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.

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!

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.

Life Is Like A River

St Francis River

On a recent visit to Silver Mines Recreation Area, I sat and watched the water of the river flowing under the bridge located in the park.

When we arrived at the park the water was up and running over the bridge I was sitting on, now watching the river run under the bridge. Like life the river has its lows and highs.

St Francis River

As I sat looking up river I watched as the river rolled past the rocks headed for its final destination. It rolled past the rocks so gracefully not letting it stop it or slow it down. These rocks could represent the obstacles in our life. We need to approach our obstacles in life like the river deals with the rocks. We need to learn to roll around them and leave them behind us like the river and be thankful they are behind us.

St Francis River

At the end of the rapids there are deeper pools of slow moving water. Those waters represent the slow, peaceful times in our life when we can relax and enjoy the peace in our lives. A time when we can reflect back on where we have been and what we have accomplished. A time to be thankful for surviving all the obstacles we have faced.

Aging and Birthdays

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

Mark Twain

I have never been big on celebrating my birthday. I remember one year my mom called to wish me happy birthday. I told her it wasn’t my birthday, I didn’t know what day of the month it was but it didn’t stop me from opening my mouth and inserting my foot. My mother was quick to remind me that she was there for the delivery, yes she said it, and that she should know. Once again mom was right.

I remember as a kid I thought 40 was old. I thought you moved into the old folks home at that age. I had no idea how wrong I was. As I celebrated my 25th birthday, I came to realize that people lived into their 60s, 70s, and even 80s. Ok I never said I was the sharpest tool in the shed.

I never really thought I would make it to my 60s. But to my surprise I just turned 68. I have reached that point in life where my body and mind seem to be arguing a lot. My body says you really aren’t going to do that are you? You better think about what you are doing and my mind says hold my Geritol and watch this!

Are Black and White Photos Appealing?

“Photography is more than a medium for factual communication of ideas. It is a creative art.”

Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams was an American landscape photographer and environmentalist. He was well known for his black and white images of the American West. He created many black and white masterpieces, but I think his most famous is “Monolith, the Face of Half Dome. I know the first time I saw it I wanted to be a photographer.

I am a long way from being an Ansel Adams but I like black and white pictures. I just don’t know that there is really a good market for it. I guess I will find out. The top photo is a picture I took of one of the buildings that was used to process iron ore located in Park Hills, MO. It is now the property of Missouri and is a part of St. Joe Park. It has been designated a Historic Mine Site.

Building located within St. Joe Park and was used in the processing of iron ore.
A conifer located in Hughes Mountain Natural Area near Irondale, MO.
Cedar tree located in Hughes Mountain Natural Area that has seen better days.
The view on Hughes Mountain.

I recently was able to take a hike on the Hughes Mountain Natural Area trail. The trail is rated moderate is an out-and-back trail, 1.6 miles long.

I decided to be creative.
Some more of my creativity.

I hope you enjoyed my photos. Any opinions would be greatly appreciated. Color or black and white?

More to A Photo

Storm moving in

Pictures can only show what is happening. Being void of sound and smell it leaves the viewer to their own imagination to fill in the rest.

How about you? When you look at a photo do you stop there or do you imagine more?

When you look at the above photo do you imagine the sound of thunder in the distance? Can you feel the breeze from the storm and smell the coming rain in the air? Can you hear the wind in the trees?

I am one who try’s to add another element to the photo that the photographer can’t. It adds a new dimension and can even add to the excitement of the photo.

It would be interesting to hear what others think.

Fracture Art

Looking for a different way than traditional prints, framed and hung on the wall to display your photographs? Fracture art does just that. It takes your digital images and prints them directly onto glass, turning the print into a frame.

The photograph above doesn’t really do the Fracture print justice. It’s amazing how it makes the colors pop out. It seems quite pricey but you don’t have the cost of a matte and frame and the time it takes to frame them.

A medium, 7.2”x 9.6” will set you back $50 and a classic 10.8” x 14.4” will set you back $80. I have done a couple this way and I love it.