Too Much

By Keith N Fisher

It was with trepidation that I set up my kitchen with two Dutch oven tables and seven propane burners. I love being asked by the activities committee to cook Dutch oven food for our church group. It’s really gratifying to be the one they turn to. We were asked again this year to cook for the Christmas party, but we weren’t ready.

With job commitments and life in general, The Holidays have crept up on us unnoticed and we had to cook for 300 people. We made 13 leg-less turkeys, and four huge hams. I cooked it all in 12 Dutch ovens of various sizes and types.

After the cooking we stripped the meat off the bones and put it into portable roasting warmers, then took it to church.

You know, I’m going to stop listening to the committee when they tell me how many to cook for. It was too much. We purchased smaller turkeys with out legs or arms because we didn’t have enough Dutch ovens of the right sizes. I was left with a logistics problem of how to cook all that turkey.

I think the best solution, was our new 16-inch. We cut the backbone out and laid three of them inside. You can see from the picture, they fit perfectly and I was pleased. I relearned a lesson and feel like an idiot, however, but I used an aluminum ultimate Dutch oven with and expansion pack and placed in on the bad burner on one of my stoves.

The burner isn’t getting enough air so it blows black smoke, which entered the oven through the cone. I discovered my error quickly, cleaned off the birds and finished on a different burner.

I’ve almost had it with my Ultimate Turkey roaster. Even at low flame, the moisture boils out and can burn the bird if you don’t keep careful watch. The problem is removing the top lowers the temperature and prolongs the cooking. Perhaps if the lid sealed better, there wouldn’t be a problem.

After it was over, my wife swore off cooking for large groups, again. Since she was the one who agreed to do this party, I think she felt guilty.
“That’s what you said last time,” I said.

The thing is, I created a monster. I think she loves the gratification more than I do. I’m sure we will be cooking for more parties. I’ve seen the smile she gets when people compliment her.

We cooked way too much this time, and I wonder what they did with the leftovers.


Filling the Pot

By Keith N Fisher

How was your harvest festival/deer or elk hunt? I had a blast reuniting with my brothers and extended family. Deer hunting was secondary to getting reacquainted with my uncle and cousins. In fact, I think I’ve lost the killer instinct. Sitting around talking about old times and catching up with each other was great. Basking in the warmth of a good fire surrounded by nature made it even better.

On Thursday night, there were two outfits in our camp. On Friday morning, my daughter and I, went for a ride to find firewood and visit some of my old haunts. About ten years ago, somebody closed off an area where I spent a lot of my youth. I never learned the reason, but it seemed so arbitrary and unfair. I found the gate open this time, and I felt vindicated.

Later, I set up my camp kitchen under an Easy Up, and started cooking hamburger. Soon I added three kinds of canned beans, tomatoes, peppers, and ketchup, (since there was no tomato sauce). Mushrooms, onions and chili powder went in next. It turned into a pretty good chili.

That evening, our numbers grew, and camp swelled to a large group with many outfits. We sat around the fire and swapped tales about the good old days. I decided it’s time to write the stories my father told over the years. Just what I needed, another project.

By tradition, we woke before sunrise on Saturday morning. I rode up the mountain with my brothers. It was nice to hang out with them. We didn’t really care about shooting anything. It seems that sometime over the years, we turned the deer chase over to the kids.

The teenagers stayed in camp and played games and later, under our supervision, they shot the 22’s at targets, just like in the good old days. My deer hunting cousins are several years younger than me so I remember being the only kid in camp and following my dad and uncle while they traipsed around looking for deer. It’s nice to see a new generation associating with each other.

That evening, my older brother handed me a package of pork chops and asked me to cook them. I’d planned on making roast beef with potatoes but I began to improvise. I’d taken two Dutch ovens and I was fixing for everyone in camp. Since I’d been given two spaghetti squashes to take home with me, I baked one, and spooned margarine over to melt.

I didn’t have the ingredients for any of my pork chop recipes, so I seasoned with sage and thyme. Then added sea-salt and pepper before browning the chops over a burner. Next, I made a roux with flour, water, sage, salt and pepper. Using a whisk I added a little water to the juices in the pot, and stirred in the roux to make gravy.

With the pot simmering on coals I warmed the leftover hash browns from breakfast and served them with gravy. Dinner was delicious. My cousins were pleased.

In my outdoor cooking career, I’ve cooked in mystery bag cook-offs when we were given a bag of ingredients and told to make a recipe. I’ve made shredded pork enchiladas in a blizzard. I’ve substituted many things to make a meal, and came up with great recipes. Scouring my camp trailer for ingredients to cook my brother’s pork chops, however, brought joy into my heart.

I made bacon, eggs, and pancakes for breakfast on Sunday morning. I love how cast iron skillets fit right in with Dutch ovens. You can even use DO lids to cover the pans.

Something else happened on the deer hunt this year. With all the cooking and socializing, I got away from the world and found solace. I discovered the Cast iron pot in my soul had been filled with family togetherness. My daughter got reacquainted with some of her extended family and had fun. She said, she loves her cuzzies.

Now it’s time to winterize the trailer and get ready for cooking in the snow. Keep those pots full of good food.


False Summer

By Keith N Fisher

We’ve had record temperatures, lately, where I live. The hot days of Summer are holding on, for dear life. There is a term for this type of weather, but since it’s probably not politically correct, I’d better abstain. I always wondered, however, why they called it that, but . . . okay, I’ll be good.

Usually at this time of year, most of us begin to put the outdoor furniture away, drain the swamp cooler, and put the garden to bed. Thoughts of backyard parties, are replaced by Halloween parties, and Fall festivals.

Some of us put our camp kitchens in order to traipse up tot he mountains for Hunting seasons, but the season is over for the most part. Not this year---get out there and plan a big party. Take advantages of the weather and invite your friends. Winter will soon be here, and you’ll be shoveling snow off the patio to set up your Dutch oven table.


The Refiner's Fire

By Keith N Fisher

There was a big fire near my home this week. From what I gather, it started during machine gun training at the National Guard facility. I can only imagine the muzzle blast that would set the weeds on fire, but what began as a small, fight, turned into a wildfire within minutes, fanned by high winds.

Within a couple of hours the fire burned over the mountain and down the other side toward several subdivisions. Threatening a whole town. The word came down to evacuate several of those houses.

Four houses were consumed before the firefighters, and a change in wind, turned the flames back onto themselves.

