Saturday, March 26, 2011

Seasoning blend by Texas chuckwagon cook

As you watch this piece from the Texas Country Reporter, enjoy the view of an authentic operating chuckwagon.

Now you can cook just like a champion chuckwagon cook! Real-life cowboy Jerry Baird of Snyder, Texas, bottles his own blend of spices and seasonings for all to enjoy. (#1001, 11/4/06)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Cee Dub reduces cooking clinic prices

Howdy Ya'll,

I wrapped up my winter tour this past weekend at the International Dutch Oven Society's World Championship Cookoff in Sandy, Utah. Never have I seen or tasted such delicious food all cooked in Dutch ovens. Thanks to IDOS and the folks at Camp Chef for sponsoring my visit to this great event.

In eleven years of demonstrating Dutch oven cookin' at sportsmen's shows in the NW, I've visited with countless folks who've cooked for years with the old black pots and people just starting to cook with Dutch ovens. In the last 2-3 years I've detected a shift in what's motivating folks to expand their outdoor cooking skills. The fun and novelty of Dutch oven cooking is still there, but more and more folks tell me that given the state of our economy they're keeping their Dutch ovens handy, along with extra charcoal, dried and canned food, just in case. Also more folks are growing and preserving their own food to cut costs, and for preparedness purposes as well. People still like to eat when the power is off!

Spring has arrived here in the Texas Hill Country. Now that I'm through traveling, it's time to wrap up our winter garden and get our summer garden planted. This weekend we'll be putting up beets and picking cabbage for a big batch of homemade sauerkraut. In a month or so, we'll harvest our onions and garlic.


A reminder about our upcoming DUTCH OVEN AND BBQ CLINIC in Round Top, Texas, on Saturday and Sunday, April 9 and 10, 2011, featuring CEE DUB and PITMASTER KONRAD “TEDDY BEAR” HASKINS.

The GOOD NEWS is that we are REDUCING THE PRICE to attract more attendees realizing that money might be tighter these days. CEE DUB and KONRAD are lowering the price for the entire weekend to $500, and the daily rate to $300 for either day. NOTE that this price will be adjusted for all those that have already signed up to attend. Here's the scoop on this one-time-only scheduled event!

Throughout CEE DUB's and KONRAD's travels over the last few months around the country, some general themes rang true. Most folks don't think that the downturn in the economy is over; and, everyone is looking for ways to cut costs and save money. CEE DUB and KONRAD know that by learning to BBQ and cook in DUTCH OVENS, you will save money cooking at home for family and friends rather than going out to restaurants. Plus, everyone will enjoy the experience of cooking outdoors, making the gathering an event. Here's an opportunity to beat the prices, have some fun, and eat well, too!

The CLINIC is a joint endeavor featuring CEE DUB and PITMASTER KONRAD "TEDDY BEAR" HASKINS taking your cooking skills to the next level. KONRAD's skills and experience include being a caterer, restaurateur, and competitor who knows how to barbeque everything from a dinner for two to lunch for 5,000 soldiers returning from Iraq. His classes provide a clear and easy-to-follow roadmap to success. CEE DUB will take you through making all the side dishes, breads, and desserts in Dutch ovens to compliment your BBQ events. Together, these two guys have years of experience in the preparation of mouth-watering dishes outdoors.

To answer some questions we've had: RV spaces on site are available for $25 for the weekend as well as camping and showers for no charge. Friday night Cee Dub and Penny will be there to meet and greet folks when they arrive. Spouses who want to attend the clinics may register for a discount, but must do so by calling Cee Dub at 208-340-5113. But spouses are very welcome at meal times as there will be lots of food to eat. A side trip is a visit to Brenham to tour the Blue Bell factory!

Don’t miss this opportunity to take advantage of learning BBQ and DUTCH OVEN cooking from the pros. Sign up and reserve your spot today!

Check out our website for cookbooks and equipment to make your summer Dutch oven cooking easier and more enjoyable.

Thanks to all of you for supporting Cee Dub's over the years!

Have a Fun & Safe Summer!

