Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Don Mason's Dutch Oven Newsletter

Here's Don Mason's latest Dutch oven newsletter.

Helicopter on the Palmer Fire

We had an exciting afternoon yesterday. I worked on the laptop while my wife was in the dentist's chair. Shortly after 4 p.m., a patient walked in the office and said that she saw a large fire along the highway.

I ran to the truck, grabbed my camera and walked out to the street to view the fire. After her appointment, we spent the next hour trying to get around the fire as we made our way home.

Most of the local roads were busy, but not impassible. After taking photos of air activity, we decided to visit our daughter in Cameron Park. I took these pictures at 7:15 p.m. after Cal Fire crews had built a line around the fire and air craft had been released.

For the second time in two weeks, I was able to watch Cal Fire helicopters shuttle water to the brush fire. Here Cal Fire H-104 lands along U.S. 50 to take down its water bucket and (presumably) head to base. The pilot set the copter down in a small clearing in the chaparral.

Helitack crew members run up to the water bucket to disconnect it and place it in the cab of the helicopter. The helicopter landed about 20 feet to the north of the highway. The LZ was located about one-quarter mile east of the fire.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Close call on the Palmer Fire

A helicopter from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection prepares to drop water on the Palmer Fire. The fire, which burned around 20 acres in the dry chaparral between Cameron Park and Shingle Springs this afternoon, forced the evacuation of 150 homes. In the end, no homes burned.

Engine 285 from the El Dorado Hills Fire Department passes backed up eastbound traffic on U.S. 50. At this point the fire had been burning for about 60 minutes. I took this photograph from the Cambridge Drive overpass on Highway 50 while my wife was at the dentist.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Fire Camp Kitchen 1966

I found these 40-year old photos of a wilderness fire camp on the Yellowstone National Park website. The camp is identified as the Buffalo Fire Camp. I couldn't locate any information on the fire.

This picture shows the cooking area and supply tent.

The camp crew wouldn't be able to cut poles for the tent and cooking tarp today, even if they've dead and down.

Three wood-burning stoves make up the main cooking units for the fire camp. These are either wilderness pack stoves or military surplus field ranges from the pre-World War I era. These stove were used by the U.S. Army up until the start of World War II.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Too Close for Comfort

A large plume of smoke drifted above El Dorado County this afternoon. We first saw the smoke as we drove through the town of Plymouth in Amador County on Highway 49.

Just after the top-of-the-hour news at 3 p.m., I struggled to locate a news story on the radio. All I heard on KFBK NewsTalk Radio were the words "evacuation" and "El Dorado County Fair Grounds."

In my haste to find news, I had neglected to leave the radio dial on one station. The tail end of the story did little to comfort me.

Once we drove into our driveway, I realized the fire was burning in the area between Big Cut and Coon Hollow roads, along the east side of Highway 49.

Although my neighborhood was safe, some 50 to 60 homes were threatened by the 49er Fire according to CBS-13.

Sheriffs deputies evacuated 15 homes in the area. An additional 45 homes fell under a voluntary evacuation. The fire was contained sometime after 5:30 p.m. It burned around 30 acres.

Cal Fire Helitack 404 pulls skyward after dipping its water bucket into a local pond. I took my first photo at 3:24 p.m. and continued aiming my telephoto lens at the two helitacks working the fire for 45 minutes.

Helimax Aviation Helitack H-516 drops needed moisture on the 49er Fire just before 4 p.m. Both helicopters shuttled water between the pond and the fire for over an hour. During the six-minute round trip, the helicopters flew in a counter-clockwise pattern.

The Bell 214B1 is stationed at the Big Hill Helitack Base in Eldorado National Forest. Although two Cal Fire air tankers circled above the helicopters, I didn't see them drop any retardant on the fire.

The contractor-operated Bell Helicopter lifts up through the trees after filling its water bucket. Each pilot approached the pond from a different angle. The Helimax pilot flew straight into the pond from the north, filled the bucket and continued along his southern track as he lifted his load out of the pond.