During the course of the disaster, much was said about the evacuation. The question of what do you take with you, came up, causing me to consider my valuable papers, pictures, and mementos.

In thinking about this blog, and what to write, I recalled how I came into possession of one of my favorite Dutch ovens.

While preparing for my first cook-off, I realized I needed a 14-inch for, bread baking. During that time there was a small sporting goods store near my home that was selling discounted Dutch ovens. They had stacks of Lodge cast iron products loosely piled in pallet-containers. Some of it was in great shape. The rest had a crusty coating burned onto the iron. None of it was in factory boxes.

I learned a warehouse had burned down and the packaging had burned off. The crusty coating, was the remnant of that packaging. The other, good-looking stuff had been sand blasted by the store. I purchased a 14-inch.

When I think about that pile today, I cringe. I kick myself for not buying more, but money was tight, you know how it is. I also think of the oven and how it performs. I think the fire was good for that iron.

After the wildfire the other day, I think of my collection, knowing I won’t need to take it with me as long as I can get back and cleanup the mess. My cast iron will be fine. perhaps it will be better, because of the experience.



Cast Iron Skillets and Teflon Frying Pans

By Keith N Fisher

First, let me apologize. I’ve been studying for a big test, and haven’t posted for a couple of weeks. I passed the test, so I’mmm baaaack.

How many of you have seen an old cast iron skillet that has a smooth surface? No matter what you cook, it won’t stick. The iron surface, once porous, is now tougher than Teflon. I used one of those when I was a kid.

How many of you have seen an old skillet with rust spots or (heaven forbid), it had gone completely rusty? Did you know rust could get into your diet and cause health problems?
Not to worry, however, rust can be removed and you can start fresh, building a new seasoning. Eventually, the surface will smooth out and you will be able to cook anything, non-stick.

Several years ago, Space age science developed a process to coat an ordinary steel frying pan and make it non-stick, right out of the box. They called it Teflon, and everybody purchased plastic spatulas in order to keep from scratching the surface.

Still, the first generation coatings ended up scraping off. Do you remember the news reports of the late eighties and early nineties about the danger of Teflon scraping off into your food? They claimed it would cause illness.

Today, Teflon is tougher, but it can still be scraped off and then rust could start. As I said, I’ve been taking a test and haven’t done the research, but can anybody tell me if the Teflon health risk is still there? Did it really exist? I’m sure our non-regulation government would have made sure it was safe, don’t you?

So, I ask you, If you were shopping in a thrift store and could choose between a rusty cast iron skillet and a scratched Teflon (possibly rusty) frying pan, which would you choose?

I have written before, about the process of re-seasoning cast iron. (Use the search box to find it). I can’t re-apply Teflon, but even if I could, I don’t think it would be cost effective. That’s the nature of our society, Its cheaper to throw it away and buy a new one.

Mankind has been cooking in cast iron for hundreds of years. Some claim the benefits of iron leaching into the food are numerous. Choose the tried and true method of our grand mothers. I think you’ll be glad you did.


Dreaming of a Backyard Kitchen

By Keith N Fisher

I’d just finished schlepping my equipment to our assigned area in a cook off when my good friend put a hand on his back and said, “You’d think I’d come up with a lighter hobby.”

I said something like, “Either that, or hire someone to load/unload, setup/takedown. Then you could show up just in time for the cooks meeting and enjoy the fun part.”

It seems, every year at this time my mind turns to thoughts of permanent outdoor kitchens and chuck wagon trailers. Of course those things wouldn’t eliminate all the hard work it takes to be a culinary hero, but it would be nice. To be able to carry a sack of groceries to the back yard and start cooking on a moment’s notice, without having to endure the heavy setup and take down.

It’s true, camp cooking has many labor intensive operations attached to it. There is, however, nothing better than sitting in your lawn chair, surrounded by a group of people with satiated appetites, knowing your equipment is all packed.

After an interesting dream last Saturday night, I made a pilgrimage the next day. I went back to the Vineyard Ward Chapel. Okay, my pilgrimage was only about six miles. Anyway, I drove to the church I attended from about one year old, until I turned fourteen. It’s a common practice in an area of growth for the LDS Church to divide stake/ward units. It happened to us, and we ended up going to a chapel on the other side of town.

I hadn’t been back for some time. I wanted to go inside, but I decided to not interrupt the meetings going on. I drove around the back and looked at the building. There have been a few changes over the years, but I was able to envision the things I remember.

One thing that hadn’t changed, however, was the outdoor fireplace. Well, they might’ve put in a damper, and they covered the whole area with a pavilion. I remembered attending many ward activities as a kid, on that patio next to the fireplace. I roasted hot dogs in front of it, and I joined my friends in climbing up the cold chimney.

While turning the truck around during my pilgrimage, I turned to my daughter and told her I used to climb up inside that chimney. I'm sure she was impressed. Well, maybe not.

The journey helped me remember things long forgotten. Some of the repressed memories explain why I do things the way I do. Seeing the old fireplace inspired my dreams and gave me an idea about the backyard kitchen I plan to build someday. I wonder if the neighbors behind me would object if I used part of their yard to build my pavilion.

There in the corner, would stand the fireplace of my childhood. (With a chimney screen to keep children out.) In my design, the wings would be similar, but one would have four built in camp chef burners and an imbedded steel plate in the brickwork. It would be large enough to hold several hot Dutch ovens. The other wing would have a counter top with a draining sink. Under that counter would be drawers, a water heater, and propane storage. I’d connect to the sprinkler system for water, and the drain would go to the sewer.

Well, it’s not totally finished in my mind yet, but when I’m done, It will be glorious. Maybe I’ll invite you all over. Make a comment and tell us your plans for the perfect backyard kitchen.

Thanks to Dave Horton of North Collins, New York, for the pictures of his Dutch oven equipment Trailer. There have been many built since, but he made one of the first ones I ever saw.



Achieving Peace with Cast Iron

By Keith N Fisher

How is your summer going? Have you been serving as camp cook during your vacation? I’ve been handicapped this summer, having to work every Saturday. I could go for one day during the week, but my family can only go on weekends. Cooking great food for one is okay, but camp cooking is a spectator sport. It’s like a football game with nobody in the bleachers.

With all the great meals you’re cooking, I hope you find a little time to go down to the water and throw your line in. Catch a few fish and find a little peace in your lives.

