Friday, April 29, 2005

IDOS Convention Dutch Oven Gathering

We just got back to Bakin' Bill's House from the IDOS Dutch Oven Gathering. We had some 31 pots of food at the DOG. I counted 73 Dutch oven folks at the high point of the DOG.

In addition to my chuckwagon chili, Cee Dub Welch baked twice-baked potatoes in two aluminum Dutch ovens. We had three bean dishes, fried chicken, buffalo chicken wings, spicy rice and sausage casserole, meat and potato casserole, chili verde with rice and cabbage with meatballs. Desserts included: several cakes, apple pie, fruit pizza, strawberry shortcake, orange rolls and mini pecan pies.

Often cooks will leave a stack of recipes next to their dish. This way you can prepare the dish if you like it. But this year I only saw two such recipes: Bill and DeAnn Johnson's fruit pizza and Clyde and Terryl Miller's meat and potato casserole. I though of leaving a stack of recipes for the chuckwagon chili but wasn't able to get the copy store this afternoon.

IDOS Convention & Expo

After folks started leaving for home around 7:30 p.m., IDOS officer started setting up for the convention tomorrow. If you're in the area, stop by Davis County Fair Park, 151 South 110 West, Farmington, Utah from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. There's a general meeting for IDOS members at 3:30 p.m.

Look for Dutch oven cooking classes in:
  • 9 a.m. Club cooking for youth
  • 10 a.m. One pot meals
  • 11 a.m. Pies -- from dinner to dessert
  • 1:15 p.m. Food storage in your Dutch oven
  • 2:15 Sauces for the advanced cook
Vendor classes:
  • 9 a.m. Using your smoker
  • 10 a.m. Ultimate Dutch Oven
  • 11 a.m. Cee Dub
  • 2:15 p.m. Colleen Sloan
I think the best part of the convention is the Taste of Dutch. Over 25 cooks will exhibit their cooking abilities in cast iron. You'll get to sample their dishes. It's an opportunity to talk to the cooks about their cooking technique. Many cooks will give recipes out. You go home with a stack of recipes to try in the next month.

I'll post photographs as soon as we get home next week.

Challenge of Serving Food on the Fast Track

It's not as easy as it seems -- serving food on a fast moving train, that is. I found this article from the now-defunct Restaurants USA magazine on Amtrak food service.

Click for the article:

Like I said, I promise to talk about the DOG and convention tonight.

Another View of Amtrak Service

Here's an article by a Southwest Amtrak traveler. Looks like Bill Leverton of had a similar experience -- only I was nicer.

The link:

I promise to get back to camp cooking tonight.

Our Train Trip to Utah

We made it into Salt Lake City at 3:35 a.m., about 20 minutes behind Amtrak's posted timetable. This evening is the International Dutch Oven Society convention DOG (a Dutch oven-style potluck). Tomorrow, we work the annual IDOS convention at the Davis County, Utah Fair Park from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

I had feared that we'd pull into the Salt Lake City station one or even two hours late. Amtrak passenger trains are notorious for being late. As I understand, freight trains have the right-of-way because the freight services own the tracks, not Amtrak.

Our train -- the California Zepher to Chicago -- only stopped one time for about 15 minutes to allow a 94-car (my 13-year old son counted!) freight train pass on an adjacent track. We were about 30 minutes late when Train No. 6 left the Reno station yesterday evening.

Dining Car Experience

Since this is a food blog, dining car cuisine is worthy of a comment or two.

This was the first time I had experienced Amtrak dining car cuisine in about a decade. It's not five-star, nor is the food and service poor.

My wife, son and I enjoyed lunch in the dining car around noon yesterday. Nikki, the dining car steward, called lunch at noon as we passed through Colfax, California. Since they fill four seats to a booth as passengers arrive in the dining car, we ate lunch with a gentleman from Big Sur, California who records nature sounds for a living.

The service was what I'll call "Amtrak average." The waiters were pleasant, but abrupt at times. I guess that have a lot on their minds with trying to stay on their feet. Our dining car seemed to jerk about more that the other cars.

About seating: Dining car staff are particular about where you sit. Nikki emphatically announced over the public address system, "Please wait to be seated." When a party took seating into their own hands, she'd bark, "You can't sit there," or "I'll seat you."

She wasn't rude -- just business-like. I see their point. The dining car can only accommodate about 60 passengers. They must fill each four-seat booth as much as is possible. Come prepared to sit with strangers.

For dinner, we signed up for one of three seating times -- 5 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and last call around 8 p.m.