In contrast, the Cal Fire pilot pivoted himself northward before he glided down to the pond. He approached the pond from the south. Helitack 404 was then oriented toward the fire as he gained altitude and headed for the fire.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Camp -- Three-Bean Salad

"Three-bean salad is adult food." That's what my staff told me at camp last week.

"Campers don't eat exotic salads," I warned two years ago. 'Exotic' meant any salad except except tossed green salad and potato salad.

"Prepare small quantities of salads such as three-bean, cucumber and onion, and marinated tomato for the adults and some older campers."

Undaunted by my cook's warnings (all mothers) -- and my own writing -- I directed the salad cook to prepare a large pan of three-bean salad for the campers last week.

This camper frowns at the cole slaw and three-bean salad as she passes the salad bar. The Independence Day barbecue featured a full salad bar in the outdoor dining area.

About two gallons of the stuff was prepared and placed on the salad bar for each lunch and dinner.

By Saturday morning, a medium bowl of the salad with an R.I.P sign sat near the dining room exit. In between its creation and demise, two staff members (myself and a male counselor) each did their personal best to reduce stocks.

I can affirm this one fact: kids at the Northern California FC Camp consumed less than half of the three-bean salad.

This is one tradition the kids choose to ignore. It seems that we need to leave three-bean out of the mom, apple pie and grilled burger equation.

Tossed salad with ranch dressing was more to their liking. It seems these mothers know a thing or two about kid's tastes.

What happened to the three-bean salad, you ask? Two quarts came home with me. A bowl a day and it'll be gone by Sunday.

And the rest? Sad to say, I listened to a few mothers and resisted the urge to freeze it for the 2008 camp.


This recipe makes about 3 quarts. One or two recipes are sufficient for a camp of 150 children of mixed ages and adults for the salad bar for a week. One recipe prepares 24 (1/2-cup) servings if portioning is called for.

Add additional sugar for a sweeter salad if desired. Substitute canned cannellini beans for the green or kidney beans if desired. Use beans with contrasting textures when selecting beans to use for the salad.

1-1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 (15-ounce) cans green beans, drained and rinsed
2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 (15-ounce) cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 red onion, diced fine
1/2 green bell pepper, diced fine
1/2 red bell pepper, diced fine
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley

Heat vinegar, sugar, oil, salt and pepper together in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasional, about 5 minutes. Cool dressing to room temperature. Combine canned beans, onion, green and red bell pepper, parsley and cooled dressing. Mix well and chill until service. Portion into 1/2-cup servings if desired.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Camp -- After the Picture

Monday I had the honor of taking the official camp photograph for the second year. After the director released the campers for dinner, I continued taking pictures as the crowd dispersed.

The young counselor in the blue t-shirt spotted the camera in action as I varied camera settings. She was in dreamland in the three preceding shots. Once in camera range, she pulled her shoulders back, gave her head a slight tilt and smiled. The result -- a perfect pose.

Shot settings: f/22, 1/30 second shutter speed, 27 mm focal length in aperture-priority mode.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Camp -- Friday Barbecue

We grilled 157 chicken hindquarters Friday afternoon for our traditional Talent Show cookout. The campers ate all but the last 25 pieces of chicken. To ensure well-done chicken, I pre-bake the poultry in a 325-degree F convection oven for about 40 minutes. This eliminates the under-cooked chicken jitters. In six years of camp, I've never had any complaints of raw chicken using this method.

Staff perform K.P. duties on Friday eventing. This frees the campers to eat and get ready for the Talent Show, which started at 7 p.m. The meal is served on paper plates to give the dishwashers a break. Barbecued chicken, scalloped potatoes, corn-on-the-cob, seasoned broccoli and hand-dipped ice cream were featured on the cookout menu. A full salad bar was also served.

