Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Emergency Preparedness with Camp Chef

I received this news release from Ed Quinlan of Camp Chef:


Dear Camp Chef friends,

I join with everyone here at Camp Chef to express our sorrow at the devastation, loss and pain caused by the recent hurricane Katrina. Such events are difficult to anticipate and plan for. We join you in extending our heartfelt prayers for the safety and concern of those affected. Camp Chef is working to play a part in the relief effort through its retailers and aid efforts.

As the hurricane season begins, we are reminded of the massive power of Mother Nature. From potential earthquakes to tornadoes, the list of potential hazards can be overwhelming.

Hopefully, we have put in place (or are working to do so) emergency plans for our families to help with the essentials of shelter, food and communication in times of disaster.

A Camp Chef stove can be an integral part of any emergency preparedness plan. When the power is out, the gas is disconnected or other unexpected events occur, a Camp Chef stove can help us to boil water for drinking and cook food for us to eat.

Here are some key tips for emergency preparedness cooking:

- Have a Camp Chef stove ready. Check the stove regularly to ensure that it lights and works properly.
- Keep a full propane cylinder in a safe location (not inside the house), accessible in case of an emergency.
- If you don't have one, purchase a large pot that can be used for boiling water to purify it for drinking.
- Stock a standard supply of food storage that can be used if necessary. Be sure to rotate your food storage stock.

If an appropriate opportunity arises, please feel free to discuss the benefits of Camp Chef products as part of emergency preparedness with your constituents. By presenting the products as an informational tool to assist in preparation, your constituents can reap the rewards of having an information source who cares for their prepared safety.

Please note that the American Red Cross is requesting cash donations to assist with the relief/rebuilding effort. They can be found at


Edward Quinlan
Camp Chef

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Pursue Heavenly Treasures

A House of Gold by Hank Williams:

Some people cheat, they steal and lie
For wealth and what it will buy
Don't they know on judgment day
All the gold and silver melt away

What good is gold and silver too
If your heart's not pure and true
Sit and hear me when I say
You better get down on your knees and pray

I'd rather be in a deep dark grave
And know that my poor soul was saved
Than livin' in this world in a house of gold
And deny my God and loose my soul

Some people cheat, they steal and lie
For wealth and what it will buy
Don't they know on judgment day
All the gold and silver melt away

Performed by Tim O'Brien and Darrel Scott
real time (Full Light Records, 2005)

Sometimes Godly wisdom comes from a sea of hurt and suffering. A nugget of truth comes from the life of the person who let his life fall into sin and fast living.

It's so easy to listen to artists like Patsy Cline, Hank Williams and Willie Nelson. I enjoy their music because it expresses the true sorrows of this life. Their music reminds me that life is fragile and doomed to failure when you fail to include God.

These artists often chronicled their lives through music. They'd expressed sorrow and wayward living in one song. The next song would express a faint understanding of faith, repentance and hope.

Your heart will follow your treasure. That's the inherent message in "A House of Gold." Maybe Jesus' words flowed through Hank's mind when wrote, "What good is gold and silver too if your heart's not pure and true."

In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus instructs His disciples that Godly life is often reduced to the choices we make in life. He says those "who hunger and thirst for righteousness" (Matthew 5:6) will be "filled."

Riches are no different. I'm not aware of any passage where Jesus or His apostles instruct us to turn our backs on money. Instead the emphasis is a matter of loyalty.

"Moth and rust destroy riches" (Matthew 7:19), often long before you're called to give an account for your life. Stock market crashes and $65 a barrel oil prices exhaust monetary recourses. Thieves steel and friends mislead.

What good is gold if you don't trust God? The central point of Jesus' message on riches is this: "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal" (Matthew 7:19-21).

Hank had a way of expressing life's bumpy road. I know little of Hank's faith and nothing about his status with God, but he knew something about the futility of worldly pursuits.

Hank gave valuable advice at this point in his life, advice that reflects Jesus' words: "For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be" (Matthew 7:21).

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Limited Lodge Banners Available

I received this message from biscuit Simms of the DutchOvenCookingGroup on Yahoo Groups> These banners are nice for Dutch oven organizations. They're large, colorful and help attract guide spectators to the DOG, cookoff or demonstration. Limited Lodge Banners Available


Lodge has a Limited supply of Flags. It is 3X5 , yellow with their Cast Iron Skillet and Egg logo. You can fly it at your Dutch Oven Events. The cost is $80. Contact Gayle Allen Grier at Lodge. It looks really good!

PS--This is a representation of the banner. The real banner will vary.
Lodge Manufacturing Company
P.O. Box 380
South Pittsburg, TN 37380
Phone: (423) 837-7181
FAX: (423) 837-8279

Friday, August 26, 2005

Search of the Week

This is a quick post for the weekend. I'm heading to my in-law's 50th anneversary celebration in the Bay Area tonight. I won't be posting until Monday or Tuesday. I'm also working on the IDOS newsletter, so that's taking up my time.

Here's the search of the week:

firering range in california on Yahoo.

At first I thought that I miss-spelled "firing." But the searcher actually found my Wednesday, June 8, 2005 blog on Sanborn County Park in Saratoga, California. I refered to the fire-rings, hence "firering" in the search.

I suspect the searcher was looking for rifle firing ranges in California.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Cee Dub’s Latest Venture: Cowboy Cooking at It’s Finest

How many like Western cooking? For many, like me, who've never spend any measurable time tending cattle on a Western ranch, Ranch food brings the "Yee haw!" out of us.

Ranch food stirs images of campfires and Dutch ovens lined up over a long cookfire. You get a vision of cookie laboring under the noonday sun behind a rustic chuckwagon. Chicken fried steaks, scratch biscuits and Amy Tanner's apple crunch are dishes you expect on the range.

