Sunday, February 27, 2005

Photographs from the TV Promo

Steve Karoly (right) and Bakin' Bill Johnson prepare for the promo on KRON 4 with an outdoor kitchen as backdrop. Posted by Hello

Henry Tenenbaum (right), reporter and host of Henry's Garden on KRON 4, discuss details of the promo with Bakin' Bill Johnson. The five-minute spot was filmed live on the Saturday morning news. Our goal was to promote the International Dutch Oven Society and the Tri-Valley International Sportsman's Expo in Pleasanton, California. Posted by Hello

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Mountain Man Breakfast on KRON 4 News Weekend

Bakin' Bill Johnson cooked mountain man breakfast at the Peninsula Home and Garden Show in San Mateo this morning on KRON 4 News Weekend. Host Henry Tenenbaum of Henry's Garden did two teasers, or bumps, as the news went to break, both between 9:20 and 9:30 a.m.

Channel 4 returned from the bottom of the hour commercial break to feature Dutch ovens, the International Dutch Oven Society and the Tri-valley Sportsman's Expo in Pleasanton, California. Bill had the speaking part this time as he's the one with many years of experience doing TV spots in Salt Lake City.


1 pound sausage
1 pound bacon, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 (32-ounce) package frozen shredded hash browns, thawed
8 eggs
2 cups grated medium cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Use a 12-inch Dutch oven for this recipe. Ignite 24 charcoal briquettes and let them burn until they are barely covered with ash, about 20 minutes. For a 350-degree F oven, you'll need 8 briquettes underneath and 16 on top of the oven. For the first portion of the recipe, dump all the coals in a single layer on the cooking surface. Place Dutch oven over the coals to pre-heat.

Brown sausage in the Dutch oven; drain and spoon into a large bowl. Brown bacon in the Dutch oven. Drain bacon fat and reserve 1/4-cup and spoon bacon into the same bowl. Sauté onions and peppers in reserved bacon fat. Place all but 2 tablespoons of the vegetables in the same bowl. Spread remaining vegetables over the surface of the oven. Add hash browns to the bowl and stir to combine all ingredients. Pour potato mixture into Dutch oven.

Bake 15 minutes with 8 coals under the Dutch oven and 16 coals on the lid. Mix eggs in a bowl and evenly pour over the potatoes. Return the lid and bake until the eggs are cooked through. This can take 15 to 30 minutes, depending on weather conditions. Add cheese to the top of the potato-eggs mixture and cook until melted. Serve with your favorite salsa or hot pepper sauce. Serves 12 full portions or 18 side portions.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Pleasanton ISE Show Today and TV Shot Tomorrow

We had a slow day at the IDOS booth today at the International Sportsman's Expo in Pleasanton today. Tomorrow is usually the big day for the show. Since no one signed up for the planned three-pot cookoff, Clyde Miller, Rom Hill, Bill Johnson and I are going to have a dessert cookoff at 2 p.m. A new IDOS member named Dana is going to join us. Promises to be fun.

Here's the good news: Bakin' Bill Johnson and I are traveling to the Peninsula Spring Home & Garden Show in San Mateo to cook for the show and for KRON 4 News Weekend and Henry Tenenbaum, reporter and host of Henry's Garden. We're planning on cooking two dishes, including a pineapple upside down cake with an exciting twist. See you there.

I'll have pictures when I get back home.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Chuckwagon Beans

Here's something from the archives as I'm betting ready to head to Pleasanton. This is from Leonard "WagonCook" Sanders, who lives a couple hours north of me.
I cook beans as a side dish at the chuckwagon. We cook mostly pinto beans in #10 stove type Dutch ovens using only bottom heat. A #10 stove-type Dutch oven is close in volume to a #12 camp Dutch oven. Three pounds of beans with ham or bacon and onions added will feed 50 people.

Chuckwagon bean math: 2 cups dry pinto beans equal 1-pound. So put 6 cups or 3 pounds of pinto beans into a #12 camp Dutch oven. Add bacon or ham or other meat and onions, etc., and it will feed 50 people. If you have no other side dishes, you may want to make extra beans.

At the cattleman's dinner I cooked 100 pounds of red beans for 1,000 people because it was the only side dish. As a wagon cook, 'Beans is my forte.' Email me with any questions. Our 'Gossippin' Bean' recipe is famous. The beans are pleasant to your face but talk behind your back.

Happy Cookin' Wagoncook, Palermo, Calif.

Sometimes WagonCook uses high-tech methods to cook his beans. This shot is from his 50th birthday bash as few years ago.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Steve's Barbecue Sauce

There are many varieties of barbecue sauce. Each cook has his favorite. This sauce is tangy and has a mild bite to it.


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup coffee
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons chili powder
4 teaspoons Liquid Barbecue Smoke®
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper, to taste.

Heat saucepan over medium heat. Melt butter, being careful not to burn. Add onions and sweat. Add the garlic and sweat until you smell them. Add remaining ingredients, stir and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes to blend flavors. Strain sauce if desired.

Apply barbecue sauce to meat in the last 10 to 15 minutes on the grill or in the oven. Any sooner, you run the risk of burning the sauce. Brush sauce on the topside of the meat. Turn once and apply to the bottom.

It's usually best to apply several thin coats of sauce instead of one thick coat. Light coats of sauce help to develop the flavor more perfectly rather than a soggy mess. You'll be rewarded with beautifully colored meat, a rich caramelized flavor and meat that's appealing to the eye.
Yield: about 3 cups.

Suggestions for use:

Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup to canned pork and beans and simmer

Add 1 cup to each pound of cooked, shredded beef or pork for BBQ Sandwiches

Russian Dressing - mix 1/4 cup mayonnaise and 1/4 sauce for a tangy salad dressing
Use in place of tomato catsup in any recipe

Make Sloppy Joes: Brown 1 pound lean ground beef with chopped onions and celery; add 1-cup sauce and simmer. Serve on buns.

NOTES: If brewed coffee is not available, substitute beef stock or water. Or add freeze-dried coffee crystals and water in place of brewed coffee. To adjust flavor, add or reduce spices to create a sauce to your liking.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Quick Cinnamon Buns with Buttermilk Icing

This recipe is a quick alternative to working with yeast dough in camp. As the name implies, they’re (relatively) quick. And they make a great accompaniment to your next campfire breakfast.

I’ve tried to skip the step where you pat the dough into a rectangle, spread melted butter and cinnamon-sugar filling and roll into a log. I’ve found that this can be a bit much work in camp.
But I find the extra step is worth the effort. I ran out of time while preparing this recipe at the Winter Camp Cookoff last month. So, instead of forming the rolled cinnamon log as I had in Navy bakeries, I formed biscuits.

To form biscuits, I patted the dough into a large circle on a floured board and sprinkled the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the dough. I then pressed the sugar into the dough and cut 2-inch biscuits. These biscuits were just as popular as my chili on the cold, foggy day of the cookoff.

On another occasion, I formed a cinnamon biscuit "sandwich." This time I patted the dough into two rectangles, each about half the width as the recipe calls for. I then sprinkled the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the first piece and folded the second piece on top of it. After pressing the two pieces together, I cut biscuits as before. I encountered a small problem: The two halves separated as I cut the biscuits.

Use the first alternative if you're pressed for time or if you don't see the need to impress anyone with the spiraling coils of traditional cinnamon buns.


