A Tale of Two Campfires

Although it won't be linked on the LDS Neighborhood until Monday, I'm posting this blog on September 11th. The significance of the day will be in some of our minds forever, and for the first time, I would like to say a couple words, then get back to camp cooking.

On the morning of September 11, 2001. I left for work thinking about the big Dutch oven gathering I had organized for September 15th. It would be a wonderful party and we had invited all of Utah County. I was the president of a Dutch oven society and we had announced our event in the news and given out fliers. The food was in the coolers ready to be cooked.

On the radio news, I heard about an airplane hitting the World Trade Center. The receptionist at work purchased a television so we could stay abreast of the developments. I watched my Senator make a fool of himself over partisan politics, and I went home, sat in my desk chair, turned the television off, and mourned the loss of my world.

I knew life would never be the same, and I wished with all my heart I had been born during an easier time in the world. I have since realized every generation has their own set of special problems but on 9-11, life changed.

I hung an American flag on the pavilion at the Dutch oven party, we all cooked more food than any of us could eat, and we invited everyone in the park to come and partake. I personally blamed Bin Laden for messing up my party. I hope someday we can finish what we started and get back to finding him. Until then, support our troops. You don't have to agree with your leaders to support those who are defending your freedom. Pray for the wisdom of our leaders, and try to reason with them. Try to sort through the politics and misdirection. Make wise choices.

Now on to the crux of the matter. Today, I begin a short story told in parts. It's designed to inspire you to get out and do some camp cooking. Let me know what you think of the story.

A Tale of Two Campfires part one
by Keith Fisher

It had been an unusually warm deer hunt. I sat on a ridge looking down at the beaver pond in the valley below. The early afternoon sun illuminated the panoramic view. I couldn’t see any deer for miles.

To say the least, the morning hunt had been disappointing. I traipsed up and down the ridges and only saw one doe and two fawns. Like so many hunts in recent years, this one looked like a bust.

I started to daydream, but decided to be productive and plan dinner. I’m the self-proclaimed camp cook in our family and I wanted to prepare a special dinner to make up for the bad hunt. Perhaps, shredded meat enchiladas, I thought. While resting my back against a log in the afternoon sun, I fell asleep.

I woke up sometime later and felt groggy, like being pulled from the grave. Something was wrong, but what? A thick fog rolled in. It muffled every sound and gave the appearance of an otherworldly realm, and I listened to the sound of dead silence. According to my wristwatch, I had only been asleep for half an hour, but that was impossible. I’d never seen fog roll in that fast before, it just wasn’t right. Bewildered and shivering, I reached into my backpack and pulled out my coat.

It was hard to distinguish between north and south. It would be tough getting off the ridge. After a few minutes I remembered my footprints. I began to follow them down the backside of the ridge in the direction where camp had to be.

The footprints led me to a rock outcropping I couldn't remember crossing on the way up. It seemed to be taking too long to get back to camp.
I must be going the right way. My footprints can’t lie.

After a while, my confidence turned to fear. My easy trek became a forced march. I needed confirmation that I was on the right trail. I began to grope each tree for any sign of recognition.

Suddenly, I heard a familiar sound. I froze and willed my heart to stop beating. I held my breath and listened. I heard the sound again, and I smiled. Just ahead of me, I heard the sound a cast iron lid makes when it’s placed on a Dutch oven.

"I wonder who’s messing with my Dutch ovens?" I said to myself. Nothing against my family, but if left to their own devices, I believe that many of them would resort to PB&J rather than worry about cooking a meal in camp, so I was a little surprised someone would be in my camp kitchen.

The footprints led in the direction of the sound, so they had to be mine. I trudged forward through the fog, knowing I had to be close. The footprints went around a tree, and I suddenly emerged from some bushes into the campsite. It wasn’t my campsite.

continued next time

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Making it From Scratch

By Keith Fisher

Everywhere I go, people ask me where I get my recipes. I always give them a blank stare and tell them, "In my head." Judging by the looks I get, some of them think I’m being curt and don’t wish to give out my secrets.

It’s true, I’m planning to publish a cookbook, but it’s also true that I cook by feel, it does come from my head. I once had a person watching me, writing down what I do and what I add to a recipe, and when I finished, I couldn’t believe I’d done what the instructions said I did.
I call it, by the seat of your pants cooking, and everyone does it. Many cooks tweak a recipe, they add something they think will make the recipe better. It usually works, because as eaters we know what we like, and we trust our taste buds.

The problem with this kind of cooking, however, is forgetting what you planned. I often forget to add something important, but the food is still good. Many people like my sweet and sassy chicken recipe. I’ve cooked it so many times, it’s like second nature to me. This summer, however, I cooked it for large groups twice and I forgot to add the mushrooms. My recipe calls for whole mushrooms added at the last minute. They soak up the sauce for a mouth-watering treat and I forgot to add them.

My friend, Dannie Phillips started combining ingredients from his head and came up with a pretty good sauce. The pictures demonstrate him making it for his little smokies and Kielbasa. Enjoy the pictures and I’ll see if I can get permission to give you the recipe.

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