C.W. "Butch" Welch has captured the essence of Western ranch cuisine in Retro Ranch: A Roundup of Classic Cowboy Cookin', published this spring by Collectors Press of Portland, Oregon Cee Dub explains the emphasis of Retro Ranch: "The cuisine, if it could be called that, leans toward the simple side."

Simple? Yes. A quick scan of the horizon reveals many recipes in Retro Ranch use 10 or less ingredients and need about an hour to cook.

Simple it may be simple, cowboy cuisine harkens back to a simpler time. The fare in Retro Ranch doesn't mean the food that lacks flavor or character. This is the kind of food IDOS hands love to eat. It's plain, rich and full of flavor. Retro Ranch recipes are classic comfort food.

As the cookbook title implies, Retro Ranch food is food from our past. Retro Ranch has the look and feel of a 1950s cookbook with its grainy photographs and drawings. These are the same enhanced images we saw in cookbooks and magazines of the era.

If you read Life or Look or remember the recipes and photographs in cookbooks like Fanny Farmer from the 1950s, you'll love Retro Ranch.

These recipes are at home on the range with the beginning Dutch oven cook. Prepared in camp or in your suburban ranch kitchen, Retro Ranch vittles will please the pallet today just as they did 50 years ago.

I say run to the general store today and pick up a copy of Retro Ranch. Copies of the cookbook, packed with recipes from a bygone era, are available for purchase at for $16.95 plus shipping and handling. You can also order by calling Cee Dubs Dutch Oven and Camp Supplies at (208) 983-7937.

"We don't need to pore through historical accounts of that era ... to learn more about cowboy cooking." Cee Dub's right. Just get Retro Ranch and you'll soon enjoy the "tantalizing odors of simmering briskets, cowboy beans and peach cobblers plus the subtle smell of camp coffee ...."

This reveiw was originally published in the Summer 2005 issue of the Dutch Oven News.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Frank's Hearty Skillet Breakfast

Build a roaring cookfire. I follow two rules: First, build a fire that’s twice to three times the size that you think you need. In pine and cedar country it’s easy to underestimate the amount of wood.

The second rule is equally important. Keep the fire going and avoid the tendency to let it burn out once you start cooking. Otherwise Murphy’s Law steps in and kills any further plans for breakfast.

"I love the smell of bacon in the morning."
Use this time to dice the potatoes, crack and whisk the eggs and form sausage patties. The fire will take 30 to 45 minutes to burn down to a nice bed of coals. Don’t forget to add fresh wood as the fire burns.

With the fire ready, it’s time to cook breakfast. I said yesterday that Frank cooks each course in succession. The bacon goes into the first pre-heated skillet.

Push the bacon aside if you’re using a large skillet (14 inches or larger) and add sausage patties to the skillet. You may want to cook the bacon and sausage in batches if you’re using a smaller skillet. Once browned to the desire color, the move the meat waiting plate covered with a double layer of paper towel. (I’m not sure why the paper towels are necessary—you’re going consume enough grease to worry your cardiologist!)

Don’t discard any of the rendered bacon fat. Frank divides it between three dishes (health warnings aside). The potatoes, eggs and gravy all receive generous portions of the swine nectar.

You're allowed to break one egg yoke over a campfire.
A pot-full of diced potatoes are next poured into the meat skillet. Watch for splattering grease! Crumble a few bacon strips and sausage patties into the potatoes if desired.

Fifteen to 20 minutes over a hot fire will crisp the potatoes to a nice golden color. Move the skillet to a cooler spot over the fire. Stir the potatoes occasionally to keep them from burning.

At this point, turn your attention to the scrambled eggs. It’s important to pre-heat the egg skillet over a medium fire. Otherwise, you’ll burn the eggs and ruin breakfast.

Slow cooking is best for the eggs. Stick around once you pour the whipped eggs into the skillet. They require constant stirring until cooked. Frank never left the fire until the eggs were cooked.

The secret to moist scrambled eggs is to cook them over low heat. Remove the eggs when they’re still moisture seeping out. Remember, overcooked eggs in the skillet become overcooked eggs on the plate.

Place the eggs into a waiting bowl, cover with a sheet of foil and wipe the skillet clean. The pour the remaining bacon fat into the skillet and return it to medium heat. Next place enough flour into the skillet to absorb the fat. (You’ll have to judge quantities for yourself.)

Stir the roux for a few minutes over a low flame, being careful not to brown it. The last step before breakfast is to pour three or four cups of milk into the gravy skillet. Stir constantly for about 10 minutes to work the lumps out. Once the gravy thickens, you’re ready to eat.

Give the potatoes a quick stir just before serving. Warm potatoes, eggs and gravy are a must. And pour gravy over the potatoes and eggs. After all, gravy is the culinary elixir that brings the whole meal together.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Camp Verde Pioneer Days Dutch Oven Cookoff

I received this email from Mark Wilkins today:


When: Saturday, September 17, 2005.
Where: Camp Verde, Arizona, Community Center (in pavillion to the rear).
What: A 3-pot Dutch oven cook-off; maximum of 12 teams will be allowed; pioneer or old western dress is encouraged.
Deadline & Entry Fee: Must register, include entry fee of $25, & submit recipes by September 10, 2005; limit is 12 teams, so register early!