Don Mason's Dutch Oven Newsletter

Here's Don Mason's latest Dutch oven newsletter. Email Don to receive a copy in your mailbox. Let's all congratulate Don and his lovely bride of 50 years for their recent milestone.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Latest Newsletter from Cee Dub

Howdy Ya'll From Cee Dub and Pen:

Last year prior to leaving North Central Idaho for the Texas Hill Country, we received many dire warnings about the merciless summer heat. One native Texan phrased it this way. "The only difference between Hell and Texas in the summertime is everyone speaks with a drawl in Texas." Though we still have a good portion of summer ahead of us, we've been pleasantly surprised up till now. Here at the ranch we've broken into the nineties only one day, though we may hit that mark again today or tomorrow. Also, we've been spared the really bad storms, but have received so much rain that the cactus are starting to die. But the wildflowers have beat anything we've ever seen anywhere!

En route back to Texas last March after our winter tour in the Northwest, Pen ended up in the hospital in Boise suffering from severe abdominal pain. It turned out to be ulcers and pancreatitis. Now, three months later, after an additional hospitalization, more tests than we both care to recall, it appears things are under control. However, the cause of her pancreatitis has not been determined. As a result, though, we've learned a whole new style of cooking to help her cope with this condition.

Anyway ... with Pen on the mend, we've kept busy teaching clinics, teaching at kids' summer camps, including the YO Ranch Adventure Camp, and working on our new cookbook!

New Items from Camp Chef, Our New Cookbook, Status TV Shows, Fall Tour Dates and Dutch Oven University

Here's what's happenin' and going to happen at Cee Dub's over the next few months!

With the summer camping season in full swing, remember to check out Cee Dub's product line to fill any gaps in your camp kitchen. Here are some NEW Items at Cee Dub's from Camp Chef!

SDO-12D - Classic 12-inch Deep Dutch oven. (Our personal one came last week just in time for Cee Dub’s birthday dinner! We broke it in with a recipe from our new cookbook.)

CT-38 – Back by popular demand ... Cee Dub's favorite Camp Chef Cooking Table. Built big enough and tough enough to handle even stacks of the largest Dutch ovens; with the leg extensions on, it makes the best serving table for hot Dutch ovens that we’ve ever used.

SDO-16 – Called "The Grizzly" - featuring the track of a grizzly bear cast onto the lid. This is the first and largest of Camp Chef’s Classic DO Wildlife Series. Great for pizza, nachos, rolls, or whatever you need to cook for a hungry crowd. Pre-seasoned, as is all Camp Chef cast iron, it is one of the best cast iron values on the market!

Camp Chef’s full line of "Cabin Kitchen Cookware." We've been testing this line since we stopped at Camp Chef near the end of March. Pen and I have found it is as good as you can get. (Tip – Just like our antique Griswold and Wagner Ware corn pans, we have found that to avoid sticking problems with recipes containing a corn batter, it's best to pre-heat to cooking temperatures the Cactus Pan, the Corn Pan, the Wedge Pan, and the Perch Pan. You'll find cleanup is much easier if the corn batter sizzles when it is poured into a cast iron baking pan!)

Our fifth cookbook, Gather ‘Round the Table with Cee Dub, is in progress. In addition to a section on sausage making, nutritional information for recipes, and more of Cee Dub's stories, we're using many recipes that fit in the 'Light & Easy' category as well as recipes for smaller portions. Whether it's an appetizer, veggie dish, main dish, or a dessert, etc.; if you have a favorite recipe you’d like to share, please submit to ceedub@swtexas.net NO LATER THAN JULY 20! Please include with your e-mail a permission statement allowing Cee Dub's, LLC to publish it. Each recipe submitted that is chosen will receive credit in the book and a complimentary copy. Our tentative publication date is 9/1/2007.

Last winter it was our goal to be announcing the airing of a new TV Series on RFD-TV by July 1. But a number of factors have led us to put any new TV shows on the back burner for the foreseeable future. We had the series planned down to the last recipe; but production costs, plus the cost of airtime, put any hope of shows this year beyond our reach. As a Mom & Pop outfit, every project is subject to our own cost/beneifit analysis. The new cookbook takes precedence.

