The Dutch Oven

Dutch Oven

The origins of the Dutch oven come from the Netherlands. During this time the Dutch, using copper and brass, were supplying the world with the world’s best cookware.

Abraham Darby, an English craftsman, believed that there was a market for less expensive cookware by using cast iron. The Dutch, using sand molds, were producing cookware that possessed a fine sheen on the finished product. It would be quite the challenge for Darby to do this. So, Darby and James Thomas, a Welshman and worker of Darby’s began the task of producing cast iron cookware by using sand molds.

Using brass was so much different than using iron, the first attempts did not succeed. They didn’t give up and worked diligently to produce a cast iron cookware from sand molds and finally found success with their method. They were able to produce a cheaper, more durable cookware.

In the beginning they were used directly in open flames. Later on, embers from a fire were used on the lid and underneath the Dutch oven to cook. A well-fitted lid was a must to keep ashes that the embers produced, from finding their way into the food. Because of this the Dutch oven had to be rugged to withstand these harsh conditions.

The Dutch oven evolved, and changes were made. The American style of ovens added small legs to the pot, so the Dutch oven would be elevated over the coals instead of sitting directly on the coals. To keep ashes and embers out of the food a, hinged lid was attached to the pot. The legs made it possible to stack ovens on top of each other, sometimes as much as 5 high.

The DO can be used to cook, fry, braise and bake food. It can be used to cook food the same way that one can cook in a conventional oven. I have one large enough to cook a 13-pound turkey. The bad thing though is it comes in at a weight of 45 pounds.

Because of its durability and versatility, the settlers and colonists valued cast-iron cookware. The ovens were considered so valuable in the 18th and 19th centuries that they were included in wills. Mary Ball Washington’s (George Washington’s mother) will specified that half of her “iron kitchen furniture” should go to her grandson and the other half to her granddaughter.

Dutch ovens were found among the gear of Lewis and Clark. Pioneers took along Dutch ovens and they were used by “camp cookies” on wagon trains and cattle drives. Something I found interesting is that the Dutch oven is the state cooking pot of Texas, Utah and Arkansas. Mountain men were also fond of Dutch ovens. Today there are many Dutch oven organizations that organize contests where Dutch oven cooks compete for prizes. The Boy Scouts of America even teach their scouts Dutch oven skills.

Today Dutch ovens are quite popular with campers. I have had as many as 25 people attend one of my clinics, The Basics of Dutch Oven Cooking. Everything cooked in a Dutch Oven tastes better.

I hope you enjoyed my blog. Be kind to one another and spread the love. Happy cooking!

Autumn Has Arrived

Silver Mines Recreation Area

“It’s the first day of autumn! A time of hot chocolatey mornings, and toasty marshmallow evenings, and, best of all, leaping into leaves.!”Winnie the Pooh; Pooh’s Grand Adventure

Here in Missouri, autumn arrived with cooler temperatures and rain showers. Leaves have begun turning and some dropping to the ground. Some persimmons have started to ripen. Stores have begun stocking apple cider and caramel apples. It’s starting to look a lot like autumn.

As a child I loved raking leaves. I would make huge piles and run and jump into them. I managed to entertain myself for hours. My father tricked me into biting into a green persimmon. OMG! I didn’t think I would ever be able to spit again. Please don’t try that. Take my word for it. Soon the sky will be filled with the sounds of geese headed south for the winter.

Big River

Stores have already begun stocking Christmas decorations and it isn’t even October yet. Halloween will soon be upon us. I love Halloween. There was a time I would be planning a Halloween party. I used to have a hayride followed by a bonfire, chili and karaoke. Here in Missouri deer hunters will head to the woods and start scouting the woods for deer sign. Bow season is already happening. It won’t be long and there will be frost on the pumpkin.