This recipe is adapted for Dutch ovens from the May/June 2002 Cook’s Illustrated.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Biscuit Dough:
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons table salt
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons cream cheese
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 cup confectioner's sugar

Use a 10-inch Dutch oven for this recipe. Ignite 27 charcoal briquettes and let them burn until they are barely covered with ash, about 20 minutes. For a 425-degree oven, you’ll need 9 briquettes underneath and 18 on top of the oven. Pour 1 tablespoon melted butter in 10-inch Dutch oven; brush to coat bottom and sides of oven.

To make cinnamon-sugar filling: Combine sugars, spices and salt in small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon melted butter and stir with fork or fingers until mixture resembles wet sand; set filling mixture aside.

To make biscuit dough: Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Whisk buttermilk and 2 tablespoons melted butter in measuring cup or small bowl. Add liquid to dry ingredients and stir with wooden spoon until liquid is absorbed (dough will look very shaggy), about 30 seconds. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead until just smooth and no longer shaggy.

Pat dough with hands into 12 by 9-inch rectangle. Brush dough with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle evenly with filling, leaving 1/2-inch border of plain dough around edges. Press filling firmly into dough.

Using bench scraper or metal spatula, loosen dough from work surface. Starting at long side, roll dough, pressing lightly, to form a tight log. Pinch seam to seal.

Roll log seam-side down and cut evenly into eight pieces. With hand, slightly flatten each piece of dough to seal open edges and keep filling in place. Place one roll in center of prepared Dutch oven, then place remaining seven rolls around perimeter of oven.

Brush with 2 tablespoons remaining melted butter. Bake until edges are golden brown, 23 to 25 minutes. Remove lid and cool buns in Dutch oven.

To make icing and finish buns: Whisk cream cheese and buttermilk in large bowl until thick and smooth (mixture will look like cottage cheese at first). Sift confectioners’ sugar over; whisk until smooth glaze forms, about 30 seconds. Spoon glaze evenly over buns; serve immediately.

NOTES: Melted butter is used in both the filling and the dough and to grease the oven; it’s easiest to melt the total amount (8 tablespoons) at once and measure it out as you need it. The finished buns are best eaten warm, but they hold reasonably well for up to 2 hours.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Tri-Valley Sportman's Expo in Pleasanton, California

As I said a few weeks ago, I'm attending the Tri-Valley International Sportsman's Expo this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The ISE press release has the background information for the show.

The International Sportsman's Expositions in association with the International Dutch Oven Society is hosting Dutch oven cookoff and product demonstrations at the Alameda County Fairgrounds February 25 - 27, 2005.

Friday -- Noon to 7 p.m.
Saturday -- 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday -- 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

$10 for adults, available at the show. Youth 12 and under enter for FREE. Discount coupons available on the ISE website, in the newspaper or at Long's Drugs stores.

Coming from:

  • San Francisco:Cross the Bay Bridge. Follow the sign to stay on I-580 East. When you come to I-680 go south (right), take the Bernal Exit and go East (to the right when you come off the ramp), turn left at Gate 8.
  • San Jose:Take I-680 North. Take the Bernal Exit and go East (to the right when you come off the ramp), turn left at gate 8. To the Fairgrounds, turn a left on Valley Avenue. To the Administration office, stay on Bernal (Fairgrounds will be on your left), turn left at Pleasanton Avenue, the admin office will be on your left.
  • Walnut Creek:Take I-680 South. Take the Bernal Exit and go East (to the right when you come off the ramp) turn left at gate 8.

Cooking Demonstrations

I don't have the precise Dutch oven demonstration schedule yet. I'll post it as soon as I receive it. Here's a representation of what to expect:

Introduction to Dutch oven cooking and cast iron care: Come learn what Dutch ovens are and how to use them. We will cover everything from manufacturing to cleaning them up after you're done cooking.

Dutch oven baking: Learn how to bake in your Dutch oven. From bread to the traditional fruit cobbler, we will cover baking tips and techniques.

Dutch oven stewing: Learn how to create delicious stews from the traditional beef stew to a tantalizing chili, we will cover the techniques to creating stewed dishes in the Dutch oven.

Dutch oven roasting: Learn the secrets to roasting in a cast iron Dutch oven as we demonstrate how to steam roast while we share tips about roasting all kinds of dished in these black pots.

Visit the IDOS Booth

If you live in the Bay Area or Central Valley please stop by and see us. We'll be located in the southeast corner of Exhibition Hall, next to the restrooms. It's a corner booth so you can't miss us.

The president of the International Dutch Oven Society, Clyde Miller is coming out from his home in from Roy, Utah to help promote Dutch oven cooking. Traveling with Clyde are brothers Dennis and Ron Hill and Bakin' Bill Johnson. Ron is the immediate past president of IDOS.

Bakin' Bill is a master of the cooking demonstration. I watched him in action at the 2004 Tri-Valley International Sportsman's Expo. Bill won't sell you anything other than an appreciation for the art of Dutch oven cooking.

I've asked Bill to bring his Dutch oven cooking portfolio. A graphic designer by trade, Bill's an accomplished photographer. In my book, he's the unofficial photographer of the Dutch Oven News -- the official newsletter of IDOS. His portfolio (actually a series of binders) is loaded with hundreds of vivid color photographs of Dutch oven dishes, including the winning dishes from several of the past World Championship cookoffs.

See you there ...

Sunday, February 20, 2005

What Should We Hate?

California's Capitol region has heard a lot about hate speech in recent weeks.

A Land Park couple hung an American soldier in effigy from their house. Homeowners Steven and Virginia Pearcy placed a placard around the soldier's neck that read, "Bush lied, I died," in protest of the war in Iraq.

Displeased neighbors held an emotionally-charged vigil to protest the effigy Tuesday night. Some have charged that the vigil ventured into hate.

Closer to home, Placerville Mayor Robby Colvin presented an official proclamation to the Human Rights Roundtable that declared the city a hate-free zone.

Many who attended the meeting feared that those who use religious freedom to speak against homosexual activity could be prosecuted for hate speech, according a February 10, 2005 Mountain Democrat story. One man who attended the meeting feared that the civil government had declared war on Christianity.

With all this talk of hate speech, we often ignore what the focus of our hate should be.

Religious people freely express that God's people should love their neighbors. That's true. Jesus taught that you must love your neighbor. He said this love based on a foundation of complete devotion to God (Matthew 22:37-39).

But hate? Does God truly want us to hate? He does.

It's not an emotionally driven hatred that's focuses on politics or immoral activity. Nor is it hatred that destroys peoples lives, including yours.

No, God's righteous hatred is directed toward the things that He hates.

That brings us to the thought for the week:
"Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good" (Romans 12:9).

"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth" (1 Corinthians 13:4-6).
God fearing people don't react with hatred toward those in whom we disagree. Instead, we act with love, as defined by the Corinthians passage, while remaining on the lookout for sin in our lives. God's people uphold the truth without sinning.

Will we act on the hatred that prompted Cain to murder his brother Adam (Geneses 4:1-16)? Or will we focus our hate on the things that God hates, like sin?

Scotch Woodcock

Yesterday, I received this email from a retired Navy warrant officer:
Throughout my career (1960-1984) I enjoyed GREAT Navy chow. The submarine service spoiled me rotten. One of the most memorable meals I enjoyed was in the wardrooms of the USS ORION (AS-18) and USS HOLLAND (AS-32).

