Flaking Out . . . Again

I can't believe it has been over a year since I posted on this blog. My how time flies and I really have no excuse. I've been working a new recipe and will show you a pic soon. until then. please don't count me out. I will be back.


More on Lump Charcoal

By Keith N Fisher

Last week, I promised to continue my lump charcoal experiments. This week, I tried keeping a reserve. I thought, if I could keep the chunks together long enough for them to turn white with ash, then the chunks might continue to burn.

I made a pile and lit it
I used my kettle barbecue, poured lighter fluid on, and lit the pile. I waited, and when several of the pieces were mostly white, I separated them. Not only did they go out, but I had to keep pouring lighter fluid on the pile.

As you can see from the picture behind the blog title above, I’ve cooked with lump charcoal and campfire coals, before. It was always piled on the lid, though.

A few years ago, a group of us got together and purchased a pallet of restaurant style natural mesquite lump charcoal. The company was called Lazari and it came in large bags about forty pounds each. There were many large pieces. Some of them looked like tree limbs. It burned clean with little smoke and no chemical smells.
I made sure they were burning before I seperated the coals

On the day I took that picture, I was using the Lazari. The bag was new and cooking with it was no trouble. Then I took some to a cook off in Wyoming and just couldn’t get it to burn. I ended up finishing the dish with briquettes.

The beauty of briquettes is the uniformity. Counting coals is easy. Like lump and campfire coals each briquette burns at a different temperature, but they generally don’t go out before they become ashes.

the coals went out
Because of the chemical fumes and extra smoke, however, briquettes are killing me.

You might say, lump is kicking my hump. Briquettes, however, will take my breath away. I’m going to locate some Lazari and try it again, but the search goes on. I’m going to find a charcoal that doesn’t emit deadly fumes or smoke too much. I know the latter part will be hard, because the BBQ guys love the smoke.

I’ll keep you informed about the search. Maybe I’ll start reviewing different kinds here on the blog.


Cooking for the Group and Lump Charcoal

By Keith N Fisher

As you can see from the picture, there wasn’t quite as many as we planned for. We didn’t have many leftovers though. The group of young people loved the stew and I learned a few things. I learned that every group is different. When we cook for the fourth grade, everyone loves the peach cobbler and corn bread. This group didn’t eat much corn bread and they liked apple cobbler.

We cooked at the ropes course on West Center Street in Provo. Down by the boat harbor. The group loved the course, and I had a ringside seat for what I call the Rocket Swing. If you ever get the chance, you should experience the fun.

While making corn bread in my carport, I decided to give lump charcoal another try. I’d grown sick of the fumes and smoke from briquettes, and I knew that lump charcoal was clean. Since barbecue is big business, the briquette manufactures tend to ignore the needs of Dutch oven cooks. Although I can’t prove it, they even add something to their product that makes it smoke. I’ve been cooking in Dutch ovens for a while, and it didn’t used to smoke like that.

My previous experience with lump was positive, but It tends to extinguish itself unless it’s kept together in a pile. With briquettes, once you catch the edges on fire, the rest of the coal will continue to burn, not so with lump. As you can see from the picture at the bottom, even placing it with briquettes doesn’t help it to burn.

Since the fumes of briquettes are getting to me, though, I’ve decided to keep working with lump. I’m going to devise a way to enjoy the clean, natural smoke of lump with no chemical fumes. All I have to figure is how to keep it burning. I will keep you informed.

If you know of a way to make lump work, let me know.



By Keith N Fisher

A friend of mine asked me to cook for his group of two hundred on Saturday. As always, in these cases, I scramble to plan a pleasing menu. I want to offer something easy and delicious. Preferable dishes, are those that require the fewest Dutch ovens. Not that I don’t have the cast iron, but I hate to pack it all.

We finally decided on beef stew, cornbread, and cobbler. My friend will provide green salad. Those of you who follow this blog will recognize that menu from my posts about cooking for the fourth grade. The beauty of the menu is the precooking that can be done.

As I said before, I own a lot of cast iron but I only have three 14-inch shallow ovens, and I’m making 7 pots of cornbread. Also, I want to use those three pots for cobbler.

I could use seven different pots of various sizes, but I hate serving food to groups in a hodgepodge of sizes and shapes. It makes me look unprofessional and if I ever really go into the business, I’ll have to purchase a bunch of the same size pots. That can be a two edged sword, however, because different dishes should be cooked in different sized pots.

Still, a few 16-inch shallow pots can fit as much food as many 12-inch, but a big roast needs a big, deep pot.

Anyway, I’ve turned my carport into a cornbread bakery and I’m going to slice, dice, and precook much of the rest of the meal.

On a different note, the cookbook is finished but I’m waiting for critiques. I need to get that turned into the publisher, so wish me luck.