7:00 a.m. Setup
8:30 Judges/Team Meeting
9:00 Start
12:00 Dessert Judging
1:00 p.m. Main Dish Judging
2:00 Bread Judging
4:30 Awards ceremony & prizes awarded

For more info or questions, contact: Mark Wilkins by email or at (602) 451-3544

Cookoff rules
  1. A team may consist of two members. An adult must accompany any contestant under the age of 18.
  2. ONLY TEAM MEMBERS are allowed in the cooking area! Violators will be disqualified. One team member must remain in the cooking area at all times for fire safety reasons.
  3. Contestants will not consume alcoholic beverages during the cook-off. Smoking is allowed in designated areas only away from the cooking area.
  4. Ingredients cannot be precooked and must be combined, chopped, sliced, or diced during the competition-- on site-including garnishes and marinating. For safety reasons, no ingredients prepared or processed at home are allowed, except where health codes deem this acceptable. All meat must be USDA inspected.
  5. All cooking must be done in a Dutch oven and everything cooked MUST be presented to the judges with the exception of excess gravies and sauces, and/or cooked garnishes not specified in the recipe. Removing burnt or undercooked sections of food will lead to disqualification. Side items such as butter, jam or sauces should not be presented to the judges' table unless specifically listed in the recipe and prepared on site. Dishes must be presented to the judges' table on time-NO EXCEPTIONS. All foods submitted for judging should be displayed in the pot or on the lid. For sanitation concerns, please do not display foods on fabric. Field Judges will give time warnings periodically throughout the cook-off.
  6. Only competition recipes can be cooked during the cook off, unless otherwise specified. There should be no eating in the cooking area, but all teams should be aware of need to stay hydrated during the cook-off. Drinking water will be provided to contestants.
  7. Use good fire safety practices. Keep yourself and the public safe. You may not use propane stoves to cook your dishes. If fire code allows, propane may be used to start coals. Otherwise, other arrangements will need to be made.
  8. Know and practice safe food handling procedures. Food service gloves and some type of hair restraint (hat, hairnet, etc.) should be worn when handling food, except where health codes do not require this. The teams should provide dishwashing facilities and sanitation supplies. Coolers should be provided for all refrigerated items. Keep hot foods above 140° and cold foods below 40° Field Judges will check cooked meat temperatures prior to judging. There should be no finger licking. Tasting utensils must be washed immediately after use. Wash cutting boards between meats and vegetables to avoid cross-contamination.
  9. We encourage each team to have a current food handler’s permit from their local county to compete in the cook-off.
  10. Garnishing should be simple and complement the dish being presented. This is not a garnishing contest. Garnishes should be edible. Any flowers used in garnishing should be pesticide free and edible. Field judges have the right to request proof from place of purchase that the flowers comply with this rule.
  11. Interaction with the public is encouraged. Please be courteous in sharing cooking information.
  12. All judging decisions are final.
  13. This cook-off is the 3-pot format requiring a main dish with meat, a dessert, and a bread which must be yeast-rise or sourdough only.
Contestants will be required to provide their own Dutch ovens, recipe ingredients, cooking equipment, fuel and supplies/ all cooking will be done on charcoal off the ground. (Propane can only be used for starting charcoal and heating water for cleanup.)

Contestants will be judged by a panel of judges and field judges on the manner of cooking, cleanliness, spectator interaction, how well the food follows the theme of the cook off, and appearance and taste of entrees. All food must be presented to the judges in the Dutch oven or on the lid. All food must be prepared on site.

Entry in the cook off releases recipes and contestants for media use by the cook off committee. Reasonable sanitary conditions will be observed.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Hearty Breakfast at Wench Creek

All camp cooks savor a day off from the kitchen. Yesterday was my day off. My duty was to make coffee, lounge beside the campfire and dish out advice. A buddy handled all culinary tasks.
Jacob and I went camping with Frank and Hunter Friday evening. We spent the night at Wench Creek Campground on the east shore of Union Valley Reservoir in Eldorado National Forest. Camping is pleasant now that the heat wave has subsided in the Sacramento Valley. Friday’s high was about 75 degrees. The overnight low was 50.

Frank prepared a killer breakfast for us. He got up about 45 minutes ahead of me Saturday morning. Frank had a good bed of coals for cooking by the time I got up at 6:30 a.m.
Frank’s breakfast is hearty -- epicurean contradiction -- good tasting and not-so-good for you, all in one setting.

A carpenter and general contractor by trade, Frank cooked his breakfast in two large cast iron skillets, each course in succession. He normally cooks breakfast in one skillet. When Frank told he about breakfast plans last week, I threw in an extra skillet.

Bacon and sausage patties and links inaugurated the morning meat-egg-potatoes fest. Then in quick succession, Frank fried potatoes to a crisp in the bacon fat and scrambled eggs, again in bacon fat. Lastly he cooked gravy from more bacon grease, flour and milk.

I’ll post the “recipe” to Frank’s hearty skillet breakfast by tomorrow. Unfortunately, forgot my camera. These pictures are from a trip to Wench Creek last month.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Corning Olive Festival Dutch Oven Cookoff Rules

Here are the rules for the Corning Olive Festival Dutch Oven Cookoff that's being held at Woodson Park, Corning, California on Saturday, August 27, 2005.

These rules are essentially the same as the rules I published for the Cook'en in the Park Dutch Oven Cookoff that was 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.
  13. Two of the three dishes must contain California processed olives. (This rule is unique to the Corning Olive Festival.)
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.

Second Annual Corning Olive Festival Dutch Oven Cookoff

I just received a letter from Don Mason that announces the second annual Dutch oven cook off at the Corning, California Olive Festival. The cookoff and olive festival well be held on Saturday, August 27, 2005 at Woodson City Park on the southwest corner of South and Peach streets.

This is a three-pot cookoff—main dish, bread and dessert. Contestants may cook one, two or three pots. Recipes for two of the three must include California processed olives. (Note that this is a change from last year’s cookoff.) A $20 entry fee and a copy of recipes must be presented by the time of the cook’s meeting to participate.

Gates open at 7 a.m. with the cook’s meeting being held at 9 a.m. sharp. A judging time will be assigned during the meeting. Judging begins at 1 p.m.

Each team will receive the use of a 12- by 12-foot cooking area. One table and two chairs will be available for the team’s use in the cooking area. Don recommends that each team bring a pop-up type shelter to shelter the team from the whether.

