Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Strawberry shortcake at sea

While we enjoyed an opportunity to work with fresh strawberries in the Western Pacific, we had to settle for frozen fruit most of the time.

PACIFIC OCEAN (Sept. 28, 2009) -- Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Wiellard Guillermo, a baker assigned to the amphibious command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), prepares strawberry shortcakes in the ship's bake shop.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Daniel Viramontes.

Fortuna Apple Harvest Festival Dutch oven cookoff

The Fortuna Dutch Oven Society will hold its 4th annual Dutch oven cookoff at the Fortuna (California) Apple Harvest Festival this Saturday, October 3, 2009 at Rohner Park.

This is a one- to three pot cookoff. Cookoff categories include main dish, bread and and dessert. You may sign up for one category or all three. Apples must be incorporated into the dessert dish.

A $75 cash prize will be awarded to the 1st place winner. Second place wins a $25 award. A Peoples Choice Award will be given based on food sampling be the public.

For more information, cookoff application and rules, please contact Marvin Rutledge at (707) 764-3547.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I have heard of a land ...

And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. … Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. (Revelation 22:1-2, 14).
I'm sometimes at a loss to describe the beauty of God's creation. Words dance about my head as I sit next to a roaring campfire, but I can never pen them onto paper.

Instead, I'm content to watch the light glance off the pines trees that reach to the heavens. With the stars visible through the tree tops, the campfire gives me time to contemplate the handiwork of God's wonderful creation and consider the day when I will join Him in a "land on a faraway strand."

Song writers have used words for generations to express their faith about heaven. With inspiration from the inspired words of scripture, they've often used scenes of delightful gardens and forests to explain what we'll see in heaven one day.

We sang such a hymn in worship yesterday morning. The second stanza from the hymn, penned by Mrs. F.A.F. White in 1889, caught my attention. The verse reminded me of my beloved Sierra Nevada mountains:
There are evergreen trees
That bend low in the breeze,
And their fruitage is brighter than gold;
There are harps for our hands
In that fairest of lands,
And nothing shall ever grow old.
While Mrs. White’s beautiful hymn describes heaven ("I Have Heard of a Land"), I couldn’t help but think of majestic ponderosa pines, so common in the thick forests of the Sierra Nevada. Its yellow-green leaves blanket the forest, with tree tops swaying in the breeze.

White’s hymn describes heaven as a place of great splendor and glory. You could compare White’s evergreen tree to the "tree of life" of Genesis and Revelation.

It makes sense that the tree of life, when described in human terms, would never shed its leaves. Unlike the ponderosa, whose cones take two years to mature, the tree of life bears continuous fruit to those who obey God's commands.

Next time I light a campfire, I'll remember Mrs. White's words. Those and words remind you of heaven. "And nothing shall grow old. In that beautiful land on the faraway strand," she concludes in the refrain.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Roasted red potato salad

We enjoyed an evening with family in Davis yesterday. My brother invited the California siblings to his house so we could say goodbye to Mom. She's leaving at the end of week for Virginia to spend the fall and early winter with my sister.

We arrived in Davis in time to watch the second half of my nephew's soccer game against Rio Linda. I never did find out who won!

After the game, the clan drove to the house and enjoyed a salad fest with grilled hot dogs and knackwurst. Two potato salads, three-bean salad and a cole slaw graced the table as we talked.


3 pounds red potatoes, diced
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
6 green onions, sliced thin
2 dill pickles, chopped fine
4 hard-cooked eggs, sliced

Place potatoes in a medium bowl. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread potatoes on a greased 18 x 13-inch sheet pan.

Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees F until tender and golden brown, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool for 15 minutes and transfer to serving container.

Meanwhile, combine mayonnaise, mustard, green onion, pickle and eggs. Toss lightly to evenly coat potatoes. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Garnish with paprika and hard-cooked egg wedges if desired. Yields about 3 quarts. Serves 12 (2/3-cup) portions.

NOTES: Sour cream or plain yogurt may be substituted for half of the mayonnaise.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Army's 'Grill Sergeant' matches skills against culinary hero

The Grill Sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Brad Turner, takes a look at what Chef Bobby Flay cooks up for an episode of "Throwdown with Bobby Flay," filmed at Fort Lee, Va. last summer. The episode airs on the Food Network tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

Story and photograph by Kimberly Fritz, Fort Lee (Virginia) Public Affairs

FORT LEE, Va. (July 2, 2009) -- For Sgt. 1st Class Brad Turner, his work is his passion. The culinary artist, currently working in the Executive Dining Facility inside the Pentagon, is also well-known by the moniker of "The Grill Sergeant."

