Saturday, May 31, 2008

Vietnam-era US Army field range for sale on eBay

A M-59 US Army field range outfit is being offered for sale on The seller is asking $350 with the "Buy it Now" feature. He will also entertain the best offer. Based on the description, the unit may have all the pots, pans and utensils included. However, you'll have to check with the seller to verify this.

Here's the seller's description:
This is a big cook stove, or field oven, dated 1968 or so. It has the big pots in it, the big silverware, a place to put the merimite cans in the top part of it for heating them and the burner unit down below.
Unless you live near the Austin, Minnesota, shipping point, shipping will add a significant amount to the purchase price.

Here's a few excerpts from the Navy Mess Management Specialist training manual:
Gasoline field range outfits are the most satisfactory appliances available for preparing meals in the field. The armed forces now use model M59. Chapter 10 of the Basic Doctrine for Army Field Feeding, FM 10-23, covers the operation of the model M59 field range. Operator, Organizational and Direct Support Maintenance Manual including Repair Parts and Special Tools List for Range Outfit Field, Gasoline, Model M59, TM 10-7360-204-13&P, covers the maintenance and repair of model M59.

One field range is adequate for 50 personnel or less. With two ranges, you can cook for 50 to 100 personnel. With three ranges, you can cook for as many as 225 people.

The gasoline field range outfit is designed to provide a complete outfit adaptable to the different requirements of field operations. The outfit consists of a cabinet with a burner unit, accessory outfit, and necessary cooking utensils. The outfit is portable and can be operated while in transit.

The range outfit can be used for boiling, roasting, frying and griddle cooking and can be adjusted to work as a bake oven. Some baking can be done in the covered roasting pan or in the cake pan placed inside the covered roasting pan. Pies bake well in the roasting pan alone. However, for all other baked foods, you should use the cake pan. If you do a great deal of baking with the range, make the necessary adaptation.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


This post is offered in good humor ... I don't know any of the cooks at the hospital.

I often listen to an on-line police and fire scanner at work. It helps pass the time and provides background noise at my desk.

Aside from the anxiety of listening to an ambulance dash to my mother's senior park, most police and fire dispatches are routine. Endless medical calls and traffic stops fill the speaker.

Today, one such call offered a little amusement. The call went something like this:

"Response area 25, commercial fire alarm Marshall Hospital," reported the dispatcher at the Camino inter-agency fire command center.

"Engine and Medic 25 ... respond to a commercial fire alarm in the cafeteria at Marshall Hospital. Units check back ..."

The dispatcher paused for a moment. "All units cancel response. Medic 17 says it's burnt food."

I suspect it was good fortune that Medic 17 was already on scene. One cook was spared the embarrassment of watching 20 firefighters barrel down the hallway to the cafeteria.

If I were that cook, I'd have a big batch smoked ribs waiting for my new friends ...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008

Camp 2008 -- Menu for the senior banquet

The theme for this years Thursday-night senior banquet at camp is safari. I've been working on a menu that will appeal to the high school-aged campers and give them the look and feel of a meal they could receive on an African safari.

Authenticity isn't a big concern. My main concern is to give the kids familiar foods. My goal is to take common American food ingredients, like chicken breasts, and flavor them with spices and ingredients that are commonly found on a safari.

While writing the menu, I envisioned safari meals being cooked by a native chef who uses familiar African flavors to spice up meals that safari-goers know and love. I've built the menu on common African ingredients like long-grain rice, peanuts (or groundnuts), yams and chicken. Spices like curry, coriander and cardamon will booth the flavor-profile of the menu.