This is the time of year that people start reflecting back on the year and see the things they have to be thankful for. Thanksgiving will be here before we know it. Families and friends will gather together and celebrate. I enjoy cooking the Thanksgiving dinner. I have a Dutch Oven big enough to cook a thirteen-pound turkey in, it weighs 45 pounds. There is nothing better tasting than a turkey cooked in a Dutch Oven. I also cook the pies, dressing and other vittles in the Dutch Ovens. I have a fairly large assortment of them.

left to right- dressing, turkey, and sweet tater pie

It also begins the bonfire season. I do love me a good bonfire. I love to watch the flames dance and the smell of wood smoke. I usually have three or four fires a week. I love to camp this time of year also and I think the fishing is better than it is any other time of year. I do about 80% of the cooking outside so I enjoy the cooler temperatures.

I love a bonfire, how about you?
My cook area plus I have a Blackstone griddle.
Cooking a pot of beans

To those like me who enjoy the fall, I say Happy Fall to you! May your refrigerator be full of apple cider, your cupboard filled with caramel apples, and you have plenty of wood for the fire. This is also the time of year when a big bowl of chili tastes best. Be kind to one another and spread the love.

The Four Seasons/ What’s Your Favorite?

Trees are beginning to change on the Big River

The debate over the favorite season rages on. I looked at several polls and studies, but I didn’t find a clear winner. What say you?

Dogwoods bloom to usher in the spring.

A total of 40 states have picked spring as their favorite season. The spring weather and the countryside adorned with the blossoms of dogwood, redbud and many other flowering trees. The days are longer, and Americans begin to venture outside and dust off their barbecue pits. The gardeners begin preparing the ground for planting and the grass begins to green up.

With the summer the campers venture out.

A survey of 2,000 Americans revealed that they don’t want summer to end. Barbecue season goes into full swing, and they enjoy the warm weather. They begin venturing to the beach, rivers and lakes to enjoy water activities like boating, swimming, sunbathing, and fishing. They bring their campers out and start spending the weekends in state parks and campgrounds. Americans begin taking summer vacations and traveling. One survey revealed that 40% of Americans say summer is their favorite season.

Fall colors begin showing up on the Big River

Another survey says that 29% of Americans pick fall as their season of choice. The changing of leaf colors, cooler temperatures and the holidays may be the reason for this. With Halloween comes bonfires and hayrides. Then Thanksgiving brings family gatherings and good food. It’s a time when people reflect on the things, they have to be thankful for. The air begins to have a chill in it and chili, stews and soups become more popular at the dinner time.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Only 11% of Americans consider Winter their favorite season. Alaska and Vermont are the only two states that winter is the best season. Hot chocolate becomes quite popular. Americans enjoy sitting in front of the fireplace watching as the flames dance within. Skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling have become quite popular. Snow “bunnies” rejoice at the sight of fresh fallen snow.

Each season has its pros and cons, and it depends on the likes and dislikes of each individual. Personally fall is my favorite season. Enjoy your favorite season.

My Love for Fly Fishing

“If one really loves nature, one can find beauty everywhere.”

Vincent Van Gogh

One reason I have a great love for fly fishing, is because when fly fishing one is surrounded by the beauty of nature. One has to seek out a body of water where fish live. You aren’t going to find them in a shopping mall. No, one has to venture to a lake, stream or a river.

When fly fishing, the angler ties a fly on the end of a monofiliment line and casts into places he/she think fish may be holding. The monofiliment line is tied onto a heavier line which helps to cast the fly. When fly fishing the angler tries to present the fly, which looks like an insect, in such a way, that the fish thinks it is real and takes the bait. I find fly fishing to be a lot more fun than using a spinning outfit. For one reason, even when you aren’t catching anything, you are still busy casting. It depends on an angler’s personal taste as to what they prefer.

I prefer a river or stream where I wade into the water presenting my flies to the fish, hoping to entice a fish into feeding on my fly. My presentation has to mimic the real bait. It really is a challenge and to me that equals excitement. I also find it relaxing and helps me to clear my mind and connect with nature.