Recently Turner returned to Fort Lee, where he was once an instructor at the Army Center of Excellence, Subsistence, to film a special for the Food Network ... or so he thought.

With food service training students watching and learning, Turner began entertaining and engaging the Soldiers gathered for a special day of culinary training.

Turner, who is known for singing while he cooks, shared his cooking philosophy and culinary tips, as well as his unique lexicon. Words like "marinipulating, splaining" and ingredients dubbed "ooh, wee and wow" roll off his tongue as he cooks. Salt, otherwise known as "ooh," "wee," known as pepper, and "wow," representing garlic are staples in most Turner original recipes. Turner asked the audience to help him by shouting "ooh, wee, wow" when he used these ingredients.

The students happily engaged as he prepared the mustard-based marinade for his special "Sunshine Barbecue Chicken." The origin of his marinade came early in his career when a fellow Soldier asked Turner to concoct a milder sauce that wouldn't aggravate his fierce heartburn.

As the culinary students watched his every move, Turner didn't miss an opportunity to educate and inspire. He told the students how they are learning the same methods during their training as any other culinary student in the world.

With his chicken on the grill, Turner began preparations for his baby red potato salad when famed Chef Bobby Flay jumped from the back of a tactical vehicle at the field services training area and challenged Turner to a competitive cook-off for an episode of "Throwdown with Bobby Flay."

Turner, astonished at the appearance of one of the world's premiere grill chefs, immediately rose to the challenge set before him. Claiming to always be the professional, Turner cited some of the NCO Creed.

"No one is more professional than I," he said.

The set originally configured for one chef was quickly transformed into dueling work stations where Flay's team worked to catch up with Turner's progress.

As the two chefs worked over the hot coals of the charcoal grills, culinary students soaked up the delicious aromas and the cooking tips emanating from the two successful chefs.

When the cooking was completed, the dishes were served up and each Soldier sampled the dueling chefs' creations.

Brig. Gen. Jesse R. Cross, Quartermaster Center and School commanding general, and Frances Daniel, owner of Mrs. Marshall's Carytown Cafe, served as judges in a blind taste test to determine the winner of the cook-off.

The results are a well-guarded secret which viewers will learn when the show airs later this year.

No matter which recipe and chef won the lighthearted and entertaining battle of the barbecue, the young culinary Soldiers walked away winners.

Cross said the students would remember this day for years to come.

"These guys will be cooking their corn bread and their barbecue recipes and they'll remember they saw Bobby Flay at work," he said.

For Turner, the events of the day didn't quite hit him until he walked away from the set. He was overcome with emotion and overwhelmed at the events.

"When one of your heroes steps around the corner and you're doing what you love to do and they do what you love to do, and then to inspire 100 new Soldiers that are going to be in all parts of the world, it's just overwhelming," Turner said. "They saw something today that let them know that anything is possible. Nineteen years ago I was sitting right where they were sitting and someone inspired me."

For a moment he was at a loss for words thinking about the gravity of the event.

"I love what I do," Turner said. "The greatest part of today came when we were cooking and Chef Flay came to the back where I had set my chicken and potato salad down and he ate three more pieces of chicken and dug into the potato salad. "There is no greater compliment than for someone to genuinely like your food. And he ate it genuinely," he continued. "For me that was the greatest compliment."

When asked what he thought of Turner's unique recipe, Flay said he loved it.

"I was eating throughout the competition. I kept thinking there was curry or something in it," Flay said. "It had natural heat from the mustard and the brown sugar for the sweet, it was a great balance."

Flay wasn't able to pinpoint the spice he tasted in the marinade, until Turner told him.

"Brad told me it was ginger," Flay said. "He shared his secret underlying ingredient."

The consensus of all who gathered to watch the memorable event was that both chefs' dishes and the event were a treat.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lunch at the engine house

I haven't cooked lunch for the crew at the engine house of the El Dorado Western Railway in six months. Several priority projects kept me from cooking in the months leading to my early June departure for the summer camp job. My labor was more important at that point.

Railway President Keith Berry and I first discussed a lunch meal several weeks ago. We both wanted to reward the crew for a summer of notable accomplishments. Twice this summer, Keith called on the volunteers to complete high-profile projects in a short period of time.

