_Gettin' Started

Serves: 5



I recommend new comers to Dutch oven cooking start at home in case an Act of God destroys their first attempt. In this case fast food restaurants or a frozen TV dinner are available for backup. A failure in camp could mean being ostracized by one's companions, in addition to going hungry. For proof look up surly in a dictionary and there will be a small black and white picture of tired cold and hungry hunters/campers eating cold instant mashed potatoes with only imitation maple syrup to put on them. Not Good! Practice may not necessarily make perfect but call it an insurance policy if you happen to be the designated cook!

Like everything else in life, certain accouterments may help to convince your companions you are infinitely wise and experienced. So, before heading to elk camp or show casing your camp cooking talents for your in-laws on the patio, pick up the following a pair of heavy leather work gloves, an old pair of kitchen tongs (make sure you get the metal ones), a pair of pliers, and a small shovel. Unless your "Home is on the Range" you should get a firepan. They can be purchased any place which sells river rafting supplies. The deluxe models retail for over $100.00, you might want to consider something less fashionable, but just as good. I use metal garbage can lids. In this day and age of polymers and plastic, metal garbage cans will soon be considered antiques, but they work great if you can find them. I acquired mine by getting up at 3:00 a.m. and cruising city streets on garbage day after a big windstorm the night before. I considered any windblown lid without a name stenciled on it to be homeless!

Planning ahead will help you retain whatever status you have as a cook when you embark on this new endeavor. In the kitchen one merely has to twist a dial to first of all obtain enough BTUs to cook with and thereafter to adjust the heat. Not so with your Dutch! Start your charcoal briquets about 30 minutes before you wish to start cooking. For your first meal try a stew or something similar which requires a cooking time of less than 1 1/2 hours. Good charcoal usually provides enough heat to cook that long. If the weather happens to be cool and breezy allow a little more cooking time.

For those of you who like to spend your time counting as you cook, get about 30 briquets started. Slate grey briquets indicate the time has come to christen your new Dutch. For academic purposes we'll make the entree today Great Aunt Mabel's Jack Rabbit Stew (The Basic Venison Stew is a good one since I couldn't get Aunt Mabel's recipe!) Using your shovel, put about half your briquets on the firepan. (I start my briquets on one garbage can lid and transfer them to the one I'm cooking on.) Arrange half the briquets on the firepan so they're evenly distributed where the Dutch will set over them. Using your tongs, place the remaining briquets evenly around the outside edge of the lid with three or four spaced over the center.

While it cooks, you'll have plenty of time to set the table and make sure the floral center pieces are correctly arranged. After an anxious hour's wait, your career as a Dutch Oven Cook will be launched once your in-laws taste this rare delectable treat! For years to come your kin folks will regale others with totally truthful tales of your first culinary triumph using a Dutch Oven!

A Back Country Guide to Outdoor Cooking Spiced with Tall Tales

This _Gettin' Started recipe is from the Cee Dub's Dutch Oven and Other Camp Cookin' Cookbook. Download this Cookbook today.

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