The entrée is Scotch Woodcock Eggs. As I remember this was a poached egg with the most delicious sauce on an english muffin (not to be confused with eggs Benedict). I have searched high and low for the recipe to no avail. I would have gastronomic orgasims if you could provide the recipe to me. Thanks from an amateur gourmet cook and a true advocate of US Navy cuisine.
We prepared this dish in the enlisted mess on board ship. Like the warrant officer, I thoroughly enjoyed the dish.

According to his description, the stewards served the dish in a fashion similar to eggs Benedict. Down in the galley, we stirred sliced hard boiled eggs into the sauce and served it over toast points or English muffins.

Give this dish a try. It's hearty enough to qualify as camp food. It's a worthy substitute for sausage gravy.


Armed Forces Recipe Service Card No. F-3. I "civilianized" the recipe, but it's still identical to the military recipe. This recipe is for 100 (2/3-cup) servings. Figures in parenthesis are for 10 servings, or a little more than 1-1/2 quarts sauce (without the eggs).

100 eggs (10 eggs)
2 gallons warm milk (3-1/4 cups)
1-1/2 pounds butter, melted (4-1/2 tablespoons)
1-1/8 pounds all-purpose four (1/3-cup)
3 pounds Cheddar cheese, shredded (5 ounces)
5-1/8 ounces finely ground bread crumbs
2-1/2 ounces butter, melted

Place eggs in baskets as needed; cover with hot water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat; simmer 10 to 15 minutes. DO NOT BOIL. Remove from water and cool. Remove shells from eggs and eggs in half lengthwise. Arrange 100 egg halves in each hotel table pan. Four (2-inch) hotel pans are needed for 100 portions.

Heat milk to just below boiling. DO NOT BOIL. Blend butter or margarine and flour together; stir until smooth. Add milk to roux, stirring constantly. Cook until thickened. Add cheese to sauce; stir until cheese is melted. Stir as necessary. Check seasoning and add salt to taste if needed. Pour 4-3/4 quarts sauce over egg halves in each steam table pan.

Combine bread crumbs and butter. Sprinkle 2/3 cup buttered crumbs over mixture in each pan. Using a convection oven, bake at 325-degree F 10 minutes or until browned on low fan, open vent. Hold for service at 140 F or higher.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Northern California Dutch Oven Events

Here are Dutch oven events that I'm aware of in Northern California:

March 5, 2005 -- Dutch oven cookoff at the Nor-Cal Boat, Sport & RV Show, Shasta County Fairgrounds, corner of Hwy. 273 and Briggs Street, Anderson, California. Contact: Lynn Gillis (530) 365-1381.

March 15, 22 and 29, 2005 -- Dutch oven cooking class at the Red Bluff Community Center, 1500 South Jackson Street, Red Bluff, California. Contact: (530) 527-8177. Don Mason teaches these classes.

Don Mason at work at the 2002 Nor-Cal Boat, Short and RV Show. Posted by Hello

April 2, 2005 -- Dutch oven cookoff at the Colusa Western Days, Colusa County Fairgrounds, Colusa, California. Contact: Vickie (530) 458-8009. The cookoff is sponsored by the Sacramento River Cast Iron Cookers.

April 9, 2005 -- Dutch oven gathering (also known as a DOG) at the Kids Kingdon at Enterprize Park, Redding, California. Sponsored by the Cast Iron Cooks of the West. Contact: Dave Herzog (530) 227-8015. Meet at 9:30 a.m.

Dave Herzon at work at the 2002 Nor-Cal Boat, Short and RV Show. Posted by Hello

May 14, 2005 -- DOG at the Kids Kingdon at Enterprize Park, Redding, California. Sponsored by the Cast Iron Cooks of the West. Contact: Dave Herzog (530) 227-8015. Meet at 9:30 a.m.

May 21, 2005 -- Cook'en in the Park Dutch Oven Cookoff at Red Bluff Marina and Park, Red Bluff, California. Contact: Red Bluff Parks and Recreation Department (530) 527-8177 or Don Mason (530) 527-1027 / This is a three pot cookoff (bread, main dish and dessert). Cook's meeting is at 9 a.m. and judging begins at 1 p.m.

June 11, 2005 (dates conflict) -- DOG at the Kids Kingdon at Enterprize Park, Redding, California. Sponsored by the Cast Iron Cooks of the West. Contact: Dave Herzog (530) 227-8015. Meet at 9:30 a.m.

June 11 and 12, 2005 -- DOG at 6:30 p.m. Saturday (11th) and a three-pot Dutch oven cookoff on Sunday (12th) at 22nd Annual Carson City Rendezvous, Mills Park, Carson City, Nevada. Sponsored by the Cast Iron Cooks of the West. Contact: Dave Herzog (530) 227-8015. Meet at 9:30 a.m. Cookoff is a qualifying event for the IDOS 2006 World Championship Dutch Oven Cookoff.

Please contact me at if you have additional information. I expect to attend Colusa Western Days and Cook'en in the Park.

Judge's table at the 2002 Nor-Cal Boat, Sport and RV Show. A Dutch oven cookoff is held annually at the chookoff. The show held at the Shasta County (California) Fairgrounds in Anderson. The Dutch oven cookoff is held in Saturday and the chili cookoff is held on Sunday. Posted by Hello

Friday, February 18, 2005

Deb's Ice Tea, Part 2

My brother-in-law wrote from Washington State and gave his wife's version of Iced Tea:

"I was reviewing the 'Deb’s Ice Tea' article and it is a little different than how Toni makes her 'Mississippi Sweet Tea.' Toni fills her teakettle with water and adds 7 tea bags to it. She then boils it to a point where the teakettle is whistling at us. Most times she doesn’t get to the stove quick enough and I am the one that ends up cleaning the mess. She will then let the tea simmer for a while and then turn the burner off and let the boiled tea sit for a while. She doesn’t like to let it sit for too long; I don’t know how long that is but I have seen her redo the process if the boiled tea has sat overnight.

"At this point she will pour the boiled tea into the tea pitcher in which she has already added a full cup of white sugar and then stir with warm water as to make sure that all of the sugar dissolves into the tea. I feel that the tea is best when it has set up at room temperature for about an hour and then poured over a full glass of ice. Be sure to let the glass set for about 2 minutes so that the ice has had an opportunity to cool the tea down to a chilled beverage and then enjoy the glass of ice tea at this time."


He's suggested that we have a family competition, but wants to try his sister's tea first. Well, we'll see. Gary did offer a testimonial. It seems my niece has taken her mother's ice tea to school and actually sold it to classmates.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Buttermilk Hotcakes

Nothing hits the spot like hotcakes that are smothered with brown sugar syrup, especially if they’re made from scratch. Scratch hotcakes are superior to many of the prepared mixes on the market today. Except for the addition of buttermilk, this is the recipe I’ve known my whole life.

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/3 cup dry buttermilk blend (see note)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted bacon grease

At home -- Stir together flour, sugar, dry buttermilk blend, baking powder, soda and salt. Place hotcake mix into a suitable container. Pack the egg and oil.
For backpacking trips, we place the whole egg inside the dry mix. The theory goes like this: Should the egg break, remove the shell, add water and mix. I’ll have to test it one-day -- we’ve never broken an egg in my memory.

In camp -- Light a campfire and burn until you have a bed of hot coals. (Hotcakes can be cooked over a campstove if desired.)

Pour mix into a bowl. Crack the egg into the dry mixture. Add the water and mix with a wire whip just until the batter is blended. Add the oil or bacon grease and mix again just until the batter is blended. The batter will be slightly lumpy.