The food: I can't complain. For lunch Deb had the Black Angus steak burger. Our son passed the 13-year old pepperoni pizza test: He ate it all except for the crusts. I tried the grilled chicken breast on a bun. I'd say the quality was good -- my chicken breast was grilled just right. A dry, overcooked chicken breast can ruin a meal.

You have to listen for substitutions, which are announced after the train pulls out of each major station (Sacramento and Reno in our case). Amtrak is subject to menu outages like a restaurant. I was looking forward to the rack of lamb for dinner, only to find that pork shanks was the substitute (braised? Not sure -- our waiter didn’t say).

We ate three New York strip steaks and the special at our table. The breading on Deb's chicken fried steak was a bit salty. The steaks had a succulent brown sauce with capers on them. My baked potato has been around for a bit.

Sunday we take Train No. 5 for the return trip to California. The food isn't five-star. But it keeps you going. I'd say the quality is comparable to a family diner. The staff were helpful and business-like.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Dutch Oven Gathering at Camp Chef in Logan, Utah

Posted by Hello

In case you can't view the graphic, it reads:

"Sounds like a party.

"Join us for a Dutch oven pot luck party hosted by the Camp Chef manufacturing facility.

"Bring your favorite Dutch oven dish and your own utensils.

"Ask questions about Dutch oven cooking from championship chefs."

June 11, 2005 -- Cook at 10 -- Eat at 1 p.m.
675 N. 600 West, Logan, Utah

I hear rumors that Ed Quinlan, Camp Chef's official spokesman, bakes a mean batch of Dutch oven chocolate chip cookies at the DOG. You just have to attend and find out for yourself.

Campfire Coals vs. Charcoal Briquettes

There's a new discussion on the old IDOS forum regarding the campfire coals vs. charcoal briquettes question. You can view the discussion at:

Where do I fall is this discussion? I agree with Kelsey from Washington state. He says, "Not much of a shootout. If you like to use coals from a campfire, use them. I like to use charcoal so I'll use that. Advantage me. I know how to use both" (emphasis mine). Lew, Alan and Bruce concur with this opinion.

The new IDOS forum is temporarily available at I sign in as Chef Steve.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

C.W. "Butch" Welch To Be At IDOS Convention

Today, I received the periodic electronic newsletter from Cee Dub's Dutch Oven and Camp Supplies in Grangeville, Idaho. He announced that he is traveling to Farmington, Utah to set up a booth at the International Dutch Oven Society convention.

Cee Dub will be selling his wares and talking to the public. I'm not sure if he's giving any classes this year. He also said that he's attending the Dutch oven gathering Friday night at the convention site.

The IDOS convention is the perfect opportunity to interact with vendors like Cee Dub. I enjoy the chance to talk to them and trade cooking secrets. Whether you make a purchase or not, vendors like Cee Dub love conversing with convention folk.

In fact, Cee Dub recently announced that his new book, Retro Ranch, will be available for preview at the convention. Retro Ranch "traces ranch and cowboy cooking from the days of the great trail drives from Texas to Kansas trailheads up to the present day. This full color hardbound book Published by Collectors Press of Portland, Oregon, is the newest addition to their popular RETRO SERIES," according to his website.

He's the author of other three books: Dutch Oven and Camp Cooking, More Cee Dub's Dutch Oven and Camp Cooking and Cee Dub's Ethnic and Regional Dutch Oven Cooking.

Ask questions. They'll answer, especially equipment questions. Cee Dub and other vendors like Ultimate Dutch Ovens, Chuckwagon Supply sell a full range of Dutch ovens and accessories. The major brands -- Camp Chef, Lodge, Maca -- are all represented through authorized vendors. Several vendors also give classes at the convention.

Monday, April 25, 2005

2005 IDOS Convention

We're leaving Northern California Thursday for the International Dutch Oven Society convention in Farmington, Utah. The convention is being held at the Davis County Fair Park on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Here's the details:

WHAT: IDOS Spring Convention and Expo -- a fun day of Dutch oven cooking, classes for all, vendors, drawings and a live auction. Admission is free. Look for the Taste of Dutch, a massive cooking demonstration with more than 25 cooks participating. Free samples of Dutch oven dishes for all.

Look for Dutch oven cooking classes in:
  • Club cooking for youth
  • One pot meals
  • Pies -- from dinner to dessert
  • Food storage in your Dutch oven
  • Sauces for the advanced cook
WHERE: Davis County Fair Park, 151 South 1100 West, Farmington, Utah. See the map for directions.