Speaking of peace and the way things are heating up in the world, I think I’ve found one thing that everyone can agree upon. I suggest we bring all the leaders of the opposing sides to my house. I’ll take the weekend off and get some friends to help me cook for them.

Maybe with their mouths full, they’ll listen long enough for someone to suggest peace, tolerance and forgiveness. I’ll make two different types of cobbler for dessert. Those who agree to get along will get one kind of cobbler. Those leaders who still want to fight will get the one laced with Prozac.

It might not bring peace, but the combatants won’t care much.


A Dark and Stormy Night

By Keith Fisher

We’ve been having thunderstorms where I live, and there have been power outages all over the area. My power went out about 10:30 last night. I called about midnight to report the outage and they said it would take about three hours. It never came on. Now I sit pondering what to eat for breakfast.

It seems I've fallen into the trap of microwave breakfasts. I could set up my Dutch ovens and make a wonderful breakfast, but who has time for that? The whole situation puts me in mind of my great grandmother Fisher.

In order to feed breakfast to her large brood, she rose early, built up the fire in the cast iron range, and started cooking. Between other chores, she kept her family fed. Rumor has it, she would start a pot of cracked wheat on the range before going to bed and by morning it would be mush.

Life has certainly gotten easier since then, but is it better? Cast iron cooking is great for camping, and in the back yard, but few people cook in it everyday.

The power was back on by 7:30 but the linemen found another, apparently common problem farther down the line. The cables that run under our subdivisions are getting old and the insulation is wearing out in places. broken insulation allows water penetration and causes it to ground.

The linemen show up, cut the power, then run DC current back through. When the ground appears, they know where to look in order to repair it.

The jocularity and camaraderie of the linemen was shared by some of us from the neighborhood. I had a lot of fun watching them repair the line. It made me wish I had the presence of mind to make breakfast in my Dutch ovens for the bunch of them.

Now that I think of it, I really wish I had. Maybe next time, they would fix my power outage before the others.


Who gets the Cast Iron?

By Keith N Fisher

I used to joke about the number of Dutch ovens I own, by saying I’m going to buried with them and I’ll make sure my enemies get to be pall bearers. I still think its funny, especially when you see my collection.

I had occasion to go through some goods left over in an estate the other day. There were two 12-inch Dutch ovens. One deep, and one shallow. I couldn’t determine the maker because I had limited time. The seasoning on those ovens was good and thick. Someone used them with loving care.

With the thickness of the seasoning on the estate ovens, I imagined an heir opening the lid and thinking he would have to scrub that gunk off forever, just to get it cleaned. It had to be that way, or the ovens wouldn’t have been for sale.

Of course I clean my ovens inside and out and I like a thinner seasoning, but the experience caused me to reflect on wills and estates and who gets what. There is a tale about George Washington’s mother, Mary Ball Washington mentioning, her cast iron cookware in her will.

In consideration of that, I wondered who would get my cast iron. I suppose my daughter would ultimately get it, but I’m not sure she cares about it, like I do. Maybe I should reconsider the old joke?

Actually, I like the idea of putting it up for auction. My Dutch oven friends could come to the wake and examine my pots. Then, the auction pulpit could be my open casket. Proceeds would pay for my family’s trip around the world.

Now, that leads to another question. How much is seasoning worth anyway. Most people think of used, in terms of cut rate prices, but after cooking with it for a lot of years, Cast iron becomes better. That makes the seasoning invaluable. Say hello to your cruise honey.

I once listened to a story about a man who cooked dinner for a neighbor and left it in the oven. After a few days, the neighbor came back carrying his Dutch oven. “I want to thank you for that wonderful meal,” the neighbor said. “I’m so grateful, I wanted to do something special. It took several hours, but I think I got most of the black off.”

I made stuffed pork roast on a rack of apple wedges for a cook off once. Jesse’s comment on last week’s blog made me want to try it with pork chops. I’ll let you know how it comes out.


Pioneer Day

By Keith N Fisher

First off, I keep getting compliments about this blog from a good friend of mine. He never leaves a comment, but he tells me at church. Just a note to say, Hi Jess.

Second, I have to update something I said before. Apparently, the powers that be in our ward tried to reserve the park for our annual Pioneer Day (24th of July) dinner and they couldn’t get it. They tried another park and couldn’t get it either. So, with a heavy heart I announce, we won’t be cooking for our church group this year. Too bad, we were planning some scrumptious food. I’ll save the recipes for next year, or whenever I have to cook for three hundred or so.

What are you doing in honor of the Mormon Pioneers who crossed the plains to the Salt Lake Valley? Even if you’re not religious and you live in Utah, chances are, you have a day off from work, so what are you going to do with it?

Can I recommend cooking pioneer recipes in your Dutch ovens? You could combine a great meal with a learning experience. Many of our old standby recipes were staples cooked by our forefathers.

A few years ago, I was involved with an event called The Wagon Train Cook off. Everyone was required to cook a recipe from the nineteenth century. Preferably, something that might have been cooked during the migration.

We ended up with things like bison and apple pie. Some cooks didn’t observe the rules, but others made some pretty simple recipes. Wendy and I made bean soup, sour dough bread and a pie we found in an old cookbook. The research taught me about using fat for flavor when cooking meats. I also found some great recipes from my grandmother’s cookbook.

I’m not sure what I’ll be cooking this weekend, but I’d like to hear some of your ideas. Send me your recipe and I’ll place it here on the blog, along with your picture. Maybe I’ll persuade my closet to cough up a prize, although I’m not sure how to decide who wins . . . Oh, I know, random drawing of all who respond. The email address without the dots and ampersands is uvdutch at live dot com.

Have a great holiday weekend and cook something delicious.



By Keith N Fisher

Why do so many people say Desert is the best course? Others want to start with desert so they don’t run out of room in their belly. Last Friday evening we had the opportunity to make desert in Dutch ovens at the ward camp out. I had to work both Friday and Saturday, so Camping was out of the question.

We showed up about six-fifteen, cooked out the back of the truck and had three 14-inch cobblers and three turtle cakes ready in time for the program. After getting compliments I said to one lady that she could’ve done just as good a job as we did. She said, Maybe so, but I don’t as many Dutch ovens as you do.

It’s true though, There are many folks in my ward who could make terrific deserts in Dutch ovens but we get asked to do the honors, (I’m sure) because the leadership feels we need the opportunity. Our food gets built up out of proportion because we had the good fortune to win at the World Championships once.

But I digress.