When the coals are ready, spread them under a lightly greased cast iron skillet or griddle and heat just until it smokes. For each hotcake, pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto the hot griddle or skillet. Turn when each hotcake’s surface is bubbly and the edges are slightly dry. Cook until golden brown. Serve with butter and brown sugar syrup.

This recipe makes about eight 4-inch hotcakes and can be easily doubled for larger groups.

Buttermilk note: I use Saco Cultured Buttermilk Blend, which is sold in a 12-oz. container. Substitute 1-1/3 cups cultured buttermilk for the dry buttermilk and water if desired.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Deb’s Iced Tea and Living with Your Wife

I’d been cooking professionally for around 10 years when Debbie and I were joined in marriage in 1981.

I knew everything there was to know about cooking. Of course I did. After all, I’d fed thousands of sailors over eight and one-half years active duty service.

Deb first made her mother’s iced tea sometime after we had moved into a Bakersfield two-room apartment. Seven Lipton tea bags, a pint of water and a cup of white sugar went in my good Revere Ware saucepan.

Next came the annoying part. She’d boil the tea until it turned to syrup. She’d strain the syrup and dilute it into a pitcher.

For years, I tried to correct her tea-making ways. After all, I was the expert. You never boil tea. Just ask Mr. Lipton.

I’d turn the burner to low heat, clean the range-top and chip tea candy from my good Revere Ware saucepan.

This might be amusing except for a "minor" verse in Peter’s letter to the pilgrims of the Dispersion. I say minor only because I didn’t hear much about it until recent years -- I didn’t want to hear much about Peter’s command to husbands.

These may be the most important 34 words in the Bible for husbands:
Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered (1 Peter 3:7).
Husbands are to live with their wives. This means you’re to dwell with her in close harmony. To dwell with one's wife "with understanding" means that husbands are to know, to understand, to comprehend their nature, especially as it fits in the marriage relationship.

Learn about your wife, what pleases her and what makes her "tick." And honor your wife by putting her on a pedestal. She’s the love of your life, no one else.

Remember that as Christians, you and your wife are "heirs together." Study together, pray together, worship together.

And husbands, there’s a much more serious side to the equation. Peter says that your prayers before God will be hindered if you ignore his command. We have a solemn duty to God and to your wife to dwell, understand and honor.

The outcome: I gave up about five years ago. Somewhere along the way I realized my life with Debbie transcended Navy-approved culinary techniques. And she makes a great cup of iced tea (this comes from a guy that grew up on unsweetened iced tea).

Oh, I’m drinking a Mason jar of Deb’s iced tea while writing this blog. It’s one of those sweet tea drinks that grows on you. Give yourself 24 years!


2 cups cold water
1 cup granulated sugar
7 tea bags

Combine ingredients in a one-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. When the tea boils, reduce to a low simmer. Simmer until tea reduces to the desired strength, about 30 to 60 minutes. Tea will have a syrupy consistency at this point. Please be very careful. Hot tea syrup is akin to culinary napalm -- it burns.

Cool; strain syrup into a two-quart beverage container and dilute with cold water. Make sure to gently squeeze the tea bags to get as much tea as possible into the water.

To serve, fill a Mason jar with ice. Pour tea over ice and enjoy. Squeeze fresh lemon into tea and stir, if desired. Store in the refrigeration for 2-3 days. It'll be time to make a fresh batch!

New IDOS Website is Active

The new International Dutch Oven Society website is active at Though the website is still in development you can access it and navigate through the different sections.

"When everything that is found on [the old website] is on the new site, we will pointing to the new site. So go on over and let us know what you think," said web developer Robert Love Tuesday.

When the content is fully transferred to the new website, members will be able to gain information on chapters, recipes, Dutch oven products and cookoffs.

I recommend that you to explorer the new website and proceed to the new IDOS Forum and leave feedback. Robert has encouraged readers to leave feedback -- good or bad.

You'll need to register to access the forum, which is free. The main feedback discussion is found at

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

To Bean or Not to Bean

I have no intention of entering the beans vs. no beans debate that rages in some chili circles. This blog is equally written for the fervent no beans purest as well as the anything goes cook who just wants to fill his belly.

But y'all need to know that Food Network celebrity and cookbook author Alton Brown entered the debate last August with the airing of "The Big Chili" episode. In the show's opening scene, guest chefs Grumpy Gus and his sidekick Rusty are riding across the pasture discussing the finer points of America's favorite bowl of red.

Which main chili ingredient(s) is/are missing from the photograph? Posted by Hello

In the interest of brevity, 'Round the Chuckbox has cut the unimportant parts of Grumpy's dissertation on chili. The exchange went something like this:

Grumpy: What I'm talking about here, Rusty, is the fact that a good, honest bowl of chili don't need no mushrooms. Don't need no 'taters. Don't need no duck fat. Don't need no chocolate, no jujubes, no ... Why it sure don't need none of that tofu.

Rusty: It sure don't need no beans.

Grumpy: No, it don't need no beans.

Not that there's anything wrong with beans per se.
It's just, well, when a feller's putting his, his fork into something he expects what he's expecting. And if he don't get what he's expecting a feller's likely to get a little disoriented. (Transcript from Good Eats Fan Page.)

"The Big Chili" next airs on March 1, 2005 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Frankly, I don’t give a hoot. I eat my chili with or without beans.

And, no, I'm not a nutritional anthropologist. Yes, it's true that I took some interesting -- and sometimes weird -- classes from one at UC Davis.

Now on to more pressing issues.

Enjoy ...

Monday, February 14, 2005

Sunday Morning Hotcakes and Syrup

I rarely cook a full breakfast on Sunday morning. But a stack of hotcakes sounded good yesterday. With a fresh batch of brown sugar syrup sitting in the refrigerator, my son and I made traditional Karoly hotcakes (more later in the week).

Although I've prepared brown sugar syrup hundreds of times, I've always been put off by it's acidic aftertaste. So a few years ago, I added 1/4-cup corn syrup and several pats of unsalted butter to by recipe (dissolve 2 cups brown sugar in 1 cup boiling water and flavor with maple flavoring).

The result impressed me. The syrup had a distinct brown sugar flavor without the aftertaste. It was much smoother and had a mild butter flavor.

A quick Google search led me to a recipe by Pam Anderson, author of How to Cook Without a Book and CookSmart, that had promise. It delievered a sweet syrup with smooth flavor. The syrup thickened naturally without cornstarch.

This is where the writer says, "The syrup has a reddish hue with yellow under tones when drizzled from a spoon."


Some things are just too easy to make at home, including hotcakes and brown sugar syrup. I figure, why buy the bottled stuff when you can easily produce quality syrup at home. The original recipe said to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. I find that it takes at least 30 minutes to reduce the volume by one-half.

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
2 cups water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a medium saucepan, bring the sugars, corn syrup and water to a boil. Reduce heat to a vigorous simmer until thickened to a syrupy consistency, about 30 minutes. Stir in butter. Let cool slightly. Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Listen to God

Last week's Thought for the Week (Proverbs 3:34-35) and a brief exchange with my son this morning prompts the thought for this week:

On our way to worship this morning, my wife asked our son if he'd put the cat outdoors. He said no. His mother began to explain her instructions regarding the animals. When he resisted, I joined in to express the importance of listening to ones mother. I glanced to the back seat of the truck and saw that our son had plugged his earns with his fingers.

I gave my father a similar response some 30 years ago. Home on leave from the Navy, I'd joined my parents for lunch. I was leaving that day to see a young lady in Santa Rosa. When my father asked of my sleeping arrangements, I lied. I plugged my ears (figuratively) to hide my true intentions.