Last June the crew rallied to remove the rail, tie plates and rail joiners from the old Southern Pacific yard at Diamond Springs. Once the county gave its approval to remove the track and associated hardware, we had no more than two weeks to complete the track disassembly.

The crew completed the project in eight days. Several volunteers worked every day. The rails and hardware will be used to add a third rail and build the yard at the recently approved El Dorado County Historical Railroad Park in the town of El Dorado.

The county board of supervisors approved the park on August 25. The park will be located on the right-of-way of the Southern Pacific depot in El Dorado.

Volunteers again answered the call this weekend when it became evident that we had to move about 300 ties to a secure location. The ties were open to theft in their current location along the old right-of-way, which is being converted into a riding and walking trail.

Lunch menu

I often use meals at the engine house to try new recipes and to use ingredients that I already have at home. Since I had a 4-pound pork shoulder in the freezer, I knew the menu would be built around a pork dish.

Although chili verde is a favorite -- a dish I enjoy cooking for potlucks -- I wanted to try a flavor combination that was new for me. The idea for a pork stew came to me as I watched Alton Brown's Good Eats television show last week.

In the re-broadcast of his 2005 "Dis-Kabob-Ulated" episode, Brown marinated beef sirloin in a spicy marinade with red wine vinegar and olive oil. Turmeric, smoked paprika and cumin formed the flavor base for the marinade.

Since it isn't practical to make pork kabobs with the tougher pork shoulder, a braised or stewed dish seemed to be the best way to tenderize the meat. I used the marinade to impart flavor, then prepared a tradition stew from that point.

I worked the recipe in my mind Friday evening as I moved railroad ties. I had originally planned to work out the menu and shop that evening. But a 3 p.m. telephone call from Keith brought me to the Diamond Springs yard instead.

When I arrived at the storage site for the ties, the crew asked me what was on the lunch menu for Saturday. I received a chuckle or two when I told them that Keith had pulled me away from my menu planning duties.

They weren't amused when I said that I should be home planning the menu. At that moment, the crew was more interested in my back than culinary skills. Since we didn't quit until 7:30 p.m., I delayed shopping until Saturday morning.

My original thought was to prepare the stew with orange marmalade, but hit on the idea to build the stock with apple juice after moving almost 250 ties. Yams and apples seemed like a natural addition from that point.

Here's the menu for the El Dorado Western Railway lunch:
I arrived at the museum yesterday around 9 a.m. After setting the chuckbox and firepan up next to a historic Studebaker wagon, charcoal briquettes were lit by 9:30 a.m. and the meat was at a simmer shortly after 10 a.m.

All three dished were prepared in 14-inch Dutch ovens. While I could've made the stew in a 12-inch deep Dutch oven, I customarily use 14-inchers when cooking for crowds.

In the end, 11 crew and guests enjoyed the meal. While I cooked, the crew loaded the 1937 Waukesha engine from the Diamond and Caldor railbus onto Doug's trailer. Doug is going to rebuild the six-cylender engine and return it to the museum next spring.

After lunch, Keith asked if I was going to help move the last 40 or 50 ties at Diamond Springs yard. Lunch over, it was time to get back to work.


Use the marinade to flavor diced beef for spicy beef kabobs. Prepare the marinade and combine with 3 to 4 pounds of boneless beef sirloin as directed. Alton Brown's recipe has cooking instructions.

4 pounds pork shoulder
8 cloves garlic, minced
4 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup olive oil
1 quart apple juice
2 pounds yams or sweet potatoes, diced
3 Granny Smith apples, diced

Cut the pork into 1- to 1-1/2-inch cubes and place into a large bowl or container. Set aside.

In a bowl combine garlic, paprika, turmeric, cumin, salt, pepper and red wine vinegar. Drizzle in olive oil while vigorously whisking.

Pour the marinade over meat and toss to coat. Place in the refrigerator in an airtight container or a zipper-lock bag and marinate for 2 to 4 hours.

In a colander, drain marinade from stew. Discard remaining marinade. Heat a 6- or 8-quart Dutch oven to medium-hot. Brown pork in 2 or 3 batches to avoid overcrowding. Remove each batch to a waiting plate or bowl as it's done.