To make things easier on ourselves and reduce the number of hats that both Pen and I wear here at Cee Dub's, we are looking for an agent and/or production company to help us make more Dutch Oven Cookin' shows with Cee Dub a reality. If you are interested, or know someone with an interest, please contact us!

Check the "Appearances" Icon on our Home Page. We'll have all our newly booked appearances posted within the next few days.

Our Round Top, Texas Clinic held last month was a huge success and a lot of fun. But in order to accommodate an invitation to appear at Ponca State Park, in Ponca City, Nebraska, on Sept 22-23, we’ve combined both our September Dutch Oven U. clinics into one session. Register now to guarantee your spot. Looking ahead to tentative commitments we have for 2008, this may the last time we schedule Cee Dub’s Dutch Oven University until 2009.

It's my best guess that the person who coined the old saying, "Time flies when your having fun!", had not yet reached their 57th birthday. Anyway...I'LL AGREE THAT TIME IS A FLYIN', BUT I HAVE A HARD TIME REMEMBERING ALL THE FUN I'M SUPPOSED TO HAVE HAD!Obviously as time continues to fly, things will contine to change here at Cee Dub's. We'll keep you posted via the website and our newsletters.All our thanks to friends and customers. May your summer cookin' keep em' filled up and happy!

Cee Cub and PDub

Monday, July 09, 2007

Camp -- Vegetable Quiche

We have had little call to prepare vegetarian meals at the Northern California FC Camp in the past five years. This year, several campers noted they had a vegetarian preference on their application forms.

In response, we prepared several vegetarian alternatives. Admittedly, we didn't offer a vegetarian dish every meal. The call for vegetarian meals isn't that great at this point in our camp's history. If this year is an indication, we may need to pay more attention to this trend in the future.

We found the easiest way to prepare a vegetarian dish is to remove the meat the main entree when it works. On Tuesday evening my second cook prepared two 12x20x2-inch hotel pans of meatless lasagna (she assembled six pans of beef lasagna as well). At the end of the night, approximately 25 percent of the campers ate the vegetarian lasagna.

Friday's breakfast consisted of freshly baked cinnamon rolls, sausage link and a breakfast casserole. I used leftover bacon and an unopened bag of frozen French fries to form the base for a breakfast fritatta.

Since I had already prepared a savory custard mixture for the fritatta, it was easy to saute several quarts of aromatics for a vegetarian quiche. The vegetable quiche was more popular with the staff than the campers. The campers favored the fritatta.


I raided the salad bar cart for the diced bell peppers and shredded carrots. The broccoli was left from an earlier dinner. Any combination of vegetable should work for this quiche.

Don't heat the custard higher than 185 degrees F. This is the point in which the custard mixture coagulates. If the quiche is heated any higher, the eggs tend to curdle. An over baked custard becomes watery as moisture separated from the toughened protein.

If desired, evenly divide cooled vegetables between four 9-inch patially-baked pie shells. Pour custard mixture into pies and bake as directed. Cut each pie by six.

1/3 cup margarine or butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 cups diced bell peppers
1 cup shredded carrots
1 quart steamed broccoli
6 tomatoes, diced

12 eggs, beaten
1 pint heavy cream or half-and-half
1 quart milk
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Saute the vegetables in butter over medium-high heat until soft and most of the liquid has evaporated. Empty vegetables into an oiled 12x20x2-inch hotel pan and cool.

Beat together eggs, cream or half-and-half, milk and seasonings. Pour over cooled vegetables. Place the pan in a 375-degree F oven. Bake until the filling is set, about 20 to 30 minutes. A knife inserted in the center of the quiche will come out clean when it's done. Cut the quiche 4x6 to serve 24 campers.

Camp -- Danger in the Kitchen

Twice last week my desk was unmercifully attacked by flying glasses of iced tea. It seems we had a clutz in our midst this year. Of course, repeated warnings by the self-professed clutz went unheeded by this chef -- after all, one wants a cold drink nearby when the mercury tips 90 in the kitchen.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Camp -- Home and Rested

As I said last year, "I'm showered, rested ...." We delayed our trip home by one day with a stopover in San Jose to see the grandchildren. The nice thing is that I don't have to return to work until Tuesday!

