Friday, September 30, 2005

Camp Kitchens for Hurricane Katrina Relief Workers, #5

New Orleans, Louisiana, September 17, 2005 -- Gallon-sized cans of green beans are open and ready to be cooked at a field kitchen set up by the Arkansas branch of the Southern Baptist relief association. The American Red Cross provides these hot meals using their feeding trucks to people throughout the city . Win Henderson/FEMA photo. (A #10 can is actually 3 quarts in volume.)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Camp Kitchens for Hurricane Katrina Relief Workers, #4

Base Camp, New Orleans, Louisiana, September 15, 2005 -- A cook prepares the grill to cook a meal at Base Camp Zephyer Field. This mobile kitchen is operated by Port-A-Pit Catering Services of Tuscon, Arizona. Marvin Nauman/FEMA photo.

Camp Kitchens for Hurricane Katrina Relief Workers, #3

Base Camp, Louisiana, September 15, 2005 -- A relief worker hands out a meal to a disaster worker at Base Camp Zephyer Field. Marvin Nauman/FEMA photo.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Camp Kitchens for Hurricane Katrina Relief Workers, #2

Base Camp, New Orleans, Louisiana, September 15, 2005 -- The food line for emergency workers and relief workers at Base Camp, Zephyer Field. Hotel rooms are difficult to find and many workers sleep in tents, sleeping bags, cars or where ever they can. Many areas of the city are still without power and utilities. Marvin Nauman/FEMA photo.

Camp Kitchens for Hurricane Katrina Relief Workers, #1

New Orleans, Louisiana, September 15, 2005 -- Disaster Workers at Base Camp are lined up at one of the kitchens to get a meal. During a disaster all of the needs of disaster workers must be met along with those of the victims. Marvin Nauman/FEMA photo.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Shrimp and Pasta with Creamy Pesto Sauce

I love versatile recipes, especially recipes where you can trade ingredients on a one-for-one basis. Any recipe that adapts to leftovers and stocked pantry items is versatile in my estimation. Sunset’s recipe for shrimp and pasta with creamy pesto sauce is the perfect example.

I’ve had my eye on pasta for over a week now. On the way home from work I purchased a 12-ounce box of angle hair pasta (my country market carries three pastas: spaghetti, angle hair and elbow macaroni). A small jar of traditional pesto, three leftover chicken thighs and the remains of a bag of sun-dried tomatoes all went into my spur-of-the-moment pasta for dinner.

My 13-year old son wolfed down two helpings despite the fragrant aroma from the basil. He even managed to work around the sun-dried tomatoes. I have a hit!


This recipe was published in Sunset Magazine, February 2003. I prefer roasted red pepper pesto to traditional pesto made with basil and pine nuts.

12 ounces penne pasta
1 pound shrimp, cooked, frozen
1/2 cup prepared pesto
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chicken broth
3 tablespoon dried tomatoes, oil-packed
Salt and black pepper, to taste

In a 4- to 6-quart pan over high heat, bring 3 quarts water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender to bite, 7 to 12 minutes. Drain and return to pan.

Add shrimp, pesto, cream, stock and dried tomatoes to pasta. Stir over medium heat until hot and evenly incorporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 3 to 4 servings.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Sailor Becomes Navy's First, Only Personal Executive Chef

By JO2 (SW) Ahron Arendes, Commander, Naval Air Forces Public Affairs

Culinary Specialist 1st Class (SW) Brandon Parry became the first Sailor to earn the title of Personal Certified Executive Chef (PCEC) May 13, 2005.

An enlisted aide to Commander, Naval Air Forces (COMNAVAIRFOR), VADM James Zortman, Parry earned the certification after passing the practical exam, a written exam, and nearly a decade of culinary education.

CS1 (SW) Brandon Parry became the first Sailor to earn the title of Personal Certified Executive Chef (PCEC). Pictured above he is at the stove taking the practical cooking exam for the certification.

"It's awesome!" Parry said about earning the qualification. "So far, this is the pinnacle in my culinary career. A lot of people can cook well, but the certification process forces you to learn everything there is to know about being a chef."

According to the American Culinary Federation (ACF), a PCEC is a chef with advanced culinary skills and a minimum of seven years of professional cooking experience, with a minimum of two years as a personal chef. They provide cooking services on a "cook-for-hire basis" to a variety of clients. They are responsible for menu planning and development, marketing, financial management, operational decisions, and providing nutritious, safe, eye-appealing and properly-flavored foods.

The PCEC certification, which the ACF created in 2003, is awarded based on excellence in three areas: education, work experience, and tests.

The education portion includes formal schooling (high school to graduate studies) and continuing education. In addition to these, each candidate must complete food safety, sanitation, nutrition, hospitality and supervisory courses. The work experience portion includes a practical cooking exam where candidates prepare two different three-course menus, while practical examiners and executive chefs observe and critique the candidate's cooking and sanitation skills. The written exam portion includes 100 questions on basic and advanced cooking, sanitation, nutrition, personal chef management, and basic and advanced baking. The test must be completed in one hour with a score of at least 70 percent.

"The [practical] exam can be a little intimidating, because it's outside of the normal type of procedure that we do, but I think CS1 did very well," said Chef Michael Harants, Corporate Chef of the Navy at Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) and practical examiner.

Parry said that reaching his goal of earning the PCEP qualification was something he has been focused on for several years.

"I have been working for this my whole career," said the 15-year Sailor. "When I first came in, I was 18 and stationed on the USS Independence (CV 62). I was put into the bake shop, baking 3,000 loaves of bread a day. I found out then that I was a natural at cooking. About midway through my career, I decided I wanted the certification, and I had been working for that since then."

According to Parry, being an E-7 to E-8 is a requirement for the qualification, but since he has been performing the job of an E-7, he was able to have that waived. He also said that in order to reach his goal, he had to have ambition and a deep passion for culinary arts.

"CS1 stands out because of his ambition," said Harants. "Culinary certification was one of his career goals, and he did what he needed to do to reach that goal." Harants added that culinary certification is an opportunity for Sailors to validate their skills and knowledge. "The certification application process that a cook or chef has to go through is not just checks in the box. There is a written and a practical exam demonstrating that one is knowledgeable and can apply those skills to everyday duties," he said. "One of the significant factors of certification is the level of professionalism that one demonstrates by going the extra mile."

According to Marylin Burchfield, ACF certification programs coordinator, Parry is not only the first Sailor in the Navy to have the PCEC certification, but he's only the second in the Department of Defense. She said the PCEC certification or any certification, will help people get better jobs and better pay once they reach the civilian sector. They will also have the skills and knowledge to run their own businesses.