Here's the basic menu. Although I may change a few things before July, the basic menu for the banquet will remain.
  • Safari chicken -- I've adapted the common African stew with peanut sauce for the banquet. Instead of making a stew, I will pound and run a mixture of salt, pepper, curry and garlic on each chicken breast. After grilling on the barbecue, the chicken will be finished in the oven (until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.). If we serve family style, I may plate the breasts over a bed of sauteed spinach.
  • African red sauce -- The sauce will be a combination of aromatics (onion, garlic and green bell peppers) sauteed in olive oil, fresh tomatoes, stock, peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil and hot pepper sauce. I'll spoon it over the chicken breasts and place bowls on the table.
  • Jollof rice pilaf -- "Jollof rice," according to Wikipedia, "is a popular dish all over West Africa. Its base consists of rice, tomatoes and tomato paste, onion, salt, and chili pepper, to which optional ingredients can be added such as vegetables, meats, and other spices." I may add black or red beans to the dish.
  • Roasted yams -- Since this common African food may not be as popular with campers, I'll prepare it in smaller quantities. A butter and honey simple glaze will add a wonderful flavor to the yams.
  • Dessert -- Even though I haven't fully landed on a dessert yet, one chef on another website suggested something made with pumpkin, another common ingredient. He said that a pumpkin cheesecake tart may hit the spot.

These are just a few ideas among many that I could use. I'll report back later in July after the banquet. In the meantime, please leave your comments and any additional ideas for the meal.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Culinary specialists receive advanced training at Corry Station

Here's the companion story to the photo of the judges ...

By Gary Nichols, Center for Information Dominance Public Affairs

PENSACOLA, Fla. (5/14/2008) (NNS) -- Ten food service professionals throughout the Navy's Southeast Region concluded a two-week course in advanced culinary techniques and received certifications from the American Culinary Federation Inc. (ACF) at the Corry Station Galley, May 9.

The two-week course, which was sponsored by Navy Regional Food Services Office Pensacola and First Coast Technical College of St. Augustine, Fla., pushed the food service professionals, all of them veterans in their field, beyond what they had experienced in their careers to date.

"The ultimate goal is to help improve the morale of our Sailors and warfighters," said Brett L. Harris, culinary instructor, chef and owner of the Jacksonville, Fla.-based World Grill. "If you give them quality food it helps them feel better and they work better, and they feel they're treated with dignity and respect."

The active-duty military culinary specialists and food service employees came from Naval Air Station (NAS)Pensacola; Naval Support Activity Panama City; Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) Gulfport, Miss; and Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The two-week course offered refresher training in the basics of nutrition, sanitation and supervision. The students also received advanced coursework in knife skills, menu writing and professional cooking techniques.

The culinary specialists had to demonstrate proficiency in making stocks, sauces, consommé, salads, sauces, artichokes, steaks, poached fish and rice pilaf. They also had to demonstrate their mastery of the skills required to fillet fish, and carve chicken and steaks.

"It was a very liberating experience," Culinary Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Larozzo Shugart, of NCBC Gulfport, said. "I learned a lot."

The ACF is the premier professional chefs' organization in North America, with more than 230 chapters nationwide and 20,000 members. A certification from the ACF is a symbol that reflects his or her professionalism and culinary expertise. The certification verifies that professional chefs and cooks have the knowledge and skill required for elevated culinary positions and that their food is prepared to the highest standards.

Seven culinarians were attempting to earn a Sous Chef certification, two were attempting to earn a Certified Chef de Cuisine certification, and one was attempting to earn a Certified Executive Chef certification.

"I'm taking baby steps," Culinary Specialist 1st Class (SW) Bogan Burnett, of NAS Pensacola Galley, said. "If I become an executive chef, but I can't run a kitchen, what good is that?"

The cost of the certifications for the active-duty military food service professionals was paid for by the Navy Credentialing Opportunities On-Line (COOL) program. The program is is open to Sailors from every rating. Navy COOL defines civilian credentials that best map to a Sailor's rating and training, and outlines the path, work and experience required to achieve them.

Culinary Instructor and First Coast Technical College Administrator David Bearl said he has taught culinary arts to Navy culinary specialists for the past 10 years and has seen how well-prepared food can positively affect Sailors and Marines.

This group, Bearl said, like many others he has taught at more than 30 ships and naval installations, are highly skilled and motivated.

"They're wonderful. They're disciplined and they're on task," Bearl said. "In classes like this they're here because they want to be here. I love working with the military."

On the two practical test days, the atmosphere in the galley was definitely "kicked up a notch" as the candidates prepared their food.

Bearl and Harris, clipboards in hand, scrutinized the candidates while they chopped, minced, seared, stirred and flipped. After the food was plated and tasted, both judges gave a thumbs-up to each dish.