Speaking of which, though, In all those years of competition, one of the things I remember most was listening to the admiration about desert from spectators. Personally, I admire meat, but I always heard wows when someone presented a cheesecake or a three-layer cake. Removing a pie from a hot Dutch oven without a pie plate was sure to please a crowd.

Taste, however, is the issue. You can burn the meat, or add too much salt to the bread, but if the cake tastes flat, nobody wants to eat it.

With all the joy desert brings, I still find it interesting that desert intimidates many people. Here’s a simple recipe to try.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

In a 12-inch Dutch oven, melt ¼ pound of butter. Toss in a couple of hands full of brown sugar. Arrange canned pineapple rings on top of the sugar with one in the center. Fill each hole with a maraschino cherry (no stem). Next, make a white or yellow cake mix. Pour over the pineapple. Note: if a cherry pops up, push it back down with your finger.

Now use nine coals in a ring under the pot, (none in the center). 15 coals on top (Checkerboard pattern). The cake is done when a toothpick, inserted, comes out clean. Let cake cool with lid ajar. Using gloves, flip oven over quickly and catch the cake unto a rack or plate. The pineapple and cherries are on the top.

If this last part doesn’t work, don’t worry. It tastes great inside the pot. I once had an accident and the cake fell apart when I flipped it. We ate what didn’t land on the floor.



By Keith N Fisher

Work was grueling. I wasn’t able to get the trailer out for camping, but we went up Friday night for dinner. As I mentioned last week, My family goes to the same place each Independence Day. I didn’t cook, but my wife made a turtle cake to die for. I renewed acquaintances and whittled.

My inspiration was my cousin’s husband, Bill who took a large piece of willow and made a spoon. He’s good. I made a toothpick and a little head that almost looks like Bart Simpson. My mother kept it as a treasure. I’m sure she’s just being kind.

At dinner, another cousin’s husband, Michael, cooked pork ribs and potatoes and another husband, Loyd, made two cobblers. It was delicious, but I was left to reminisce.

Michael started cooking in Dutch ovens a few years ago. First, with one oven then, he started using tables and more Dutch ovens. He’s come a long way, and enjoys cooking. Mostly, I think, he enjoys the praise he gets.

At one time I felt a little threatened. After all, I thought I was the guru, wasn’t I?” This year I sat back tasting his wonderful food and feeling satiated. Michael is a great cook. I made a point of telling him from across the way. Loud enough for everyone to hear, “Michael, this is really good.”

Everyone needs praise and he certainly earned it. What he said delighted my heart, he said, “Thanks. That means a lot coming from you.”

Thank you, Michael.

In thinking of this event, It occurred to me, others of my relatives have achieved chef standing with Dutch ovens. I think it’s time for a family Dutch oven cook off. Maybe we could make it a camp cooking competition and those guys who make the wonderful breakfasts on the griddle can compete, too.

Hmm, we could invite the whole campground to judge. We could be famous!

We’ll I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime start gearing up for the 24th. It’s Pioneer Day in Utah. A great weekend for outdoor cooking. I think I’m scheduled to cook dinner for my church group.


Independence Day and Girls Camp

By Keith N Fisher

What are your plans for the weekend? When asked about Independence Day, most people in the United States think of parades, fireworks, and barbecue. My extended family tradition has been to go camping at the same place in the canyon. We have a family potluck and come home in time for the fireworks.

One year, while practicing recipes for cook offs, I cooked foods in several Dutch ovens. Other years, it was just a couple of pots, but for several years now, I’ve made something in a Dutch oven.

The sale circulars in the newspaper will give you an idea what most people do for the fourth. The hotdogs, chips, hamburger buns and steaks on sale are good indications of that. May I suggest a new tradition?

Make a pizza crust or use frozen bread dough. Invert the lid of a Dutch oven over a trivet or lid holder. Use it as your pizza plate and put on your toppings. Then place coals on the bottom around the same circle you use under a pot.

Then, invert the pot and place on top of the lid. Place coals on top between the legs, (in the same pattern as if on top of a lid).

You will need a good long pair of gloves to lift the pot and check the pizza. Rotate around the coals when needed, to avoid hotspots. Use a rolling pizza cutter to avoid scoring the lid. Wow your campmates. You will love it.

Now, for the Girl’s Camp Report.

Wendy was fantastic. Somebody called her a hero in church. She had the stake leaders eating from her hand (kitchen). I couldn’t be prouder of her.

Have a happy fourth and enjoy your pizza. Be careful lifting the pot. It will be hot. Thanks to Mat Bone for showing us how pizza is done.


The Dream Job

By Keith N Fisher

My wife and I catered and competed with Dutch ovens for years. We were a team. I would cook everything, maneuvering the ovens and setting up equipment. Her responsibility was to mix ingredients and come up with deserts to die for. I’m also the meat expert and greeter.

When she agreed to be my partner in that first cook off, it was contingent on her staying in the background. Greeting spectators was my department. I love talking to people, so the arrangement worked well for me.

Then, a few years into it, I watched my wife teach an impromptu class on making gumdrop roses for cake decorating. I knew the hobby had changed her. She was coming out of her shell. The gratification I felt multiplied, when She apologized for stealing my thunder while interrupting my lecture on coal placement at a charity event we cooked for this year.

Now she’s at Girls Camp. She was asked to be camp cook and she wanted me to come and help. We told her no. It’s for young women, no boys allowed. So, with some trepidation, she’s been planning meals, buying food, storing food, and locating equipment. Now, she’s up there and our living room seems to have grown. The refrigerator seems empty.

Wendy asked my opinion about many things from portion sizes to how many coals to use. I took half a day off and loaded the stuff into the truck and a trailer we borrowed. Then on Tuesday, I took the day off and drove her to camp.

I helped set up her kitchen and came home. The operative words there are “her kitchen”. I think this is the first time she’s cooked without me and I’m feeling left out. When I think of the menu she planned, I’m jealous. Those girls are eating well. Better than if they were staying at the hotel.

My wife is receiving the accolades she deserves and she is growing. I wouldn’t trade that for being the camp cook on one of Teddy Roosevelt’s hunting parties. Well, I’d have to work out a deal so we could do both. I’m looking forward to meeting him after I die.

Until then, I’m sitting back with baited breath. I can’t wait to hear about the wonderful meals she cooked. I’m excited to hear praises from those who are there. I’m hoping for leftovers, although I know my hope is in vain. There won’t be any food left. One thing I learned while cooking on bishopric night at girl’s camp is, girls eat more than boys do, when the boys aren’t around.