"If one wants to take their culinary skills to the next level, then they have to put forth the effort to seek out any additional culinary education they can to excel and set themselves above the rest," said Harants. "The Navy offers CSs several avenues for continuing education in culinary arts. The Adopt-a-Ship program, bringing industry professionals to the CS community, is one way they can open up new culinary experiences. Culinary internship opportunities in the local fleet area can also help one to progress with culinary skills and knowledge."

"I think certification is important to the Navy," Parry said. "It forces people to know the formal aspects and history of cooking. The whole process also forces you to be a good cook, and that is what it's all about, knowing the nitty-gritty of food."

For more information on the certification process or future culinary educational opportunities, contact Chef Michael Harants by e-mail at

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Lightning Cake with Pears and Almonds

All meals at Grandma Bertha Karoly’s Mill Valley home were good. We often enjoyed a Sunday afternoon roast leg of lamb with roasted potatoes and German red cabbage. Although, I don’t remember many desserts, I’m certain I ate any number of sweets at her table.

This recipe is adapted from Any One Can Bake, published by Royal Baking Powder Company in 1927. My grandmother purchased this book on April 18, 1927 when my father was 17 months old.

I suspect that this recipe was called lightning cake because it’s made “lightning fast.” The original cake is a brownie-like dessert with a sugar-cinnamon topping. I adapted it by folding diced Bartlett pears and sliced almonds into the batter. And a used a crumb topping made from oatmeal, flour and sugar.


Use your favorite crumb topping for the cake. My favorite recipe follows.

1/2 cup milk
3 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups sugar
1.2 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 Bartlett pears, peeled, stemmed and diced
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 cups crumb topping (recipe follows)

Pre-heat a 12-inch Dutch oven with 9 coals underneath and 18 coals on the lid. Combine milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Sift flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Add dry ingredients to liquid ingredients and mix thoroughly. Dough will be stiff. Fold in pears and almonds.

Lightly oil Dutch oven. Spread dough in Dutch oven. Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over cake dough. Bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool; cut into 12 to 18 servings.


1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1-1/2 cups old fashion rolled oats
1/2 cup softened butter, cut into pieces

Combine flour, sugars, salt, cinnamon and oats in a medium bowl. Rub in the butter with your finger tips until it’s well blended and the mixture crumbles coarsely. Refrigerate until needed. Makes about 1 quart.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Guest Chef Brings "Canadian Baking" To USS Tarawa

By JO3 Adam Stapleton, USN, USS Tarawa (LHA 1)

It may have seemed like your average "Hamburger Tuesday" aboard USS Tarawa (LHA 1), but in fact it was far from an average burger day as cooks had the aid of a professional chef to spice it all up.

"Let's try the option of adding sautéed mushrooms and onions," Chef Samuel Glass said to the wardroom culinary specialists (CSs) over the sizzle of the beef-patty "sliders" on the grill. "Let's add some flair to an old Navy favorite."

Chef Samuel Glass, center, passes on cooking tips to CS2 Tawney Cortezparedes, left, and CS3 Michelle Harvey, both USS Tarawa (LHA 1) crew members. Glass visited the San Diego-based amphibious assault ship as part of the Naval Supply Systems Command's Adopt-A-Ship program during a recent pre-deployment training exercise off the coast of Southern California in mid May. U.S. Navy Photo by PHAN (AW) Kelly Morgan.

Chef Samuel Glass, a volunteer in the Adopt-A-Ship Program, came on board the San Diego-based amphibious assault ship during pre-deployment training operations with the goal of inspiring the CS's creativity.

"It was a pleasure working with him," said Tarawa CS2 (SW/AW) Michelle Harvey. "We learned a lot of new techniques, like how to take what the menu calls for and then spice it up a bit."

This is the ninth time the Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, native has participated in the program and his third time instructing on Tarawa.

"None of the other armed forces have a program anywhere near as accessible," said the certified executive chef. "The opportunity to go underway on a ship, for me, was a thrill and an honor."

Chef Glass, the Director of Culinary Education at the Culinary Arts School of Ontario, also shared his personal philosophy on food preparation with Tarawa CSs. "I've always followed the saying, 'You're only as good as your last meal.' If you screw up on a meal, then nobody remembers how many times you've done well. That's something I try to instill in the other cooks, the art of caring about every dish you prepare."

"Time management and proper meal planning," said Harvey. "That's the main lesson I took from Chef Glass, how to really focus on dish preparation for the hours during which we serve."

Not all of the teaching is one-sided, however, as Glass also has picked up a few tricks from Sailors. "I once saw someone here chopping hard-boiled eggs and putting them in the chicken gravy. I'd never seen that done, so when I asked him about it he said, `Well, that's the way we do it in the South.' To this day I talk about how the best turkey gravy I've ever tasted was cooked by a Navy Sailor."

Tarawa CSs received training they can use in more ways than one. "I've seen how the Navy is not only providing CSs with training for life in the military, but also for life after the Navy as well," said Glass. "And to help out, after my visit, I'll file a report with NAVSUP that gives these CS's credit towards their certifications as cooks by the American Culinary Federation."

"It's a great program, and it's good for our Sailors to see a side other than the Navy," said CS1 (SW) Janelle Goosby. "What they do and learn here they can take with them and use in the civilian world."

In addition to training the CSs in the main galley, wardroom, and the Expeditionary Strike Group 1 flag mess, Chef Glass also visited USS Cleveland (LPD 7) for two days of training with their food service team. As Chef Glass' week at sea came to an end, he recounted how lucky he feels to be involved with the Adopt-a-Ship program.

"I get to do this as a volunteer chef, I get to share my love of cooking while supporting those whom I think are some unsung heroes," said Glass. "It's important to remember how hard these Sailors work. The next time you see a CS, don't hesitate to thank them for their hard work and to compliment them on a meal well done."

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Dijon Crusted Pork Chops

The other night I baked pork chops with a Dijon crust. After dipping the thin chops is a Dijon mustard and mayonnaise sauce, I dredged them in Panko bread crumbs. The chops were good. But the soggy crush slipped right off the chops when I removed them from the baking dish.

The top crust browned fairly well around the edges of each pork chop. The center was soggy disappointed me. My guess is the sauce pooled in the center of each chop. A messy experience indeed!

The subtle flavor of the Dijon-infused crust impressed me. The sauce, tempered with the richness of the mayonnaise and sweetness from the apple juice, contrasted the herb-flavored Panko bread crumbs very well.

This recipe was definitely a keeper. I got the idea from a U.S. Armed Forces Recipe Service recipe card. (I’ve said in the past that these recipes are ideal for any volume operation that’s looking for basic quantity recipes. You do need to test each recipe before adapting it to your menu.)

I found the recipe for Dijon baked pork chops Tuesday afternoon in my computer recipe file. I needed to do something with three pork chops that were sitting in the refrigerator. The Dijon crusted pork chop appealed to me with the marriage of distinct flavors and textures.

