Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Slash of Color and a DO Experiment

Finally some color in the garden! Not a lot and I see there is a lot of grass growing and a lot of clean up to do. At least the weather's been nice! It's been like summer the past few days. I hope it continues.
I thought I'd try an experiment in the DO. I had a bag of Buffalo chicken tenders in the freezer and wondered about cooking them in the Dutch oven. Maybe I should stick to following other people's recipes. Well, we ate and learned, so I guess it wasn't totally unsuccessful. So I don't have a recipe but here is what I did. I put the Buffalo chicken tenders around the edge of the pot. Then I filled the center with layers of potato, season w/garlic pepper, onions, celery, and blue cheese dressing. I had debated between the Blue Cheese flavor (since Buffalo wings are traditionally served with celery and blue cheese) and Ranch (I know the Dorito's Buffalo Ranch flavor is awesome). Anyway, we went with the Blue Cheese. Now for the problems with this or what I think the problems may have been. First of all it was quite windy. I think this may have contributed to the coals burning down quickly. It seemed that I had a lot of ash and I had thought we had started enough coals but the heat seamed to fizzle out long before the potatoes were done. So we started some more coals and emptied the old and started over fresh, well it did not take long to finish up the cooking but I think, being impatient, I put too many coals on the bottom causing it to burn. Second of all, I think there was not enough liquid to cook the potatoes properly. It was just the dressing and whatever came out of the food during cooking. We did eat it, and except being a little overdone on the bottom and some of the potato edges were a little tough, it tasted pretty good. So it did not go to waste and I think we learned a few things so I will say that it was not unsuccessful. Next time I would add some more liquid (maybe chicken broth?) and I would not have the dressing on top -It got too dried out. Maybe mixed with some more liquid it wouldn't. Maybe I shouldn't use the dressing at all. Maybe I should just layer some crumbly blue cheese in with the chicken broth. Maybe I should just find a recipe and stop trying crazy things. Maybe I should try the Ranch. Anyway you look at it, it was good because we moved into the back yard instead of cooking in the driveway in front of the garage doors. So LIFE IS GOOD!!!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Cute Little Cast Iron Half-Pints

I saw these cute little pots at Herb Philipson's today and could not resist! They are a Lodge half pint serving kettle. I'm not sure what I'll use them for but they were just so cute I bought two. The label says they are perfect for hundreds of uses so I'm sure I'll think of something. I thought they would be perfect for something served with a sauce or maybe melted butter, or just to serve your stews, chili, etc. Hmmmm, what should I make to use these?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cheeseburger Pasta

From the Campbell's Easy Family Favorites cookbook:
Campbell's Cheeseburger Pasta
1 lb. ground beef
1 can Campbell's Cheddar Cheese Soup
1 can (10 3/4 oz.) Campbell's Tomato Soup
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups uncooked medium shell pasta

COOK beef in skillet until browned. Pour off fat.

ADD soups, water and pasta. Heat to a boil. Cook over medium heat 10 minutes or until done, stirring often. Serves 4.
WHAT WE DID/ WOULD DO: We doubled the recipe and cooked in a 12 inch Dutch Oven. We added a couple heaps of broccoli for some added vegetable content. If I had thought of it I would have diced up some onion to cook with the ground beef. I would have substituted the Pepper Jack Soup for the cheddar but they didn't have it at the store I went to. Then when Matt stopped in wearing a sombrero... well too late to make it Mexican then, it was already cooking.
The recipe says serves 4 but we polished off the whole pot(recipe doubled) between 5 of us.
Matt just stopping in - Scott waiting to eat

Topped with shredded cheddar and garlic pepper

Oh, no thanks I don't want any ... gobble, gobble, gobble

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Pigs in a cornfield near the apple orchard.

Sunday cooking mmm-mmm good. First we cooked Pigs In A Cornfield
I saw this recipe on the dutch oven cooking group and just had to try it. With a name like that how could I not?!
Here's the recipe as posted by Mark Wilkins:

Line the oven with standing half ears of corn on the cob. Stand links of Keilbasa Sausage in between the corn. In the center place some sliced potatoes, diced onion, diced celery, diced green chillies. Top with a can of Campbell's Southwest Pepper Jack soup. Season some pork of your choice, like pork chops. Place on top and then cover with another can of Pepper Jack soup. Cook til done. Best to do in a deep oven if possible allowing more head room. Very tasty one pot meal; you can substitute any flavors of soup you desire, or mix & match. Vary vegetables as well. Lot's of choices.

What we did: I used frozen 3-inch corn cobs they came 12 to a package. Too many for one pot so I arranged them in my 12-inch DO and the brand new 10-inch. Would like to try it with fresh corn. The frozen always seems kind of mushy to me. I used canned chopped green chilies. I used boneless pork but it was sliced a little thin and I didn't really buy enough for two pots but we made do. I did have enough keilbasa, potatoes, onions, carrots, and celery. I had only bought the 2 cans of soup so we had to stretch that a little but everything tasted great so I think it was enough to give it that flavor.

