Sunday, April 30, 2006


I received this email from J P Maher the other day. He writes about SOS, or creamed beef. SOS is the dish that most servicemen either loved or hated. Few straddled the fence on this one.
My brothers, brothers-in-law and I logged a total of nearly forty years in the military. My hitch of 3 years, 9 months and 6 days was in the Cold War, the others in WWII and Korean War era. I'm a translator, culture historian and etymologist. We know whereof we speak.

SOS ("stuff" on a shingle) was NOT Creamed CHIPPED Beef, but Creamed GROUND Beef. Quite gloppy. Some troops loved it. I tried it once and swore off. This is not to say that some troopers learned it another way, but here's the authentic scoop.

Creamed CHIPPED Beef was one of my favorite dishes, whether in the mess Hall or my mother's kitchen.

It was the greyish ground beef recipe that we called "'stuff' on a shingle/SOS."

J.P. Maher, Ph D, E-5RA
(Regular Army)
Professor Emeritus
Thanks for the information, J.P. From my recollection as a 29-year veteran of Navy and Seabee galleys -- both active service and reserve duty -- SOS had a generic definition. Any of the dishes, creamed ground beef, creamed chipped beef and minced beef for instance, were collectively called SOS by sailors.

My favorite? Creamed ground beef. I still eat it's country kin: sausage gravy with biscuits when I get a chance. Creamed chipped beef was too salty, even after rinsing the salt away. Minced beef is just plain horrible any way you fix it!

We served creamed ground beef each morning during my last large field exercise with NMCB-17 in 1994 at Fort Hunter Liggett, California.

Official 1969 Armed Forces recipe for Creamed Ground Beef

1969 Armed Forces Recipe Service Card no. L-30
Yield: 100 portions
Portion: 1 cup

24 pounds ground beef
2 pounds all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon black pepper
6 tablespoons salt
4 ounces beef soup and gravy base
3-1/2 gallons warm milk
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Brown beef in its own fat in steam-jacketed kettle or roasting pan. Drain excess fat. Add flour, pepper, salt, and soup and gravy base to beef. Mix thoroughly and cook about 5 minutes until flour is absorbed. Add warm milk to beef mixture. Add Worcestershire sauce; heat to a simmer, stirring frequently. Cook until thickened.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

American Chuckwagon Association -- the website for the American Chuckwagon association. The ultimate website for anyone who need information on competitions, cookbooks and membership.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

More on Chuckwagons

John "Wishbone" Willems, of Kansas City, email me last week with some advise for those who're interested in purchasing a chuckwagon. He believes the chuckwagon offered on eBay last week is "not worth what they are asking for it." The auction ended this afternoon at $3,150. The wagon didn't sell as the reserve price wasn't met. The seller hasn't re-listed the wagon as of this writing.

A good wagon can be found under $10,000, said John. These wagons come complete with "more cooking equipment and three times as many (Dutch ovens)" as the wagon on eBay last week.

Where does the serious chuckwagon buyer turn? Rope Burns Magazine, recommends John. The magazine "comes out every other month (and) has wagons posted in it every now and then."

John says that you can buy wagons for around $1,500 to $3,000 stripped bare of cooking equipment. They will be road worthy, emphasizes John. He recommends searching the horse drawn equipment category on eBay.

Today, John emailed with a recommended website. Guidelines for a Trail Wagon, says: "The wagons should be historically correct, authentically restored or authentic replicas, drivable, with wagon bed at least two sideboards high, painted or unpainted, with or without Dutch oven boot or possum belly; no iron wheeled farm wagons; no rubber-tired wagons." View the website for a complete list of "must haves" for an authentic chuckwagon of the 1860s to 1890s.

John is looking to buy a wagon in the next five years. In the mean time, you'll find this accomplished Dutch oven cook working the host chuckwagon Saturday, May 6, 2006 at a local competition.

Fort Crook Dutch Oven Cookoff, Fall River Mills, California

Here's news of a Dutch oven cookoff on June 3, 2006 in Fall River Mills, California, northeast of Redding on State Route 299. Let me know if the images are unreadable.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

New El Dorado Western Railway Foundation Blog

I've established a blog for my railroad project, the El Dorado Western Railway Foundation, here on This project will augment our website.