After dipping the pork chops in the Dijon sauce, the recipe instructed the cook to dredge it in bread crumbs and set them on lightly oiled sheet pans. Military cooks use convection ovens today. The blast of dry, hot air quickly browns the crust. The bottom crust even browns as heat is conducted up through the thin skin of the aluminum sheet pans.

Although the recipe for Dijon baked pork chops might work in an institutional setting, my challenge was to re-work the recipe for a cast iron skillet or Dutch oven.

Instead of baking the pork chop in the sometimes unpredictable heat of a Dutch oven, I elected to cook the in a skillet. I first dredged the pork chops in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Next came a quick dip in a thinner Dijon mustard sauce. I found that you need to let the excess sauce drain from the chop.

To finish, I dredged the pork chops in bread crumb and herb mixture and placed them in hot fat. Do not crown more that four chops in a 10-inch skillet. I also reduced the heat to medium after pre-heating the skillet over medium-high heat. This gave the crust time to brown and thoroughly cook without burning. And it cooked the pork chop to a nice medium to medium-well doneness.


Panko bread crumbs are used in Japanese cooking for coating fried foods. They’re ideal for breading because they create a deliciously crunchy crust. Locate Panko bread crumbs in the Asian isle of the supermarket. About 1/4 cup bread crumbs are needed for each pork chop.

1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 cup apple juice (or chicken broth)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
4 center-cup pork chops, about 5 ounces each

Combine flour, salt and pepper on a plate. Combine mustard, mayonnaise and apple juice or broth in a bowl. Combine bread crumbs, parsley and thyme on a plate. Pre-heat a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Heat about 2 tablespoons oil in skillet.

Dredge pork chops in flour to coat. Then dip pork chops in mustard sauce and drain off excess. Dredge in bread crumb mixture. Place chops in skillet and cook until nicely browned, about 5 to 8 minutes per side. Add additional oil as needed to brown chops. Adjust heat under skillet to prevent burning.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Lots of Sausage Gravy

As announced in the IDOS Forums, Dave Herzog has accepted a challenge to bake 900 biscuits in a 22-inch MACA Dutch oven. And what’s a biscuit without gravy? Dave’s recipe for six gallons of gravy is posted below. You have to watch Dave in action at the Iron Chef Challenge for Hurricane Victims to learn his biscuit secret.


The recipe for Emeril’s essence is available on

5 pounds breakfast sausage
5 pounds bacon, diced
2 pounds yellow onions, diced
3/4 cup minced garlic or 1/4 cup granulated garlic
2 tablespoons red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons black pepper
3 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons Emeril’s essence
5 cups all purpose flour
4 pounds unsalted butter
5-6 gallons whole milk, cool, not fridge cold.

Preheat a MACA 22-inch Dutch oven with about 35 coals underneath. Add the sausage and bacon together and brown until bacon is golden. Stir in onions, garlic, red and black pepper, salt and essence. Sauté until onions just turn opaque.

Add butter. When melted, stir in flour and cook for about 5 minutes, until flour turns light brown. Add milk, 1 gallon at a time, allowing gravy to thicken, up to 5 gallons. If gravy is too thick, add additional milk a little at a time to thin.

Serve over anything you want! Serves 200 to 250, depending on serving size.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Letter from Dave Herzog

Dave Herzog sent me this letter for the Iron Chef Challenge Cookoff in Reno, Nevada on October 15, 2005. It includes much of the information that's already been published at 'Round the Chuckbox. Everything I currently know of the cookoff is found in Dave's letter.


Dear Dutch oven cook and enthusiasts:

The Cast Iron Cooks of the West is holding a fundraising “Iron Chef” Dutch oven cookoff in Reno, Nevada on October 15, 2005 for hurricane Katrina relief efforts. The cookoff will be held in the parking lot of Sportsman’s Warehouse at 3306 Keitzke Ln. Rules, a registration sheet, and judging form is enclosed in the packet so you have an idea of how we will run this cook-off.

Each team may consist of up to 3 team members and will have a cooking area of approximately 12’ X 12’ to cook in. We are suggesting that each team bring some sort of easy up or cover in case of the weather. Each team may bring pantry type of items to supplement the secret ingredient box, which each team will receive at the cooks meeting just before the cook-off begins.

All proceeds will be going to the American Red Cross and Salvation Army hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Since we are putting this cook-off together with such a short amount of time a list of prizes is not complete but is extensive and is growing daily. If you have any questions contact me at (530) 257-0896 or e-mail at Or you can contact Sarah Wootten in the camping dept. at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Reno at (775) 828-1500.

We will also be having a DOG at the same time as the cook-off to raise additional funds, if you don’t want to enter the cook-off. Just contact myself or Sarah to let us know you will be attending. The schedule is as follows:

9:00 a.m. start charcoal fires
9:15 a.m. cooks meeting and “secret ingredient” handout
9:30 a.m. cookoff begins
12:00 p.m. judging of cook-off
12:30 p.m. (approximately) public sampling of dishes by cook-off teams and DOG serving.

Please contact us by September 23 to enter the cook-off

Good Luck!!!

Iron Chef Challenge Dutch Oven Cookoff Rules

  1. All cooking and preparation must be done in Dutch ovens as the primary cooking utensil.

  2. Coals must not be less than 12-inches off the ground. Only charcoal may be used as the heat source.

  3. Teams may consist of 1 to 3 members.

  4. Each team will be given the “secret ingredient” at the beginning of the cookoff. The secret ingredient will be used as the main ingredient for as many dishes as possible. All dishes must to be prepared and served in the allotted cooking time.

  5. a. Teams may bring their own pantry items to assist in the preparation of the “secret ingredient” to include fresh produce, meats, spices and herbs, and commercially canned foods. No home prepared, canned food items, or wild game will be allowed to be used in any dish, with the exception of sourdough starters only. Any home prepared items, other than sourdough starts, will disqualify the team from the cook-off. NO EXCEPTIONS! Game meats may be used only if purchased from a commercial meat store or grocery store. Game must be packed in commercial packaging with labels attached to packaging and approved by the organizers.
    b. Once the cookoff starts, no team member or other person may leave the cookoff to purchase ingredients or supplies from any store to be added into any dish. Extra charcoal may be available for purchase at the cookoff for those unexpected extra heat requirements.
    c. All dishes and foods must be totally prepared on site.

  6. Practice safe food handling techniques at all times. Food poisoning of anyone is not allowed. Ice chests are recommended. Keep hot food hot and cold food cold.

  7. We use charcoal as the only heat source to cook with in the cook-off. So please, NO COOKING ON GAS STOVES, EXCEPT to boil water for sanitation purposes only.

  8. Each team must have a ABC 2 lb. minimum fire extinguisher and a metal bucket to contain ashes and dispose of properly in large ash receptacle supplied by cook-off organizers

  9. No electric or gas powered appliances may be used for the cook-off. No batteries, generators, or other may be used. Only hand cranked human powered appliances are allowed.