Cee Dub & Pen

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Elizabeth’s Easy-Bake Dutch Oven Lasagna

I posted this recipe to in February 2001 ...

Who says that cooking Dutch oven lasagna has to be a laborious process? With all those layers of meat, cheese and pasta, it's a small wonder that anyone builds lasagna while camping. You have to cook tomato sauce, boil the pasta and layer the whole thing without trying to use every pan that been sitting in the chuckbox all week. It's one of those dishes that’s easily left for the home kitchen.

My oldest child, Stephanie, inadvertently brought the answer home last summer after a month-long visit to my sister's house in San Jose, Calif. My sister, Elizabeth, and Stephanie share the family's love for cooking. So each time she visits, Elizabeth sends her home with a few more recipes to try. Elizabeth must have taught Stephanie how to prepare easy-bake lasagna during her visit last June.

Elizabeth's easy-bake lasagna assembles quickly because it uses bottled spaghetti sauce and lasagna noodles that don't require boiling (Ronzoni calls them "oven ready"). You'll also notice that she uses a simplified list of ingredients. This lasagna is just as flavorful as traditional lasagna that calls for three or four cheeses and several herbs. Easy-bake lasagna uses ricotta and mozzarella cheeses and basil. Its flavor is simple, yet exquisite at the same time. You’ll enjoy it.


Although Elizabeth doesn't cook this lasagna in a Dutch oven, it's one that she often at home for her family. She often divides this recipe in two and freezes half for quick meals or to give to friends or those in need from her church.

1 8-ounce box Ronzoni Oven Ready Lasagna Pasta
1 pound cooked Italian sausage
1 28-ounce jar meatless spaghetti sauce (about three cups)
1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
3 cups grated mozzarella cheese (about 12 ounces)
1/2 bunch fresh spinach, rinsed

Use a 12-inch Dutch oven for this recipe. Ignite 25 charcoal briquettes and let them burn until they're barely covered with ash, about 20 minutes. For a 350-degree oven, you'll need 8 briquettes underneath and 17 on top of the oven.

Brown sausage in a skillet over medium heat. Break up meat as it cooks. Drain fat and spoon meat into a bowl. Evenly spread 3/4-cup spaghetti sauce in the bottom of the oven. (I used Prego Traditional Spaghetti Sauce when testing this recipe. You may use different flavors of bottled spaghetti sauce, but note that you may change the flavor slightly.) In a medium bowl, mix ricotta cheese, egg and garlic powder.

To prepare each layer, lay 4 lasagna noodles flat on the bottom of the oven. Break noodles into smaller sizes as needed. Spread 1/2 ricotta mixture over the noodles. Spread 1-cup spaghetti sauce over the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle 1/2 of the parsley and basil over sauce. Sprinkle 1-cup mozzarella cheese over the sauce. Spread 1/2 of sausage over cheese. Lay all the spinach leaves over sausage (there will only be 1 layer of spinach). Repeat one more time to form a second layer.

Place lid on oven. Arrange 8 briquettes underneath oven and 17 briquettes on lid. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until sauce is bubbling. Sprinkle remaining cheese over lasagna. Cover; bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes to melt cheese. Remove oven from the charcoal. Cool lasagna 10 minutes.

Note: A 10-ounce package of thawed and drained frozen chopped spinach may be substituted for fresh spinach. Mix spinach with ricotta cheese, egg and garlic powder. Regular lasagna noodles may be used for this recipe without boiling them. If you don't boil the noodles, bake lasagna an additional 10 minutes.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cee Dub on menu planning

Here's another article from my short tenure on ..

Cee Dub is a storyteller -- a craft that he learned while patrolling Idaho’s back country. While on patrol, he got invited into numerous high country camps each day. Many times Cee Dub was invited to pitch his tent and to throw his grub into the common pot. He reciprocated by telling stories and listening to the adventures of hunters and fishermen. Along the way, he learned the finer points of being a camp cook. -- Steven Karoly

Menu planning for the camp cook

This article is used with permission of Back Country Press of Grangeville, Idaho. It's excerpted from Cee Dub's Dutch Oven and Other Camp Cookin' by C.W. "Butch" Welch.