Contact the Corning Chamber of Commerce, (Address: 1110 Solano Street, Corning, California, 96022) at (530) 824-5550 for an application or information. Don Mason can be reached at (530) 527-1027.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Search of the Week

As I said a few weeks ago, I'm always interested in what web searches bring viewers to 'Round the Chuckbox. I track on referring websites Typical searches that land camp cooks on 'Round the Chuckbox have recently included: baby back ribs, chuckbox, mountain man breakfast and quick cinnamon buns.

Today someone up in Portland (I presume) stopped by for a few seconds while looking for Fire on the Mountain that serves jerked chicken. Here's the search in case you're interested:

fire on the mountain restaruant portland oregon jerk chicken

You might say this was the perfect search as 'Round the Chuckbox was the only link listed! Interestingly, my misspelling of restaurant probably help create the anomaly that brought the viewer to 'Round the Chuckbox.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Preservation of the Soul

When wisdom enters your heart,
And knowledge is pleasant to your soul,
Discretion will preserve you;
Understanding will keep you,
To deliver you from the way of evil
(Proverbs 2:10-12).
Last week Keith and I tore the siding off of a 30 year old passenger rail car. The car, build for fair weather railroading, spent many years in outdoor storage. Our goal was to make the car weather proof so that it can be operated year round on a short piece of track between Diamond Springs and El Dorado.

Keith’s main concern was the soundness of the structure. To inspect the car’s condition, we ripped the siding from the frame and inspected the studs and cross pieces for damage from dry rot. Then the carpenter on the project replaced the rotten studs.

The next step was probably the most important one. Keith and I painted a healthy layer of copper sulfate over the exposed frame of the car. This preservation will guard the structure from bacteria, insects and water (thus keeping it sound) for years to come.

God uses a similar process with us. Like the Pharisees, who appeared religious on the outside, but were full of “dead man’s bones” on the inside (Matthew 23:23-29), we need deep healing. If someone doesn’t peel the outer layers of skin away and replace these bones with clean ones, we die.

God takes the man who has an outward appearance of health, but who’s sick with sin on the inside. Like the passenger rail car, we need God to heal us from our sinful lives. God says in His word that no one in immune from this healing process for “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). God has called all men and women to Himself to repent (Matthew 9:12-13). He provides a way for sick sinners to be healed.

He calls us to hear the word (Romans 10:17); to believe that Jesus is the Son of God (Romans 10:10; Hebrews 11:1-3, 6); to turn from our sin and lead a new life (Luke 13:13; Acts 2:38); to confess that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:19); and to submit to His will in baptism (Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21).

But God’s healing doesn’t end after you come out of the water. Like the first Christians in Jerusalem, you now belong to a group of people who speak the truth, who become your family and who gives when you have need (Acts 2:42-46). And you develop a keen sense of your need for God’s preservative.

The last element of God’s healing is maybe the most important. Once saved, we need we need a preservative that will keep you well until death. I’ve already illustrated the importance of preserving the rail car. Without a preservative, the car will deteriorate under the stress of rail operation and the constant assault from the elements.

We are faced with daily assaults from the evil one. Friends entice you (Proverbs 1:10-19). Temptations threaten to overwhelm to the point of sin (James 1:13-15). And the worries of life entangle us to the choking point (Matthew 6:25-34; Luke 8:14).

The wise preacher Solomon said long ago that wisdom would preserve our soul. Not the wisdom of the world, for Solomon says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7a).

So often scripture tells us that we can only be preserved through God’s wisdom. Christians are people who continually study God’s word. To be preserved you must “incline your ear” and “apply your heart” and “cry out” for God’s wisdom. That means we seek after God’s preserving power if we seek God just like a rich man seeks gold and silver. Remember God is the source of wisdom (Proverbs 2:1-9).

Let me leave you with this thought: The aim is to know the scriptures so that we can live a life pleasing to God, able to “discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14). Do you need wisdom? Ask in faith. God gives liberally to the one who asks without doubting (James 1:5-6).

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Bay Area Dutch Oven Gypsies DOG at Lake Chabot in October

I received this email from Richard E. Smith of Campbell, California:


Come on Out and join in the fun, food and fellowship at Lake Chabot in Castro Valley, California.

The BADOGs will be holding there 3rd DOG at beautiful Lake Chabot in Castro Valley. Lake Chabot is a wonderful, 315-acre lake in the heart of a 5,065-acre park that offers picnicking, fishing, boating, camping and miles of hiking and bicycle trails. Enjoy the scenery and wildlife of Lake Chabot. Wildlife that might be spotted include deer, raccoon and a wide variety of birds, including heron and cormorants.

From 10:00 a.m. till 3:00 p.m., you can take a bike ride, hike, go fishing or just sit and relax. We will eat about 5:00 p.m.

Location: 17930 Lake Chabot Rd., Castro Valley, California 94546
Date: Saturday, October 22, 2005
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Cost: $77 to be split between all that attend and parking is $5.00
Group Site: Mallard

Come and enjoy the day at Wilder Ranch and meet new people, share ideas, learn more about Dutch Oven cooking and sample some food cooked in Dutch ovens. The Bay Area Dutch Oven Gypsies is a chapter of the Lone Star Dutch Oven Society.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Bay Area Dutch Oven Gypsies DOG at Wilder Ranch in August

I received this email from Richard E. Smith of Campbell, California:


Come on Out and join in the fun, food and fellowship at Wilder Ranch in Santa Cruz, California.

The BADOGs will be holding their 2nd D.O.G. at this 1870’s ranch. Several restored buildings once belonging to the Wilder family are preserved. The park has tours and living history demonstrations to help visitors explore the history of early ranchers and farmers along the Central Coast.

The site was originally the main rancho supplying Santa Cruz Mission. It later became a successful and innovative dairy ranch. Surrounding grounds include Victorian homes, gardens, and historic adobe.