  10. All cooking will stop and dishes must be ready for service by the finish time at 12:00 p.m. at the front of your cooking area. NO EXCEPTIONS!

  11. Garnishing is nice but is NOT a judging factor in this competition. Keep it simple but nice.

  12. Most important HAVE LOTS OF FUN and hand in recipes with dishes (ingredient lists) so we have an idea of what you did and can make up a cook book for everyone to share. Cookbooks will be sent to each team after the competition.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Cooking for Crowds for Dummies

Cooking for Crowd for Dummies by By Dawn Simmons and Curt Simmons is my latest acquisition. I'm a late convert to the Dummies series. I sorta had a "holier that thou" attitude toward the books, especially any that deal with cooking.

I reasoned, why do I need these books? I'm a professional cook, after all.

This may be the book for you if you often feed crowds. Give it a try. The $20 price tag may be worth the expense. Here's the link:

Sugar High Friday #12 -- Caramel Custard Mugs in a Dutch Oven

Just incase you’re looking for an excuse to satisfy your sweet tooth -- today inaugurates 'Round the Chuckbox’s partnership with Sugar High Friday, an “international sweet tooth blogging extravaganza.”

September’s theme is Cooking up Custard, hosted by Elise over at Simply Recipes. Childhood memories of custard, tapioca and rice pudding prompted me to bake a Dutch oven caramel custard from Retro Ranch: A Roundup of Classic Cowboy Cookin’ by C.W. “Butch” Welch (Collectors Press: Portland, Oregon, 2005).

Cee Dub’s recipe is essentially the same one that Grandma Bertha Karoly cooked in the 1930s for three growing boys (dad, his brother and their first cousin). Grandma Bert’s copy of Any One Can Bake (Royal Baking Powder Co.: New York City, 1927) is scribed full of recipes, notes and prices from the Depression. (Do you know that a 10-pound bag of granulated sugar cost 53 cents in 1937? That’s an 18 cent increase from 1932!)

Like most older recipes, both cookbooks call for scalded milk. Scalding milk (heating it until just under a boil, about 180 degrees) isn’t necessary today. Scalding serves two purposes: it kills pathogenic bacteria and it destroys enzymes that may affect the way milk performs in a recipe. Modern pasteurization already destroys bacteria and enzymes.

Heating the milk really only serves one purpose: It raises the temperature of the custard mixture to speed cooking. Gently heat the milk to about 110 degrees, just until it’s warm to the touch. There’s no need to heat the milk to a scald.

Just be sure to temper the egg mixture. To temper, slowly drizzle about 1/2-cup of the warm milk into the egg and sugar mixture. This’ll bring the egg mixture up to temperature without cooking the eggs. (Scrambled eggs custard doesn’t appeal to anyone!) The slowly whisk the remaining milk into the egg mixture.

Ubiquitous enamel coffee mugs make the perfect vessel for this camp delight. Use ramekins if you have them. But, honestly, who packs glass or ceramic ramekins in a chuckbox?


The tools needed to transform this old-time favorite into a camp dessert are already in your chuckbox -- a 12-inch deep-style Dutch oven and 6 coffee mugs to bake the custard. You’ll also need a medium saucepan to make the caramel and heat the milk.

1 cup granulated sugar, divided
3 eggs, slightly beaten
Dash salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/2 cups milk, warmed
Ground nutmeg

Heat 1/2 cup sugar in a sturdy 1-quart sauce over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is melted and golden brown. Divide sugar among 6 metal coffee mugs. Tilt mugs to coat the bottom. Allow syrup to harden in mugs. Place cups in 12-inch deep-style Dutch oven on a baking rack.

Mix eggs, remaining sugar, salt and vanilla. Gradually stir warm milk into egg and sugar mixture. Pour custard into the 6 coffee mugs. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Pour hot water into the pan to the level of the custard. It’ll take 6 to 8 cups of hot water.

Bake at 350 degrees with 8 coals underneath the oven and 16 on the lid. Bake until a knife inserted in the center of the custard comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Remove mugs from the water bath. Chill if desired.

There’s no need to invert the custard onto a plate. Serve it warm or chilled right out of the mug. Just be sure to scoop a spoonful of caramel from the bottom with eat bite.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Newsletter from

I received an e-newsletter today from the Bar E Ranch at

It has news of:
  • New products--a chuckwagon grill companion to the chuckwagon fireplace set, 59-gallon wine barrel and Lodge tote bags.
  • 4th place at the chuckwagon cookoff at Gladewater, Texas.
  • Chuckwagon Recipes #3, a new cookbook by sisters Sue Cunningham and Jean Coats.
  • Photographs in the style of the old west.
Subscribe to the newsletter by signing up at the bottom of each webpage at

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Sportsmans Warehouse is Location for Iron Chef Challenge

Dave Herzog posted the location for the Cast Iron Chef Challenge for Hurricane Katrina Victims this afternoon.

The Iron Chef Challenge cookoff and DOG will be held at the Sportsmans Warehouse at 3306 Kietzke Lane, Reno, Nevada. Sportsmans Warehouse is located about 1/4-mile west of US 395 at the corner of East Moana and South Kietzke lanes, off of exit 64. (Mapquest directions.)

A big brass elk decorates the front of the store.

He also announced that Miss Nevada will be one of the judges. She will meet and greet everyone.
Contact Sarah Wootten in the Camping Department at Sportsmans Warehouse at (775) 828-1500 for additional information.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Sugar High Friday Coming This Friday!

I'm joining the Sugar High Friday blogging event this Friday, September 16th. 'Round the Chuckbox's entry is caramel custard from Cee Dub's new cookbook, Retro Ranch: A Roundup of Classic Cowboy Cookin'.

It's a classic baked custard -- water bath and all. Except I improved on Cee Dub's recipe (is that possible?) and baked the custard in those ubiquitous enamel camp mugs.

I'm heading downstairs to taste the custard right now ... see you Friday!

More on the Cast Iron Chef Challenge for Hurricane Katrina Victims

Dave Herzog posted this message at the IDOS Forum this afternoon:


Hey everyone!

More info for the "Iron Chef" Cook-off in Reno. Prize donations are coming in by the Dutch oven full! We have 1 maybe 2 celebrities so far to be judges. You will have to come to Reno to find out who they are! I will tell you they are very famous and both make everyone laugh hysterically. There will be live music at the event along with Dutch oven reps and products available for purchase. The location is being finalized at this moment, and I should know for sure by Thursday or Friday. Stay Tuned!

There are currently 3 teams have registeried and many more to come! Hey the entry fee is only $25 bucks! And it all goes to a great cause! Come and join us.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Cast Iron Chef Challenge for Hurricane Katrina Victims

Over the weekend, Dave Herzog posted news of the (Cast) Iron Chef Challenge for Hurricane Katrina victims next month in Reno, Nevada on Saturday, October 15, 2005.