A menu for a group isn't too tough if all you're going to do is line up a bunch of cans, open them and then dump them in a pot. Likewise, hot dogs on a willow stick are easily accomplished without taxing ones creativity. If you're going to be a camp cook worth his salt, it' going to take a little work and planning. Most of us don’t figure it out overnight, but here are some tips.

Try to use recipes with are easy to multiply. For instance, if there are four people in the party or your family, chose or plan the menu for that number. Then if your cousin all of a sudden asks his in-laws to join the group for your trip, all you have to do is double, etc., your recipe to accommodate the extras. Likewise, when I' cooking a one-pot meal in Dutch ovens, I figure out how many people one full Dutch oven will feed. Normally, I figure 6-8 main dish servings per 12" Dutch. It might vary a little with the recipe, the appetites of the group or the weather. If you don' think the weather is important, read on. I've taken the same 5-6 guys on a raft trip in the summer. If the weather is hot, everyone' appetite seems to decline. On the other hand, let it get cold and rainy and the same group of guys will pack away twice the calories per meal.

When planning meals, I always plan for seconds. There is nothing worse than a group of guys who are cranky, surly and still hungry. In addition, I plan on some sort of reserve in case the trip has to extend a day or two. My reserve may just be some rice and beans, but it' a lot better than fried ice and donut holes!

Just who you’re cooking for makes a big difference. For instance, little kids and older folks, as a rule, tend to eat less. On the other hand, a bunch of guys in elk camp are capable of eating everything, including the slowest packhorse.

Cee Dub's books and television show

C.W. "Butch" Welch is the author of Cee Dub's Dutch Oven and Other Camp Cookin' and More Cee Dub's Dutch Oven and Other Camp Cookin'. He is also featured on a 65-minute video titled Dutch Oven and Camp Cooking.

Cee Dub hosts Dutch Oven and Camp Cooking (link no longer works) on PBS. Check your local listings for show times. To order his books or video, go to

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Let's remember our Sailors

With current military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and rescue operations in Japan, our servicemen and women are deploying worldwide. Let's remember them in prayers our as they leave the comfort and safety of home and head overseas.

NORFOLK (March 7, 2011) -- Culinary Specialist Seaman Freddie L. Green, assigned to the supply department of the guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61), says goodbye to his wife on the pier before Monterey departs for a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sandi L. Grimnes.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thoughts on roasted red pepper vinaigrette

I use the process of creating something new to draw residents and staff into the kitchen. They often stand to the side, watch and ask questions.

"I learn something new everyday," a senior resident said last month as she watched me roast two large red sweet peppers.

I had set the peppers over the gas flame about the time the 10 o'clock group session out of the group room. I then prepared a robust vinaigrette with the roasted peppers and served it with chef's salad for the lunch meal.

With the vinaigrette, I wanted to introduce an alternative to bottled dressings. It's my way of teaching the residents that there's more to salads than ranch dressing.

Once I draw a small crowd, I'll explain what I'm doing. The culinary lesson isn't limited to the preparation of one recipe. I fold several techniques into the discussion.

The simple process of charring the peppers concentrates flavor and caramelizes the natural sugars in the fruit. Once charred, the peppers -- either sweet or hot peppers -- can be used to flavor a variety of dishes.

Endless options abound, I explained. Poblano chili peppers can be roasted, stuffed, breaded and fried for chili rellenos. For a smoky salsa, roast serrano or jalapeno chili peppers. And don't forget the roasted red peppers.

After I whirled the vinaigrette in the blender, I let each participant taste it. I explained that it's important to get their feedback.

Is it too sweet? Bitter? Sharp? A simple taste-test brings feedback. We'll discuss what can be done to adjust the flavor of the vinaigrette if it's needed.

The simple process of cooking something new can open the eyes of those around you to new dishes. And you may teach something new to a budding cook.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Roasted butternut squash soup

Sharing culinary ideas is one of the benefits of regularly meeting with other chefs. From the moment I walked in the Canby Grove Camp and Conference Center kitchen and met chefs Ira Krizo and Bob Vannigan, we talked shop. We enjoyed an informal chef's roundtable, especially after chef Leo Griego walked in.