I also learned they’re grateful. I’ve felt like a hero after cooking for them. I’m convinced. My wife has the best church job in the world.


On The Cutting Edge

By Keith Fisher

Father’s Day is fast approaching. I hope you plan to cook outdoors for your father. If you’re having trouble finding something for the special father in your life, may I suggest Dutch oven and camp cooking tools? Click this link for suggestions. Click this link for a list of needed tools.

I was contemplating this blog the other day and a pattern seemed to emerge. Several years ago, I got caught up in a trend called Citizens Band Radio. When I got involved, everyone had a federal license. In fact, it was the law. I thought it was a wonderful idea. I could keep in touch with my friends, and get help in an emergency.

I found out how useful the tool was when I got my Blazer stuck one night. Being way out in the desert, walking to a phone would’ve taken all night. I got on the radio and contacted someone who made a phone call and help arrived.

CB radio was cutting edge and it was my hobby. Soon, clubs formed and social events revolved around the craze. Television and movies got involved and it seemed that everyone had a radio. The government stopped requiring licenses, (probably because there were too many users to keep up with). I became one of many who enjoyed the hobby.

Later, when I got involved in Dutch oven cooking and competition, I started one of the first websites devoted to Dutch oven. I posted pictures and that was new. Later I authored a site for the Greater Wasatch Dutch Oven Society, and we used it to keep our members informed about upcoming events, along with useful info about cooking in black pots.

In my writing career, I learned to blog. Shortly after, an opportunity came up to blog about Dutch oven and camp cooking for Your LDS Neighborhood.com so I became one the first to blog about it.

Now, there are thousands of websites, and many blogs about Dutch oven. There are podcasts and video and I am a lone voice in the wilderness. I take comfort, though in knowing I made a contribution.

This point was brought home to me the other day when an old friend sent me an E-mail. He referred to a document taken from Facebook, talking about coal placement for Dutch ovens. My friend asked if I subscribe to the rule of thumb mentioned. So, I went to the info and discovered it was something I put on the Internet twelve years ago.

Yes I was on the cutting edge at one time. It’s fun to see graphical images, I created, pop up on other websites and blogs. It would be nice to get credit, but I use their images too.

I also realized the basics of outdoor cooking need to be covered on this blog, but I already wrote about those things. Look to your left. There’s a search window. Type in your question. Chances are, I already blogged about those things. Use a keyword to narrow the search. If you can’t find your answers leave a comment. I’ll pull the info off my website or write a new article.

I hope you enjoy your hobby. Stop back often and see what kinds of things I’ll rant about next.


Camp Chef DOG and a Demo

by Keith Fisher

I couldn't make it to the DOG at Campchef last Saturday, but my wife did. Thank You, to Steve and all the CampChef guys and gals for providing one of the best events of the season. I especially want to thank the man who helped fill her Girls Camp cook needs. She didn't remember your name, but she really appreciated your time and help.

The DOG (Dutch Oven Gathering) was held on the lawn in front of the CampChef plant. As I mentioned, it's the premier event of Dutch oven gatherings. Everyone is there and the food is great. Afterword, Campchef offers great deals on some of their products.

Mark your calender for next year. It's always held the first Saturday in June.

Emergency Preparedness

I had the opportunity this week, to teach and demonstrate Dutch oven cooking at our Church as part of the emergency preparedness fair. It had been awhile sinch I did a demo, so I scrambled for handouts. Digging through the old stuff brought back memories. I made a run to the copy store and put a drawing together. I made barbecued hot dog pieces and dairycase bread, and gave a Dutch oven candle away.

The Demo went pretty well. I made a short stack of Dutch ovens, with a 16-inch on the bottom, then 14, 12, 10, 8, and 6. I showed many differt types of other ovens. along with myriad lift lifters, lid holders, and charcoal starters. I showed some to the needed tools for Dutch oven and made hot dogs in my CampChef lifting grill (Simular to a volcano). There was fascination over the fact I was cooking in the building on a plastic table, with charcoal. The aroma brought people to my table. It was great.

I made Bread outside on the table from Pop n Fresh biscuits. Turn them on end side by side and fill the middle. great bread, easy and tasty. I like to bake it in an Ultimate Dutch oven. That way the cone in the center makes an interesting shape.

I find it fascinating that every time emergency preparedness is discussed, many people tell me, in an emergency, they're coming to my house to eat. I always tell them fine, but you bring your food storage. Yes I can cook outdoors, but if I don't have anything to cook . . . well, you get the idea.

In my demo, I built on the premise of what if the power goes out? Can you cook? I have been driven to the carport to bake bread when the kitchen oven broke down. My neighbor is happy to tell about the time they were making a birthday dinner and the power went out. I had been teaching him about Dutch oven cooking so he dragged out his gear and finished making dinner on the deck. the party was saved.

There are many, different types of emergency cooking gear, including a solar oven. If you already cook outdoors, you've won the battle. you can be the one who people talk about cooking durning disaster. Don't forget to tell them to bring their food storage.
Note: The writer has not recieved products for endorsements.


Memorial Day

By Keith Fisher

After you lay the flowers down, and remember those who came before, I hope you are planning a big outdoor get together. We’re going to my mother’s this year. And I’m baking a cake in my Dutch oven.

Whatever you do this day, I hope you spend it with those you love. May you have a safe holiday.

Now for the report, we made three big pots of barbecue spare ribs, three pots of potato smashers, and four cheesecakes. Wendy made coleslaw and the teachers had a wonderful meal. See some pictures here.

On Thursday, I mentioned we had a cheesecake factory going. We made them a day before and put the whole thing, pot too, in the fridge in preparation for the big day.

Later, I was asked how to make the ribs. So, here is my recipe.

A package of country style pork ribs
A large onion
A large green bell pepper
A large red bell pepper
Two bottles of your favorite barbecue sauce.

Dice and sauté the vegetables. Add the meat let simmer. About 1 hour later let the meat rest by taking off the heat. About 30 minutes after that drain the juices and put back on the heat. Add the sauce and simmer until the meat is tender enough to cut with a plastic fork.

Is that easy enough for you? Good luck and have a great day.


My Cheesecake Factory

by Keith Fisher

I've been baking cheesecakes this morning. We are cooking for the teachers at school tomorrow, and the desert will be two different kinds of cheesecake. I will show you after tomorrow.