WHEN: Saturday, April 30, 2005, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A membership meeting will be held immediately following the convention. IDOS members only, please. Of course, you can join IDOS at the convention. Don't forget the Dutch Oven Gathering Friday night, April 29, 2005, at 6 p.m.

CONTACT: Heather Macari, convention chair, at

WHY: Do I have to answer this? The convention is a fun day of cooking, classes and meeting people who love to cook in Dutch ovens. Even if you don't buy any equipment or attend any of the classes, the Taste of Dutch makes it worth the drive out. If you're in the Intermountain West, stop on buy. I'll stop by the IDOS booth periodically throughout the day if you'd like to meet me.

Dutch Oven Gathering

The DOG on Friday night is the highlight of the convention. All are welcomed to attend. My wife and I first attended the convention DOG in March 2001. We were welcomed and invited into the group right away. Ross and Angie Conlin and Bill and DeAnn Johnson were two couples I remember who kept us busy talking. Bill kept us busy showing us a few hundred of his high quality photographs.

Angie and Ross Conlin giving a class at the convention in March 2001. Posted by Hello

We tried to make it to the DOG in 2002, but the water pump quit in Wells, Nevada. We didn't get into Salt Lake City until 10 p.m.

Come to the DOG if you have time. I think you'll learn a lot just by standing around and talking to other Dutch oven cooks.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Cinnamon Apple Coffee Cake

Bakin' Bill Johnson prepared cinnamon apple coffee cake last year at one of his monthly Dutch oven cooking demonstrations at Macy's market in Utah. The recipe comes from Taste of Home's Quick Cooking. The magazine attributes the recipe to Gertrude H., Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

I baked the coffee cake Saturday afternoon under a light rain that was moving eastward into the mountains. To shelter the both ovens (I also baked a ham) from the moisture, I balanced my steel camp table between the Dutch oven table and Weber kettle grill.

I used an improvised shelter to keep the charcoal dry.

Everything worked great. Light rain and temperatures around 50 caused a cold spot in the Dutch oven. About one-third of the bottom half of the cake was raw. The portion of the cake that baked on the warm side was done.


The batter will be very stiff if mixing by hand. Sprinkle lemon juice over apples to prevent discoloration.

Cinnamon apple coffee caked baked inside a 12-inch Lodge Dutch oven. There's a layer of baked, shredded Granny Smith apples between the cake layers.

1 (18.25-ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 (5.1-ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
4 medium tart apples, peeled and shredded
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

In a mixing bowl, beat the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, sour cream and butter on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour half into a greased 12-inch Dutch oven. Top with apples. Combine the sugar, nuts and cinnamon; sprinkle half over the apples. Top with remaining batter and sugar mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees, using 8 coals under and 16 on lid, for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 12 to 18 servings.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Charcoal Light Test

I saw an interesting piece in the Sacramento Bee House & Garden Section this morning. Garden writer Dan Vierra settled the mystery of how long it takes to light charcoal briquettes. The results were "enlightening" (Dan's word, not mine).

He studied five common charcoal lighting strategies: lighter fluid, chimney started, electric heat element, Kingsford Match Light charcoal and Duraflame Fresh Light Liquid Gel charcoal lighter.

Dan lit a fresh batch of 50 briquettes in a clean Weber kettle grill for each test. He explained his unscientific methodology: "Coals were declared ready when 90 percent of the surface had burned gray."

Charcoal stands ready in a weathered chimney starter.

The results: The charcoal chimney starter came out on top at 17 minutes from lighting to ready. "Not much to look at, but the metal chimney if efficient, fast and no chemicals are required," said Dan.

I agree. My experience shows that a chimney starter lights the charcoal in 15 to 20 minutes. Remember, safety comes first. Wear heavy gloves when dumping the charcoal onto the grill plate. Avoid nasty foot injuries from falling briquette firebombs and keep the hot chimney away from small children and pets.

How did the competing methods fare? Kingsford Match Light took 19 minutes. Not bad, especially when you want to avoid the fuss. It's "much safer than the douse-and-stand-back method of lighting," declared Dan. Watch chemical residue when grilling foods, warns Dan.

Electric heat element and charcoal lighter fluid came in third (at 22 minutes) and fourth (24 minutes), respectively. The liquid gel, which you squirt into piled briquettes, made a dismal showing 68 minutes.

Note: You'll have to register to view the Sacramento Bee website.

2005 Camp Menu

Although I've written a basic menu that changes little from year to year, I still like to change some items. The same children and adult return to camp each year. It's good to add a few new items each year so they don't grow tired of the menu.