Return browned pork to Dutch oven. Add apple juice and stir. Season with salt to taste. Simmer until pork is tender, about 60 to 75 minutes. Add yams and apples and continue cooking until yams are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Makes about 12 (1-cup) servings. Serve over buttermilk biscuits.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fifteen minutes of fame

Andy Warhol said in 1968, "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." I'm not certain that I obtained world notoriety. But I may have gain a bit of regional fame in the Sacramento Bee this morning.

Bee writer Cathy Locke interviewed Keith Berry, myself and the crew at the engine house of the El Dorado Western Railway on Wednesday. We enjoyed the opportunity to tell the California capital region about the recently approved El Dorado County Historical Railroad Park in the town of El Dorado.

Enthusiasts hope El Dorado rail park is just around the bend

By Cathy Locke, Sacramento Bee writer
Published: Friday, Sep. 11, 2009, Page 3B

El Dorado Western Railway Foundation volunteer Steve Karoly talks about the Shay No. 4 behind him. It is the last of the locomotives from the California Door Company's logging railroad. Bought in 1907, the engine was retired in 1952 after years of hauling logs for the Diamond and Caldor Railway. (Sacramento Bee photograph by Anne Chadwick Williams.)

An old locomotive, screened by a chain-link fence and a row of trees, is easy to miss at the El Dorado County Historical Museum in Placerville.

But volunteers have labored for years in the storage yard to restore vestiges of an industry and an era nearly as important to the county as the Gold Rush. By next spring, their handiwork may be on view in the El Dorado County Historical Railroad Park.

The park, to be developed within a former Southern Pacific Railroad right of way in the town of El Dorado, will spotlight the county's logging railroads. [Continue reading]

Click here to view the photo gallery.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Blue Mug coffee

A cup of coffee from freshly ground beans is one of the simpler pleasures in life. A cup of a robust and full-bodied grind is the best wake up call a person can have in the morning.

I recently found a new coffee roaster in the town of El Dorado, California. Keith Berry and I had stopped by the Thursday night farmer's market in El Dorado to talk to the merchants about the then proposed railroad park on the old Southern Pacific right-of way.

When I caught up with Keith, Tom Tankersley, proprietor of Blue Mug Coffee Roasting with his wife Barbara, was handing him a one-pound bag of freshly roasted coffee beans. Until that moment, I wasn't aware of any coffee roasters in El Dorado County.

Since I had a pound of supermarket coffee beans in the cupboard, I returned the next week to purchase a bag. Tom roasts a new batch each Thursday morning.

From the first cup that I prepared in my French press, I've enjoyed Blue Mug coffee. Tom and Barbara's beans make a refreshingly clean brew with bold flavors. I'd recommend it to anyone who lives nearby in El Dorado County.

The store and coffee roasting plant are located at 6211-C Pleasant Valley Road, El Dorado, California, 95623. The telephone number is (530) 622-3630. The store is located to the rear of Books and Bears.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Dutch oven cookoff at Nevada County Draft Horse Classic

Don Mason sent me news of another fall cookoff in Northern California.

Mother Lode Cast Iron Cookers will be hosting their 5th annual Dutch oven cookoff at the Draft Horse Classic at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley, California on Sunday September 27, 2009.

This is a three-pot cookoff. You may enter main dish, bread or dessert. Cost is $10 each or $30 for all three categories. Make checks payable to Larry Martin-MLCIC. Mail to:

Mother Lode Cast Iron Cookers-Dave Fleuti
10856 Oak Dr.
Grass Valley, CA 95949

Questions call Dave Fleuti at 530-277-7622 or e-mail

This years judging will be a "blind judging" by local dignitaries and a people's choice award. Proceeds from event the will go to a local charitable cause.

You will have a 10-foot x 20-foot cooking area with one table. It is recommended that you bring E-Z Up type of cover for your area (we have 90 degree days and we have had rain).


7 a.m. Set up

8 a.m. Cooks meeting and start cooking

11:30 a.m. Judging begins

Noon Tasters choice begins

1:30 p.m. Awards announced


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Weaverville Dutch oven cookoff

Don Mason continues to feed me information about Northern California Dutch oven cookoffs:

Dear Dutch Oven Cooks:

On Saturday, October 10, 2009, the Trinity County Historical Society is hosting its 2nd annual TCHS Dutch Oven Cook-off. Proceeds from the cook-off go to a special project fund of the TCHS.