Likewise, when Stephen was brought before the Jewish council in Jerusalem to answer the false charge of blasphemy against the temple and the law (read Acts 6:9-7:60 for the whole account), the high priest and those on the council refused to listen.

In response to this and a sign from heaven, the council "cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord." (Acts 7:54-60). The council had just listened to Stephen recount the history of Israel from Abraham's calling to Moses and the giving of the law. Instead of responding to God with repentance, pride "stopped their ears" and they killed Stephen.

This brings us to today's thought for the week:

"God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Therefore submit to God. Resist the Devil and he will flee from you (James 4:6b-7).
In a quote from the passage in Proverbs, James tells us that those who humble themselves before God receive His blessings, including the blessing of salvation from sin. Pride keeps us at a distance from God.

We must unstop our ears and listen to God as Josiah did just than when he hear the word for the first time (2 Chronicles 34:26-28). Will we unstop our ears and hear God?

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Saturday Campfire and Picnic

Last night's rain cleared this morning into a beautiful day. My original plan was to smoke two racks of ribs on the Webber barbecue this afternoon. But tee-shirt weather and a clear sky called us to the forest for a picnic and campfire.

Pizza and a salad make a satisfying camp meal. Posted by Hello

A Saturday afternoon campfire in the forest has been a Karoly tradition for more than 20 years. Now that my oldest daughter in married and the youngest is staying with her grandmother, my son and I use the time to talk, read the Bible and write.

The campfire is the centerpiece of the outing year-round. By mid-July, when fire restrictions hinder campfires, we'll move our campfire ritual to one of the organized campgrounds in Eldorado National Forest.

Why a Campfire, You Ask?

A campfire is an inseparable part of the camping. I'm sure you can argue that modern campers don't need campfires. After all, we have camp stoves to cook dinners, waterproof tents to capture body heat and the stars to gaze at for entertainment. Campfires are as much a part of the camping experience today as they were when my grandparents were featured on the masthead the San Francisco Chronicle (Monday, July 10, 1922).

A campfire gives warmth. And that's more than heat. For me there's nothing more comforting than to sit around a crackling fire reading my favorite book and gazing at the stars. Camping without a campfire is like a day without food. It refreshes the soul after a strenuous day camping.

I can think of dozens of reasons for burning a campfire. To name a few: campfires give warmth (the heat kind), provide light for that book, burn garbage and food scraps, give a beacon when you walk into the forest to take a leak and hasten the decomposition process so necessary for a lively forest.

A campfire also tests your wilderness skills. Try starting a fire after three days of rain. If you can accomplish it without the aid of lighter fluid (sorry, gasoline's out), you're a pro.

Building the Campfire

I build my campfires in the Sierra Nevada high country with downed pine, fir and cedar. To me, it's a waste of precious dollars to haul oak firewood or charcoal briquettes to the campground. I instead rely of the natural resources of the forest. (In wet conditions I carry dried and cured firewood start the fire.)

You must pay constant attention to your Dutch oven when using softwood. Pine, fir and cedar burn quickly. Watch your oven and replenish the coals often.
Don't focus on oven temperature. Just pile hot coals from the campfire onto the oven with a gloved hand and a pair of 14-inch tongs. Experience and the five senses guide you to approximate the correct number of coals.

Build a campfire that's four to five times the volume of the Dutch oven and burn it down to a glowing bed of coals. This'll take approximately 30 to 45 minutes with pine, fir and cedar.

I've learned from many poorly-cooked dishes that you can never have too many campfire coals. Continue feeding the campfire so you will finish the dish with sufficient heat. Feed the fire as long as you have a plentiful supply of firewood.


I've given instructions for charcoal briquettes in case you prefer them to campfire coals.

The pizza is ready to slice. I prefer to slice the pizza in the oven. Just take care not to gouge the cast iron with your knife. When forming the pizza, the trick is to fit a square peg into a round hole. Form the 9- x 12-inch piece of pizza dough as neatly as possible in the round Dutch oven. Posted by Hello

1 (13.8-ounce) package Pillsbury classic pizza crust
1/2-3/4 cup prepared pizza sauce
3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
15-20 salami or pepperoni slices
Toppings as desired

Use a 12-inch Dutch oven for this recipe. Lightly grease the oven and pre-heat with 10 briquettes underneath and 19 on top of the oven. Remove lid and set aside. Unroll pizza dough and mold it evenly into the oven. Return lid and bake pizza crust for 8 minutes, until crust sets and is about halfway done.

Remove lid and set aside. Spread pizza sauce over the dough, leaving a 1-inch margin. Sprinkle cheese over sauce. Arrange pepperoni slices on sauce. Add favorite toppings as desired. Return lid and bake for an additional 6 to 11 minutes. Baking time will vary greatly depending on heat and weather conditions.

Remove the oven from the heat when the crust has browned and the cheese and meat is bubbling. Cool pizza about 5 minutes. Cut into 6 slices, being careful not to cut into the cast iron. Remove slices with spatula or pie server.

I didn't take any oil to grease the Dutch oven. My solution was to render fat from three slices of Italian salami. Posted by Hello

Postscript to Music to Camp By

"I rarely listen to music at home, but when I do it's blues, western (forget the "C") and a capella gospel," I said yesterday.

The crisp mountain air brings the music out of me. Saturdays often find my son and I eating a picnic lunch next to a campfire. In the background, the tunes from Mick Martin's Blues Party on KXJZ 88.9 FM Radio flow from the truck speakers. I catch up on my daily Bible reading, write in my camp-cooking notebook and tend the fire.

I listen to Mick because I take pleasure from the blues. Mick is the bandleader and vocalist for Mick Martin and the Blues Rockers, a cornerstone of the Sacramento blues scene. The show airs 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. each Saturday from Sacramento to Truckee and Lake Tahoe to Reno.

Most music is unintelligible chatter to me. Nothing rhymes. It's just clanging cymbals. It flows through my brain without energizing a single circuit.

The blues is music that is, well, "music to my ears." That's the only way I can explain it. Synapses fire in unison as its toe-tapping rhythms filter through my brain.

A masterful guitar lick can soothe the mind, even if for a moment. While the feeling may be temporal -- like watching the red and orange hues of the evening sunset -- it relaxes me for the afternoon.

Few genres cause a reaction like the blues. Among those are a cappella psalms, spiritual songs and hymns. Add old western standards and bluegrass and you have a picture of my tastes in music.

Now onto cooking ...

Stay Tuned ... 'Round the Campfire is Having Technical Difficulties

Either Blogger or I'm having technical difficulties right now (Saturday, February 12 in the a.m.).

It only seens to be my blog as other Blogger hosted blogs are publishing without a problem. As soon as the problem is resolved, I'll clean up Friday's post and add my thoughts from the weekend.

Currently, I can only publish via Hello software (which doesn't allow for titles, formating, HTML links, etc.).

Note: The problem seems to have been cleaned up as of 5:30 p.m. today. More to come on today's campfire and picnic in Eldorado National Forest.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Music to Camp By

This has nothing to do with camp cooking. That said, I got "tagged" by fellow blogger Kelli for the "Music in My Kitchen" meme that's been going around. I thought this would be fun. Besides, it's raining in Northern California -- not exactly ideal Dutch oven weather.

I read Kelli's Culinary Epiphanies and Debbie's words to eat by daily. Both culinary blogs are worth reading (and both have posted their thoughts on "Music in My Kitchen") since yesterday.

