By Keith Fisher
There once was an old sheepherder who had a nephew visit him. During the visit, the old man made dinner for the nephew, teaching him how to cook in Dutch ovens. During the mixing and preparing, the nephew kept trying to clean up. He went to wash a mixing bowl and the old man said. "Don’t worry about it, soap and water will take care of it."
Every time the young man tried to clean up, the sheepherder reminded him that soap and water does a good job. Finally the meal was done, and it turned out to be delicious. Once again the nephew offered to help clean up. "No need. Soap and water will do," the old man said.
After awhile, they sat around the campfire swapping stories when the Nephew saw a big dog come around the corner of the wagon. The Old sheepherder noticed him, and called the dog. "Come here Soap and Water," he said.
I know the temptation is great to use a dishwasher when you’re in the mountains, but please refrain. I’m sure the nephew threw up when he discovered the source of all his uncle’s clean dishes.
I often wish all Dutch oven enthusiasts would compete in a Dutch oven cook off, because one of the judging criteria is to have a clean kitchen. Judges watch the cooks to make sure they use rubber gloves when needed, wash the dishes frequently, and wash hands constantly.
Not so much anymore, but in the old days of cook offs, the food was distributed to the spectators as samples gratis. So the food needed to be free from problems. The judges watch these days, because it’s bad news to give a judge food poisoning.
Because of this concern, and because the cooks are an example to the public, the World Championship event requires a current food handler’s permit issued from the county where they live. Dutch oven competitors have become knowledgeable in safe food preparation and I would eat at any of their tables.
All you need to do is take a class (see a film), take an open book test, and pay the fee. I got mine in an afternoon. It has been invaluable to me. The things I learned made me a cleaner cook. I can cook anywhere with pride, knowing my food is safe and my guests are protected.
Little things like a three-tub dish washing system can kill 90% of all major problems. In the three-tub system, you have one tub filled with hot, soapy water. Another with rinse water, and a third tub, filled with one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of water.
Clean countertop surfaces with the same solution in spray bottle. But don’t re-use contaminated sanitize solution. Wash hands frequently and sanitize. Wear rubber gloves when handling meats and other raw foods. Don’t use the same knife on your vegetables that you use to de-bone the chicken.
All these things will help make your next cookout a happy experience. And you will be hero instead of the Blankity-Blank who poisoned your guests. When you get a minute, take the class, get your food handler’s permit. Then you can claim to be a professional.
Return to the Neighborhood.