Here’s what I know about the cookoff and Dutch oven gathering:

When: Saturday, October 15, 2005. The cook’s meeting starts at 9 a.m. promptly. The secret ingredient will be handed out at 9:15 a.m. Judging times and times for the DOG will be determined soon.

Where: Reno, Nevada. The exact location will be announced soon.

What: An Iron Chef style cookoff, complete with a box that will contain a secret ingredient. Each and every team will be given a box with the secret ingredient. Each team will make as many dishes as they can based upon the secret ingredient in their Dutch ovens. Teams may bring their own pantry stocks for the competition, but may not leave the cookoff to purchase ingredients once the boxes are handed out and the competition begins.

Deadline & Entry Fee: An entry fee of $25 applies for each team. Teams are limited to three members. The public may participate in the Dutch oven gathering for free. They are asking that the public pay a $5 fee to taste the cookoff dishes.

Dave will be cooking the 900 biscuits in a 22-inch MACA Dutch oven with tons of country gravy to compliment! Come and join us in Reno for great prizes, better food and help support a great cause. Dave is working of celebrity judges for the event.

Dave will provide updates as more information becomes available. For additional information, email Dave Herzog at Cookoff packets should be available by next Friday, September 16, 2005.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

More Campfire Corn-on-the-Cob

Fresh corn is versatile. It’s delicious grilled, steamed, simmered and wrapped in foil. A little kosher salt and butter is all that’s needed to compliment the succulent flavor of the moist kernels.

Gilled corn has been eluded me, however. The last time I grilled a few ears next to a tri-tip roast, I noted that my experience with grilled corn was mixed. I didn't singe the kernels. The kernels, while deflated from moisture loss, were still good with butter and kosher salt.

The other night I turned to steamed corn. An inch of boiling water in the pasta pot with strainer produced the succulent corn that I was looking for. But I don’t want to drag my pasta pot out of the cupboard every time I get a hankering for fresh corn-on-the-cob (which won't be much longer -- the price has doubled from last week).

A little research led me to The Best Recipe: Grilling & Barbecue (Boston Common Press: Brookline, Mass., 2001). Cook’s test cooks found the answer to my dilemma. When grilled over direct heat, especially a hot fire (2- or 3-second hand count), the corn quickly chars. The result, according to Grilling & Barbecue, is flat, singed kernels that don’t resemble steamed corn out of the pot.

Through a typical round of grill testing (husk on, husk off, etc.), Cook’s found the perfect solution. Pull the entire husk off but the innermost layer from the corn. The result was a lightly steamed ear of corn with a grilled flavor. The fine layer of husk holds the moisture in while allowing the intense heat to toast the kernels.


Time the corn to cook during the rest period of a tri-tip or similar roast. Grill the meat, remove it to a platter and tent with a sheet of aluminum foil. The set the ears of corn on the grills and follow the instructions below. Remove the corn from the grill and slice the meat. Dinner’s ready.

1 to 2 ears fresh corn per person
Kosher salt

Prepare the corn by removing the entire husk except the innermost layer. Snip the tassel at the tip of the cob.

Grill corn over a medium-hot fire (3- to 4-second hand count). Turn every 1-1/2 to 2 minutes, until the husk is charred and begins to pull away from the tip, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Transfer corn to a platter. Carefully remove and discard the husk and silk. Season with kosher salt and butter, if desired.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A Level Cooking Field

A level pot is critical for baking in the Dutch oven. Cakes, pies and cobblers are best baked on a flat surface. Otherwise, you’ll end up with an unevenly baked dessert. The thin portion will be overcooked.

At our picnic at Sly Park yesterday, standing barbecue grill for a Dutch oven table. The chili pot legs didn’t fit snuggly in the grill slats. The 12-inch deep style Dutch oven leaned about 10 degrees as a result.

The cornbread oven before I moved it to the top side of the chili pot lid.
 I wasn’t worried about the chuckwagon chili. Chili, stews and most casseroles won’t suffer in a lopsided oven when stirred. I’ve cooked many stews, roasts and casseroles on uneven ground with little ill effect.

To create a level surface for the cornbread pot, I moved the 10-inch Dutch oven to oven side of the chili pot. This way I took advantage of the coals on lid to the chili pot and made best use of the limited grill surface.

The cornbread oven after being moved to the top end of the chili pot lid. (The oven still appears lopsided through the magic of modern digital photography!)

I could've baked the cornbread on the ground. There was little vegetation in the picnic area yesterday. Although I didn't see a great fire danger, I'm concerned about my back. I cook at table-top level when possible these days.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Cee Dub's Mexican Cornbread

I spent day at Jenkinson Lake at Sly Park with a friend and our sons. Sun burned knees (I rarely don shorts, even in the summer) and edifying discussions were the order of the day as Frank and I prepared for a men’s Bible class this Sunday while the boys swam.

I cooked my chuckwagon chili and Cee Dub’s Mexican cornbread for lunch. The cornbread, from his first cookbook, has a more robust corn flavor than traditional cornbread. Cream corn and cheddar cheese contribute to its dense texture.

Feel free to alter the recipe. Add an additional 1/4-cup cheddar cheese to boost the cheesiness of the cornbread. Or try a spicy cheese like Monterey-Jack. And you can certainly use any combination of fresh or canned chili peppers.


This recipe is adapted from Cee Dub’s Dutch Oven and Other Camp Cookin’: A Back Country Guide to Outdoor Cooking Spiced with Tall Tales by C.W. “Butch” Welch (Back Country press, 1999).

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (7-ounce) can diced green chilies
2 eggs
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup butter milk
1/2 cup olive oil

Pre-heat a 10-inch Dutch oven by placing 5 hot briquettes underneath and 15 in the lid while mixing the batter.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cumin and salt. Add green chilies, eggs, cheese and butter milk. Mix just until combined. Fold in oil just until mixed.

Pour batter into pre-heated Dutch oven. Replace lid and bake with 5 briquettes underneath and 15 on lid for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool and cut into 8 pieces.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Tri-Tip Roast with Mushrooms and Onions

Two of my favorite summer foods are tri-tip roast and grilled corn-on-the-cob. Tri-tip has been available for $2.99 to $3.99 per pound through most of the summer. Local Raleys and Bel Air markets have a sale running though tomorrow. I plan to pick up a few more roasts for the next couple weeks.


The roast will develop a seasoned crust as it cooks over the searing fire. To prevent overcooking, use a two-stage fire. Spread the coals to create a hot zone for searing and developing the crust. The cool zone is used to cook the roast to a consistent medium rare color inside.