What is the total amount of music files on your computer?

Zip, Nadda, None. Sorry. But I do have 144 images of my 15-month old granddaughter (today's her mother's 21st birthday). That's 58 MB, which is larger than my first hard drive. Let's not mention countless pictures of Dutch ovens.

The CD you last bought?

Last two: Away Out on the Mountain, by Tim and Mollie O'Brien and Amazing Grace by Favorite Hymns Quartet.

What was the last song you listened to before reading this message?

Do radio talk shows count? If so, I listen to Hugh Hewitt everyday during my homeward-bound the commute. I rarely listen to music at home, but when I do it's blues, western (forget the "C") and accapella gospel.

Write down five songs that you often listen to or that mean a lot to you.

1. "Love Lifted Me" by James Rowe, 1912. This hymn says it all. It's Jesus who saves man from the depths of sin. Performed by the Gospel Hymns Quartet.

2. "Who?" by W.L. (Bill) Hopper. Performed by the Gospel Hymns Quartet.

3. "As the Deer" by Martin Nystrom. Performed by the Gospel Hymns Quartet.

4. "Life's Railway to Heaven" by W.S. Stevenson. A beautiful song that was sung by Pasty Cline.

5. "That's How I Learned to Sing the Blues" by Tim and Mollie O'Brien.

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?

Let's try this:

1. Alton Brown. Why not? He's the current "answer man" for everything food on Food Network. Maybe AB could post his on his Rants and Raves page.

2. Hugh Hewitt. He's like the premiere blogger in the country.

3. Kelly at Chef To Be. I honor anyone who has the courage to return to school (and culinary school at that!) later in life. I returned to college after two active-duty enlistments in the Navy in 1979.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Navy Surplus Coffee Boiler

I use a Navy surplus coffee boiler to heat water for sanitation in camp. At the Winter Camp Cookoff, I filled my large charcoal chimney with charcoal briquettes and lit them under the boiler. Within 30 to 45 minutes, I had boiling water to clean dishes.

Search if you're interested in locating a surplus coffee boiler. I've seen many in good condition. Expect to pay $35 to $50 for one in good condition.

Vollrath manufactured this Navy surplus coffee boiler. It holds 9 quarts of water or coffee. I use it to boil water for sanitation at cookoffs and at camp. Posted by Hello

A rather poor photo of the coffee boiler hanging from my tripod. Posted by Hello

Winter Camp Cookoff in Colusa, California

My journey to my first Dutch oven cookoff took a wrong turn somewhere along the way. Instead of competing and them becoming a judge, I judged three contests February and March last year before I made the decision to compete.

The choice to enter a people’s choice cookoff was a good one. In a people's choice cookoff, spectators do the judging instead of a panel of expert judges. There is less pressure to perform and the event gives you a change to see what works and what doesn't. You also have the opportunity to compare menus and equipment with your neighbor with less fear of rejection. And it prepares you for your first big competition.

My menu consisted of:

Chef Joe’s Chuckwagon Chili
K & B Dutch Oven Bread
Quick Cinnamon Buns with Buttermilk Icing

I’ve already posted the chili and bread recipes. I’ll post the cinnamon bun recipe in a few days.

Dave Herzog, from Cast Iron Cooks of the West out of Redding, California, stopped by my kitchen around 9:30 a.m. We chatted for a while about the Pleasanton cookoff on Saturday, February 26, 2005 (see press release) and his schooling. CICW is still meeting monthly in Redding. Dave said that he plans to help me in Redding as long as college doesn’t get in the way.

I also saw Don Mason of Red Bluff, California. He’s given me permission to re-print portions of his Dutch Oven Cooking newsletter. Don will be happy to the mailing list for the newsletter. Email for the Dutch Oven Cooking newsletter is

Once Don sends me an electronic copy (he's battling software bugs at this time), I'll post the article with the winners and their dishes. He also inserted a nice article on Dutch oven temperature control, which is good for the novice Dutch oven cook.

More to come on the Winter Camp Cookoff ...

The crowds at the Winter Camp Cookoff in Colusa, California.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Baking Bread at the Winter Camp Cookoff

I have since revisited the recipe for Dutch oven bread. The ingredients are now measured by weight. If you prefer to measure the ingredients by volume, use the measurements on this page, but follow the new instructions.

I enjoy good bread. And as an active-duty Navy baker in the 1970s, I enjoyed baking bread for the crew. So, when I entered the Winter Camp Cookoff that was held at the Colusa, California County Fairgrounds on January 22, 2005, it only seemed natural that I bake a nice loaf of Dutch oven bread for the contest.

Despite my experience, I didn't adjust for the cold weather under the T.K. Marshall Pavilion. Located just a few miles east of the Sacramento River, the pavilion is an open arena that’s used during the county fair for livestock events.

Baking Bread in Cold Weather

January 22 landed right in the middle of the Central Valley's winter foggy season. A cold breeze (cold for California, anyway) cut through the pavilion that gray morning. With visibility at less than a mile, the ambient temperature registered in the low 40s.

I did everything right up until it was time to bake the bread in a 14-inch deep camp oven. The late start didn't help. Instead of starting my bread immediately following the cook's meeting at 8:45 a.m., I focused on prep work for my chili. That was my first mistake. I didn't leave sufficient time for the bread to bake. The dough was set to ferment by 9:50 a.m.

I discovered an ingenious method to shelter the bread during fermentation. After warming the greased Dutch oven with three hot coals, I place the oven inside of a fake canvas Dutch oven bag. I initially zipped the cover closed. Then it dawned on me that I should return the three coals to the lid. I unzipped the cover and replaced the coals.

The bread is ready to proof (the 2nd rise). I placed the 14-inch deep Dutch oven inside the Dutch oven bag to insulated it from the cold, damp weather at the cookoff. After placing the lid on the oven, I set three hot coals on the lid to provide warmth for the proof.

The bread doubled right on schedule (bakers love tight schedules) in one hour. I punched the dough and let it rest for 15 minutes. I then divided it into three equal balls and placed them in the warm Dutch oven to proof. This time the bread didn't rise as fast as it had fermented.

With judging at 12:30 p.m., I rushed the under-proofed loaves to baking at 11:35 a.m. I then placed 24 coals on the lid and 8 coals under the oven. This would've been sufficient heat in the summer. I pull the bread from the oven right at 12:30.

In the rush to get my chili and dessert ready, I didn't notice that it wasn't cooked through. I would have had a great loaf of bread had I compensated for the cold, damp air that morning.

Lesson learned ...

In case you're wondering what happened to the under-baked bread: As I was ready to toss the loaves into the trash barrel, a lady stopped me and asked if she could have the bread for her chickens. I obliged.


I gleaned this recipe from American West Dutch Oven Cooking, published in 2000, by former world champion Dutch oven cooks Kent Mayberry and Brian Terry. I've baked this recipe a number of times in Dutch ovens. It's reliable, despite my cold weather experience.

1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2-1/2 cups bread flour
1 egg

Dissolve yeast in warm water with sugar. Sift flour and salt together and set aside. Mix oil and egg together and combine with yeast and half of the flour. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Mix the rest of the flour until smooth. Knead; cover and let dough rise in a warm spot until double in size, about 30 minutes.

Use a 12-inch deep-style Dutch oven for this recipe. Ignite approximately 23 charcoal briquettes and let them burn until they are barely covered with ash, about 20 minutes. For a 350-degree oven, you'll need 7 briquettes underneath and 16 on top of the oven.

