The convention Part One

by Keith Fisher

There is so much to say about the Dutch oven concention that I'm going to tell you about it in several pages. Also, I'm at a writer's conference today, so I have a guest blooger who is going to explain why he's here and what the subject is.

But, first, you should know, I looked around at the faces at the conference this year and noticed many missing friends. Ross and Angie Conlin are two of the originals and they are still here. While many of us get tired of packing cast iron, they are still enthused. So without further ado, here's Ross:

I was asked by Keith Fisher to write about 2 things. 1-Why I would travel to Salt Lake from American Falls Idaho to participate in the International Dutch Oven society’s Spring convention and 2- Why I am still involved in Dutch oven cooking in general. I hope at the conclusion of this article I have answered both of those questions.

I was raised in Preston, Idaho, a very much LDS community where family values are taught from a very young age. This would also be where the family spends time together learning and sharing things with each other. This was my case as I had the many experiences as a young boy with my family in outing at Willow flat on the Cub River near Preston.

As I was growing up, my father worked in the local meat packing plant and we always had good meat for any outing. It was during these outings that my father introduced me to the art of Dutch oven cooking. He would always have the Dutch oven potatoes and meat. He explained how the cast iron was so essential to having good flavors in the food. This was being done with coals from the fire whereas we did not have so much access to charcoal at that time in my life.

The next step was learning to cook from my mother. As a young boy, I would stand on a stool next to my mother where she taught me how to bake breads and desserts. It was these young years where the foundational of my Dutch oven cooking began. That love of cooking has never diminished from my soul.

I had opportunities as a young scout to also cook with the Dutch oven but it was not until I was married and had a family and I began to spend as much time as I could in the outdoors with them teaching them the things that my father and mother had taught me, that I truly began to appreciate the efforts of my parents to instill in me the importance of family get-togethers and learning from each other.

As my boys grew into scouts, I began to participate in the Boy Scouts of America as a scout leader. In doing so I was able to instill those ideas I had learned at a young age with these new youths as well as my own boys. I could see the need for more understanding in teaching Dutch oven cooking. I also was able to spend time on many, many Adult leader training sessions and was able to show what great food could come from a Dutch oven.

It was about this time that Dick Michaud along with Mike and Wally Kolher and their wives began to have competitions and later started the International Dutch Oven Society. My wife, Angie, and I began to cook in these competitions and were very successful. It was here that we came across the most wonderful people from all walks of life that had that same passion that we did for Dutch oven cooking. They became instant friends. It was this same time that we began to teach Dutch oven cooking in the Outdoor program at Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho.

Once again during these classes we met young people who were hungry to learn about his skill.
With all the friendships we have made over the last 25 years during the Dutch oven gatherings, workshops throughout the northwest and all the students which we have came in contact with; my question would be to everyone else, "Why would I NOT want to come to these gatherings?" To associate with such fantastic people is pure pleasure.

If I was retired and had nothing else to do I would still be traveling from American Falls, Idaho to each event some where in the United States to show my support in Dutch oven cooking. I truly love to cook in the Dutch oven, share friendships and time with others who have the same passion. Even with the physical challenges of age it is such a please for me to cook for others and teach them everything I have learned in cooking in Dutch ovens.

Ross Conlin