Our main task was to prep for Monday night's dinner and lunch on Tuesday. Bob was removing pork tenderloins from a smoking skillet as I walked in the door. And Ira sauteed onions and mushrooms for his wonderful lobster strudel appetizer.

I quickly jumped in and cut vegetables for a roasted vegetable salad with black quinoa. The morning progressed as we moved from task to task. We talked about our jobs, challenges and asked questions of each other.

After we finished with Monday's prep, Ira handed us a case of butternut squash. I already knew that Ira's Roasted Butternut Squash Soup would be one of the takeaways from the conference as he had attached the recipe to the conference agenda.

After we cubed the squash, Ira tossed it with chopped white onion, sliced garlic, olive oil, salt, black pepper and Italian herbs. The two sheetpans of squash roasted in the convection oven for around 30 minutes.

Once the squash had achieved a deep brown color, Ira chilled the squash. The soup was finished on Tuesday in the hour before lunch.

The roasted garlic danced stood out when I sampled a bowl at lunch on Tuesday. The soup impressed me so much that I prepared it for the residents at work on Friday.

Chef Ira offer these modifications for Roasted Butternut Squash Soup:
  • If the soup tastes raw, either the squash wasn't ripe or the baking time was insufficient. Simmer until creamy before adding the heavy cream.
  • If you don't have chicken stock or wish to make a vegetarian soup, exchange the chicken stock with water or vegetable broth.
  • Try different types of winter squashes for different flavors and textures.
  • For a more pronounced herb flavor, use fresh herbs instead of dried. Oregano, sage, thyme and a little rosemary all work very well.
  • A sweet and spiced soup is created by replacing the herbs with ginger (chopped or granulated) and molasses.
  • Try different garnishing alternatives by using one or two of the following: toasted pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, fresh chopped herbs, creme fraiche or even croutons.
  • The soup can also be served chilled on a hot summer day.

The recipe is adapted the one Chef Ira handed out during the conference.

10 pounds butternut squash (around 2 large squash)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 white onions, diced small
6 tablespoons minced garlic
6 tablespoons dried thyme
3 quarts chicken stock
kosher salt, to taste
ground black pepper, to taste
3 cups heavy cream

Peel, seed and dice squash into 1/2-inch cubes. Toss squash, onion, garlic and thyme in olive oil.

Spread squash mixture onto 1 full-sized sheet pan or 2 half-sized sheet pans. Roast in a 450-deg. oven for about 35 minutes, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes. When finished, squash will be thoroughly cooked and golden brown all over.

Puree squash in a blender or food processor, adding chicken stock until desired consistency is achieved. Soup should have the consistency of heavy cream.

Place mixture in a sauce pan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, stir in cream and return to a simmer. Serve hot.

Yield is approximately 6 quarts. Serves 25 (8-ounce) portions.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Conference wrap-up

Like any trade conference, you come home with more than a collection of brochures and handouts. After spending three days with chefs from around the country, I brought a number of new ideas to try at work.

The most valuable reason for attending are the friendships. At the Christian Chefs International Conference in Canby, Oregon, this week, I met a dozen new like-minded colleagues. I can now call on any when I need advice or assistance.

In many respects this was the best conference that I've attended in my professional career. We enjoyed informational sessions from Boyds Coffee, Chef Bob Vaningan's Fit2Eat meal plan, vegetarian cooking from Dr. Frank and Rosalie Hurd and a special presentation on the Scandinavian smorgasbord by Susanna Krizo.

The hands-on presentation on baking for chefs by Chef Jim Krieg was the best of the conference. Chef Jim demonstrated three basic doughs that chefs can use to enhance any operation, including pain ordinaire, rum buba and pate a choux. Chef Jim is a former Le Cordon Bleu baking chef-instructor.