You know Dutch oven cooking is a funny thing. Once you get it in your blood it never leaves. I've been working at the thrift store lately, sorting donations. I've seen two Dutch ovens come through and it made me wonder.

Why would someone give a Dutch oven away. These were new ovens, from a cheap manufacturer, but still, to give them away? Okay, it's for charity.

Good luck with your Memorial Day cook out and get those Dutch ovens out of the box. Heat 'em up, and toss some food in there.

Well, gotta go now. Gotta check on the cheesecake


Three Events, and a Few Pictures

By Keith Fisher

Stew Day went well. We second guessed ourselves and ended up with a full pot of leftover stew. This year, however, many of the kids thanked me and told me how good it was. The 2010 fourth graders are unruly. They have a mind of their own, but They’re very polite and a credit to their parents.

Often, when we do things for our kids, we don’t even get a grunt of recognition, much less, a thank you. It was refreshing to hear it from those kids this year. The final count was one, 15-inch MACA, one 13-inch MACA, one 14-inch deep, and one 12-inch deep Dutch oven. (For those who don’t know. MACA only makes deep ovens.) That’s 12 ½ gallons of stew.

We also made six, 14-inch corn breads, and 8 cobblers. (Two, 14-inch and six, 12-inch). I’m convinced, I need to get some larger ovens. A 16-inch lodge will hold 12 quarts. A 12-inch lodge will hold 6 quarts. That’s one less oven, I have to make coals for. One less oven, I have to keep checking. Hmm I think I’m onto something.

Two days later, for Mother’s Day, I made a cinnamon glazed ham, cooked a yellow cake for Strawberry shortcake, and made another 14-inch cornbread from a mix. My wife is camp cook at girl’s camp this year and somebody wanted her to try it. Cooking from scratch always beats a mix, for taste.

My mom loved the ham, and it was nice to have my brothers over. I didn’t get any pictures taken, though.

Another three days found me in the carport, cooking onion roast beef, curried chicken, potato smashers, and shrooms and trees. (Mushrooms, cauliflower, and broccoli in the same pot with a little melted butter).

I was cooking for my critique group. Two of the ladies held contests in honor of their books coming out, and one of the prizes was a session with our critique group. LT Elliot was one of the winners and she loved my curried chicken. I loved her writing. Between eating dinner, and seven critiques, we didn’t finish until around midnight. I wonder what the neighbors thought. LOL.

I’m gearing up for the last day of school, when we cook for the teachers at the place where my wife works. Through it all, I’ve felt useful. I once heard a wise man say if you get discouraged, do service. Cooking for people and seeing them pile my food on their plates, makes me feel useful. I thank God for the opportunities.


Stew Day 2010

By Keith Fisher

I’m gearing up for stew day. For several years now, My wife and I have been part of the fourth grade American history unit at the school where she works. The classes learn about the nineteenth century for a week, then on Friday, They play outdoor, period games, and we cook beef stew, cornbread, and cobbler.

In the interest of sanity and to free up a couple of ovens, I make corn bread two days before, and save it in tinfoil. Then, on the big day, I make stew and cobblers and enjoy myself.

This year, there will be about 120 people. We’re planning on 8 cobblers, two 15-inch and one 14-inch deep Dutch oven for stew. Can anyone say YEEHAW?

Now, you might have noticed the calendar says Sunday is Mother’s Day. What better way to show your love, than to cook outdoors for all of her loved ones. We’re having ham, potatoes, and an unnamed dessert.

In a week, I plan to show my gratitude for my writing critique group by making a Dutch oven meal. All I can say is pray for good weather.

With all that cooking going on I’ll be busy, but I’ll try to keep you informed. In the meantime, pull out your pots, or your barbecue, and make something mouth watering for Mom.


How Did You Get Started in Dutch Oven Cooking?

By Keith Fisher

What was the motivating factor?

Recently, I interviewed some of my friends, asking them how they got involved with International Dutch Oven Society, and Dutch oven cooking in general. There was a time, when cast iron pots were an oddity, and most outdoor cooking was done on the barbecue.

At sometime during our lives, every Dutch oven cook caught the bug, if you will. We crossed the line between active participation and being a spectator. I used cast iron pots on camping trips for years before I got serious and my blood began to run with cast iron.

Since then, I’ve met many like-minded people who are some of the best souls I’ve ever met. What was my motivation? For me, the madness came, on a Saturday, when I wanted to make dinner for my wife, but I needed to keep working in my garden.

I pulled a Dutch oven out of the camping stuff, thawed a venison roast, and stared some coals. As time went on I cut up potatoes, carrots, and onions from the garden. Toward the end of cooking, I added corn on the cob from that same garden. Before I knew it, there was too much food for only 2 people. I called my Dad and brother and invited them to dinner. They dropped everything and came up.

Up to that point, my wife and I, had enjoyed holding backyard parties and firing up the barbecue. I soon discovered that more people would come if I told them I was cooking Dutch oven.

We got caught up in competition after that, and now my barbecue gets used once a year, but the Dutch ovens go with us everywhere. Backyard parties are Dutch oven gatherings. Whenever I plan a menu for camping, I think of Dutch ovens. I use skillets and grills too, but my pots get used most frequently.

Carol Hill told me a great story about visiting her relatives in Wyoming, She experienced Dutch oven cooking from a pot buried in the ground, surrounded by coals. The Hills were sold from that point on.

Terry Lewis said his family had always been cooking in Dutch ovens. He grew up with a cast iron tradition.

Ranes Carter said it was a better way of cooking in camp than a Hobo Stove.

Dannie Phillips told me he saw Val Cowley teach a class at a military surplus and camping store.

Many folks have watched a cook off, thinking they might not be able to make fancy dishes, but they could make stew on the elk hunt. Many folks thought it would be good to have a Dutch oven in their emergency food storage. I hope they pulled it out of the box and used it.

What was your inspiration? I’d love to know. I’m putting together a Dutch oven cookbook and I’ll use your name in the essay. Leave a comment on this blog or send me an email to bloghole57 at yahoo dot com

Another note, I’m still hoping the man who sat next to me at the Friday night DOG during the convention will send me an email. Remind me of your name so I can enter you in the drawing. I’m sorry my senior memory has gone the way of the world.


Yes, Its that Time of Year Again

By Keith Fisher

In our busy lives today, it seems it’s always (Some) time of year again. Whether its time to rake the leaves, shovel snow, or plant the garden, We have markers in our lives that keep us connected to the calendar and to each other. For many of us, springtime brings thoughts of getting our gear out, cleaning it up, and packing it in to go camping.