How Many?

By Keith N Fisher

Did you ever wonder how many cookbooks do we need in the world? Although I don’t have the figures, the numbers published each year seems to be increasing. Maybe I’m just more aware, because I’m writing one.

I got two emails this week, from publishing houses, marketing new cookbooks. I see Facebook posts, and newsletter items from Dutch oven friends who are also putting their recipes together. So, I ask the question; how many cookbooks do we need anyway? Will mine be received in the way I hope?

I’m on the last leg of writing mine, and I’m drowning my critique group with text editing. I think you’ll like my book, but I’m worried it’ll be too late.

In the publishing world, often, it’s all about timing. Getting the right book in the hands of editors at the right time makes all the difference. I know writers who wrote books like Harry Potter but they submitted them too late, they got rejections telling them they didn’t need another Harry Potter.

Hopefully, my cookbook will offer wisdom and experiences you will enjoy. I’ve included many stories, legends, and some fiction, mingled with recipes and instruction. It won’t be the first camp-cooking book, but it will be original to me.

I recently purchased some new roasting sticks and a charcoal starter chimney that I’ll write about in a future blog post. I hope you’ve enjoyed the summer with many backyard feasts.


Write it Down

By Keith N Fisher

While working on the cookbook the other day, I wrote:

One time in deer camp, I made a kick butt chili that started out as a way to get rid of the bumper crop of tomatoes from my garden. I didn't intend to make chili, but it worked out that way. For the same meal, I made fry bread using frozen bread dough.

I never made that chili again, but it lives in my memory of great dinners. I can’t, however, remember any of the amounts I put into it. Such is life in camp.
In an attempt to figure it out, I made chili Saturday. I used tomatoes, three kinds of canned beans, turkey burger, and various other things. It ended up as chili, but not like I remembered. I’m certain I added more things on the camping trip. And I think I added more chili powder before. Still it tasted okay, but somebody wanted to use it for Sunday dinner. I didn't even get any pictures.

When it cooled, we put it in the refrigerator and saved it. When I came home for church it was in a crock-pot the "spicy" was missing and tomato sauce had been added. It was okay, but it wasn’t the chili I made on that deer hunt. It wasn’t the chili I made on Saturday.

As I wrote in the cookbook, I’ve always been able to cook on the fly, so to speak. I use what’s available and don’t worry about amounts. The problem is, I sometimes make something really good and forget how it’s made.

Such is life in deer camp, I guess. So, remember, write down the amounts. You might want to cook it again. You might want to write a cookbook.


The Disposable Sizzle

By Keith N Fisher

I don’t remember all the details, but years ago, when my wife and I were dating, I purchased a disposable barbecue grill. We were out together and in an attempt at romance, I decided I would treat her to a picnic.

I bought some hamburger, buns, chips and salad, I think. We went up the canyon and I started the charcoal. It was a disaster. Like I said I don’t remember the details, but I do remember the cold fire, raw hamburgers and me feeling like a clod.

We were married in 1986 before the advances in technology, but I still cringe when I see the disposable grills for sell.

On this blog, I’ve written about the top of the line Ferrari barbecues, and I’ve written about the public grills that nobody uses. I passed a disposable grill display at work the other day and decided to write about that. I bought one for $5.99 and brought it home.

My wife asked, "what is that?"

I said, "research."

the contents of the package. A little flimsy
With trepidation, I girded my loins and tried to put my bad experience behind me. Moving forward I opened the package and followed the instructions.

The fire I lit lasted longer than I thought it would, and I got impatient. While waiting, I changed my clothes and thawed some meat. When I returned, I discovered the grill had wedged itself between the uprights of the stand. (The whole thing is flimsy anyway).

After pulling it apart and bending the stand back, I sat to watch the flames but I couldn’t wait. The brats on a plate were making my mouth water. I found the grate had deformed above the heat and was not level. I pressed down on the dome shape with my tongs and flattened the surface.

lighting the fire
With flames still burning, I put the brats on, but I couldn’t keep them from rolling. Still, I managed to get them cooked, applied mustard, and they were delicious. Next I thawed some turkey burgers and discovered room enough only for two. Well, perhaps four but they wouldn't be over the heat.

Okay, all in all, it’s not a bad product. You get what you pay for and the charcoal does light quickly. When I finished, the coals were still going, strong enough for many more burgers and brats. If one of those had been available twenty-six years ago, I would’ve been a hunk instead of a clunk.

She still married me, however. (It was too late to back out), and writing women’s fiction is teaching me more about romance. Maybe I should try the picnic again. Since I’m writing a cookbook, I might be able to write it off my taxes.

fire starts quickly

three brats the coals weren't ready yet

two turkey burgers

the disposable one next to my regular grill

the size of the shelf

I threw the leftovers in the recycling.