Informative sessions aside, the food was the best aspect of the conference. When he organized the second annual conference for Christian Chefs Fellowship, Chef Ira Krizo had a small dilemma to resolve. As the new chef for the Canby Grove Camp and Conference Center, he didn't have trained staff in place to cook meals for the conference. The camp was recently sold to new owners.

To resolve the issue, Ira placed a "kitchen social" on the agenda each day of the conference. Starting Monday morning, several attendees, including two from the South, joined Ira in the kitchen. Over the three-day conference seven or eight cooks helped Ira prepare the meals.

I enjoyed the opportunity to work along other chefs. We talked shop and shared ideas and new recipes with each other. I scribed over six pages of culinary ideas in my notebook.

I've already served Ira's Roasted Butternut Squash Soup to the residents at work. (I'll post the recipe tomorrow.)

I'm looking forward to the conference next year. Ira and I discussed the possibility of a session on Dutch oven cooking. Since each conference meal is designed to introduce a new ideas to the chefs, my session idea will teach them how to incorporate cast iron cooking into their respective operations.

If my idea comes to fruition, I'll introduce the basics in a Tuesday afternoon session PowerPoint presentation. The class will then move outside and cook dinner in cast iron Dutch ovens. If the other chefs are like me, they'll go home with valuable information, reinforced by hands-on experience.

It's going to be a long year waiting to return to Canby!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Photos from the conference

I'll have more to say later about the Christian Chef's Conference in Canby, Oregon. In the meantime, enjoy some photographs.

Chef Ira surveys the breakfast buffett this morning.

Chef Bob drizzles pesto over a plate with grilled salmon.

Chefs Bob and Leo enjoy a light moment during breakfast preparation this morning.

Chef Ira's pan seared pork tenderloin with a blue cheese sauce.

Chef Bob's enjoyable lunch today.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Christian Chefs International Conference in Canby, Oregon

What do a group of chefs do when they gather for a conference? We cook!

I'm grilling grape tomatoes on the flattop for Chef Bob Vaningan's Grilled Vegetable and Black Quinoa Salad.

We grilled fennel, red onion, red, green and yellow bell peppers, pears and green apples on the flattop for the salad. After chilling the vegetables, Chef Bob diced them. The salad will be served to conference attendees at lunch tomorrow.

Chef Bob prepares a mire poix for a vegetable stock. He used the stock to simmer the quinoa in.

Chef Ira Krizo sautes onions and mushrooms for a dish. Chef Ira is the chef for the Canby Grove Camp and Conference Center.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

What's a railroader to do?

We found the Rogue Express Coffee two and one-half years ago on a trip to Washington for a family reunion. After camping at the Valley of the Rogue Campground in July 2008, I found the Rouge Express Coffee "caboose" in Rogue River, Oregon.

We made a return visit this morning on a trip to Canby, Oregon. Leaving home at oh-dark-thirty, we I guided the pick-up truck onto the "coffee caboose spur" some six hours later at 8:30. The coffee was a refreshing pick-me-up midway through our 10-hour trip.

The coffee caboose is located on the Central Oregon and Pacific Railroad. The railroad purchased the Siskiyou line between Eugene, Oregon and Weed, California from the Southern Pacific in the mid-1990s. Rogue River is located on the Roseburg Subdivision of the railroad.

Do you know where your fingers are?

This doesn't apply to me ... I'm right handed!

"Do you know where your fingers are?"

That's my question when I observe a resident handle a chef's knife. It's my way of emphasising the proper way to handle a knife in the kitchen.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Helping the needy

HONOLULU, Hawaii (March 2, 2011) -- Culinary Specialist 1st Class Raymund Lee, assigned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, checks expiration dates on nonperishable goods at the Hawaii Food Bank. Service members who volunteered at the food bank prepared food for distribution to those in need.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jon Dasbach.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Teaching food safety

I'm not the only person on staff with expertize in the cooking arts. Over the past 15 months, I've tasted a number of wonderful dishes that staff have brought in to share. Plus, several staff can prepare a meal in my absence.

Cooking is just one aspect of my job. While it's my most public function, my expertize extends beyond the kitchen. As the chef, I purchase all food for the house, develop menus, plan meal production and supervise residents in the kitchen.