I know I promised to write about something else this time, but I feel the urge to talk about our ancestral need to get out into nature.

In our house, the first camping trip of the year usually coincides with the Spring Dutch oven convention. As you know from my blog last week, the event is held at the Davis County Fairgrounds, in Farmington, Utah. In the past, we parked in the parking lot. Now there’s a campground.

Its my shakedown trip, because it gives me a chance to see if anything is going to break down before I get into the wilderness somewhere. Camping in the city provides me with convenient auto and trailer parts stores. If I forget to fill the propane tanks, I don’t have to drive several miles to rectify the problem.

I need to admit, though, I got this idea from John Mckenzie, an old friend who we used to camp with. A group of us, used to go to Provo Boat Harbor in early May, before the mosquitos took up residence. Many a Dutch oven meal made our camping trips heavenly.

Anyway, after the shakedown every year, I’m ready for campgrounds, National Parks, and wild places. In Utah, that usually means the mountains somewhere. It also means reservations. I had a conversation with my brother once, when he predicted a day that we wouldn’t be able to use the canyons with paying a fee. Although I hated to think about it, I figured he was right, but I hoped it wouldn’t happen in my lifetime.

That day is here, so start now, plan your trips for this year, and get reservations early. Because of the economy last year, it was possible to get reservations, sometimes within the same week of your trip. That’s not always the case, and it won’t last forever. Get your reservations.

It is, still possible, however, to find open places for camping in Utah. If your pleasure is fishing, boating, and tourist attractions, you will need to camp in a designated campground, but if you want to make your own fun, consider the desert.

Wherever you go, don’t forget your camp kitchen. What a thrill it is to watch the sun go down over a mountain peak, while putting the finishing touches on your Dutch oven meal. Or, light a fire in the morning and roast brats for breakfast.

There is satisfaction in rolling your dough out before reveille, cutting biscuits to bake. Then, to watch your campmates stick their heads out to get a whiff of your cooking.

Camping for me is like a link to the past. My father loved to hunt and fish. I remember fishing trips and a vague trip to Yellowstone. As a child, I dreamed of the day when I could go deer hunting with my dad and brother. My uncles and grandpa would be there too.

When that day finally arrived, I was overwhelmed, but I think I fell in love with the camping part of it more than the hunting part. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the hunting, but I loved my grandfather’s camp cooking. He loved to make pancakes for breakfast.

Over the years, we went from Tent camping to a cab-over camper on the back of Dad’s truck. When I married, I bought a camper to get her off the ground. But I needed the truck for hunting, and I got tired of loading and unloading the camper. I bought a camp trailer. When my daughter was born, we needed a bathroom---well, you get the picture. Camping has been part of our lives and camp cooking has been part of the fun.

Now, I gaze at old pictures and marvel over the great campsites we used over the years. Sometimes we had a perfectly placed tree to hang our lantern. Sometimes we made camp furniture from fallen logs. Always, we had great discussions around the campfire.

Shortly after getting married, we started taking trips into the desert. It was a great place to get away from the crowds at Easter time. Now the ATV crowd is moving in, but it’s still a nice place to go. There are beautiful things in the desert, not seen at 25 miles per hour on the back of a four-wheeler. Keep in mind though, It’s a harsh climate.

Whether you hunt, fish, ATV, fly kites, or ride horses. Camping can be a great part of it. There’s nothing like riding into camp on your four-wheeler, or pulling your boat up to the dock, and sitting down to a hot Dutch oven meal. Cobbler tastes just as good in the mountains as in the desert. Your skillet works just as well in a motor home, as on camp stove, or campfire. Brats are delicious roasted on a stick.

Still, if you can't possibly get away, and work keeps you at home, there’s always your back yard, isn’t there?


Beep, Beep, Beep

By Keith Fisher

While my family slept, I stood outside the trailer, basking in the glory of the new day. A layer of frost had formed during the night obscuring the view through the windshield of my truck. Over the field to the west, preparations were being made to handle the onslaught. A small car came through the Davis County Fairgrounds parking lot, and the driver honked the horn.

Well, it was more of a high pitched beep and the driver continued the beeping as the car went around the back of the buildings and parked on the lawn. That has to be Ranes, I thought. A man got out of the car with his boys. Yep, it was Ranes Carter.

I drove my truck over to unload my stuff into the taste of Dutch building. “Ranes,” I said. “You’re liable to get shot, honking that horn.”
“Just waking everybody up,” he said.
What a nice guy, I thought. He doesn’t want any one to miss any part of the convention.

The day had begun for many of us who attended the convention. The Dutch oven potluck dinner, the night before, had been delicious. With several pots of tempting morsels lined up, there was no excuse for anyone to be hungry.

I made orange hotdogs. I filled a 12-inch deep Dutch oven with hotdogs, cut in half. Then, I simmered them in two cans of cream soda for about 45 minutes. About an hour before serving, I poured the contents of a large bottle of Panda Express Orange Sauce, over the dogs. I let them simmer.

I’ve written about the convention before, so you know about the format. In building number one, There were demos and classes. Everything from Dutch oven 101, to making pizzas in a Dutch oven was talked about. Many cooks learned new things or were reminded of things they had forgotten.

Building two was for the vendors to display their camp cooking wares and gadgets. Many an innovative doohickey has been sold there over the years. Also, are the Dutch oven essentials, everything you would need to start cooking in your backyard.

Sharing that building, International Dutch Oven Society (IDOS), set up displays and sold recipe books and dispensed information. At noon, IDOS held an auction in this building. Ron Hill and Clyde Miller, Both former IDOS presidents, did a great job selling many useful items for camp cooking.

Moving South to building three, we found the Youth cook off. Teams ranging from 12 years to 17 years old competed for coveted prizes. I’ve been a judge of this cook off before, and I can say, the dishes those kids present would amaze you. This year, was no exception.

Sharing the building with the cook off, was Ram Cooking Supplies, a vendor, who provides quality utensils for cooking great dishes. They sold a steel mixing bowl big enough to bathe a large baby. They are always a welcome sight at the convention.

Also in building three is the Taste of Dutch. Every year, many cooks gather to provide samples for convention attendees. The type of cooking ranges from simple to elaborate. Cooks share secrets, samples, and encouragement.

