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.