Last week I explained one of my most important tasks to staff at our weekly training session. I discussed the importance of food safety on the kitchen. This topic is critical because line staff supervise the resident cooks on weekends when I'm enjoying two days off.

I used a PowerPoint slide-show to present the topic. Back when I taught food safety to prison cooks, I used a four-fold approach to emphasize the importance of developing habits that prevent foodborne illnesses in large institutional kitchens.

I led the training with a review of important terms, like "potentially hazardous food" and "time-temperature abuse." I explained that potentially hazardous foods are typically moist, high in protein and are slightly acidic. These are the foods that are associated with outbreaks of foodborne illness.

I next introduced the four elements of a well-designed food safety program. Such a system establishes controls to prevent:
  • Time and temperature abuse
  • Cross-contamination
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Improper cleaning and sanitation
I will cover each point in detail over the coming two or three weeks.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Getting ready for camp cooking

I originally wrote this article for in December 2000. I was camping much more in those days before my involvement with the El Dorado Western Railway.

December is the low point in my annual quest to replicate my last camping trip to the Alpine country of California's Sierra Nevada. Like many areas in the United States and Canada, a blanket of snow now covers all of its campgrounds. It's winter and everything is frozen. In many places -- especially our favorite campground at Woods Lake, near Carson Pass -- snow drifts engulf all of the good campsites.

Although I grew up skiing at Badger Pass in Yosemite National Park in the 1960s, I've always been drawn to the Sierra Nevada in its prime. The spring, summer and fall are my favorite times. Yes I enjoy the snow. But it gets in the way. You can't drive the forest roads when they're covered with snow. Nor can you fish or tent camp. Winter, for me, is a period of transition from fall into spring.

While I'd gladly camp at the lower elevations of the Sierra Nevada, it's difficult to convince the family to join me. And with the pressures of work, kids in school and inclement weather, it's difficult to get away. So, I'm content to cook at home during the winter months.

Getting ready for the 2001 camp cooking season

What's a camp cook to do? I cook. And learn. Winter is culinary boot camp time for this frustrated camp cook. I concentrate on camp cooking -- in the front yard.

When I get the urge to hang a Dutch oven kettle over a crackling oak fire, I make for the front yard. My camp kitchen is centered around a in my granite-lined campfire pit. My camp kitchen is located in the front of our modest Shingle Springs home.

I use the winter to test new dishes for the family. Since I work as a food service manager, I'm always looking for new and exciting dishes to experiment with. Tonight, for example, I prepared Sauteed Chicken with Artichokes for my in-laws. Everyone loved the recipe. Sauteed Chicken -- doesn't matter what recipe you use because they've all good -- will be featured on our camp menus this summer.

January and February are also good months to get ready for the coming outdoor cooking season. It's time to take a look at your camp cooking outfit. Two weeks ago I took all of my gear out of the shed and dusted it off. I went through everything (especially the propane stove) and cleaned it. It's also a good time to inventory your cookware (and other camping equipment) and to plan for purchases during the winter and spring.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Drifting aromas

It shouldn't surprise readers of 'Round the Chuckbox that I interact with residents and staff at work throughout the day. Access to the kitchen, located off the back entrance in the 110-year-old former boarding house, is open to clients and staff. Everyone walks past the kitchen several times each day.

In many respects, this job is the best in my 40-year career. Cooking for such a small group of residents lets me tailor meals to their likes and dislikes, often based on feedback that I receive from residents throughout the day.

Residents and staff frequently often react to the drifting smells. The bouquet of inviting aromas drift all though the house, even up into the second floor.

These aromas often bring unsolicited comments like this one from Monday afternoon:

"Your kitchen smells like my mother's house," exclaimed a counselor.

At the time, the sharp aroma of two-dozen dried guajillo chili peppers wafted through the house as I toasted them in a skillet. The aroma from roasting tomatoes, whole garlic cloves and jalapeno chili peppers for salsa added to the pleasant mix of Mexican flavors.

I'm sure residents and staff will continue to comment on what they see and smell in the kitchen. After all, it's hard to resist.