Because of teaching, judging the cookoff, and laziness, It’s been several years since I cooked in Taste of Dutch. My wife and I used to be standards in the event. With all the talk, during the championships, about the good old days, I decided to volunteer. My wife, Wendy, had planned to take a few classes. I planned to cook three dishes, pack up, and enjoy the convention. I got roped into baking a pile of Rhodes Frozen Dough that had been donated by the company. Also, I baked Bruce’s two pots of pull-a-parts.

Wendy, stepped in, and never got to the classes, and by the time it was over, I’d cooked peanut butter cookie cake, potato smashers, peach dump cake, two pots of pull-a-parts, And a pile of Rhodes bread, orange rolls, and cinnamon rolls. All in all I cooked 13 pots of food, and Wendy did cleanup and served it to the spectators. Wendy also helped judge the cook off.

At the end of the day, IDOS held the annual meeting for members. I sat down for a while and had trouble straightening back up. Still, I had a great time.

It all started with the beep, beep, beeping, of Ranes Carter’s horn. He made up for it, though, by cooking breakfast for many of us. He made biscuits and gravy to die for. Don’t worry, I’m going to pester him until he gives me the recipe. Then, I’ll post it here.

In the meantime, here are a couple of simple recipes.

Potato Smashers

In a 14-inch Dutch oven, put a little water. Cube two medium onions, or one large onion. Cube approximately fifteen potatoes. Make enough to fill the oven (not quite to the top). Add water if needed and boil. Coals on the bottom only.

When soft, mash the potatoes with a little milk and two squares of butter. Mix in grated cheese and two packages of turkey bacon bits.

That’s it. Mix the cheese and bacon bits into mashed potatoes. Of course it tastes better in a Dutch oven.


Peanut Butter Cookie Cake.

I used a brownie mix according to directions. You could use a cake mix and use only ¼ cup water. 2/3 cup oil and two eggs. The idea is to make a thick batter. Thicker than a cake batter. With that mixed, spoon it into a 12-inch Dutch oven that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Level the batter and add two packages peanut butter chips. Spread them around and push them into the batter.

Bake until a knife or toothpick inserted, comes out clean. Turn out of oven onto a cake rack, and let cool. When cool, frost with white frosting, and cut into squares. I used to use a white cake mix and one package of chocolate chips. But this time I used chocolate cake so I used two packages of peanut butter chips.

The Dutch oven convention happens every spring. There is also one in the fall that travels from place to place. Stay tuned to http://www.idos.org/ for info. Sometimes vendors offer fantastically cheap deals. Every time, however, you can taste great food, and learn smart tips. Plan to be there next year.

I wrote about a contest last week and one man mentioned he’d read my blog. I thought I’d remember, so I didn’t write his name down. Okay I admit to my senior moment. Could you make a comment or send me an email so I can remember? I’m talking to the man I sat next to, at the DOG. We’ll get the drawing going after I hear from you.

Next time, well talk to a few people about Dutch oven cooking, and how they got started. Well also talk about professional cooking and how it differs from camp cooking. We'll also have the drawing.


A Gathering of Iron Heads

By Keith Fisher

Every year, a great opportunity is presented to the people of Utah, and the World. I’ve spoken about this before, and once again, I’m amazed that so many good folks don’t take advantage of it.

Every spring, International Dutch Oven Society, (IDOS) holds a Dutch oven convention in Farmington Utah. There is talk of moving the location, but it has been on the Davis County Fairgrounds for many years.

The event starts this Friday with a (DOG), Dutch oven gathering (Potluck party). Bring food. Cook it there, get a ton of tips, share some of your own.

Some of us will be camping, and staying over. You’re welcome to sit by my off the ground campfire and chat. I might have a few marshmallows to roast.

The next morning, Saturday at 9 a.m. the convention begins. There will be vendors, classes, demos, and The Taste of Dutch. I will be cooking free samples along with many others. You can help me, by suggesting something for me to cook. What do you want to eat?

Also on Saturday, there will be a Dutch oven cook off for youth. Terry Lewis is directing it, and he needs more competitors. Come see what these kids can do. I judged that cook off for a few years, and I know most of those dishes would give the adults a run for their money.

For more information on any of these events, or to enter your kids in the cook off, go to the IDOS website. See you there.

As an added incentive, if you find me at the convention, and mention you saw this blog, I will enter you in my drawing. If you leave a comment, then mention it at the convention, I will enter you twice.

The winner will get their choice of a Chuck wagon dinner bell, Camp cooking video, or Dutch oven candle. Now I have to remember to take them with me, Darn!


I Dreamed about Cast Iron

By Keith Fisher

I had a dream (or nightmare) last night. I made some things I've never made before. Some of the recipes were pretty off the wall. I'll let you know how they turn out. Anyway I woke with a hankerin. Its time to get out there and cook.

Where I live, its spring, one-day and winter the next, but those warm days are perfect for cooking outdoors. In most households, its time to scrub the carbon off the barbecue grill and get the propane tank filled. Also, in Dutch oven households, there's some preparation work that needs doing.

Back when I started competing, I would pull out all my tools, spread them out under my carport, and brush off the rusty flecks. Then I would give everything a new coat of glossy black paint. The tools used with fire, got barbecue paint. The other stuff got a coat of cheaper spray paint.

This was also the time I would asses and repair. I'd check my tools for usability, decide if I needed to get another one, or would it make it through another year. My father was a milwright welder, so I handmade most of my tools, but there are other things, I won at cookoffs, or purchased because my heart just couldn't let it go.

Anyway, I cleaned everything up, with new paint, then, turned to the cast Iron. In competitions, my ovens needed to sparkle, so I always took extra care with them. I have ovens that look like my newly painted tools, shiny and black. Every once in while, however, I would find a neglected pot with too much oil coating the cast Iron. Invariably the oil had gone rancid, and I had to heat up the pot to burn the oil out and re-season.

My pots never went rusty, because with matching tags on the lid and the pot, I never stored a pot with the lid on. If I made a mistake, I could always brush out the rust and re-season.

After the ritual, I had clean, new looking tools, which begged me to fire and the coals. Spring had not sprung each year, until I cooked too much, and invited family and friends over to help eat my extravagance.

You can do this too. You don't need to prepare for cook offs in order to get your stuff out. If you have been cooking all winter, then you've already done it. Get those pots out, try out some new tools, repair the old ones, and heat 'em up. Get out there and announce the season. Cook something delicious—invite your family to help you eat it. Have fun, its going to be another great year.