I love cooking in the DOs. Food tastes so much better. I never pass up good road kill. After all it has already been tenderized and why let the meat go to waste if it’s salvageable?
I have this great daughter in law who isn’t big on wild game. One day my son and her were at the house for a BBQ. I walked in the house and there she was going through the trash looking at the meat wrappers. The look on her face was priceless. She told me she didn’t trust me and had always checked the meat wrappers. She was afraid I might slip a squirrel or possum in on her. God love her. Sorry I digress. Back to tonight’s supper.
My original plan was a Cornish Hen stew but with a cloud bank building in the west I knew I wouldn’t have enough time. I opted to just bake them and make some dressing.
I normally bake them at 325 degrees but went with 375 degrees to speed things up. After I wash them thoroughly I rub them down with olive oil then season them with chicken seasoning.
I used a 10 inch deep Dutch Oven. I used 17 briquettes on the lid and 6 briquettes on the bottom. I preheat the oven for 15 minutes then I placed the hens in the oven. I will cook them for an hour and a half. Now Dutch Oven cooks have their own way of doing things. To get an even cook I rotate the lid 1 quarter of a turn clockwise and I rotate the oven 1 quarter turn counterclockwise every 15 minutes. I consider this an essential part of the process.
I thought I had a bag of cornbread fixings for the dressing but it turned out to be just a bag of stovetop dressing mix so I had to modify it to bake in a DO. I added 1 egg and a 1/4 cub of melted butter. I then added some chicken seasoning and enough chicken broth to get the desired consistency and poured it into a 10 inch DO that was preheated. I baked it at 350 degrees for a half hour. I used 12 briquettes on the lid and 3 underneath careful not to burn the cornbread on the bottom. I did the fifteen minute rotation.
My grandson will be upset with me because he loves my Cornish Hens. Even though I had to change my supper plans in midstream it still turned out quite tasty.
Dutch Oven cooking is gaining in popularity. It definitely is an art and takes a lot of practice but it is well worth the time spent learning. As near as I can figure I have been doing it for nearly 40 years. I have a MACA 15 inch deep oven that I can cook a 13 pound turkey in. Turkey never tasted better. Hope you enjoyed my blog and thanks for reading.
I couldn’t sleep so I decided to get up and get a fire going and make some Cowboy Coffee. I know there are all of those designer coffees available and I can’t forget Starbucks. I was told one time you never had a real cup of coffee until you had one from Starbucks. Well I beg to differ.
Ain’t nothing better than a cup of Cowboy Coffee when made right. I use Kent Rollins recipe. I use 1/4 cup of coffee grounds to 1 quart water. The pot in the pic is a 4 quart. Don’t add grounds until water is warm then bring to a rolling boil for about 4 to 6 minutes then remove from heat and let rest 2 minutes. Then pour about a cup of cold water around the inside of the pot and down the spout. That will settle the grounds. If you prefer it stronger add more coffee or boiling time. Check out Kent Rollins at Kent Rollins.com or check him out on YouTube.
A lot of friendships have been made over a cup of coffee. I myself always love sharing a cup of coffee with a friend. When I am out camping and get the coffee going it doesn’t take long for the aroma to get the other campers attention. I don’t know how many times I have had people stop at my camp and partake of my coffee. Like anything else it took me a while to master the art of making good Cowboy Coffee. Kent Rollins taught me through his videos and he is one heck of a Dutch Oven cook.
A couple of notes. If you grind your own coffee the coarser it is the longer it has to boil. Cowboy Coffee is best when made in a seasoned pot. You have heard all good things come to those who wait, well you have to have patience when you make coffee this way. The wait is worth it though.
The above pic is a spotted bass that I caught on the St. Francois River. It was a tad over 24 inches. Using the App Fishing Scale it put the fish at 8.5 pounds. I returned it to the water only to find out later that the state record is 7 pounds 8 ounces. Yep it was one of those days. Now on to my day on the Big River.
It was just another glorious day on the Big River in Missouri. Bright blue sky with a touch of those puffy white clouds and temp in the mid 70s. I was floating a stretch of Big River that I love to fish. I put in at the Mammoth access and float to Merrill Horse access. It is a beautiful stretch of river with great smallmouth fishing. It has areas of shallow fast moving water followed by slow moving deep water and limestone bluffs. I usually see deer and there are a pair of Bald Eagles that I usually see around the bluffs. The fishing has always been pretty decent and plenty of spotted bass, largemouth bass and smallies.
