Saturday, March 16, 2013

One antique pot, five hearty meals

For more than two years, this Dutch oven languished in the garage. It was a gift from a long-time docent at the El Dorado County Historical Museum. A widow of many years, the Dutch oven was a wedding gift, along with a set of cast iron skillets.

Too small to feed large groups, the Dutch oven joined my modest collection of small cast iron pieces in the corner of the garage, near the roll-up door. Dust collected on its domed lid. And a light patina of rust covered the bottom of the five-quart kitchen Dutch oven.

While I moved two of the small skillets into the house, most of my Dutch oven cooking in the house had been with a covered fry skillet that I acquired from my mother. Among the skillets was a nine-inch grill pan that I’ve used a number of times to give nice grills marks to chicken breasts and pork chops.

Our recent vacation in Ocean Shores, Washington, was the perfect opportunity to recover the Dutch oven from the garage and put it to use in our resort kitchen. As I planned for the trip, I was looking for a small Dutch oven to use in the kitchen of the time-share condominium. Though each unit featured a fully furnished kitchen, I knew that I would need a heavy pot for soups and stews.

I considered taking a 10- or 12-inch camp Dutch oven. But the weather forecast called for a week of rain. We would take all our meals indoors. With the family confined to the condominium, I settled on packing my 12-inch Griswold skillet. It would handle most of the frying, sautéing and grilling. Its domed lid extended its usefulness.

As I searched my garage-bound collection of cast iron pieces, the Dutch oven looked like the perfect vessel for a wide range of dishes. My large kitchen Lodge Dutch ovens carried too much capacity for the family at nine- and 12-quarts each. The Dutch oven, a Revere Ware brand oven, seemed like the perfect match for our meals.

The Griswold skillet and Revere Ware Dutch oven proved useful over the week. The three main cooks of the trips each used both implements a number of times. I led the week on Monday by roasting red bell peppers in the oven for the soup. Sautéed asparagus on the skillet accompany a pot of spaghetti on Tuesday. Candie used it to steam her dish of Mexican rice for taco on Wednesday. (We missed taco Tuesday!)

The Revere Ware pot proved to be the star of the week. With a five-quart capacity, it was large enough to feed seven and eight adults (eight Debbie’s brother arrived on Wednesday). Mike and I prepared a wonderful pot of albondigas soup for Monday dinner. Tuesday dinner was a big pot of Spaghetti with Italian sausage. Ground beef tacos kept the family going on Wednesday.

The up received double duty on Thursday. Candie simmered a wonderful pot of cheesy potato soup for lunch on Thursday. Then after I cleaned the pot, I seared two chuck roasts for Yankee pot roast. A late dinner of pot roast, roasted vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower and carrots) and gravy filled us.

One pot gave us five great meals this week. The cuisine prepared out of the Griswold and Revere Ware pieces of cast iron provided a week of comfort food for the family. Now safely tucked away in the truck for the trip home, the Dutch oven is ready for our next adventure.

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