Blog posting got a little thin by the end of the week. Working long days leaves little mental energy to process photos and write blogs.

This is an exhilarating scene to any cook -- a battery of pots lined up on the 12-burner range. A mire poix browns in my newly re-seasoned 14-inch cast iron skillet. It flavored the stock for gravy in the stainless steel pot to the left. The two tall stockpots contained water for mashed potatoes, and a mushroom sauce slowly simmered in the second stainless steel pot. I later used the 17-cast iron skillet to saute chicken breasts for the senior banquet.

Each year we serve a nice dinner to the senior campers on Thursday night. Disco was the theme this year. Some of the high school aged campers wore clothing that I would've been embarrassed to wear in the 1970s. The seniors had a good time. My son -- the official banquet taster -- said that he enjoyed the sauteed chicken breast with mushroom sauce and mashed potatoes. "Dad, I ate it all," was the report. The roasted baby carrots with thyme didn't appeal to him.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Camp -- T-Shirts

Each day, Elisa and I have worn a different camp t-shirt each day. Last Sunday, she wore her oldest shirt from the 2002 session. I'm wearing my shirts in descending order. I started Sunday with the 2007 shirt. We met in the middle on Wednesday with 2004.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Camp -- Anatomy of an Independence Day BBQ

Here's an anatomy of tonight's Independence Day barbecue and dinner. All time is based on the 24-hour clock.

1600 -- lit a 20-pound bag of charcoal for the Dutch ovens.
1620 -- placed 14-inch skillet over coals. I used a stack of three 14-inch Dutch ovens as the cooking platform the the skillet.
1625 -- added 1 pound chopped bacon to the skillet to brown for the beans. At the same time, I dumped 1-1/2 #10 cans of baked beans into two 14-inch deep Dutch ovens. Added a 17-ounce bottle of catsup, two large spoons of mustard and 6 ounces brown sugar to each bean pot as well and stirred.
1630 -- lit a 20-pound bag of charcoal for the barbecue grill.
1633 -- stacked the bean pots on top of a 12-inch Dutch oven. I used 9 coals under the bottom pot and a ring (about 25) coals on each lid. The 12-incher served as the base since I didn't want to place coals directly on the sidewalk.

1640 -- added 1 #10 can of drained apples to each of three 14-inch regular Dutch ovens. I then mixed a sugar-cinnamon mixture into each pot of apples. The filling mix was made of 2-3/4 pounds granulated sugar, 8 ounces cornstarch, 3 tablespoons cinnamon and 1 tablespoon salt. The filling was divided between all 3 pots.

1643 -- topped each apple pot with half of the crisp topping. The topping was made from 3 pounds brown sugar, 1-1/4 pounds rolled oats, 1-1/4 pounds all-purpose flour, 1-2/3 baking powder, 1-3/4 tablespoons baking soda and 2 pounds softened margarine. I stored the topping in the refrigerator between uses to keep the margarine from melting.
1646 -- stacked the apple crisp Dutch ovens. I placed a ring of charcoal on each lid. I didn't use bottom heat.
1658 -- stirred bacon and onions into the beans and rotated the bean pots.

1700 -- started grilling the hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken.
1715 -- rotated the apple crisp pots.
1731 -- rotated the bean pots.
1735 -- added the second layer of crisp topping to the apple pots. I add the crisp topping in two batches to make sure that it's crisp throughout.
1753 -- rotated the apple pots.
1805 -- started serving dinner to 155 campers and 5 guests. The first bean pot and first apple pot went to the serving line.
1815 -- the last of the hamburgers and hot dogs were removed from the grill. I also removed all heat from the apple pots.
1820 -- second apple pot went to the serving line. I started washing the Dutch ovens and lids inside the kitchen.
1822 -- second bean pot went to the serving line.
1832 -- third apple pot went to the serving line.
1844 -- the last camper went through the serving line. The cooks and servers (from Cabin 5) finally had a chance to eat.
1846 -- called seconds.
1848 -- I sat down with my wife to eat my own dinner.