That day I was having great success with a Rebel Wee Craw. I caught 6 smallies that were 13 inches and better. I had just went through a pretty narrow swift stretch of water that emptied into a shallow wider area of water but still fast moving. There was a place at the edge of a weed bed that swirled into an eddy. I maneuvered the yak where the bow was pointing upstream. I placed the Wee Craw right on the edge of the weeds when BAM! something hit it hard. I set the hook and the fight was on. I could tell it was a nice fish. It was pulling line but the bad thing was I was floating backwards downstream and couldn’t see what was behind me but on a good note I was still in the center of the river. Things were going good then it went to hell in a hand basket. I had got caught in an eddy that was pulling me into the bank and spinning the bow of the yak down river. By some miracle I got the bow headed back upstream but that was the end of the miracles. I was parallel to the bank in about three feet of water. I got it beside the yak and my heart started beating a hundred miles an hour. Hooked on the Wee Craw was the biggest smallie I had ever hooked. It dwarfed the 24 inch spotted bass I had caught. I completely blew my attempt to lip it. I was better than that. Well down under the yak it went and there in the water on the other side was a tree about 16 feet long with all its limbs. The smalli3 could its way to freedom and without hesitating the smallie began weaving through limbs until the line stopped pulling and after three tugs broke my line and disappeared into the waters of the Big River. I could hear it laughing. All I could do is sit there and slap my rod tip on the water over and over like a five year old child. I was devastated.
The image of that smallie is etched in my mind. It looked like one of those big samllies you see in the Bass Pro Shop tanks. Only if I hadn’t have blown trying to lip it. I made a rookie mistake even though I was a seasoned veteran. I had ran out of miracles. Yeah it was one of those days. One of those days I will never forget.
For those of you unfamiliar with smallmouth bass in Missouri Ozark streams it takes a samllie five years to reach 12 inches, seven years to reach 15 inches and nine to ten years to attain a length of 18 inches. Presently very few live more than seven to eight years. Missouri has a length limit of 15 inches on small mouth.
What would I have done if I had landed it? Put it on the board and took a measurement, took a picture, ok several pictures, then returned it to the water so it could finish living out its life. That’s the way I roll. I may have not landed that smallie that day but I will always cherish the memory.
I finally got a much needed night on the river. I finally took out time for myself. The only one I could blame for not doing it sooner was myself. I knew the river would be busy so I chose the Thursday before Labor Day weekend.
My plan was to set out some limb lines. My bait of choice is chicken livers but for some reason chicken livers are hard to find but through perseverance I finally scored. I also picked up a box of crawlers for tight line fishing. I got a late start but was able to salvage the day. I paddled up river to my favorite spot to set up camp. Once I reached my destination I busied myself setting up camp. I got busy starting a fire. We had a couple days of rain and dry wood was hard to come by. I managed to get a fire started with my magnesium rod and cotton balls impregnated with Vaseline.
When the fire was going good I set out to set my lines. When I got them all out I come back and baited them all with chicken liver. I returned to camp and started preparing supper. After I ate I threw out a tight line baited with a crawler to see what was hungry. I was disappointed that it was relatively quiet. The bullfrogs weren’t even in the mood to entertain the silly human. There was a full moon but the sky was cloud covered.
Around 10 pm I heard a lot of splashing going on in the direction of one of my lines. I jumped in the kayak, shoved off and headed that way. I shined my light on the limb and I could see it dancing. I had a pretty nice fish. I pulled along side of the line and could make out a nice channel catfish. I grabbed the line and got it in the kayak. It was a 24 inch channel, around 5 pounds. I rebaited and headed back to camp.
It seemed as if it was going to be a good night or so I thought. Little did I know that would be the only catfish of the night. I had my pole out and baited with a Canadian night crawler. I was sitting there watching my pole when all of a sudden the rod bent signaling a bite. I grabbed the pole and set the hook. The fight was on and I finally landed it. A 22 inch sucker.
I got a few perch after that and they shut down. About two hours went by and I hadn’t got a bite. I went to reel in my line so I could check my bait. I started to reel in line and it felt like I was hung up. Finally it started moving and I began reeling I knew it wasn’t a fish, I finally landed it but to my dismay it was not a fish. It was a softshell turtle probably almost 2 feet across. While I was trying to get it unhooked it broke my line and made a quick return to the river.
Later on while sitting on the river bank I noticed a snake’s head zigzagging in the water headed for shore. What the heck? Now I have had a few encounters with snakes on the river like the time I grabbed a limb to tie a limb line on and found 3 foot water snake wrapped around the limb but nothing like this. All of a sudden it is headed my way. It came out of the water onto the gravel bar like it was on a mission. I hit it on the head with my rod and it couldn’t get out of there quick enough. The rest of the night was pretty quiet.
Sadly my night on the river was coming to a close. I had hoped to catch more fish but it wasn’t meant to be. I couldn’t complain though. The time alone on the river was very much needed. It was so peaceful. For a night I felt like I was the only one on earth. I was able to savor my thoughts without interruption. Life is good.