2 pounds tri-tip roast
Kosher salt, to taste
Garlic powder, to taste
Onion powder, to taste
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sliced onions
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
3/4 cup low-sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Prepare mesquite lump charcoal or charcoal briquettes for grilling. Spread hot coals to create a cool zone and a hot zone. Season the tri-tip roast with kosher salt, garlic powder, onion powder and fresh ground pepper to taste. Place roast fat side down on grill for 10 minutes. Turn and continue cooking until medium-rare or it reaches desired doneness, about 30 additional minutes for medium-rare.

Move meat to the cool zone for the last 20 minutes. Remove roast when internal temperature reaches 135 degrees for medium rare or 145 degrees for medium. Place roast on a platter and tent with a sheet of aluminum foil. The temperature of the roast will rise 5 to 10 degrees while it stands.

Meanwhile, caramelize the onions. is Heat a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and melt the butter. Add onions and mushrooms to skillet. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Stir onions and mushrooms frequently for about 10 minutes, until golden brown.

Add beef broth and balsamic vinegar to onions and mushrooms. Reduce over medium heat until broth is thickened to a glaze, about 5 to 10 minutes. The onions and mushrooms sweeten as the broth evaporates.

Tent roast with a sheet of aluminum foil and rest for 10 minutes. Carve roast against the grain into thin slices. Serve with onions and mushrooms. Serves 6.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Campfire Corn-on-the-Cob, Part 2

Two of my favorite summer foods are tri-tip roast and grilled corn-on-the-cob. Fresh corn can still be purchased at a quarter apiece, up recently from five to the dollar. It's sweet and plentiful. It looks like we'll be munching on the ears for several more weeks.

For variety, I cook corn three different ways. My cobs rarely see the inside of a stockpot. It takes too much effort to fill the pot and heat the water to a boil. Don't get me wrong -- simmered corn is good. I just rarely cook it this way.

I grilled most of my corn, shucked or unshucked. The intense heat of the grill concentrates the sugars and adds a robust flavor. Coarse salt and melting butter are the only adornments for grilled corn. A few pepper grinds and that's it.

The only question left is to pull the husks off or leave them on. To me, the answer is, "It just depends."

The simplest method is to lay the corn--husk and silk included--over a very hot fire and roast until the husk has dried out and is charred. That's it. All you have to do is peel the husk back and butter and season.

Don't worry about the silk. It comes right off when you peel the husk back. Just pull it off the ear and throw it into the fire.

Last night, I was prompted by a Wednesday food section article to clean the hush and silk from each ear before grilling.

Associated Press Writer J.M. Hirsch said, "The grilling itself is a careful process. Corn singes easily, and corn singe doesn't taste good. As I said, a painfully elaborate process for wonderfully simple food" (Sacramento Bee, Taste, August 31, 2005).

Hirsch hearkened back to childhood when his father's corn cooking days of yesteryear., After a prophetic pronouncement of the "best corn ever," his father cooked his corn "simple."

The senior Hirsch husked the ears and then filled a large stockpot with an inch of water. The corn was steamed until tender. Nothing but butter and salt adorned the kernels.

Now in the corn cookin' prime of his life, Hirsch's own experiences with corn grilling led him back to his father's method, with a few refinments. Flavored butters and coarse salt are all that adorn his corn these days.

My experience with grilled corn is mixed. Unlike Hirsch, I don't have a corn singeing problem. The ears had a slight smokiness after being grilled over mesquite coals. But, leave them on the grill a minute or two too long and you too much moisture evaporates. The kernels were flat, but still good with butter and kosher salt.

I guess I'll have to try Hirsch's method next time!

New Photo for Profile

I've uploaded a new photo of myself. The one was taken at camp last July.

BBQ Junkie -- A California Barbecue Blog Worth Viewing

Looking for an outdoor blog dedicated to California barbecue? Try BBQ Junkie -- a Los Angeles barbecue odyssey.

The tag line says it all: "BBQ Junkie is a blog that focuses on what's happening in the Southern California barbecue scene. Here you will find recipes, restaurant reviews, book reviews, and other useful information on barbecue."

BBQ Junkie is worth a visit for dedicated BBQ fanatics. It appears to have a good mix of reports from the Southern California barbecue scene.

Recent posts include: Charcoal chimney starter, Becoming a Certified BBQ Judge and Hawaiian BBQ Kalua Pig.

Updated Listing of Incident Management Team Mobilizations for Katrina

Here's an updated list of National Interagency Incident Management Teams (Type I unless noted) that have been mobilized on in response to Hurricane Katrina:

Southern Area Incident Management Team, Blue Team (Incident Commander Mike Quesinberry) -- mobilized August 28. The team is managing a mobilization center in Meridian, Mississippi.

Southern Area Incident Management Team, Red Team (George Custer) -- mobilized August 28. The team is managing a field hospital and refugee camp at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in Port Allen, Louisiana.

California Interagency Incident Management Team 2 (Bill Molumby) -- mobilized September 1. The team is being assigned to San Gabriel, Louisiana.

California Interagency Incident Management Team 3 (Jeanne Pincha-Tulley) -- mobilized August 28. The team is managing two camps and supporting the receiving and distribution of relief supplies at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

California Interagency Incident Management Team 4 (Aaron Gelobter) -- mobilized August 30. The team is managing a base camp at Montgomery, Alalamba.

California Interagency Incident Management Team 5 (Tom Cable) -- mobilized August 31. The team is assigned to Metairie, Louisiana.

New Mexico Incident Management Team (Type II) (Bob Lineback). The team is providing support for the receiving and distribution of supplies and resources at a mobilization center in Camp Beauregard, Pineville, Louisiana.

Rocky Mountain Area Team A (Type II) (Marc) Mullenix). The team is being assigned to San Antonio, Texas.

I'm looking for information on their feeding operations. Likely feeding of victims of Hurricane Katrina is being done by the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and other large relief organizations. Base camp feeding for relief workers is usually handled by catering contractors.

Friday, September 02, 2005

FEMA National Situation Update

Here’s a few food and shelter reports from the FEMA National Situation Update for Friday, September 2, 2005:

  • Planning to move 4 million MREs daily for the next three days. An MRE, or Meal, Ready to Eat, is the U.S. military version of the brown bag lunch.

  • 76,000 people being sheltered (Steve: total across the region).

  • Logistics: Searching alternate sources for meals; 2 million MREs are going into the affected area.

  • Mississippi Emergency Operation Center (EOC): Shortages of MREs and getting food to shelters; NGOs (Non-Government Organizations) and faith-based organizations are arriving, but still having problems providing meals; 8 refrigerator trucks have arrived (Steve: these truck may be for bodies); expect to have 100,000 people in shelters across the state.

  • Alabama EOC: 15 shelters are open and housing 1670 people; 20 distribution sites in 6 counties (1.9 million pounds of ice distributed; 460,000 MREs distributed); 8 mobile kitchens are in place and 7 more to arrive.

