will vary and the amount of fire will also, depends on altitude and experience.

When you get the knack you will look like a laid back, happy go lucky kind of guy. In other words everyone’s hero. Serve these with your favorite topping. I love strawberries in sauce. Serve with melon chunks and scrambled eggs.

Good luck and enjoy the holiday.

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