Dutch Oven Cooking Weekend

Dutch Oven cooking has been on my mind. I gave up cooking with coals years ago, opting for a nice outdoor grill, powered by propane. You know, there’s a time of life you need to get things done! Having said that, many of my favorite kitchen tools are made of cast iron, so I know well the advantages of cooking with it at home. The idea of using a Dutch oven over/under coals to cook meals is a new challenge for me, and one I’m interested to take on.

In celebration of Earth Day at a Missouri state park last weekend, a Dutch Oven demonstration was included. Why not take the RollingSilver2ndHome, and get my Dutch Oven mojo going?

We spent the weekend at Knob Noster State Park in Missouri, with Teresa as our host. She made it look easy, which is exactly what I needed. After realizing that getting started was the hardest part, I was ready to begin. Bread was my choice, so I’d have a clear visual of how the coals baked and browned. I wanted real bread, not biscuits, or anything out of an exploding can, and made a 1 pound loaf of brioche. The bread dough was made before the demonstration, and would be ready for me, after the first rise. I kneaded the bread, oiled the dutch oven, put the loaf in and slashed the top. After the second rise of an hour, the bread took about 50 minutes to bake; about the same time it would have taken in my oven at home.

This bread made me happy.

This bread made me happy.

I also attempted to make a vegetable tempura, which I’ve done successfully many times, but didn’t work out for me in this situation. Although the oil got hot enough to bubble, it never got hot enough to brown the tempura. (Oh! The coals should go under the pot, not around…of course!) Even though we ate one experiment but not the other, do you know how sometimes, you learn more from your failures? At least my little pot got a good coating of seasoning. Fortunately, my success encouraged me to try my failure again, soon. (I’m tenacious that way.)

Before I left for this adventure in outdoor cooking, a stop was made to
my favorite thrift store, to search for items I might add to my Dutch Oven arsenal. I’ve been shopping in this place for at least ten years, and I took a cast iron press to the front desk to inquire about the price. “Oh you can just have that,” my friend said. When I protested, she said, “No, you don’t understand. I’ve had that thing since I first opened this place, 32 years ago.” I understood this, in the way that sometimes you need to let old things go, to make room for what’s new. We laughed, and I especially appreciated the story that came with my new/old press. I am happy to become the new caretaker for this old-fashioned tool. After scrubbing it with hot water and rubbing it vegetable oil, I set it on top of the coals to season. Thank You Miz Blackwell…you are a Kansas City treasure, and will always be a personal favorite of mine!

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