Next we made what I'll call Apple Spice Cake
We used a recipe from So Ca Chapter IDOS Cookbook called Convertable Dump Cake that was submitted by Doug Ernst
Basically you pick 2 cans (20 ounces with juice) of fruit, 1 box of cake mix, and one can of lemon lime soda, not diet.(or 2 sticks butter, sliced or melted)
We used 2 cans of Apple Pie Filling, covered with a box of Spice Cake mix, and poured in one can of Sierra Mist, barely stirred in with a few swirls with the end of the spoon and cooked for 45 minutes.
We served with Vanilla Ice Cream and it was a big hit! It's kind of a cross between apple pie, apple crisp, and cake. Whatever you call it, it's delicious!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Shopping to feed my Addiction

OK, I think this new hobby is turning into an obsession! I've been shopping! We've been planning on adding a second Dutch Oven but what to buy? We were thinking a 12 inch shallow (6 quarts). I've seen the Lodge at a few different stores- $60 at Gander Mountain, $53 at Tractor supply, $48 at Wal-Mart. Then at Dick's Sporting Goods I found a Camp Chef Lewis and Clark 10 inch - also 6 quarts. Price $19.97 and it comes with a pretty nice lid lifter. So, at less than half the price for the same number of quarts, how could I resist??
I also found a fire place shovel for shoveling the coals (moving those coals one at a time with the tongs is a real pain in the you know what!). Actually it's a set with stand, log lifter, poker, and of course the shovel! I don't have a fireplace but they will come in handy around the campfire and they were on sale! Regular $14.99 for $5.00! Now I'll just give my husband the job of drilling the holes for the ash to fall through. So as you can see it has begun. I wonder when it will end ;D (Is there a treatment program for castironitis?)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

New Table, New Recipe, (new diet?)

Well I've taken the next step - I'm up off the ground! I used my Gander Mountain $10 off coupon to purchase a Camp Chef table. So much nicer then bending over! So of course we had to try it out Tuesday night.
We used another recipe from the Southern California Chapter of the IDOS - Sharing Our Favorites Cook Book. This time one submitted by Mark Wilkins (director of Arizona Chapter)
2 lb. pkg. frozen hash browns
16 oz. sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 stick butter
1/2 cup green onions chopped
2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

Place potatoes in a greased 12-inch Dutch oven. Season with salt and pepper.
Melt butter (or at least cut into pads), combine with onions, sour cream and soup. Mix together well. Pour over potatoes and sprinkle with cheese. Bake 45 minutes at 35o degrees until completely warm and cheese has melted. Use 8 to 9 coals on the bottom and 15 to 16 on top.
Options: Add some diced ham or Italian sausage.

My Notes: The problem with some recipes that have been around for a while is that they change the packaging of some ingredients. To fool the consumer into thinking the prices have not gone up that much, they decrease the size of the package. My 2 pound package of hash browns was only 1 pound, 14 ounces. I thought this recipe made a lot of sauce for the amount of hash browns but that could be due in part to those 2 missing ounces. It was pretty soupy when I served it up but if we had had a little patience it did thicken up upon sitting and cooling. But it was getting late and we were hungry and it had taken a little longer than they said and we were hungry and it was getting late and yeah, we had no patience! I did not add ham or sausage but I had a few slices of bacon left over from Sunday so I diced it up and just sprinkled a little on the bottom and then some on top.
Now we need to lay off a little or find some "healthy" recipes so we don't end up gaining 100 pounds! That sounds like a plan but what am I going to use that new 10-inch Camp Chef Lewis and Clark oven I just bought today for. $19.97- how could I resist??!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Lessons and Inspiration from DO Dave

Sunday we attended a Dutch Oven demonstration at the Gander Mountain in Middleton, NY. Yeah it's 4 1/2 hours away but that's where the luna(tic) part of my name comes in. Actually it was a nice weekend. The husband and myself - no kids - no grandkids - just the 2 of us went down Saturday and spent the night to attend the demo in the morning. It was nice to get away even for that short time. We learned a lot from Dutch Oven Dave and enjoyed spending those few hours with him , his son, and his grandson. He explained a lot and cooked a mock cheese cake, biscuits, chicken pot pie, peach cobbler, and beef stew. It was a small class so we did plenty of sampling and shared with any passerby. It's amazing how a crowd will form when someone's handing out food.Though I've tried to teach myself the art of DO cooking it all makes so much more sense when you see how it works in person. The hubby, who had no background knowledge before attending the class, is ready to get into it. He's already decided we need another pot, maybe two. We came home with a lid lifter that is the best investment ever. No more lifting the lid with my little hook while steadying the lid with the other hand and having it tilt anyway and spill ashes into your food! This thing is great!! It's so secure and steady . We love it. So what do you do after a 4 1/2 hour drive to return home from a Dutch Oven Demonstration? Well you cook of course!! I'd already picked out a recipe and picked up the ingredients Friday. After re-seasoning the pot I looked for a recipe with bacon. Well this recipe has bacon!! I think I would cut back on the bacon next time. I might sprinkle some on the bottom and some on top and substitute ham for the rest of the layers. It was good but just too greasy!
This recipe was taken from the Southern California Chapter of the Dutch Oven Society - Sharing Our Favorites Cookbook. It's called Debbie Red Bear's Easy Breakfast (submitted by Rochelle Anderson)
1 1/2 lb. raw bacon or bulk sausage, cut into pieces
6 to 8 potatoes
1 large onion, chopped
mushrooms, sliced (optional)
garlic powder
black pepper
5 to 6 eggs, beaten (optional)