Punch dough and knead until smooth. Form as desired. Place in a greased Dutch oven. Grease top with melted butter. Let rise 30 minutes or until double in size.

Bake until browned, about 20 to 30 minutes. Bake with approximately 16 coals on top and 7 coals underneath the Dutch oven. Remove bottom coals after 12 minutes and finish baking with top coals only. When done, remove coals and cool bread.

Note: Double recipe for 14-inch deep Dutch oven. A 14-inch deep camp oven will hold a 5-cup bread recipe (the measure of flour).

Steve kneading bread for the Winter Camp Cookoff. My lower back was killing me by the time I set the bread to ferment.

Idea for Working with Dried Chiles

Here's a new idea for working with dried chiles for chili con carne. The link takes you to the comment page for my original blog.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

IDOS President to Travel to Pleasanton

I've recently received news that Clyde Miller, president of the International Dutch Oven Society, will travel out from his Utah home to attend the Tri-Valley Sportsman's Expo in Pleasanton, California. See the press release below for more information.

Additional information on the Expo can be found on the International Sportsman's Expo website.

Traveling with Clyde are Ron Hill, past president; Dennis Hill (Ron's brother); and Bakin' Bill Johnson. Ron and Bill are returning for a second year. I expect to join then on Friday, February 25, 2005 at the Alameda County Fairgrounds.

Ron recently attended the International Sportsman's Expo in Pomona, California with Dennis. "We had a great time in Pomona meeting many Dutch oven cooks," Ron said recently on the IDOS Forum. "They had some questions for us that kept us thinking."

Ron and Dennis even heard from one gentleman who said, "I have a Dutch oven in my garage and have never used it."

"Hopefully we gave a renewed interest to get the Dutch oven out of the garage and use it," said Ron.

Here's the press release for the Tr-Valley Sportsman's Expo

Here's the press release for the Tr-Valley Sportsman's Expo this month in Pleasanton, California. I'll be there along with several IDOS officers.

Calling All Chefs for the First Dutch Oven Cooking Competition
(Pleasanton, CA, February 7, 2005) --- Calling all creative Bay Area foodies, culinary experts and wannabe chefs! The International Dutch Oven Society (IDOS) will host a cook-off at the Tri Valley Sportsmen’s Exposition, taking place February 25 – 27 at the Pleasanton Alameda County Fairgrounds. The winner of the competition will move on to become eligible to enter the World Championship 2006 Dutch Oven Cook-off.

Getting things simmering on Friday of the show, local chefs and masters from the IDOS will demonstrate the wonders of cast iron cooking. For curious foodies, the chefs will provide question and answer forums that provide delicious ways to cook a vast variety of treasures from the sea, land grazers and veggie friendly bites.

Heating up on Saturday, foodies will be put to the test, as a three-pot cook-off determines the masters from the beginners. Each team will be judged on three dishes: a bread dish, main dish and dessert dish. Applicants must bring three Dutch Ovens to the competition and can start cooking as early as 9am, before the show opens. Rules and regulations on the cook-off will be online shortly, by visiting and clicking on the Pleasanton link.

The IDOS hosts more than 77 cooking competitions each year, across the country. One of the most popular Dutch Oven activities, a Dutch Oven Gathering (DOG), brings cooking enthusiasts together for a potluck meal of creative delights. Through DOG events, the IDOS continues to emphasize the importance of bringing friends and family to the table – or cast iron stove. From basic Dutch Oven baked beans to lip licking stuffed lobster tail, the Dutch Oven cooking method can be used by James Beard award winning chefs, campers, and cooks of all skill levels, looking to bring new tastes to the camping or dining table.

The history of Dutch Oven cooking has simmered in cookbooks for hundreds of years. Some reports claim that Dutch ovens were given their name by the heavy, cast iron pots that Dutch peddlers used to sell, from their wagons. In the U.S., the Pioneers were among the first to use these pots, for their sturdiness and ability to feed large and extended families during early explorations. The IDOS was founded in 1990, and continues to support the tradition of Dutch Oven cooking, while fostering the traditions and friendships that help season the sauce.

With hundreds of participating exhibitors, delicious demonstrations, interactive additions and more, the Tri Valley Sportsmen’s Exposition offers a once-a-year and unique access to nearby weekend adventures, cookbooks of new recipe treats, trip-of-a-lifetime dream vacations, hot-priced outdoor gear, and the best teachers available--pros, guides, television celebrities, and authors of the definitive how- and where-to guides!

Bakin' Bill Johnson, right with red apron, of Layton, Utah explains how to use a Camp Chef Ultimate Turkey Roaster at the 2004 Tri-Valley Sportman's Expo in Pleasanton, California. Bill is returning for the 2005 show. Posted by Hello

The Chili King Cookoff

I hinted yesterday that we were going to hold a chili cookoff at work. It's one of two informal affairs the cooks hold annually in my kitchen -- chili in the spring and ribs sometime in the fall.

This cookoff was about nine months late. My staff held our last cookoff -- a rib and BBQ sauce cookoff -- in November 2003 while was recovering from surgery. The event and all the good natured ribbing that goes with it (like, "What brand of spaghetti sauce did you use in that chili?") is designed as a morale booster for staff.

Four contestants each submitted pots of chili. Since we really don't have any rules (other that it must be chili, whatever that means), the chili cooks presented four distinct variants on the pot of red. One pot featured beans. The others were saucy affairs with a vibrant spiciness about them.

Here's a recap:

Dish #1 -- Heavy reliance of tomato product. The chili was made with chuck and hot links. Very spicy and very good (except for the tomato, in my opinion).

Dish #2 -- Thickened with a roux at the last minute. The only pot made with beans. Could have been spicier. One-third ground pork was used with the ground beef.

Dish #3 -- Saucy and spicy. The chili was thickened with masa. Unfortunately, you could taste it.

Dish #4 -- Made with Italian sausage and beer. It had a distinct wheat flavor. The sauce wasn't held together that well.

So, where did my dish fall, you ask? I prepared the thick chili with piquinto beans (yes, I'm the guy who broke ICS' no beans edict). My pot could have been spicier, as one judge told me after the event.

I'm a little gun-shy in the spiciness department. My wife -- bless her heart -- has scolded me too many times for dumping an excess of black pepper and good Hungarian paprika on the fried potatoes.

Oh ... I came in second. The title holder -- a shift supervisor -- earned the right to don the "Chili King" cap for the next year. It's his third title.

Now onto ribs ...

Monday, February 07, 2005

May Your Campfires Sizzle

I re-wrote the Blogger profile this afternoon as promised -- it's much better.

Just in case you can't get enough of me, here's a few thoughts that explain what 'Round the Chuckbox is all about.

I've always envisioned myself as a nineteenth century camp cook. I would've loved cooking for an El Dorado County ranch as they made their annual cattle drive to summer pasture in the Lake Tahoe basin. Everything about the job appeals to me: family atmosphere, the outdoors and good old country cooking.

I've got one problem: I was born 50 years too late. And I grew up in Fresno and Bakersfield.

Those who know me will tell you that I'm just a city boy who's loved the Sierra Nevada high country ever since my father carried me to Peter Grub Hut in 1954.

The closest I came to camp cooking was feeding Seabee construction warriors during a 20-year stint in the Naval Reserve.

That's me, CSCS Steven C. Karoly, USN, now retired. My assistant, CSC Bob Voigt, stands behind me. The food service officer of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 17 is to my right. The photo was snapped during Operation Bearing Duel at Fort Hunter Liggett, June 1994.