I follow the following criteria when changing menu items from one year to the next:
  • Keep a base of popular, proven menu items -- Don't change these items from year to year. On my menu, this accounts for more than 50 percent of the items. Examples include: Homemade sheetpan pizza, BBQ'd chicken hindquarters, grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, lasagna and breaded chicken breast strips.
  • Change out unpopular or less-than-popular items -- Last year I attempted to serve a fish sandwich, which was poorly accepted. A few adults (including me) liked them. From watching the garbage, I'd say over 75 percent of the children took one bite and tossed the sandwiches.
  • Tweak about 25 percent of the menu -- This mainly refers to side dishes and salads. I feel that this in important because a large number of children and adults return to that camp each year. It helps to offer variety. The cooks also get a change to learn new dishes and expand their personal culinary repertoire.
  • Switch the order of some meals to accommodate the camp program -- From 2002 to 2004, camp met during Independence Day week. Since we did a 4th of July picnic, I had to move the holiday meal each year. In 2002 and 2003, we cooked the homemade sheetpan pizza meal on opening night. I swapped Sunday and Monday dinners last year so that opening night would flow a little smoother. We now serve the breaded chicken breast strip-meal -- our most popular -- on Sunday dinner.

I'm going to try to post the menu for the 2005 Northern California Florida College Camp. I finished making adjustments two weeks ago. I'm now ready to work on production worksheets and purchasing lists.

Sheetpan pizza made from scratch. Pizza night is one of our more popular meals. Last year, I made 8-1/2 fullsized sheetpan pizzas. Cut at 20 servings per sheet, we prepared 170 servings with 21 servings leftover. (We also served leftover chicken strips that night.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Lessons From a Week-Long Children's Bible Camp

I'll be posting my thoughts on running a kitchen for a weeklong children's camp over the coming few weeks. They're based operating a stand-alone kitchen where you plan the menu, purchase food and cook meals for the week only. Several points won't apply to a camp kitchen that operates all summer because you can hold excessive stock from one week to the next.

Food is a means to the end, not the end in itself

Unless you're running a camp for Chef Emeril, you mission is to feed nourishing meals to the campers. Nothing more. I say this because there's the temptation to place too much emphasis on food and how it's served. Most children will appreciate plenty of food served in simple meals.

The kitchen must support the camp's mission, which in our case was to present the word of God to campers, provide fellowship among campers who come from a number of local churches in Northern California and to foster lifelong friendships. This takes constant coordination with the camp's director (or co-directors in our case). The kitchen must always be ready to accommodate minor schedule changes and to support feeding changes (within reason).

The salad bar. We served an extensive selection of salads and all the fixin's at lunch and dinner. Most salads are made in small quantities, 25 to 50 portions for a population of 150. The salad bar is there to offer variety and an alternative to those who don't like the main meal.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Food Services for 2005 Northern California Florida College Camp

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this yet. I'm the chef for a children's Bible camp for one week each summer in the Santa Cruz, California area. We operate the camp for children who come from churches in Northern California. As the name implies, the camp is sponsored by Florida College, located in Temple Terrace, Florida.

This year camp will meet during the last week of July for six nights and seven days. We run the camp from a Sunday to Saturday. Many staff (with camper children in tow) arrive on Saturday to participate in training. We have a busy week from the moment the Sysco Foodservice truck arrives in Saturday to the minute we ring the last mop on the next Saturday.

Over the coming two months, I'll post information about the food service program at the Northern California FC camp. This information should be helpful to anyone who's tasked with feeding around 150 children and adult staff members in a camp setting.

During our conversations, I will talk about:
  • The menu--The menu is the foundation of any food service operation. With it, the chef outlines each meal and plans production for his facility. The menu requires careful attention when working with volunteer cooks.
  • Children's likes and dislikes--You have to remember that you're feeding children from varied backgrounds. Not all children have a chef-father who makes them eat strange foods.
  • Purchasing--Purchasing can be challenging because you only operate for one week. I' was able to secure the services of Sysco Foodservices of San Francisco in the first year.
  • Production planning--Staff, menu and planning go together.
  • Using volunteer staff--Few camps can hire professional cooks. I've been able to draw on a great group of dedicated volunteers. This includes one husband-wife team. We had a mother-grown daughter team until last year (the daughter has since moved out of the area--the mother is returning for year-four!).
  • Food safety and training--Long-distance training is a must. I depend on the National Restaurant Associations ServSafe material for correspondence training. We also conduct on-site training on Saturday.
  • Working with program staff--Remember, you're here to support the overall program. It doesn't work the other way. We have two very good co-directors to work with.
  • Coordinating with the host facility--Few organization are blessed with their own facilities. We rent Daybreak Camp in Felton, California for the week.
  • Lessons learned from prior years (2002, 2003, 2004)--I wrote "lessons learned" following my experiences in the US Navy Seabees after the 2002 and 2003 camps. I'll share this information as it becomes appropriate to our discussion.
I'd love to hear from others who've experience the joy of feeding children in a summer camp setting.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Sanctified Through Christ