In a cold 12-inch Dutch Oven, place a layer of raw meat on bottom. Next, layer potato slices on top of the meat, then onion and mushrooms. Season with garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Continue to layer until you run out of layering ingredients. Scatter meat on top layer. Bake at least 50 minutes at 375 degrees (9-10 coals on bottom, 20 coals on top). Stir minimally.
If adding the beaten eggs- when the potatoes are done, make a cavity in the center of the layers and pour the eggs in the opening. Bake for another 15 to 20 minutes or until the eggs are done.
Easy breakfast is done when the top meat layer is browned and the potato slices melt in your mouth. Serves 6 people. For more or less people, figure 1 potato/egg per person, add/remove meat to preference.

Here's what we did- We opted for the mushrooms to the chagrin of my daughter and stepson. We opted not to add the eggs. We weren't making breakfast and just wanted a potato dish. We did not stir at all. We did not count the coals. Just put a ring around the bottom edge and the top edge. Maybe a little more on top, replenishing a few as they burnt down. Because we didn't add the eggs, we just wanted to brown the top once the potatoes were done. So we covered the entire top to brown the bacon. It smelled so good cooking! Though it was just too greasy we couldn't stop eating it! ; )

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Ready The Dutch Oven

OK I've decided I'm going to figure out how to use this thing. First I need to figure out what it is. I thought it might be a 12 inch deep. There are no markings as to brand. It was purchased in the camping section of Wal-Mart and, yes, they now carry the Lodge 12" shallow but this particular model was purchased back in 1999 or 2000. So they might have had other offerings back then. Gander Mountain carries both the shallow and the deep 12" Lodge so I stopped in there to measure them. I measured the shallow at about 4 inches deep and the deep has a depth of about 5 inches. So then I measured mine. It measures 12 inches across and slightly over 5" deep.
This could explain some of the problems I've had trying to follow recipes for bread and cakes. Maybe I should have been using a shallow or making adjustments for the deeper pan. I don't know.
Now to get the pot ready for cooking. Hmmmm this could be a problem! This is the first year that the DO has been stored in the garage for the winter. Apparently I thought I should have it oiled up to prevent rust in the damp garage. Sounded good at the time but now upon opening the lid I have discovered a waxy gunk has formed. Yeah... so today I thought I would try the method of burning it off on the grill. That may have worked if I didn't run out of gas in the middle of the process. Then I had to go to dance class and then to a program at school for the youngest granddaughter. So finally at 8:00 or so, hubby hooked up the new tank of gas and I decided to scrubby off the crystallized gunk, it was mostly gone anyway. I thought I'd just finish by heating it up good and then letting it cool enough to grease it up and finish cooling. Nope... of course it won't be that easy. I heated it up and was letting it cool enough to handle. Well, I got kinda busy and it cooled off quicker than I expected. Hey, it's cold out. So when I took it off the grill it was looking kind of rusty colored. I didn't like the looks of that so I looked up on the dutchovencooking yahoo group to see if I could find out anything about it. I did see something mentioned about condensation causing this. Well, I decided to take it inside. I scrubbed and washed and dried and it's all criscoed up and sitting in my oven as I type. Doesn't seem to be smoking the place up too bad yet. I'll be headed to bed now and leaving it to cool overnight and I'll see what I end up with tomorrow.

Spring is Sprouting

I woke up Wednesday morning and was laying in bed noticing how clean my fingers and fingernails were. That's because of a long winter of not digging in the dirt. Most all of the snow is finally gone and the sun is shinning. It looks like a beautiful day! So let's go see what's sprouting.

The day lilies or, as my aunt calls them, roadside lilies. They are always early to sprout and hardy to any frost damage that April may bring.

And of course the daffodils will be one of the first blooms with a sunny splash of yellow.

Then the tulips will add a a festive burst of color. Unfortunately for the tulips, they are out close to the road and receive a spray of stone and grit from the snowplows all winter. They always require a little cleanup in the spring.

Those bits of red are the rhubarb leaves trying to unfurl as they push out of the ground. So you can see there are signs of life in the garden! There is also a lot of clean-up to do. I need to get rid of last years debris but I don't like to clean up too much too soon. I like to be able to see where the plants are supposed to be so I don't dig them up before they get started!

As you can see here, the fish pond is not ready for the fish yet as there is still a thin layer of ice. And though the day looks sunny and warm that wind is c-c-c-c-cold! So I took my still clean hands inside!