Cooking will take place in the Hal Goodyear History Park at the Jake Jackson Museum located on Main Street/Hwy 299 West in Weaverville, California. The cooking area opens at 7 a.m. A cooks meeting and sign-in will start promptly at 9 a.m. with People's Choice judging commencing at 1 p.m. This is a 1 to 3 pot cook-off: main dish, bread and dessert. There is a $10.00 entry fee per dish.

The public will be invited to purchase a tasting ticket and a ballot ($5.00 per person) to sample and vote for People's Choice Awards for each category (main dish, bread and dessert). Each category will have 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes. Prizes this year for each category are: $100 for 1st, $50 for 2nd and $20 gift certificates to the TCHS for 3rd.

The table judged as "best looking" will receive a 1st place prize. The theme of the tables will be gold mining (the cook-off takes place in a gold mining history park). Judging will be based on theme, visual impact, beauty/order and creativity.

Cook-off entrants will have a 12-foot x 12-foot cooking area with one table. You will be cooking in an open area so bring a type of E-Z up instant shelter. Trash cans for regular and recycled materials are provided.

Breakfast is easily had in the neighborhood of the park: The Nugget to the south and the Garden Café to the north, and often there is a community breakfast held at the Parish Hall of the Congregational Church (as of this letter this event has yet to be formalized).

Other activities are held the weekend of October 10th. The Salmon Festival will be celebrated in the Highland Art Center's park across the street from the museum. The museum will be holding a blacksmithing course on the same day.

My contact cell number is 530-410-8013 or email I look forward to seeing you in Weaverville. Come "show off" your culinary skills and enjoy beautiful Trinity County.


George P. Chapman
TCHS Dutch Oven Cook-off Chair

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Military field range stockpots

Tom sent me a picture of the 15- (left) and 10-gallon stockpots for the M59 field range. The smaller pot is designed to fit inside that larger pot, thus creating the perfect double boiler.

This picture shows the 10-gallon pot nesting inside the 15-gallon pot. Note the cradle, which steadies the pot as you slide it in and out of the field range cabinet.

Field range gasoline burner

As one who used the military field range burner for 20 years in the U.S. Navy Seabees, I initially expressed concern when Tom asked the readers of the Royal Tine camp cooks forum for advise on his M59 field range outfit. I know from first hand experience that the gasoline-powered burner can be deadly when misused.

I advised Tom to not use the burner. In its place I suggested that he to rig a propane burner in the frame of the military M2 burner.

Tom assured me that he's proficient in the operation of the burner. "I have used the burners keeping a close eye on the pressure gauge," said Tom. He explained that he will shut the burner down when the fuel tank pressure climbs above the green zone, a practice that we follwed in the Seabees.

"I worked in the place that made (the field range) before the Army changed" to the new multi-fueled burner, said Tom. He acquired the "double pots, whisk, ladle, serving spoon, strainer, and the pot rack from where I worked" by asking the owner, who gave the equipment to him.

Tom was able to purchase two new-in-box burners from a military surplus dealer. He later purchased the roasting pan and 10- and 15-gallon stockpots to complete the field range.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Double boiler set up in the military field range

I recently answered a question from a former Pennsylvania National Guard soldier about his U.S. Army surplus M59 field range.

Tom currently uses the M2A gasoline burner inside the field range cabinet to heat a large pressure cooker while canning food (pictured to left).

"I have been using this set up for canning," said Tom on the Royal Tine camp cooks forum. The benefit is "no heat and little mess in the kitchen."

Tom would like to use the large 10- and 15-gallon stockpots to make "gallons of tomato sauce at one time." He asked Royal Tine readers how to use the double boiler.

The answer to Tom's dilemma comes from the April 1996 edition of the Army Field Manual 10-23: "When you need a double boiler, put 21 liters (22 quarts) of water in the 60-quart pot. Place the pot in the cradle. Put a 40-quart pot in the 60-quart pot and then cover the 40-quart pot."

A double boiler is used to cook delicate sauces, soups and chocolate dishes that easily burn under direct heat.

Although the cook can buy specially manufactured double boilers, any two pots can be used as long as they nest together. In the field range, the 10-gallon pot is designed to nest inside the 15-gallon pot. .

Water level is poured into the larger pot to just under the bottom of the smaller or upper pot. Boiling water shouldn't touch the smaller pot.A tight-fitting upper pot prevents steam from escaping

The two stockpots were part of the standard outfit with the field range. Modern equipment has since replaced the M59 in U.S. military field kitchens.

Note: I'll post a picture of the military double boiler as soon as I can acquire one.