From 10:00 a.m. till 2:00 p.m. you can explore all that the park has to offer. Take a hike or walk to the ocean, or just sit and relax. We will have our D.O.G. about 3:30 to 4:00 p.m. or when we are ready to eat.

Location: Wilder Ranch, 1401 Old Coast Road, Santa Cruz, California 95060
Time: 10:00 to 6:00, Sunday, August 28, 2005
Cost: $6.00 for parking

If you have a Dutch Oven or would just like to "check it out," contact Interim Advisor Richard E. Smith.

Come and enjoy the day at Wilder Ranch and meet new people, share ideas, learn more about Dutch Oven cooking and sample some food cooked in Dutch ovens. The Bay Area Dutch Oven Gypsies is a chapter of the Lone Star Dutch Oven Society.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Don Mason's Dutch Oven Newsletter

Here's the latest issue of Don Mason's Dutch Oven Newsletter from Northern California. Email Don at to receive an electronic copy.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Diamond & Caldor Shay Locomotive No. 4

For the last two Saturdays I've helped friend Keith Berry renovate a passenger rail car at the El Dorado California Museum. The parlor car was once owned by Taco Bell founder Glen Bell's defunk Westside & Cherry Valley Railway.

Keith and members of the El Dorado Western Railway Foundation someday plan to operate the refurbished parlor car, with a caboose and a flatbed car, as an excursion train on the abandoned Southern Pacific Placerville branch line.

The train will be pulled by the only surviving Shay locomotive from the Diamond & Caldor Railway, which carried lumber from the Caldor sawmill 35 miles west to the a planing and box mill in Diamond Springs.

As the weather cools, I plan to bring my Dutch ovens to the engine house at the El Dorado County Museum and cook some railroad vitles for the volunteers. More in a couple months. It's still too hot to cook.

Diamond & Caldor Ry. Shay locomotive no. 4 is about two years away from full steam operation. Keith and a team of volunteers, many skilled machinists, have labored for 10 years to renovate the only surviving Shay engine from the D&C.

The interior of the Westside & Cherry Valley Ry. Passenger car. According to Keith, Bell built the parlor car on an original logging flatbed car. The flat car is about 100 years old today. Bell operated the tourist rail line in the late 1970s in Tuolumne, California.

Volunteers Rob McMillian (left) and Keith Berry contemplate their next move as they renovate the exterior siding of the passenger car. Rob is a finish carpenter who recently started volunteering his time for the project. Keith has been involved for 10 years.

Volunteers work on their projects each Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon to avoid the summer heat. For the past two Saturdays, Rob, Keith and I have stripped the weathered siding from the car's exterior. Rob replaced rotten stubs and cross-pieces while Keith and I cleaned and prepared the car for new siding.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Apple Crisp for a Crowd

Sharilyn posted this message over at Growlies Recipe Exchange and Party Planning Board this morning:

Have you ever used can apples for [apple crisp]? I need to make it for about 300 people and I would like to use canned apples. Pease let me know if canned apples would work ... I would appreciate your reply thanks.



Here's the recipe that I use at camp each summer for the Tuesday night cookout. This recipe is adopted from the U.S. Armed Forces Recipe Service.


20-3/4 pounds canned apple slices
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2-3/4 pounds sugar
4 ounces cornstarch
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoons salt
3 pounds brown sugar
1-1/4 pounds rolled oats
1-1/4 pounds all-purpose flour
1-2/3 tablespoons baking powder
1-3/4 tablespoons baking soda
1 tablespoons salt
2 pounds butter, softened

Arrange 4-1/2 quarts apples in each full-sized sheet pan greased pan. Sprinkle juice and zest over apples. Combine granulated sugar, starch, cinnamon and salt. Sprinkle half sugar mixture over apples in each pan.

Combine brown sugar, rolled oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and butter. Blend flour mixture to form a crumbly mixture. Sprinkle an equal quantity of the mixture evenly over apples in each pan.

Using a convection oven, bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until top is bubbling and lightly browned on low fan, open vent. Cut each pan 6 by 9. Serve with serving spoon or spatula. Serves 108.

Notes: Use 3 #10 cans sliced apples per 100 portions. Use two 18x26-inch sheet pans per 100 portions. Three lemons will yield 1/2-cup juice. Two pounds flour (total) may be used in place of rolled oats.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Apple and Bratwurst Chili?

Apple and bratwurst chili? Not in my camp.

Anyone who's paid any attention to 'Round the Chuckbox since its February inception, knows that I'm a culinary traditionalist, especially when it comes to meat and chili peppers. Chili in my camp should be red (green's okay too) and be loaded with plenty of beef or pork chunks.

Lorie Roach of Buckatunna, Mississippi thinks differently, according to an Associated Press story and recipe in today's Sacramento Bee Taste section.

But I suppose she has all braging rights on the issue. Roach was recently crowned as "America's best campfire chef" by a Central California winery.

Her winning recipe, a sweet chili with Granny Smith apples, bratwurst sausages, canned chickpeas and sweet red and green bell peppers, is a quick meal that can be prepared at home and assembled over the the campfire.

It's not that I dislike any of the individual ingredients. I buy sweet onions by the bag. And I love a good old-country sausage that's been grilled over an open fire. Place the bratwurst on a large bun, bury it in caramelized onions and I'm happy.

Just leave the apple out of my chili or my bratwurst sandwich. Apples like tart Granny Smiths belong in pie or cobbler. Or in braised German red cabbage where they balance the sharp overtones of cider vinegar.

What's my issue? In my camp, apples and bratwurst don't belong in chili. Keep it red (or green).

So what happens if I chance upon the Roach family in their beloved Great Smoky Mountain National Park? I'll smile and graciously accept a bowlful of their sweet onion, apple and bratwurst campfire chili.

