Shopping the Essentials—A Christmas List

By Keith Fisher

As promised, Today we’re going shopping. This article is for those who will be buying Christmas Presents for you.
But first, As I announced last time we will announce the winner of the Chuck Wagon Dinner bell. As you might recall, We’re having a contest, drawing really. The only thing required was to share your favorite food combination.

We received some great suggestions. Some were a bit odd, others were down right delicious. All were appreciated, since we love to see the responses of those who read this blog. To all of you, thanks for playing. Stay tuned for the next one, however, because I have two more dinner bells to give away at another time.

On second thought, I think I’ll wait and announce the winner at the bottom.

When I started cooking in Dutch ovens. I had one pot, a 12-inch, a borrowed stand for cooking on, and a chimney starter that uses burning newspaper to light charcoal. Now, after 20 years, I have a much larger collection of equipment. So lets get started shall we?

Lets assume you already have a Dutch oven, and a table to cook on. Now you need a way to start charcoal. I only have one suggestion, when you place fire in one end of a tube it travels to the other end, because of a magical principle called draft. There are many types of Chimney starters on the market. My first one had a bottom so I couldn’t set it on a propane burner. Now I have that option.

Once they are hot, you will need to move the coals. I’ve seen a pair of pliers used, and one man used leather gloves. But unless you have a pair of tongs life can be difficult. I’ve done it though, We cooked for a large group up the canyon one time and I forgot the tongs. I used a fireplace shovel to move and place the coals. Everything took longer but it turned out okay.
Next, whether it’s a Goncho hook, forked stick, or commercial type, you will need a lid lifter. I recommend the Mair. It provides positive pressure so the lid won’t slip, and there are three sizes. 8-inch, 14-inch and one you can use for Dutch oven on the ground. You can get yours for around fifteen dollars.

Now you have lifted the lid to stir and add ingredients. Where are you going to set it? On a dirty rock, the ground, or on a lid holder. I use the commercial kinds of lid holder, but I prefer my hand-made, three legged, trivets and many cooks use three horseshoes welded together, propped up with bolts welded to the bottom. A lid holder also comes in handy when you need to set a hot pot on a plastic table. Also it will prop an inverted lid to use as a serving plate.

Dutch ovens are considerably hotter than hot potatoes, and sooner or later you will need a pair of leather gloves. Dutch oven manufacturers make good ones, or you can get a pair of welding gloves. I use a pair of work gloves that cover my wrists and part of my forearm. Whatever you choose, Remember, your gloves must be loose enough to fall off you’re hand if you shake it off. Leather is a natural protector against burns, but many cooks have been burned when the leather got too hot.

There you have it, a list of essentials. There are other things like spoons, vegetable oil, and matches, but that’s a no-brainer. I would mention that since it’s Christmas you might look into Maca Supply in Springville, Utah. They manufacture custom made lids for their ovens. For a price, they will cast your name or other special message into the lid

Also, Campchef offers a special propane stove. It combines a two-burner stove with an oven below. Now you can use an oven on a pick-nick table in the mountains. Of course don’t tell them I said it but that’s what I use Dutch ovens for. I can bake anything in my cast iron pots that I can bake in a kitchen oven. Now I can take the kitchen oven with me.

While we’re on the subject, there are many camp kitchens on the market. I have one, that never comes out of the shed but if I were to buy another, I would get one that has a kitchen sink. Operation is simple, a hose connects the drain to a five gallon bucket or, water container. Drain water is then carried away from the camp.

Some of the luxuries include: Propane burners, Tables & chairs. Injection needles, portable shelters, and water coolers. You might want to make a list when you go to the store. there are brushes and tables. dishtowels and plates. Cast iron getting heavy? take a look at aluminum.

Most sporting goods stores, some drugstores, price club, and even supermarket, sell these things. There is, however, something to be said for the big box Sporting goods store. In the area where I live, there are two. Sportsman’s warehouse and Cabela’s each store has a large variety of camp cooking equipment. Each store specializes in some things the other doesn’t. I’ve had more dealings with Sportsman’s Warehouse so I’m partial to them, but I recommend you take your loved one shopping and spend an hour looking at your must have item. They will get the message.

Okay, are you ready? drum roll please . . . I put everyone's name on a piece of paper. put all the papers in a 5-inch Dutch oven. Waited for my 11 year old daughter to come home. she drew a name and the winner is . . . Nichole Giles . . . . Yay! Congrats Nichole. let me know where I can send your New Chuck Wagon Dinner bell. Thanks again everyone, for participating and remember . . . I still have two more left. look for the next contest and come back often. Oh, and , if I don't see you, Merry Christmas.

Return to the Neighborhood.


The Old Black Pot

by Keith Fisher

I planned to take you shopping for cast iron Christmas presents today. (Best laid plans). Anyway, I'm going to save that for next time. So, if you have Dutch oven and campcooking equipment on your Chrsitmas list this year, and if people ask you what you want, send them to the next blog and I'll show you, and them, what to look for.

In the meantime, The contest is going well. I've decided to announce the winner in the next blog. It will give me time to send the prize before Christmas.

I have a couple of treats for you today. One, is a poem alledgedly written by Bruce Kiskaddon (1878-1950). The other, is this great picture taken between 1887 and 1892.

You mind that old oven so greasy and black,
That we hauled in the wagon or put in a pack.

The bisquits she baked wasn't bad by no means,
And she had the world cheated fer cookin' up beans.
If the oven was there you could always git by,
You could bake, you could boil, you could stew, you could fry.

When the fire was built she was throwed in to heat
While they peeled the potaters and cut down the meat.
Then the cook put some fire down into a hole.
Next, he set in the oven and put on some coals.
I allus remember the way the cook did
When he took the old "Goncho" and lifted the lid.

He really was graceful at doin' the trick.
The old greasy sackers they just used a stick
Boy Howdy! We all made a gen'l attack
If the hoss with the dutch oven scattered his pack.
You mind how you lifted your hoss to a lope
And built a long loop in the end of your rope

You bet them old waddies knowed what to expect.
No bisquits no more if that oven got wrecked.
We didn't know much about prayin' or lovin'
But I reckon we worshipped that greasy old oven.
And the old cowboy smiles when his memory drifts back
To the oven that rode in the wagon or pack.

Tips for today:

-Buy an 8-inch Dutch oven and bake a fruitcake. Clean the outside and oil it. Replace the lid and tie a bow on the oven. Your Friends will love the cast iron gift so they won't re-gift your fruit cake. They'll eat it so they can use the Dutch oven.

-Start planning Christmas dinner now. You might have to shovel snow off the patio but it's worth it. Make it simple try this:

Chicken with Onions and peppers

Chicken breasts
1 red bell pepper lrg.
1 green bell pepper
1 large onion
Amounts vary depending on number of chicken breasts.

Heat up a Dutch oven on bottom heat while dicing the vegetables. Then, add chicken and spices to taste. Roast with 9 coals on bottom and 15 on top until chicken is tender. Add BBQ sauce, sweet and sour, or cream of chicken soup for variation.

Return to the Neighborhood.