Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A Letter from the Bay Area

Here's the second email that I received yesterday. This one's from JT of San Francisco and was sent via the IDOS website.

How did you EVER find the time to create such a GRAND report?
I would have lasted through the (maybe) first day.
I got tired just reading the blog.
VERY VERY well done.


JT, thanks for your confidence in my ability to produce a blog. I trust your fatigue is simply from the sheer volume of material on 'Round the Chuckbox and not from any over-produced drudgery on my part.

I guess the best way to answer your question is this: I enjoy writing about my vocation of three and a half decades. Its fun and I do get a certain about of self satisfaction from writing.

When 'Round the Chuckbox grows tedious, as it does every month or two, I set it aside for a few days to collect my thoughts. This gives me a chance to cook (something I don't do at work) and to gather fresh material for upcoming blogs.

During my frequent breaks, I inevitably have to answer the question, "Why am I doing this?" I guess that's a question every blogger has to answer at some point. You learn to write, post a few recipes to the blog and enjoy the labor. You're happy if a few dollars flow Amazon.com to your coffers.

Camp cooking journal

The other thing I do is to keep a culinary journal. I've written about it on 'Round the Chuckbox and in the Dutch Oven News several times because it's an excellent way to record my cooking experiences. I'm now into my 17th journal in nearly 20 years. (I started it at camp on Sunday, July 24 and have already filled 60 pages of a 200-page composition notebook.)

A 14-inch deep Dutch open of Mexican rice for last week's camp. To make the rice in the 10-quart camp oven: sweat 2 chopped onions in bacon fat, add 2 quarts of longgrain rice and brown, add 1-1/2 quarts crushed tomatoes diluted with 1-1/2 quarts chicken broth and season with chili powder, garlic powder, bay leaves and dried oregano. Replace the lid and simmer with hot coals for a 350 degree oven (22 coals top and 12 bottom) until tender. Yield of 8 to 9 quarts of rice is 60 to 70 (1/2-cup) servings.

My original idea for the journal was to records a chronological history of our family camping trips. Consequently, my first journals took multiple years to fill. By 1994-1995 I had filled four notebooks. Since 1996, I've been cranking out one to two books per year.

I use the journal to record what works and what doesn't; what I liked and didn't like about a dish; ideas to improve a dish's flavor; and to create menus. And, if I decide to write a cookbook, I'll already have a score of notebooks bristling with recipes and stories of my culinary adventures.

'Round the Chuckbox is just a natural extension of my culinary notebooks. Thanks for writing ...

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