Passing It On

By Keith Fisher

Okay I’m back again. I won’t apologize for not keeping up. I did that before, and at this point, you’re probably saying, all talk—no action.

I was working in my weed patch . . . I mean garden, the other day. When I came in after dark, I found a mess in the kitchen. Apparently, my daughter felt inspired to make something. She looked in our collection of Dutch oven recipes and set about making pizza bread from a recipe given to us by one of our friends.

We have a problem with our oven in the house, so I was given the charge of baking the bread in a Dutch oven. It went into the fridge over night, and I waited for her to come home from school. She had fun making it, but I don’t think she had much fun baking it.

As Dutch oven Cook off competitors, We used to look to the next generation for new competition. We had a desire to see the skills, we’d learned, passed on. It’s always gratifying to see a team of young people enter a cook off. We watch them, hoping to see them win the World Championship some day.

When my daughter was two, she often watched while I cooked, in my Dutch ovens. The little, gray things under the pots fascinated her. I warned her against touching them. I told her they would burn, and she knew what the word burn meant. It became a ritual, with me keeping an eye out, so she didn’t touch the coals.

One day, she was in the house. I went into the garden to get an onion. When I came back to my pots, she’d come outside and she touched a coal with the tip of her finger. She learned a lesson and she never touched the coals again. It broke my heart to see my little girl cry, but I also worried she would avoid Dutch oven cooking because of that one bad experience.

When the Lodge Manufacturing Company stopped making their original 5-inch Dutch ovens, and they became valuable, I put mine in my office to protect against theft. My daughter kept telling me it was hers, probably because it was her size.

Later, while attending a Dutch oven event, My daughter won the door prize and took home a brand new CampChef Dutch oven cast especially for a national retailer. Hers is one of the first ones. I use that oven but she reminds me it’s hers, and I know I’ll have to relinquish it when she grows up and moves away.

But one day, right after she received it, I convinced her she had to cook in the oven. We made Easy Baked Beans. She was proud to serve those beans to our guests and I thought she was hooked. Since then, however, she hasn’t shown much interest in it. I suppose because her old man is always cooking, why would she?

When she made bread the other day, my hope was renewed. When she went in to do her homework and left me to bake the bread, I went back to wondering.

I know that she knows how to cook, but I’m not sure she will ever compete. Her interest will come, around a campfire, while cooking for her family, and remembering her dad. In that day, we will be able to renew our connection and share a love of the old cast iron.

I’ve often joked that I’ll have my enemies serve as pallbearers . . . and I want to be buried with my extensive Dutch oven collection. Really though, I’ll leave them to my daughter with the instruction that if she doesn’t use them I’ll come back to haunt her. I kind of look forward to the time when I can look down and watch her use skills she didn’t know she had. Skills, she learned while watching me.