I can't promise that I'll have seconds, and I may share a bowl of my chuckwagon chili.

Who knows? I might like it!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Southern Baked Beans More Follow Up

I want to clarify a few things about my Southern baked beans follow up from Sunday.

The reason the beans took four hours to bake (really, simmer) is twofold: tardy briquette lighting by the cook and the presence of an acid. Sodium from the ham may have contributed as well.

The beans should've benefited from the long traditional baking that transforms the beans and sugars into richly glazed berries. Otherwise, you're simply eating another simmered bean dish.

PS--I found a recipe for honey-glazed baked (pinto) beans in a later edition of Joy of Cooking in a rare library visit yesterday. As a bonus, I'll post Joy of Cooking's instructions for campfire beans when I post the honey-glazed recipe. Campfire beans are buried in a cast iron kettle for four or more hours. I last blogged on this topic last March 13, 2005.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Camp -- Qualities of a Good Kitchen Crew

Here are a few areas where the 2005 Northern California FC Camp kitchen crew excelled.

I was encouraged late in the week when the two new couples told me that they're definitely returning for 2006 camp. And I have a maybe from another person. That'll give the kitchen crew four on year number five, two on year three and four or five on year two. I may have all eleven crew members back for 2006.

Sanitizing all work surfaces: The crew learned early in the week to spread a thin coat of quat sanitizer solution over all food contact surfaces. I believe that this is an extension of our concern for bacteria and viruses in the home.

Keeping the salad bar stocked: Every time I asked, "Has the salad bar been restocked," the answer was, "Yes." Wendy, Helen and Alisa kept the salad bar fully stocked for lunch and dinner.

Washing pots and pans: Some has to clean pots and pans. It's a laborious job that must be done three times each day. It's especially important when you realize that we didn't have sufficient pots or pans to function beyond two meals. Both men and women jumped in throughout the day and got the job done. At one point or another all 11 staff washed pots and pans. Phil, Debbie and David were the main pot washers.

Filing the ice water jug: My wife took this task on as hers throughout the week. She's now talking about using two Igloo water jugs next year because the campers suck down water at an insatiable rate during sports breaks.

Keeping busy: I'm blessed with a crew that's willing to work. They usually need someone to get them started. Throughout the week, I often hear, "What can I do next?"

Completing each task: I rarely had to search for volunteers to get the job done. Yes, they took breaks but sometimes it was an issue of kicking them out of the kitchen for a break. I never had to ask, "Where have you been? We have work to do." David and Carol take the prize for spending the most hours in the kitchen. We usually had to push Carol out of the kitchen around 4 p.m.

Concern for food safety: I had a crew who's hearts were in the right place. I believe that this stems from my training on Saturday evening and from the concern that they brought from home.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Southern Baked Beans Follow Up

The Southern baked beans didn't turn out as promised. They were good -- spotted brown pinto beans in a sweet sauce with a blast of vinegar. While I enjoyed the flavor, the dish took two hours longer that the recipe instructed. The beans remained firm right up to the end. They only softened in the last 30 minutes of simmering.

Part of the reason for the extended cooking time isn't the fault of the original recipe writer. I neglected to start the second batch of charcoal briquettes in time to keep the pot going. I'm certain that I lost 30 minutes lighting the additional coals.

Southern baked beans at a lively simmer over a propane burner.

The second batch of coals also burned quickly. A hot wind blew along the east exposure of the house yesterday. As a result the coals burned much quicker than expected. By the time I had checked the beans, the wind had reduced the coals to nubs.

To keep the beans cooking, I moved the Dutch oven to my propane burner. It took an additional 90 minutes to tenderize the beans.

Yesterday's experience highlights an overriding principle of Dutch oven cooking: Your dish will be done when it's done. Don't forget the impact of ambient temperature, wind conditions and moisture on cooking times. (And don't forget to light the second batch of coals on time!)

The presence of an acid is the other factor that impacts tenderness of the beans. Next time I baked this dish I plan to add the cider vinegar much later in the cooking process. I'll add the add the cider vinegar with the molasses.

Bean math

The Northwest Bean Growers Association offers these facts about bean yields:
  • One #10 can of beans yields 12 cups of cooked beans, drained.
  • One 15-ounce can of beans equals 1-1/2 cups of cooked beans.
  • One cup of dry beans yields 3 cups cooked.
  • One pound of dry beans yields 6 cups cooked.
  • One pound of dry beans makes about 9 servings of baked beans or 12 servings of bean soup.

Faith and Sight

An internal struggle between experience and emotions threatens to hinder my plans each time I plan a meal. Instead of listening to 35 years of culinary experience, I let my emotions drown any sensible approach to determining how much food to buy.

As a cook, I have this innate fear that I'll run out of food. I feel that if I don't purchase enough food to feed one and a half times the group, I'll suffer embarrassment. The emotional side of the struggle wins because I subdue three decades of experience that's taught me to food to buy the right ammount of food.

Consequently, I've trained myself to fall back on my knowledge. I've learned over the years how much food it takes to feed a particular group. I can only successfully feed a group and remain within the budget when I put my culinary knowledge and experience to work. That means that I have to block that relentless urge to over-purchase food.

My internal struggle with food quantities is much like the battle between faith and sight. Scripture teaches tells us that God always instructed His people to listen to Him through faith. Faith in God is a quality that says I believe His word. It says that I will pattern my life after His will. It says that I will set my emotions and worldly wisdom aside in favor if God's wisdom.

The word becomes the "substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). The man of God internalizes His truth. Even though I didn't witness the death, burial and resurrection of God's Son, faith becomes the evidence I need to believe. My faith tells me that Jesus died on the cross to redeem man from his sins. Pleasing faith acknowledges God's existence and trusts Him in all aspects of life (Hebrews 11:6).