The grueling written examination came on the final day. However, the candidates were well-prepared and highly motivated. Each candidate successfully passed their written exam and received the certifications they were vying for.

"We hand-selected the people who we thought were most deserving of this opportunity because of their leadership qualities," said Paul Poling, retired Navy chief mess management specialist and NAS Pensacola Food Service work inspector. "My hope is that they will go back into the kitchen and pass on their new skills to their food service colleagues."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The judges

Professional culinary training for US Navy cooks ...

PENSACOLA, Fla. (May 8, 2008) Brett L. Harris, culinary instructor and chef-owner of the Jacksonville, Fla.-based World Grill, and First Coast Technical College Culinary Instructor and Administrator David Bear, discuss the merits of two dishes prepared as part of the practical examination by food service professionals at the Corry Station Galley during the conclusion of a two week course in advanced culinary techniques. Food service professionals who successfully completed the course received American Culinary Federation, Inc., certifications.

U.S. Navy photo by Gary Nichols.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Modern cuckwagon for sale on eBay

A modern chuckwagon was posted to eBay last Friday. "This is a camp kitchen or chuckwagon. It sits 8-10 people comfortably with LOTS of work area. It is built on a 4x8 flatbed trailer .... The overall dimensions are 4x8x3 high. The tongue adds another 3 feet," says the on-line auction. The opening bid is $400. The trailer in located in Camp Verde, Arizona.

According to the seller, the trailer is "easy to pull with a small car." He figures that it weights about "400 pounds empty." Its 18-inch wheels give you "about 8 inches of road clearance." The trailer uses a 1-7/8-inch ball hitch.

"There is lots of room for all of your camping gear and a 55-gallon water tank. There is a sink with a hand pump that works well. There is a gravity fed hose faucet on the front for other water needs."

"The front storage is 4-feet by 3.5-feet. The back storage is 4-feet by 2-feet. The sides fold up for easy cargo access and nice eating counters. They are 32 inches high when unfolded. There is a propane tank in the rear storage with a post to connect the stove. A lantern sits on top of the post, about 32 inches above the top. There is a built-in 104-gallon cooler that also lifts out for cleaning."

The unit looks interesting. It may fit for a tent camper that would like to own a rolling kitchen like the old chuckwagons. It is built like my chuckbox, only on a larger scale.

If you bid and win, you'll have to drive down to Camp Verde and pick up the trailer.

PS--I'm not the seller, nor do I have any connection to him.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cookin' on a ship of mercy

Since January, Tyrone has been cooking on the African Mercy along the west coast of the African continent. It's a job I can only dream about at this point in my life.

You see, Tyrone is the chef for the 499-foot hospital ship. Many unique aspects of the job -- like pleasing a crew from 30 nations -- would be enough to send many sea-going cooks home.

Neither Tyrone or his crew of cooks, bakers and other workers are paid. In fact, he must raise financial support for himself and his wife (an operating room nurse on the same ship).

"Imagine feeding over 400 crew members and hosting special functions day in and day out while on outreach in a Third World country/developing countries," said Tyrone on his website, (The website is no longer active. Read Tyrone's current blog at

Tyrone's blog gives you a sense of what it takes to feed over 400 crew members. Capture daily insight on cooking a a large ship with food products from around the world. Give it a read -- I do daily.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Grilled cheese for a birthday girl

I'm sitting in my mother-in-law's easy chair, listening to my son- and brother-in-law fix the screen door (the one that I walked through earlier), watching three grandchildren play on the floor. Both the birthday girl, who's one today, and last month's birthday boy are walking.

Life can't get much better!

In honor of Nevaeh's birthday, her mother and I prepared a quick dinner with grilled cheese sandwiches. The adults had grilled cheese with asparagus and roasted red peppers. Farm-fresh asparagus and roasted red peppers (either from a jar or freshly roasted) gave the adults a nice grown-up sandwich. I made grilled cheddar cheese sandwiches for the children.


I clipped this recipe from one of my food service trade journals several years ago. It makes enough for 12 sandwiches.