  • Louisiana EOC: No food or shelter reports.

  • Texas EOC: 81 shelters available for 44,258 people; 44 are open and housing 9,346 people.

Incident Management Team Mobilizations for Katrina

The following additional National Interagency Incident Management Teams (all are Type I teams unless noted) have been mobilized on in response to Hurricane Katrina:

The National Incident Management Situation report can be found here. It’s updated daily and contains wildland fires and natural disasters, like hurricanes. These reports usually give a synopsis of Incident Management teams mobilized to manage the incident, recourses ordered (personnel and equipment) to the incident and containment (for fires).

As these teams get established, they should start posting incident information like photographs, news releases and information bulletins on their respective websites. You may even get a glimpse or two of the catering trucks.

Military Hurricane Relief Focuses on Saving Lives, Reducing Suffering

By Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON (9/1/2005) — Military support for the hurricane-stricken Gulf Coast intensified today as more troops and assets arrived in the region, where responders are focusing on saving lives and relieving suffering among thousands of the hurricane’s victims, the commander of Joint Task Force Katrina told Pentagon reporters today.

Speaking to reporters by satellite phone from Biloxi-Gulfport (Miss.) Regional Airport, Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore outlined details of a massive DoD effort to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency, state governors, and other federal, state and civil authorities in the hurricane-stricken region.

More than 13,000 Army and Air National Guard members were on state active duty this morning in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, a number expected to surge to more than 20,000 by the day’s end, National Guard Bureau officials reported.

Honore said the National Guard currently has 4,700 National Guardsmen on the ground in Louisiana and 2,700 in Mississippi. In Louisiana, those numbers will increase to 7,400 later today and 8,600 by Sept. 2, he said. In Mississippi, 6,000 guardsmen will be on duty by nightfall and 9,500 by Sept. 2.

Pentagon spokesman Larry Di Rita told reporters today the total National Guard contribution to the effort is likely to spike closer to 30,000 in the days ahead.

Many of those troops will be dedicated to the law-enforcement mission, helping local and state law-enforcement officials in maintaining security, he said. Unlike federal troops, the guardsmen operate under their state governors’ authority and are not subject to laws that prevent active-duty troops from performing law enforcement in the United States, U.S. Northern Command officials explained.

In addition, more than 7,000 active-duty troops, mostly Navy, were also supporting hurricane-relief operations in the region, a number defense officials acknowledged will increase as required.

USS Harry S. Truman, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, was preparing to leave Norfolk, Va., today to serve as a command center and afloat staging base, Lt. Trey Brown, a Navy spokesman, confirmed. Truman is expected to carry additional helicopters from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., to support search-and-rescue operations.

USS Whidbey Island, a dock landing ship also based in Norfolk, was also slated to depart for the Gulf today. Once there, it will help move heavy equipment ashore in areas not accessible by land, Brown explained.

In addition, National Guard troops and elements in every state except Hawaii and Guam were either supporting or poised to support the effort if needed, Army Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told Pentagon reporters Aug. 31.

The military support is concentrating on three priorities President Bush laid out during an Aug. 31 statement to the nation: first, save lives; second, sustain lives with food, water, shelter and medical supplies; and finally, execute a comprehensive recovery effort.

Toward that end, Honore said, the primary emphasis is on conducting search-and-rescue missions and providing other life-saving support, such as getting people to the medical care they need. Equally critical, he said, is getting food and drinkable water to those left homeless by Katrina.

The task force is also helping the Louisiana National Guard and Federal Emergency Management Agency evacuate New Orleans residents taking refuge at the city’s Superdome and move them to the Houston Astrodome.

U.S. Transportation Command is transporting some 2,500 patients from New Orleans International Airport to federal coordinating centers as part of the Defense Department’s extensive support for the hurricane-stricken Gulf Coast, U.S. Northern Command officials reported.

Military support for search-and-rescue efforts continues throughout the region. Today, four MH-53 Sea Stallion and two HH-60 Seahawk helicopters from USS Bataan were flying medical-evacuation and search-and-rescue missions in Louisiana.

Honore told Pentagon reporters today he’s ordered the Bataan to move to Biloxi, Miss., to support search-and-rescue efforts in Mississippi, where he said the disaster had spread over a far larger area than in Louisiana, leaving many areas isolated.

Three helicopters from the Army’s 3rd Corps at Fort Hood, Texas, are in Baton Rouge, La., and two more are in Mississippi supporting search-and-rescue missions and damage assessments. Another five helicopters from the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., and the 347th Rescue Wing at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., are also in Mississippi continuing searches and rescues, officials said.

U.S. Transportation Command also flew eight swift-water rescue teams from California to Lafayette, La. These civilian volunteer teams are trained to rescue stranded people from flooded areas.

High Speed Vessel Swift was also in the waters off Louisiana in anticipation of filling requests for help by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, officials said.

Meanwhile, more help is on the way. The Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group is sailing from Norfolk and expected to be operating off the Louisiana coast beginning Sept. 4, officials said. The strike group includes USS Iwo Jima, USS Shreveport, USS Tortuga and USNS Arctic.

The hospital ship USNS Comfort is slated to leave its Baltimore port Sept. 2, to reach the hurricane region by Sept. 8 to provide critical medical support, Air Force Brig. Gen. Terry Scherling, deputy director of antiterrorism and homeland defense for the Joint Staff, told reporters Aug. 31.

Four HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters from the 55th Rescue Squadron are slated to leave Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Sept. 2 to provide additional search-and-rescue support in Mississippi, Air Force officials reported.

The Tanker Airlift Control Center at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., started generating missions for Air Mobility Command aircrews to fly supporting relief efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi, Air Force officials said.

In addition, plans are being made to deploy USS Grapple to the region to help with maritime and underwater survey and salvage operations, NORTHCOM officials reported.

Joint Task Force Katrina continued setting up its operation today at Camp Shelby, Miss., to provide command and control of DoD assets supporting recovery and relief efforts along the Gulf Coast.

Federal operational staging areas set up at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.; Naval Air Station Meridian, Miss.; Barksdale Air Force Base, La.; Alexandria, La.; and Fort Polk, La., are helping expedite the movement of relief supplies and emergency personnel into the affected areas, officials said.

Joint Forces Command is also providing DoD-leased property at the former England Air Force Base, La., as an intermediate staging base to support hurricane response in Louisiana. The airfield will serve as a staging point for National Guard troops arriving from other states to join the hurricane relief effort.

Liaisons are also based in Clanton, Ala., Baton Rouge; and Jackson, Miss., to coordinate operations among U.S. Northern Command, other DoD elements and FEMA.

Honore said DoD’s contribution to the overall effort is expected to get stronger every day as more forces and their equipment pour into the region.