Each Sunday, Christians around the world assemble to remember the sacrifice of their Lord. The Lord's Supper or Communion, as it's called in scripture, is a simple ceremony where the congregation is presented with unleavened bread and fruit of the vine. These emblems are used to prompt our remembrance of Jesus and the sacrifice He made of the cross for us.

The apostle Paul tells us, "As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26). The Lord's Supper is an act that requires our solemn attention. It's a time to rightly judge what Christ did for us on the cross. Many Christians use this time focus on the cross and what Christ's sacrifice means in their lives.

This brings me to the thought for the week:

By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of Jesus Christ once or all (Hebrews 10:10).
Up to this point in the Hebrew letter, the writer has gone to great lengths to prove that Christ is superior in every way. He spends the first four chapters explaining to his readers that Christ is superior to any other person or being (like the angels). Christ takes preeminence over Moses and the prophets. We are told to "consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus" (Hebrews 3:1).

The writer continues in the fourth chapter with a detailed explanation of the Hebrew sacrificial system. Jesus' high priesthood is superior to the Aaronic priesthood of the old law, the writer concludes. He stresses at the end of this section that the "law ... can never with these same sacrifices ... make those who approach perfect" (Hebrews 10:1).

We are made holy through the blood of Christ. This perfect sacrifice, made once for all time, allows us to approach God with a clear conscience.

So next time you partake of the bread and of the fruit of the vine, remember Jesus. Take the time to clear your mind of earthly thoughts and contemplate the path Jesus that took to the cross and what it means to you as a Christian, as found in the central theme of our faith:

That Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again on the third day, according to the scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas and then by the twelve. (1 Corinthians 15:3a-5).

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Cook'en in the Park Dutch Oven Cookoff Rules

Here are the rules for the Cook'en in the Park Dutch Oven Cookoff that's being held at River Park, Red Bluff, California on Saturday, May 21, 2005.
  1. Cook great food and have lots of fun.
  2. A $20 fee will be charged to each team that participates.
  3. Teams may consist of one, two or three members.
  4. Teams will provide all ingredients and cooking utensils.
  5. Please use good health practices. Ice chests are recommended. Keep cold food cold and hot food hot.
  6. You must use charcoal briquettes. All fires must be at least 12 inches off the ground.
  7. All foods must be totally prepared and cooked onsite using Dutch ovens as the primary cooking vessel. Sourdough starter is the exception from this rule.
  8. The use of battery or electric appliances is not allowed.
  9. The use of home-processed foods or wild game is not allowed.
  10. Gas or propane stoves are only allowed to heat water for good hygiene and safe food practices. A fire extinguisher should be present for the gas or propane stove.
  11. When your entry is presented to the judging area, it will be judged on how evenly it is cooked, appearance and taste. Garnishing is not a part of the judging score.
  12. The judges' word is final. Bribing or poisoning the judges is prohibited.

I believe Rule #9 is necessary because the teams are going to be offering samples of their dishes to the public during people's choice judging. California law prohibits the use of home-cooked foods and non-inspected wild in retail food facilities.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Cook'en in the Park Dutch Oven Cookoff

I received a packet this afternoon for Cook'en in the Park on Saturday, May 21, 2005. I expect to compete in the Dutch oven cookoff. It's being held in a park along the Sacramento River in Red Bluff, California.

WHAT: Cook'en in the Park is a Dutch oven cookoff. You may compete in one, two or three pots -- it's your choice. Categories are main dish, bread and dessert. Each team will be given a 12- by 12-foot cooking area with a table, tablecloth and two chairs. You will be cooking in the open. The organizers recommend that you bring a shelter (like a pop-up shelter or beach umbrella) to protect you and your teammates from the blazing summer sun. Teams may consist of one to three persons. Western dress and table decorations are encouraged, but not required.

WHERE: River Park, Red Bluff, California. River Park is located one block east of Main Street at Willow Street. From I-5 north or south, take the Antelope Boulevard exit (exit 649) and head west toward Main Street. Turn left onto Main Street. Travel south on Main to Willow Street, about four blocks. Turn left onto Willow. Willow dead-ends into Riverside Way. Follow the signs to the cookoff.