Paul said: "For we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7). To live by sight is to trust worldly pursuits. When we pursue sight, we depend on our emotions. I'm not really talking about emotions like sadness or happiness; fear or comfort; pain or pleasure. Instead it's the emotions or feelings that lead us to ignore God.

Abraham was a man who trusted God throughout his long life on earth. After he departed Ur of the Caldeans and arrived in Canaan, God said to him, "To your descendents I will give this land" (Genesis 12:7; 13:15). Abraham and Sarah were childless when God promised that his descendents would possess Canaan. Abraham believed God when He told him that a heir would come from his own body (Genesis 15:6).

Yet sometime later, you get the sense that Abraham's faith wasn't fully developed yet. He wavered and fell back on that human tendency to rely on our own sense of how to fulfill God's promises. Childless, Sarah reasoned that God had restrained her from having children. Her solution was to propose that Abraham have a child with Hagar, her Egyptian slave (Genesis 16:1-16). Abraham complied and Ishmael was born to Hagar and Abraham.

Abraham and Sarah were walking by sight at that point in their lives. Like us, when we hesitate and seek our own paths, they sought to fulfill God's promise by their own design. Instead, a faithful God fulfilled His promise to Abraham later when Sarah was "past the age" (Hebrews 11:11). By patiently waiting for God, Abraham and Sarah were blessed with a son Isaac. It was through Isaac that Abraham's descendents would be called, not Ishmael (Genesis 21:12).

My food purchasing experiences pale in comparison to the lesson of Abraham. Throughout his life Abraham proved that he was a man of faith. When instructed by God to sacrifice his only son Isaac, Abraham concluded that God would be able to raise Isaac from the dead so that God's promises would be fulfilled (Hebrews 11:17-19). We need to follow Abraham's example and trust God.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Dutch Oven Events in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Utah

This list was sent to me by Mark Wilkins, director of the Arizona Chapter of IDOS.


Here is a list of upcoming events for folks around Arizona. Calendar them now to attend if you can:

August 13, 2005 -- White Mtns. Bluegrass Festival & DO Cookoff, Lakeside, Arizona
Contact: Mark Wilkins at

August 20, 2005 -- Sportsmans Warehouse Grand Opening & Dutch Oven Demo, Mesa, Arizona
Contact: Mark Wilkins at

August 23-28, 2005 -- Western Legends Roundup & Dutch Oven Cookoff, Kanab, Utah
Contact: Gary Smith at

September 17, 2005 -- Camp Verde Pioneer Days & Dutch Oven Cookoff, Camp Verde, Arizona
Contact: Mark Wilkins at

October 7-9, 2005 -- Lincoln County Cowboy Syposium & Worlds Richest Chuckwagon Cookoff, Ruidoso, New Mexico

November 4-5, 2005 -- International Dutch Oven Society Fall Convention, Camp Verde, Arizona
Contact: Mark Wilkins at

December 3, 2005 -- Wickenburg Cowboy Poetry Gathering & Cowboy Breakfast (Dutch oven biscuits & gravy), Wickenburg, Arizona
Chamber of Commerce

February 17-19, 2006 -- International Sportsmans Expo, Pomona, California
Contact: Mark Wilkins at

February 25, 2006 -- NMLRA (Nat’l Muzzle Loading Rifle Association) Mtn Man Rendevous & Dutch Oven Gathering, Ben Avery Shooting Range Facility, Phoenix, Arizona
Contact: Mark Wilkins at

March 10-12, 2006 -- International Sportsmans Expo, Phoenix, Arizona
Contact: Mark Wilkins at

March 16-19, 2006 -- Festival of the West & Chuckwagon Cookoff, Phoenix, Arizona

Camp 2005 -- The Chef's Role

Camp is now over. We're all home waiting for the 2006 session, which will be July 2 to 7, 2006. I learned last week that for 2006 the camp is being moved back to its original week over Independence Day.

This week has given me time to contemplate my role as chef at a children's camp. The job of camp chef stimulates me like no other. I look forward throughout the year for one week each summer.

The kitchen crew for 2005 Northern California FC Camp.

I'm looking to turn this experience into a fulltime career once I retire from my current position. A career change will give me the opportunity to work in a small- to medium-sized camp kitchen with a tightly knit staff of cooks and food service workers. I'll be able to get back to my first love (career wise) -- cooking.

I enjoy most aspects of the camp setting. The remote wilderness locations of most camps attract me for sure. But the best part of the job is the opportunity to prepare and serve good food to campers and staff.

So much for my future career plans. Let's turn back for a moment and remember the focus 'Round the Chuckbox has taken over the past two months: Operating a camp kitchen at a weeklong children's Bible camp with a volunteer workforce.

The job of camp chef requires commitment. You're on your feet 12 to 16 hours each day directing volunteers in the kitchen. Most volunteer cooks are unfamiliar with quantity cooking. They don't know all of the finer aspects of producing quality meals for a crown.

As chef, it's your job to lead so you serve the best meals possible. I find that I spend most of my time in the kitchen directing the crew, answering questions about the recipes and making sure that the job gets done for the next meal.

You're the "attention to detail" that many of the volunteers find lacking -- at least in the culinary sense of the word. At any given moment in the kitchen I find myself:
  • Reminding the cook to take the final cooking temperature for the dinner entrée.
  • Stirring a saucepan of béchamel to keep it from scorching.
  • Turning the burner down under the pot of macaroni so it won't boil over.
  • Instructing the salad cook to clean up a spill on the prep table.
  • Rescuing empty #10 cans out of the garbage and reminding staff that we must recycle.
  • Answering the question, "What do you want me to do?" (These words are music to a chef's ears!)
  • Finding someone to take the garbage to the dumpster so we don't have to handle a 150-pound garbage bag.
  • Updating the inventory and writing a few ideas in my notebook for next year.
  • Asking for a "time check" one hour before mealtime (the idea here is to find out the status of all dishes for the next meal).
You're the culinary traffic cop -- not a tyrant, rather a sensible, loving chef that's full of mercy for volunteers. A few burned cookies won't ruffle your feathers, especially when the baker forgot to adjust for the convection oven (something we all missed that morning). As camp chef, you must be kind, patient and tolerant.