I haven't ridden a horse in over 30 years, and I've never driven a chuckwagon or fed a beef-centered diet to cowboys on the Western prairie. Nor have I piled flapjacks onto chipped enamel plates meant for hungry Sierra Nevada lumbermen.

That's what happens when I take my family camping in the Eldorado National Forest where I live out a week-long fantasy each summer. You'd think that I was prepared to feed a crowd of hungry hunters and fishermen.

I carry enough cookware to feed a baker's dozen or two. Just give me a white A-framed cook-tent, an assistant or two and outdoorsmen who appreciate good old camp cooking and I'm in my environment.

Steve's Café, located just south of the Visalia, California airport, on Hwy 99.

Quick Chili Beans

Sometimes you want something quick. Tonight's no exception. I have to cook a pot of chuckwagon chili for a competition tomorrow at work, update my Blogger profile, work on the IDOS Dutch Oven News and balance the checkbook.


This recipe makes a savory-sweet pot of chili beans with a hit of spiciness.

1 pound lean ground beef
1 (28-ounce) can baked beans
1 (15-ounce) can chili con carne
2 tablespoons diced green chiles
1/2 cup taco sauce

Brown beef in a 3-quart saucepan or Dutch oven; drain. Add remaining ingredients and combine. Simmer over low heat to combine flavors.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Tweaking ‘Round the Chuckbox

You'll see changes to 'Round the Chuckbox over the coming weeks. As I learn to operate blocker software, I'll occasionally make minor adjustments to the look and feel of the blog. (For the record, I've already switched to a more appealing template -- my next project is to re-write the repulsive profile that's posted under my mug.)

Please bear with me. This blog is a work in progress. Much like a young culinary student who's searching for his cooking style, 'Round the Chuckbox will grow as the months pass. I'll do my best to cook up blogs in an environment where the ingredients meld into a form that's appealing to the eyes, doesn't offend the senses and enhances effortless navigation.

The beauty of a blog is you're not bound by the linear restrictions of paper. Nor do you have to publish your thoughts in chronological order.

Take the chili recipe: As days pass, the picture might bring to mind the 750 words that I missed with the first post. I'll able to post these thoughts in 100-150 word portions for easy digestion. Shorter articles make for easier reading. As I blog -- and you read and comment -- all 1,000 words will ultimately emerge on 'Round the Chuckbox -- in one form or another.

Enjoy ...

Chef Steven's camp kitchen at the Winter Camp Cookoff, January 22, 2005 in Colusa, California. My son and I competed under the name Steve's Café.

The Wise Inherit Glory

Back from worship in Folsom this morning. I have a few hours before we head off to Sunday evening Bible class ...

Each Lord's Day I plan to share a though from my weekly scripture reading.

Last month the elders of my congregation asked the members to participate in a daily Bible reading plan. We have always been encouraged to study the Bible daily in the manner of the Bereans (Acts 17:10-15). This is the first time in memory that this eldership has published a specific Bible reading plan.

Here's my thought for the week:

Surely He scorns the scornful, But gives grace to the humble. The wise shall inherit glory, But shame shall be the legacy of fools (Proverbs 3:34-35).

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Working with Dried Chiles

Everything went well this afternoon. Daughter and family are off to celebrate a few birthdays with their peers and then head home to the Bay Area.

I didn't use the dried chiles in the chili recipe tonight. Instead, I depended on bottled chili powder as I've done for 35 years of professional cooking. A note: Please buy quality chili powder -- a few pennies is well worth it in the flavor department. One of these days I'll purchase a load of spices from Penzeys.

Working with dried chiles has been a new adventure for me these past few months. I find a definite difference between ancho, California red and New Mexico chiles. Following a common practice, I've lightly boiled the chiles in water to cover for about 30 minutes. After cooling the chiles for a few minutes, I scrape the pulp off of the leathery skin. I then run my French knife through the pulp a few times and mix it into the pot.

I find that the anchos take a little more patience when separating the pulp from the skin. If you're not careful, the skin tears into small pieces. This process tries your patience. California and New Mexico chiles are much easier to work with. The pulp glides right off.

My Next Chile Project

My next chili project is to make my own chili powder. I watched Alton Brown make it on Good Eats (The Big Chili episode) a few weeks ago. It makes sense to me because I already make my own BBQ spice rub and taco seasoning.

AB's recipe calls for a blend of three dried chiles: ancho (for sweetness), cascabel (for flavor) and arbol (for heat). Just toss 3 pods of each variety and cumin seeds into a medium-hot cast iron skillet to toast. After cooling, you throw the chiles and cumin, along with dried oregano, garlic powder and smoked paprika into the blender. You then process the flavor pods into a fine powder. Of course, AB supplies a companion recipe for pressure cooker chili.

Chuckwagon Chili Photo

I'm still learning to use the Blogger software. So, you'll have to bear with me as I figure out how to import photos directly into the body of the article.

This photo doesn't exactly match the recipe that I posted this morning. At the cookoff two weeks ago (more to come in the next week or so), I had a hard time scraping the pulp from the reconstituted ancho chilies. In the end, I made an ancho broth and added it to the chili. It didn't give the chili the body or extra flavor you'd expect from the pulp.

So to boost a rather weak tasting chili, I minced 4 or 5 jalapino chilies and chopped a bunch of cilantro. The addition of the pepper and herb helped make a great bowl of red.

Enjoy ...

Chuckwagon chili at the Winter Camp Cookoff in Colusa, California, January 22, 2005

Chuckwagon Chili

My daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter are over for the weekend. Since it’s their first trip up from the Bay Area since the wedding, we’re having a few friends over this afternoon. I though a simple chili, cooked in one of my 14-inch Dutch ovens over the Camp Chef camp stove would hit the spot.

Traditional red chili is defined by the International Chili Society as any kind of meat or combination of meats, cooked with red chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients, with the exception of beans and pasta, which are strictly forbidden. Traditions aside, beans have a nice way of rounding a hot bowl of red. Besides, the cowboys ate beans by the bowl. Add 4 (14-ounce) cans of pinto or red beans at the second spice dump.

If you're so inclined, use a mixture of beef base diluted with beer instead of water. Make sure that you use Grandma's or Gephardt's chili powder, not a generic brand.


6 pounds round steak, coarsely ground
1/2 cup olive oil
3 ounces chili powder
6 tablespoons ground cumin
6 clove garlic, minced
2 medium red onion -- chopped
6 dried ancho peppers, remove stems and seeds and boil 30 min in water
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 cups beef broth
1 (4-ounce) diced green chiles
12 ounces crushed tomatoes
Hot pepper sauce, to taste

Brown meat in olive oil in a 6-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Drain excess fat; add chili powder, cumin, garlic and chopped onions. Simmer over low heat 30-45 minutes using as little liquid as possible. Add beef stock only as necessary. Stir often.

Remove skins from boiled pods, mash pulp and add to meat mixture. Add oregano, paprika, vinegar, 2 cups beef broth, chiles, stewed tomatoes and hot pepper sauce. Simmer 30-45 minutes. Stir often. Adjust seasoning. Serve with fresh bread. Makes about 1 gallon or 12 (1-1/3 cup) servings.

Traditional chili garnishes -- diced onions, grated sharp cheddar cheese and chopped cilantro -- compliment this dish well.

This recipe is adapted from the October 2004 issue of Food Management. Chef Joe Eidem of the Washoe (Reno, Nevada) Health System serves his chuckwagon chili in the hospital’s cafeteria.