1850 -- the meal is done. We served 97 hamburgers (3 fell into the fire!), 59 hot dogs 41 left over) and 34 pieces of chicken (6 leftover) for 155 campers. The meal also included two 14-inch deep pots of baked beans (about 10 quarts) and three 14-inch pots of apple crisp. Three-bean salad, potato salad, cole slaw and all the fixin's for hamburgers and hot dogs were included on the salad bar. The campers ate all of the apple crisp and most of the beans.
1903 -- I cleaned the last two Dutch ovens.
1905 -- all leftovers have been placed in the walk-in refrigerator.
1912 -- I ate my second piece of chicken.
1920 -- walked into the air conditioned office to relax and get off my feet. Now that the blog is written, it's time for a shower!

Camp -- Spoon Licking Chef

A note to all aspiring camp cooks: Only the camp chef is authorized to lick the country gravy spoon!

Camp -- Ultimate English Miffin

Wednesday is English muffin day at Northern California FC Camp. We prepared 144 "Mac" muffins this morning. The campers ate 120 sandwiches for firsts (about 80% acceptability). The remaining muffins were scooped up after the seconds bell.

The cooks (and one camper to left) prepared each muffin by scooping scrambled eggs and ham onto an English muffin bottom. A slice of American cheese went on top followed by the muffin top. They sandwiches were baked for 3 minutes in a 350-degree convection oven.

Next year I'd like to try this recipe from the American Egg Board. It's attributed to Cynthia Ackerman of Phillips Elementary School in Hampton, Virginia.

I like the idea behind this recipe because the cheese helps bind the eggs and aromatic together into a product that can be cut into individual servings.


This recipe makes 48 servings in two 12x20x2-inch hotel pans. Serve one English muffin with filling per camper. And be ready to serve seconds!

48 hard-cooked large eggs, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 pounds onion, chopped
3 pounds green bell pepper, chopped
3 pounds ham, chopped
Black pepper, to taste
1-1/2 pounds shredded cheddar cheese
1-1/2 pounds shredded mozzarella cheese
48 English muffins, slit in half

Heat convention oven to 350 degrees F. Mix eggs, ham, bell pepper, onion and pepper in bowl. In spray-coated 12x20x2-inch hotel pans portion about 9 cups egg mixture per pan.

In separate bowl, mix cheeses. Sprinkle 1-1/2 pounds cheese mixture over egg mixture in each pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until cheese is melted and mixture is thoroughly heated.

Bake English muffins on baking sheets in oven for 5 minutes. Cut each pan into 24 sections. For each serving, use spatula/scoop to lift section onto each muffin bottom. Cover with a muffin top; serve immediately.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Camp -- Cream of Tomato Soup

With temperatures hovering in the low to mid-80s this week, soup is an attractive alternative to a large lunch.

I decided to make split pea soup at the last minute yesterday. The Safeway checker remarked at my eight pounds of spit peas, "That'll make a large pot of soup!"

"It's too hot for soup," she added.

It may be warm to those who live along the coast, but campers at Northern California FC Camp have been enjoying the moderate weather. Many of our campers come from the Central Valley where 80 degrees is a pleasant day.


This recipe will serve 40 (6-ounce) or 30 (8-ounce) servings. You can use make cream of tomato from any tomato sauce recipe or from a canned tomato sauce. Simply combine one-part tomato sauce, one-part broth (chicken or vegetable) and one-part cream sauce. Heat through and adjust seasoning to enhance its flavor.

We find that 20 to 35 percent of the campers will take a hot soup on most days.