2 pounds asparagus
1 cup prepared balsamic-garlic-olive oil vinaigrette
12 ounces sliced fontina cheese
16 ounces sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
2 cups roasted red peppers
1 cup fresh basil leaves
24 slices sourdough bread, brushed with extra virgin olive oil

To prepare asparagus, gently cook in simmering water for two or three minutes. Then submerge asparagus in a waiting bowl of ice water. Remove, drain and toss with vinaigrette. Let stand covered and refrigerated at least two hours before using.

Lay 12 slices of bread on clean, flat surface. Top each slice with (in order):

2 slices fontina
3 marinated, drained spears asparagus
3-4 fresh basil leaves
2-1/2 tablespoons red pepper pieces
2 slices mozzarella

Top with second slice of bread. Cover and reserve. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat and griddle sandwiches on both sides until golden brown. Transfer to a sheet pan and warm in 350-degree F. oven 8 to 10 minutes or until heated through.

Cut each sandwich on the diagonal to serve. Serve any remaining marinated asparagus with the sandwiches.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Prairie doggin'

From one of the innocuous interoffice emails:

PRAIRIE DOGGING: When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and people's heads pop up over the walls to see what's going on.

For the uninitiated, a cube farm is an office filled with cubicles.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

More chili beans at the engine house

Yesterday's blog title was a little deceptive. I posted the recipe for corn salad instead of my pot of cowboy or chili beans.

So, here's the bean recipe. It's similar to the recipe for piquinto beans with spicy red sauce. The chili beans have a more smokey flavor from the ham hocks.


Menu with Dutch oven corn bread and corn, tomato and jalapeno salad.

3 pounds dried pink or pinto beans
3 pounds ham hocks
3 jalapeno chili peppers, seeded and chopped (3 to 4)
1-1/2 quarts canned tomatoes with green chiles
12 ounces onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons black pepper

Cover beans with water and bring to a boil. Cut the heat and let the beans set for 1 hour.

Add ham hocks to beans. Add additional water to cover if necessary. Cook slowly until tender, about 1 hour. Remove ham hocks from beans. Cut meat from bone and discard bones. Roughly chop meat and return to beans.

Add chili peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, cumin and black pepper to beans. Cook slowly in kettle an additional 1-2 hours, until beans are soft and juice is thick. Add water as needed to keep beans from drying.

This recipe makes about 6-1/4 quarts. As with all recipes, the size of the serving utensil will determine how many portions you get. Plan on 50 (1/2-cup), 25 (1-cup) or 16 (1-1/4-cup) portions. One recipe will fit in a 12x20x4-inch hotel pan.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Chili beans at the engine house

Chuckbox and pick-up
Originally uploaded by SeabeeCook
The crew at the El Dorado Western Railway are getting used to being fed each Saturday. Last weekend, Keith's wife brought hamburgers with all the fixin's. Potato salad complimented the meal.

Since New Years, we've been cooking twice each month. Since the museum director scheduled a rare Saturday board meeting, I thought it'd be a good opportunity to cook for the crew.

The menu included:
Cowboy chili beans
Dutch oven cornbread
Corn relish with jalapeno
I prepared a modified version of the corn salad for the crew. I left the tomatoes out because they're not in season. Even though I had intended that the dish be served as a salad, everyone -- myself included -- added several spoonful to each bowl of beans.

I'll post the chili bean recipe soon.


Use cherry or grape tomatoes. Vary the heat by adding more jalapeno peppers or by using milder Anaheims or hotter habaneras. A combination of hot jalapeno or Serrano and mild Anaheims will give a more balanced flavor.

2 pounds frozen corn, partially thawed
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 jalapeno chili peppers, seeded and minced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 green bell peppers, seeded and diced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
4 ounces blue cheese -- crumbled

Lightly combine corn, garlic, jalapeno peppers, tomatoes and bell peppers in a large bowl. Slowly stream line juice into olive oil while whisking. Pour over corn mixture and stir to combine. Chill until service time. Yields 1-1/2 quarts. Serve 1/2-cup portions.

Summer variation: For a smoky flavor, roast fresh corn-on-the-cob over a hot fire. Prepare charcoal or gas grill. Remove husks from corn. Brush corn with oil then grill until lightly browned. Cut corn from cobs and mix with peppers, garlic, tomatoes and cilantro. Proceed with remainder of recipe.