WHEN: Saturday, May 21, 2005; registration begins at 7:00 a.m.; cook's meeting will be held at 9:00 a.m.; and judging commences at 1 p.m.

HOW MUCH: There is a $20 entry fee. $50 will be awarded to the first-place team for each category. Remember that you could win each category and go home with $150.

CONTACT: For more information, contact Don Mason at (530) 527-1027 or

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Turkey Dressing Casserole Photographs

KUTV-2 Salt Lake City news staff: Debbie, Allie, John, Mary and Ron eating samples of Turkey Dressing Casserole from Dutch oven chef Bakin' Bill Johnson.

Turkey Dressing Casserole with Cavendar's all-purpose Greek seasoning.

Turkey Dressing Casserole baking under Lazzari mesquite charcoal.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Dutch Oven Turkey Dressing Casserole

Who says leftover turkey is the exclusive domain of Thanksgiving? When I was growing up in California's San Joaquin Valley, whole turkeys were only available in the fall. Since my mother roasted a 20- to 23-pound tom, we had sufficient leftover turkey meat to create sandwiches and casseroles for a week or more.

Today, turkey can be purchased year-round. It's fun to roast a 15-pound bird just so you can have leftovers. You can also purchase turkey breasts, thighs and drumsticks. For the test recipe, I roasted a 1-3/4-pound turkey thigh for 60 minutes. The thigh yielded 2-3/4 cups of diced meat, along with a nice, crisp piece of skin.

Since cooking is often a function of what's in the cupboard, I cubed a sourdough rosemary baguette for the dressing. It was left from a dinner that never materialized last week. Consequently, I didn't add sage to the recipe.

A package of sliced cremini mushrooms sautéed with the onions added an earthy element to the stuffing. Other ingredients compliment the turkey as well. Try combinations such as sausage, chestnuts and apples; red currents and dried cherries; or dried pears and roasted hazelnuts.


Cavendar's all-purpose Greek seasoning is available in your grocer's spice section. You may locate the seasoning in the ethic food isle as I did. Use poultry seasoning in place of Cavendar's if desired. Since salt is listed as the first ingredient on the label, you may want to add salt after tasting the dressing.

10-12 slices dried white bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons Cavendar's all-purpose Greek seasoning
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 large onion, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
5 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 stick butter
4 boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
2-3 cups cooked turkey, cut into 1-inch cubes
2-3 cups turkey or chicken broth

Place cubed bread in large bowl. Add Cavendar's, sage, salt and pepper and stir to mix. Set aside. In heated Dutch oven, sauté chopped onions and celery in butter until tender. Remove from Dutch oven and add to bread. Add eggs and turkey. Stir to mix well.

Pour broth over mixture 1 cup at a time so as not to get it too soupy. You want it nice and moist. Pour into a 12-inch Dutch oven. Bake about 1 hour at 350 degrees. Using charcoal: 16 coals on the lid and 8 under the Dutch oven.

Serve hot with gravy or cranberry sauce. It's also good served plain.

Bakin' Bill Johnson prepared Dutch oven turkey dressing casserole for KUTV-2 in Salt Lake City on November 26, 2004. Click for photographs from a TV shoot that Bill and I did in San Mateo, California last February.

Monday, April 11, 2005

More Colusa Western Days Cookoff Photographs

Don Mason sent additional information on the Coluda Western Days Dutch Oven Cookoff photographs Saturday evening. I've updated the photographs on Saturday's post.

Here are three additional pictures.

A lemon cake. This is an example a simple garnish. Some greenery with flowers and a dusting of powdered sugar is all that's needed. Most Dutch oven cookoff judges will take points for over garnished dishes.

A restored chuckwagon from Charter Farms. The chuckwagon was located next to the pavillion that housed the cookoff.

Any event needs something to draw crowds to the venue. The cookoff used the sign and an authentic chuckwagon.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Formula for a Worry-Free Life

Worry can consume our lives as Christians. Instead of growing in the word, we become "choked with cares, riches and pleasures of life" (Luke 8:14). Jesus says those who're consumed with the worries of life fail to produce "fruit to maturity."

As humans, we tend to worry about everything in life. Can I get a better job? Will the tires on the car survive another year? Is my child going to pass high school exams?

Anxieties draw us in different directions at once. They distract us and unsettle our lives. Most importantly, worries often keep us away from God. At a time when we should be maturing, the worries of life drawn us away from God.

When I run into difficulties in life, I've learned to focus on the final outcome. As a Christian, that's heaven. A heavenly focus puts everything else in life in perspective.

