Saturday, July 28, 2012

Copper king

During my time in the fleet in the 1970s, the copper king worked the steam jacketed kettles, or coppers in Navy parlance, in U.S. Navy galleys. Most culinary skill on the shift rested with this cook. He prepared soups, sauces, braised meats and casseroles for the ship's crew.
GULF OF ADEN (July 12, 2012) -- Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Harvey Xavier prepares meat sauce aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Cape St. George (CG 71). Cape St. George is deployed as part of the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher S. Johnson.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Blog readers at Deer Crossing Camp

Last weekend Debbie and I hiked into Deer Crossing Summer Camp, located on the southeastern shore of Loon Lake in Eldorado National Forest. We worked in the camp kitchen during the summer of 2009. As the chef , I cooked nearly 2,700 meals over the 10-week season.

The fact that both cooks had read my blog impressed me the most about the visit. I learned two years ago that camp owner and director Jim Wiltens routinely uses the blog to screen prospective cooks. He likes it because I've "pulled no punches" in describing my experience at the wilderness leadership camp.

In 2010 a classically trained cook backed out when he saw the daily challenges at the camp. In contrast, one of the cooks from that season returned for a second summer in 2011. The cooks hired in the intervening years have done a good job.

Both cooks recognized Debbie and me from the blog. It felt good to meet cooks who had read the blog in detail. Click on the label "Camp 2009" to follow my journey that summer.

Just as I do in my current job, I've always enjoyed teaching my craft to others, especially when I can demonstrate culinary technique in person. Saturday, I showed Jenny how to season her chicken skillet dish in layers. She welcomed my assistance and let me help with the meal.

'Round the Chuckbox lets me reach a much wider audience. As much fun as it would be to travel throughout the country helping others cook, I don't have that luxury right now. Work, family and railroad obligations limit travel at this time.

The blog gives me a venue to share recipes and production techniques for small to medium sized kitchens. I've dedicated the past two and one-half years at my current job developing a set of recipes for 25 and 50 persons. When possible, I share the recipes on these pages.

Occasional feedback tells me that I'm on the right track. So, until I'm able to travel more and meet some of my readers, I plan to continue writing about my culinary journey. Please let me know how these pages have helped. Thank you.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Reliving the chuckwagon tradition on the Bell Ranch

Chuckwagon cook Kent Rollins spent most of the month of June the "pulling" the the chuckwagon on the massive Bell Ranch in northeastern New Mexico. Along with his wife Shannon, the two fed a crew of cowboys from the ranch chuckwagon. As the crew finished work at one pasture, Kent and Shannon drove the team of horses to the next pasture, where they set up camp and worked early mornings to the setting of the sun.

Enjoy the video. In it, you'll see the chuckwagon in action and view a map of the 290,100-acre ranch. Kent also explains how to prepare Upside Down Pizza. "Them boys eat it up faster than we can put it down on the table," said Kent in the video.

You Tube description: "Not since 1958, has The Bell Ranch pulled a traditional chuck wagon. This two part mini-documentary follows the crew of The Bell and Kent Rollins, as the chuck wagon "cookie," as they revive the tradition of pulling a chuck wagon with a team for the four week spring gathering."