“A lot of people need help, and our job is to try and bring that help to them, working in support of the state agencies and the lead federal agency, FEMA,” he said.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Aftermath: Keeping Food Safe During Flooding and Power Outages

Food safety is critical important during natural disasters. This press release will help you take food safety precautions in the hours after flooding. I recognize this press release is too late for those in the path of Katrina. But it will help those who live in flood-prone areas.


WASHINGTON, Aug. 29, 2005—The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing recommendations in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which has caused widespread flooding and power outages in Gulf Coast states. Distribution of this important public health information will help minimize the potential for foodborne illnesses due to power outages or flooding.

In response to this public health emergency, USDA is extending the hours of the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline this week in order to accommodate consumers' questions and concerns 24 hours a day. Callers to the hotline will be able to speak to a live-operator who will be able to provide them with answers to their food safety questions. The Hotline number is 1-888-MPHotline.

Food Safety and Power Outages

  1. Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature. Each time the door is opened, a significant amount of refrigeration is lost.

  2. The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about four hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full and the door remains closed.)

  3. Food may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40° F or below.

  4. Never taste a food to determine its safety!

  5. Obtain dry or block ice to keep your refrigerator and freezer as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for a prolonged period of time. Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic-foot full freezer for two days.

  6. If the power has been out for several days then check the temperature of the freezer with an appliance thermometer or food thermometer. If the food still contains ice crystals or is at 40° F or below, then the food is safe.

  7. If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer then check each package of food to determine its safety. If the food still contains ice crystals, then the food is safe.

  8. Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers and deli items after four hours without power.

  9. Drink only bottled water if flooding has occurred.

  10. Discard all food that came in contact with flood waters, including canned goods. Discard wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers.

  11. Thoroughly wash all metal pans, ceramic dishes and utensils that came in contact with flood water with hot soapy water and sanitize by boiling them in clean water or by immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of one teaspoon of chlorine bleach per quart of water.

  12. When in Doubt, Throw it Out!
Consumers with food safety questions can phone the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854). The hotline is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.

Consumers can also ask safe food handling questions by logging on to FSIS' online automated response system called "Ask Karen," on the Food Safety and Inspection Service's Web site, E-mail inquiries can be directed to Additional information about USDA's food safety efforts can be accessed on the FSIS Web site.

Food Safety and Flooding

Canned foods, including those bought in stores as well as home-canned foods.

All foods in cardboard boxes, paper, foil, cellophane or cloth should be thrown out.

Meat, poultry, eggs or fish.

Spices, seasonings, extracts, flour, sugar, grain, coffee and other staples in canisters.

Unopened jars with waxed cardboard seals such as mayonnaise and salad dressing. Also throw away preserves sealed with paraffin.

Wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers.

Canned foods that did not come into contact with flood waters.

Any metal pans, ceramic dishes and utensils that came in contact with flood water that has been washed with hot soapy water and sanitized by boiling in clean water or by immersing for 15 minutes in a solution of one teaspoon of chlorine bleach per quart of water.

When in doubt, throw it out.

Susan Conley (301) 504-9605Matt Baun (301) 504-0235

National Interagency Fire Center Provides Response Teams

A press release from the National Interagency Fire Center, dated August 31, 2005:


National Interagency Fire Center Provides Response Teams, Crews to Assist FEMA in Hurricane Efforts

Boise–The National Interagency Fire Center is joining in the massive response effort in the wake of this week’s Hurricane Katrina. As of today, more than 1,000 people, representing Department of the Interior agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, along with the U.S.D.A. Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters, have been mobilized to support the relief effort.

“Although wildland fire is our primary focus, we are organized to respond to all types of emergencies and we have the expertise needed to manage large, complex incidents,” said Phil Street, fire director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and spokesman for the National Multi-Agency Coordinating group.

Incident Management Teams, hand crews, logistics specialists, and other support personnel are responding to assist FEMA at sites from Georgia to Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi.

“We are participating at all levels of the incident response,” Street said. “We have crews there with skilled sawyers to help remove damaged and fallen trees, along with management and logistics teams to manage staging areas for distributing supplies, and more. We also have planning teams in place that are assisting with long-term recovery planning.”

Noting that everyone’s heart goes out to those people affected by the tragic losses inflicted by the hurricane, Street also said the personnel mobilized through NIFC have a tremendous service ethic and commitment to the public and public safety.

While NIFC will continue to support requests for assistance, fire season continues in the West and efforts will be made to maximize hurricane aid while maintaining the ability to protect lives and property from wildfire.

“We will do all we can to assist in the hurricane response effort while at the same time fulfilling our fire responsibilities throughout the West,” Street said.

With the number of resources going to support the hurricane response, the federal fire community will up its preparedness planning level from 3 to 4 Thursday morning. This more heightened state of preparedness recognizes that requests for wildland fire resources for hurricane relief support have the potential to be significant and long term.

Incident Management Team Mobilizations for Katrina

I’ve had an interest in the Incident Command System since learning about the large catering contractors at large wildland fires. Large catering companies, such as Z-Best Mobile Catering, OK’s Cascade Company and Nuway, contract with the federal government to provide mobile catering service for fires and disasters. Information on the federal mobile food service contracts can be found here.

The following National Interagency Incident Management Teams (all are Type I teams unless noted) were mobilized on in response to Hurricane Katrina:

  • Southern Area Incident Management Team, Blue Team (Incident Commander Mike Quesinberry) -- mobilized August 28 to a logistics staging area in Meridian, Mississippi with FEMA.
  • Southern Area Incident Management Team, Red Team (George Custer) -- mobilized August 28 to establish a base camp in Port Allen, Louisiana with FEMA.
The National Incident Management Situation report can be found here. It’s updated daily and contains wildland fires and other natural disasters, like hurricanes. These reports usually give a synopsis of Incident Management teams mobilized to manage the incident, recourses ordered (personnel and equipment) to the incident and containment (for fires).

As these teams get established, they should start posting incident information like photographs, news releases and information bulletins on their respective websites. You may even get a glimpse or two of the catering trucks.

Hurricane Katrina Relief

Hurricane Katrina devastated the Mississippi Delta and Gulf Shoreline of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama late Sunday and Monday. Thousands have been left without homes and any visible means of support for the foreseeable future. Our hearts and support goes out to the victims of what is being called the most devastating natural disaster in recent decades.

Please support the rescue and recovery effort by giving liberally to one of the relief organizations involved. At this point it’s impractical to donate food and clothing because such donations can overwhelm the nation’s logistical system.

The American Red Cross is the best place to start. Talk Radio bloggers N.Z. Bear and Instapundit have made their recommendations. Please give to one of these organizations.

Cash donations are the best way to help. Cash allows relief organizations on the ground in the devastated regions the chance to best determine where recourses are needed.

Click on LA Katrina News & Resources for the latest news bullets on Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.