This brings me to the thought for the week:

Therefore do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?" For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:31-34)
Jesus asked an important question at the beginning of this passage when He said, "Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?" Think about it. Worrying won't pay the bills, buy food and clothing or parent the children.

Jesus has a solution that releases us from this basic human emotion. He says, "Focus on Me and I'll give you a worry-free life."

His solution doesn't release us from our earthly responsibilities. You still have to work. The tires still loose tread. And your child may still fail to graduate.

Instead, it changes our perspective. Jesus is saying give body, spirit and mind to Him and He will provide for your needs (see Matthew 22:34-40 for the Greatest Commandment). When life becomes worry-free, He gives you time to focus on His Father's kingdom.

Throughoutthe scriptures, God gives us tools to deal with the cares of life when we seek His kingdom. We desire God's way when Jesus becomes first in our lives.

A few examples: Paul said that we are to be the best employees in the same way that we serve Christ (Ephesians 6:5-9). He also outlined God's plan for raising children. Children have a duty to obey their parents. Fathers are instructed to "bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:1-3).

Who will you serve today? Will it be God? Or will it be the cares and riches of this life? Remember that Jesus said that you can only serve one master (Matthew 6:24). Make Jesus your choice today.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Colusa Western Days Cookoff Photographs

They say that a photograph is worth a thousand words. If that's true, I just posted 3,000 words to 'Round the Chuckbox.

Don Mason, organizer of the Colusa Western Days Dutch Oven Cookoff, sent a batch of bright color photographs from the cookoff. Since I didn't attend the event this year, I've written captions based on those people I know and my knowledge of the dishes.

Don posted this message about the cookoff on the International Dutch Oven Society forum:

Colusa Western Days Dutch Oven Cookoff was a wonderful success. Twenty-eight Teams participated in the 5th Annual cook-off. Teams traveled from Nevada, Oregon, San Francisco Bay Area and all parts of Northern California. The Cook-off was a spectator pleaser.

The "Two Dans" present their dishes to the judges. The team consists of Dan Lima (standing in black shirt) and Dan Jimenez (standing in white shirt). Two Dans hail from Corning in Northern California.

Dan Lima is stuffing a pork tenderloin, Hawaiian style in their chuckbox. I've tasted their entries in past contests and can attest that they are quite skilled in making chicken roulades and stuffed loins.

Two wide strips of parchment paper were inserted under the pie to make extraction easier. It takes two cooks to lift the pie out of the Dutch oven. Each cook grabs one pair of parchment strips, then lift together.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

People Who Trash Campsites

I have a low tolerance for people who trash the wilderness. It makes me sick when people can't take a few minutes to haul their garbage to the nearest dumpster.

I'm obsessive about keeping a clean camp. As long as I can remember, I've encourage the kids to keep their eyes to the ground and pick up the little bits of garbage that always seem to litter campgrounds. They've learned to follow my example in picking up bottle caps, cigarette buts and broken bits of glass.

Last Saturday, my son and I discovered a trashed campsite about 100 yards east of ours. The last party to use this site had the sense to place all their recyclables in a black garbage bag. But the trash bag never made it down the mountain. Instead they left the bag, along with their old tent and polls, next to the firering. Animals have since rummaged through that garbage and have scattered it over a wide area.

My guess is that the campers were from Carmichael, California. I got this information from a gas station receipt dated for Friday, March 25, 2005. The receipt was paying on the ground several feet from the camp. I won't name the person who I feel is responsible because it's possible this receipt doesn't belong to the litterbugs. (However, that's not likely because this spot was clean two weeks ago.)

Please be courteous and haul you garbage out of the forest.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Lessons from the Campfire

Have you ever noticed that life is like a campfire?

Last President’s Day I took one of my weekly trips up Iron Mountain Road in Eldorado National Forest to have a cup of coffee, catch up on reading and enjoy a campfire.

I packed a box of store-bought kindling to ignite the fire. I figured that once the fire was hot enough, anything would burn, including firewood saturated by February’s snow and rain. I unpacked the truck at 10 a.m. and should’ve been reading by 10:30. But something about that day told me that I needed to persevere.

A tropical storm had moved up from Southern California. Two distinct thunder cells pounded the Central Valley and Sierra foothills, one of which passed west of my spot around noon.

I struggled to light the fire that morning. Each time the fire sputtered I tore strips from my newspaper and lit it again. I gave up after several failed attempts to breathe life into the campfire, sat down and turned to my books.

Then sometime just before noon, the fire spontaneously burst into flame.