Eager volunteers are a blessing. They'll lighten your burden. Volunteers with a good work ethic leave you to planning and directing meal. You'll find that you won't have to cook every dish. Just be there as mentor, culinary counselor and leader. A good crew will carry the day.

Southern Baked Beans

I'm baking this baked beans on the patio right now. I'll post pictures and a taste report this evening.


This recipe, which is attributed to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is from the July 15, 2005 issue of Foodservice Director. I've modified the recipe for camp Dutch ovens. Double the recipe for a 12-inch deep Dutch oven.

1 pound pinto beans, soaked in water for 24 hours
2 tablespoons corn oil
6 ounces country ham, fine dice
2 medium sweet onions, diced
1-1/4 teaspoons garlic powder
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
4 cups water
1/4 cup black strap molasses
Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse soaked beans under cold running water. Place beans and 6 cups water in a 10-inch Dutch oven. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook 3 minutes, remove from heat and let stand 1 hour. Drain and rinse beans. Set aside.

In the same Dutch oven over medium heat, add oil, country ham and onions. Saute until onions are glossy, about 7 minutes. Add garlic, brown sugar, cider vinegar, honey, beans and 4 cups water.

Bake at 350 degrees (17 briquettes on lid and 8 under oven) for 1 hour. Remove lid and stir in molasses. Return lid and continue cooking until soft, about 1 hour additional. Serves 8 (1-cup) portions.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I Trust All's Well at!

Like many bloggers, I track websites that bring readers to 'Round the Chuckbox. As you might guess, many are led to this blog through search engines.

Well, today a NASA employee found 'Round the Chuckbox after searching with the key words "chuck wagon outfitters." The search led him to my May 12, 2005 blog on the Dutch Wagon. Sadly, the noontime search only lasted three minutes.

Maybe the Shuttle Discovery took priority ...

A Letter from the Bay Area

Here's the second email that I received yesterday. This one's from JT of San Francisco and was sent via the IDOS website.

How did you EVER find the time to create such a GRAND report?
I would have lasted through the (maybe) first day.
I got tired just reading the blog.
VERY VERY well done.


JT, thanks for your confidence in my ability to produce a blog. I trust your fatigue is simply from the sheer volume of material on 'Round the Chuckbox and not from any over-produced drudgery on my part.

I guess the best way to answer your question is this: I enjoy writing about my vocation of three and a half decades. Its fun and I do get a certain about of self satisfaction from writing.

When 'Round the Chuckbox grows tedious, as it does every month or two, I set it aside for a few days to collect my thoughts. This gives me a chance to cook (something I don't do at work) and to gather fresh material for upcoming blogs.

During my frequent breaks, I inevitably have to answer the question, "Why am I doing this?" I guess that's a question every blogger has to answer at some point. You learn to write, post a few recipes to the blog and enjoy the labor. You're happy if a few dollars flow to your coffers.

Camp cooking journal

The other thing I do is to keep a culinary journal. I've written about it on 'Round the Chuckbox and in the Dutch Oven News several times because it's an excellent way to record my cooking experiences. I'm now into my 17th journal in nearly 20 years. (I started it at camp on Sunday, July 24 and have already filled 60 pages of a 200-page composition notebook.)

A 14-inch deep Dutch open of Mexican rice for last week's camp. To make the rice in the 10-quart camp oven: sweat 2 chopped onions in bacon fat, add 2 quarts of longgrain rice and brown, add 1-1/2 quarts crushed tomatoes diluted with 1-1/2 quarts chicken broth and season with chili powder, garlic powder, bay leaves and dried oregano. Replace the lid and simmer with hot coals for a 350 degree oven (22 coals top and 12 bottom) until tender. Yield of 8 to 9 quarts of rice is 60 to 70 (1/2-cup) servings.

My original idea for the journal was to records a chronological history of our family camping trips. Consequently, my first journals took multiple years to fill. By 1994-1995 I had filled four notebooks. Since 1996, I've been cranking out one to two books per year.

I use the journal to record what works and what doesn't; what I liked and didn't like about a dish; ideas to improve a dish's flavor; and to create menus. And, if I decide to write a cookbook, I'll already have a score of notebooks bristling with recipes and stories of my culinary adventures.

'Round the Chuckbox is just a natural extension of my culinary notebooks. Thanks for writing ...

Question on Scoop Capacity

I received this question from Don Mason yesterday. It's pertinent in light of last week's camp blogs.

Hi Steve:

I enjoy your blogger site. I check it just about every day. Question: How many ounces are in a #10 scoop?

Do you know where I can get info on proportions sizes. i.e. How many oz. for a meat main dish; size for dessert, etc.



Hi Don:

The size on American food service scoops refers for the number of fluid ounces per quart of product. Thus, a #10 scoop contains 3.2 fluid ounces of product for a leveled scoop. A rounded #10 will approach 4 ounces or 1/2 cup.

I served a 1/2 cup of product for most dessert. This includes puddings, fresh fruit, cobblers and crisps (with extra topping), etc. I often use a #12 scoop (2-2/3 ounces) for frozen desserts like ice cream and sherberts.

Don't forget that many desserts such as pies, cakes and brownies are served by the piece. Serving size will be determined by the number of cuts per pan. I cut most cakes 6 by 8 for 48 servings per 18 by 26 inch sheet pan.

Growlies for Groups is an excellent resource for quantity cooking. It's run by Dyle from British Columbia. You can also ask questions on the Recipe Exchange and Party Planning Board.