My fly fishing buddy David Tripp fishing on the Big River in Missouri
The prize

Forty-five minutes of fly fishing at Bennett Spring in Missouri
Bennett Spring in Missouri, one of Missouri’s four trout parks
Caught this bass at Giessing Lake located in Engler Park in Farmington, MO

Some anglers like fly fishing and some don’t, for different reasons. As for me I love being surrounded by nature and the peace it brings. With the first cast I can feel the stress caused by everyday life begin to melt away and my mind leaves that part of life behind and begins to focus on the healing powers of nature. After a day of fly fishing, I leave the water recharged and feeling alive. It is a great feeling.

The St. Francis River

“The river has great wisdom and whispers its secrets to the hearts of men.”

Mark Twain

The St. Francis River is 426 miles long and is located in southeastern Missouri and northeastern Arkansas. It is only floatable in spring or after heavy rains. It passes through Wappapello Lake that was a result of a dam that was constructed in 1941. Anglers can fish for largemouth and smallmouth bass. There are also catfish, bluegill, sunfish, and crappie. The St. Francis is the most diverse Ozark stream.

The Hubb’s, golden and spothanded crayfish make the St. Francis their home and can only be found in the Ozarks of Missouri and northern Arkansas. The St. Francis crayfish is only found here and nowhere else in the world. Six mussel species are also found here.

Two state parks that the St. Francis River meanders through are Silver Mines Recreation Area and Sam A Baker state park and both have camping available. Sam A Baker has a separate equestrian campground. They also have hiking trails and picnic areas. Baker also has equestrian and bicycle trails.

High water over the bridge in Silver Mines
The water recedes

I have many fond memories of the river as an adult and as a child. I don’t know how many pounds of catfish we caught. We used to pay a farmer to cross his field to the St. Francis and we would set up camp. He had an old wooden boat he would also rent us. One night around 11 pm we were tight line fishing for catfish. Our camp was below Wappapello dam and too far away to hear the siren indicating they opened the dam gates. My mom stands up and said here comes a boat. Yep, you guessed it. Sure enough, our boat. We had pulled it up on the sand bar around the bend. The water had come up and set the boat free. We started trying to hook it and my dad finally hooked it and reeled it in.

My Photography

St. Francis River in Missouri

“There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.”

Ernst Haas

I have two passions in life, photography and flyfishing. Tonight, I am going to share my photography. I am a landscape photography. I use my photography to promote conservation. I hope you enjoy.

Trail inside Silver Mines.
Dock diving
St. Francis River
Abandoned milling operation in St. Joe Park in Missouri
Civil War Reenactment at Fort Davidson in Pilot Knob
Bourbeuse River
Abandoned building in milling operation.
Drag racing in Bonne Terre, MO

I hope you enjoyed my photographs, and they didn’t bore you. Be kind to one another and spread the love.

The Magic of a Bonfire

“We dare not talk of the darkness for fear it will infect us. We dare not talk of the fire, for fear it will destroy us. And so we live in the half-light. Like our mothers before us. Come to the fire. Feel it warm your skin. Come to the fire. Feel it burn in your belly. Shine out through your eyes. Come dance in the fire. Let it fuel your prayers.

Lucy H. Pearce

Bonfire, is actually derived from Middle English “bonefire”, literally a fire of bones. Bonfires can be enjoyed throughout the year however autumn seems to be the most popular time of the year to enjoy them. Associated with bonfires is chili, hayrides, Halloween celebrations, singing and scary stories. Smores and marshmallows are a popular food staple around the fire.

In southern Louisiana bonfires are lit along the Mississippi River levees to provide light for Papa Noel to navigate along the river in his pirogue that is pulled by 8 alligators. In Texas a long-time tradition is the Aggie Bonfire. The students of Texas A&M University build a bonfire before their annual game against the University of Texas and dates back to 1909.

Bonfires are a good place for friends to come together and enjoy one another’s company. It’s a place where scary stories are told especially at Halloween parties and hayrides. The dancing flames easily mesmerize those who dare to look into the flames. Several pounds of hotdogs are consumed, and chili is usually found. It is a place to relax, slow down and enjoy life.

I hope you enjoyed my post and remember to be kind to one another and spread the love. Thanks for taking the time to read it. In the comments, please share with us the best bonfire memories in your life.