I've invited the foundation President, Eric Stohl, Vice-president Keith Berry and D&C No. 4 Shay Project Manager Doug Youngberg aboard as team members of the El Dorado Western blog. The idea is for each team member to post their individual thoughts and opinions about the renovation work at the engine house.

We had a productive day working on Arnold Z, the old West Side & Cherry Valley Plymouth locomotive. I'll post an update with photos at the El Dorado Western Blog this evening.

Stop on by ...

Friday, April 21, 2006

Railroad Photographs

I've taken up a new hobby -- railroad photograph. Take at my favorite rail blog -- --if you enjoy railfan pictures.

With a new Canon Digital Rebel EOS 350D in hand, I'll be featuring some of my photographs in the coming months. Until I can get out into the countryside, I'll display pictures in and around the Sacramento Amtrak depot and the California State Railroad Museum.

Although my office location is handy for such photography -- I work a block from the depot -- ultimately I'll have to locate some more picturesque locations. I may even drive into work once or twice a month and stop along the tracks on the commute home.

Amtrak engine 2007 pulls westbound Train 537 for San Jose. This engine is one of 14 EMD F59PHI locomotives purchased by the California Department of Transportation for use on the Capitol Corridor and other routes.
Union Pacific 2948, an EMD SD40-2TR, leads three other locomotives as the westbound freight rambles through the depot on track 3.
Here's what happens when you use the wrong setting on the camera. The automatic setting set the shutter speed much too low for my telephoto lens. I had a shot of the San Joaquin 701 arriving on track 2 as the UP roared by on track 3. Next time.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

First Weber Day of 2006

This evening is the first time I've used the Webber kettle grill since Thanksgiving. I lifted the lid and found this:

Five-month science experiment

What upsets is this is one my grandmother's 75-year old cake pans. I like to use the long pans (I have two) as drip pans because they fit snuggly between the coals when I'm cooking indirectly. But they're heartly pans. I'm certain I'll be able to clean it just like new.

In case you're interested, tri-tip is on the menu ....

Camp Cooking School

Here's an interesting camp cooking school that I found on eBay this evening -- the Royal Tine Outdoor Cooking & Baking Training School in Phillipsburg, Mont. The school is for serious students of back-country cusine. A quick look at the website tells me that it's geared toward cooks who're interested in a career cooking for ranches and back-country outfitters.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Chuckwagon Update

The chuckwagon that I blogged on yesterday has been pulled from eBay. I'm not sure who initiated the action, eBay or the seller.

Not to fear if you're looking for a genuine chuckwagon. A new listing has come to eBay, this one from Llano, Texas. It's being sold by a seller (nailspur) with a 100 percent positive feedback. The $3,000 starting price comes with a reserve on this auction. The auction ends Tuesday, April 25.

The original chuckwagon is still visible for comparison.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Spring 2006 Issue of The Dispatcher is on the Street

Here's a tease of the spring issue of The Dispatcher, the official newsletter for the El Dorado Western Railway Foundation.

The newsletter is available at the cost of membership in EDWRF. To join our effort to renovate the Diamond & Caldor No. 4 Shay locomotive and to operate an El Dorado County Logging and Railroad Museum, send $35 (check or money order) for individual membership to:

PO Box 3517
Diamond Springs, CA 95619

Family membership costs $60, corporate $100 and life membership is $500 for individual or family and $1,000 for a business.

The summer issue of The Dispatcher will publish early July.

Don Mason's Dutch Oven Newsletter

Here's the latest issue of Don Mason's Dutch Oven Newsletter from Northern California. Email Don at to receive an electronic copy.

Chuckwagon for Sale on eBay

I'd love to buy a chuckwagon. Not because it's part of my heritage -- my relatives never got near one -- but because it pictures my vision of outdoor cooking.

So I was elated when this chuckwagon was posted to eBay on April 9. I had originally planned to watch the auction from a distance. I entertained no thought of buying the 100-year old horse-drawn kitchen.

The auction ended yesterday with a top bid price of $6,843.26. Since the reserve price was not met, the chuckwagon didn't sell. My guess is that a genuine chuckwagon will sell for $20,000 or more.