4 ounces salt pork or bacon
8 ounces diced onions
8 ounces diced carrots
4 quarts tomatoes, fresh or canned, coarsely chopped
2 quarts tomato puree
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried thyme
Granulated sugar
1 gallon cream sauce, hot
Salt, to taste
White pepper, to taste

Render the salt port or bacon in a heavy sauce pot, but don't brown. Add the onions and carrots and sauteed until slightly softened, but don't brown. Add the tomatoes and their juices, the tomato puree, garlic and herbs.

Add up to a quart of chicken stock if needed to thin if needed. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, until reduced to the desired consistence.

Strain the sauce through china cap. Press down on the solids with a spoon or ladle to extract all the juices and some of the pulp. Add a little sugar if necessary to temper the acidity of the tomatoes.

Stir in the hot cream sauce. If the soup is too thick, thin out with a little chicken broth. Season with salt and ground white pepper to taste.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Camp -- Croutons

We saved the heals from the Texas toast (used for French toast) this morning and used them to make croutons for the salad bar. This is a time-tested way to use stale bread from the week. And it's not that difficult to prepare each morning.


This recipe will yield about 2 to 3 quarts of lightly browned croutons. Use bread heals throughout the week to make croutons. Use your favorite seasoning mix for the croutons.

2 pounds sliced bread
4 ounces butter or margarine, melted
1-1/2 tablespoon seasoning mix

Cut bread into 1/2-inch cubes. Place bread cubes in a large bowl. Toss with butter or margarine and seasoning. Brown lightly in 375-degree F convection oven for about 6 to 7 minutes. Cool and store in an air-tight container.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Camp -- First Meal

The parents have gone home, with a tear or two, I'm sure. The first meal is secure in the belly's of the campers. And there's a lot of hoopin' and hollerin' going on at the amphitheater as I type.

Northern California FC Camp for 2007 is in session ...

Camp director "bullhorn" Mike polices the chow line tonight. The bullhorn is a recent addition to Mike's kit as camp director. It extends his reach to be sure.

Chicken tenders, oven baked potato wedges, buttered broccoli and barbecue sauce is a good opening meal because of its simplicity. It gives the kitchen staff a chance to get back into good food production habits after a year's break.

I've been thinking of replacing the meal after six years. We served 128 portions to approximately 150 campers and staff tonight. I purchased four 10-pound boxes of the tenders. It took five boxes a few years ago. I'll look at this over the next year.

I described the meal here in 2005. The recipe for the marinated tomatoes is found here.


They key with these potatoes is to crisp them well without burning.

33 pounds russet potatoes
1 pound margarine, melted
2-2/3 tablespoons salt
1/3 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon paprika

Scrub and rinse potatoes. Don't peel. Quarter potatoes lengthwise and place into 2 large bowls. Add salt, black pepper and paprika to melted margarine. Stir to combine.

Drizzle 1 cup seasoned margarine over potatoes in each bowl. Stir gently to coat potatoes well. Place approximately 50 potato wedges on each 18x26-inch sheet pan. You need 6 sheet pans per 100 portions.

Using convection oven, bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes on high fan, closed vent until browned and done, turning once. CCP: Internal temperature must reach 135 deg F or higher for 15 seconds. CCP: Hold for service at 135 deg or higher.

Approximately 2-1/2 sheet pans of cooked potatoes fit into each 4-inch hotel pan. Serve 3 wedges each. Acceptability is 85-90 percent.

Camp -- First Meal Coming Up

The crew is hanging around the kitchen right now, ready to go to work. EM and AK were reading over the menu and production worksheet a few minutes ago. AK is scrubbing the potatoes for dinner (one of two meals with fresh spuds).

In the meantime, the other AK (husband and wife!) set up the dirty dish area with soak tubs for the silverware and dish racks for the plates. He took 15 minutes to explain operation of the dish machine to DB, who mainly worked in the kitchen last year.

The good news is that we've found an additional worked to help from Monday afternoon on to the end of the week. LG (our third Lisa -- from this point on their nicknames will be M, K and G!) worked as my third cook during our third year in 2004. And she come with skills -- LG has restaurant experience in the family business.

It's time to go to work. I'll post late tonight.