The Approach of Autumn

Soon autumn will be upon us. The air will be laced with the aroma of burning wood as good friends and lovers sit around a bonfire. The aroma of pumpkin spice will fill homes. It’s a time when you grab the one you love and embrace each other as you watch the dancing flames of the fire.

It’s the time of year when you reflect on the events of the summer and give thanks for all you have. Kitchens come alive as families begin canning the bounty of their gardens. Their reward for their hard work.

It’s the time of year to dust off the chili pot and dig out your chili recipes. Apple cider and apple pies are abundant. The nights become cooler and a chill is in the air.

Soon the countryside will display the beauty of the changing leaves. Mother Nature begins preparing Mother Earth for the coming of winter.

Autumn is my favorite time of year. The beautiful colored leaves and crisp autumn mornings wake my soul and I feel more alive this time of year than any other time of year. I am thankful that I have been blessed with the joy of another autumn.

This weekend we started our celebration of fall. Friends, bonfire, and homemade chili. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Be kind to one another and spread the love!

My Take on Photography

“Every artist has a central story to tell, and the and the difficulty, the impossible task, is trying to present that story in pictures.”

Gregory Crewdson

Photography is an art, and the photographer is the artist. There are those that will say this isn’t true however I have to disagree. Both must have a passion for what they do, along with creativity and a good imagination. A photographer only has one time to snap a photo then that moment is gone forever and can’t be recreated.

When l am framing a shot, I examine every possible angle I can shoot it from, then I imagine what I want it to look like. It requires an eye for detail, patience and flexibility. Light is a key composition and can greatly affect the photo. In a studio one can use artificial light but in nature one must learn to use what light is available.

When I take a picture, the subject must excite me. I sell my photographs and I have to rely on people buying them. If I’m not excited, I can’t expect the viewer to be excited. I have to capture the viewers’ attention and hope they buy it.

In Bruce Barnbaum’s book The Art of Photography Mr Barnbaum lists 14 elements of composition. They are light, color, contrast and tone, line, form, pattern, balance, movement, positive and negative space, texture, camera position, focal length, depth of field and shutter speed. There is so much more involved than point and shoot.

I am basically a landscape photographer. I love nature and am mesmerized by a river. Sunrises and sunsets always grab my attention. It never seems to fail that I see the best ones when I am driving down the road. They can be short lived, and the photographer has to act quickly. When I go hiking, I always have my camera with me. Quite frankly I suck at portraits, and I am in awe of those who have mastered it. Wedding photographers I think have the hardest job. It takes a lot of patience and creativity with some imagination. I am in awe of them.

There was only about 10 minutes between these two photos, and it changed quickly. I took them in Silver Mines Recreation area. This is the St. Francis River that meanders through the park. It is located between Ironton and Fredericktown, Mo. Kayakers love this area and have kayak races here in the spring when the water is up. When the water level is up the kayakers head for the river.

I hope I haven’t bored you with my photos. In closing I am going to post a few more photos I took when hiking at Silver Mines.

The first two were taken of the trail and the last one was a photo of what is left of the damn that was built when the old silver mine was in operation. Thanks for reading and remember to be kind to one another and spread the love.

Time

“Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.”

Bill Keane

As I have aged I have become more aware of time. None of us know just how much time we have left to travel the road of life.

I have also learned how important it is to focus on the present.

I have seen so many who have talked about the past only to remember the low times they have encountered instead of the high times. It’s called the past for a reason. That time is gone. It no longer exists and there is nothing you can do to change it. What’s done is done.

Some will argue that time spent on the future is time well spent. Maybe it is to some extent but really it’s a shot in the dark. We have no control over it and we have no idea what will happen. We have no idea if our plans will succeed. No matter how well we plan there is no guarantee.

Wouldn’t it be better to focus on the present? The past is gone, the future is tomorrow and tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. We should focus on the present. Our actions and attitude can make it enjoyable or miserable. We are in control and it can be time well spent.

Right wrong or indifferent, I choose to spend time on the present. It’s a good time to be thankful and enjoy life. It’s a good time to enjoy life and be thankful and praise God for giving us another day to enjoy the present.