This morning I thought it'd be interesting to see what the seller was up to. Has he re-posted the chuckwagon? Or did he withdraw it from the market?

A quick searched found a new auction and a few anomalies. The new auction is currently selling for $699.89.

The identical chuckwagon was posted three days before the original auction ended. Something sinks to high cowpatties! The two auctions were offered by different sellers (pepperdoesit and fotyfat).

Another interesting fact is that both sellers have recently registered on eBay, March 21 and April 6, respectively. All the photographs are identical. Even the license plate on the transport trailer matches in both auctions.

If you're inclined to bid on such an item, please check things out thoroughly. I'd be suspicious of this auction.

Friday, April 07, 2006

New Kingsford Charcoal Product Line

According to a post on the International Dutch Oven Society Forum, "Kingsford is at it again." Apparently, in the past few years, Kingsford has changed its formulation of charcoal briquettes.

In the past few years, the forum has been alive with charges that foreign material in the charcoal impedes its burning qualities. I've had some poor quality Kingsford charcoal a few years ago -- a late summer purchase from Costco in 2004, I believe. Beyond a few bad experiences, my Kingsford charcoal (and that's the only brand of briquettes that I use) has performed well for Dutch oven cooking and for grilling.

Kingsford has revamped its charcoal line for 2006. Although I've yet to see the new charcoal with "sure fire groves," the idea makes sense from a scientific standpoint. Anytime you increase the surface area of a product, like a charcoal briquette, you increase the area that will catch fire and burn. It stands to reason that the should burn faster.

The question will be how much faster and is there any measurable improvement over traditional briquettes?

Here's The Virtual Weber Bullet's assessment of Kingsford's new product. Since I'm posting on break at work, I haven't had time to review their review yet. More to come ....

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

IFA Dutch Oven Days - June 17th, Part 2

Here's a list of cities/stores in the western US that are hosting IFA Dutch Oven Days with educational demonstrations on June 17. If any of these locations are near you - and you're willing to help, please let us know. Just send me or Meg an e-mail at

This will be lots of fun! I love sharing my passion for black pot cooking with others. Mark your calendars today.

Thanks, Ed Quinlan

Yerrington, NV
Farmington, NM
Preston, ID - Becky Snyder, Meg Hess
Hyde Park, UT
Tremonton, UT
Ogden, UT - Heather Macari
Salt Lake City, UT - Debbie Hair
Draper, UT
Riverton, UT - Maureen Knapp
Am Fork, UT
Provo, UT
Roosevelt, UT
Spanish Fork, UT - Mat Bone
Ephriam, UT
Richfield, UT
Delta, UT
Las Vegas, NV
Cortez, CO
Cedar City, UT
Layton, UT - Peterson's - Neal Humphreys
Price, UT - Ron Wright S
alina, UT
St George, UT
Elko, NV
Vernal, UT

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

IFA Dutch Oven Days - June 17th

Greetings from the cold Cache Valley, Utah.

I wanted to make a post about the upcoming IFA Dutch Oven Days cast iron cooking demonstration day on June 17th. We had previously planned on June 10, but I just found out that will not work for the stores and they have moved the date to June 17, 2006.

Anyone interested in demonstrating basic Dutch oven cooking skills and a couple of recipes is invited to help out. Camp Chef is donating a 12-inch Classic Dutch Oven and IFA Dutch Oven Day aprons to all demonstrators - and the IFA stores will cover the food costs. Camp Chef will also provide some "How to Make the Most of Your Cast Iron Cookware" brochures that focus on cooking and care information. The demos will begin at 10 a.m. and run until 2-3 p.m.

If you are interested in participating, there are IFA (Intermountain Farmers Association) stores throughout the Intermountain Region and we even need help in NM and Las Vegas, NV. Please contact Meg Hess to let her know you can help. We're trying to get demonstrators lined up in the next week or so. Meg can be reached at (800) 650-2433 or

Thanks again for all your hard work and efforts to support Dutch oven cooking. See all who can make it at the DOG this Friday and the Convention on Saturday!

Ed Quinlan
Camp Chef