This brings us to the thought for the week:

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are laid ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14).
We often treat life like a smoldering campfire. Do we just let the fire smolder until it ignites? Or do we fan the fire, add the driest kindling and nurse it to life?

Paul faced the same adversities and tribulations when he preached the gospel throughout the Mediterranean region two-thousand years ago. In jail for bringing the good news of Jesus Christ, he set the tone of the Philippian letter when he said, "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).

Damp kindling and wet logs didn't dampen Paul's fire. Instead, he pressed on and kept his fire burning in spite of conditions because he knew he had God's backing. We're often beset with the same trials and tribulations. Like the campfire, we sputter along, hoping our fire will spontaneously ignite.

Paul used his adversity to further the gospel (read Philippians 1:12-18). He pressed on until the fire was lit. Instead of looking back at how the authorities had robbed him of his freedom, he rejoiced in the opportunity to serve God.

It takes effort. You may have muddied your knees, blown until you hyperventilated and exhausted your supply of kindling. But in the end, it’s worth that effort because you will "rejoice in the day of Christ" (Philippians 2:16). You will have met the challenge and sat down to the warmth of campfire.

Paul's message and that of the campfire is clear: Don't give up; persevere to the end. The reward is too great to miss.

Portions of this blog were published in the spring 2005 issue of Dutch Oven News.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Campfires and Four-Wheel Drive Survival Skills

For the second time this week, I traveled up Iron Mountain Road for a campfire and an afternoon of reading, lunch and whittling. This time my son joined me.

We spent three hours at the campsite. My son recovered his pocket knife from the glove box and whittled on several pine twigs while we ate out Taco Bell lunch.

"Don't get stuck dad"

We left the campsite around 2 p.m. and traveled east on a dirt road the parallels Iron Mountain Road. I had intended to eventually merge onto Iron Mountain and run up the mountain until snow prevented any further travel.

Looking back toward the mud holes. Fortunately, they weren't very deep. We were able to drive the truck in reverse through both holes.

But, Murphy's Law was in full force today. As we rode up the mountain on the four-wheel trail, my son warned, "Don't get stuck dad." He knows that I have priors!

"We won't get stuck," I responded. I'm not sure if I was expressing confidence in my four wheeling abilities or confidence in my ability to free the truck. Since buying Jeep Cherokee vehicle in 1991, I routinely pull the 4X4 out of a jam at least once per year.

As my son predicted, a 4X4 is no guarantee of stuck-free off-road travel. One hundred feet from the outlet, I attempted to negotiate one of those tall berms that the loggers build to block off-road travel. I should've backed out and turned around at the first opportunity.

Instead, I gunned the accelerator and attempted to cross over the berm. As the truck leaped over the berm, the weight of the engine brought the truck down on the transfer case. The truck sat high centered right on top of the berm. Fortunately, I didn't damage the transfer case or drive shaft.

All four wheels spun. I couldn't even rock the truck back and forth to free it. I tried to insert several pieces plywood under the read wheels. This didn't work either.

The jack is fully extended. I used a piece of firewood as a base to support the weight of the truck.

After 30 minutes I saw that my only hope was to dig the transfer case free. It took another 90 minutes to accomplish this. In the end, I jacked the front left quarter of the truck up and built a mound of dirt under the front left wheel.

To extract the truck I place the transfer case into low range and shifted the transmission into reverse. I gave the accelerator a gentle tap to free the transfer case and to place the truck's weight onto the rear wheels. It worked!

After recovering the jack and shovel, we backed out though two mud holes and turned the truck around in the first clearing. Since it was after 4 p.m. at that point, we headed home.

I need to get back in shape! At this point I'd been digging the transfer case out for over an hour.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Alabama Dutch Oven Gathering

I received this email from "Biscuit" Sims, member of the Mississippi Chapter of the International Dutch Oven Society and moderator of Yahoo! Dutch Oven Cooking Group:

The Alabama DOG is just around the corner. I went to Wind Creek this weekend to check things out. It is a very nice park. They have around 300 to 400 camping spots with cabins. The camping is closed in. You have to have a code to get in. Kids can ride their Bikes. Lot's of Bike rides. I got to pack mine up as well. You will need it to get around 400 spots.

There is an overlook tower by our Pavillon. Really nice place.

We are checking on the group here ... to see who all is coming and cooking in Dutch Ovens.

Post something (on Yahoo!) and let us know your plans.

This park is only 40 minutes from Montgomery. Very easy to find.

Hope to see y'all there!

P.S. Bring a door prize. We will have drawings and a short meeting after we eat.