A Dutch oven lesson learned

To light my charcoal, I use what is called a “chimney.” It’s basically a sheet metal tube with a “shelf” inside, about 3/4 the way down. On the bottom of the chimney, under the shelf, are holes in the side of the metal. The way it works is you put newspaper in the bottom of the chimney, set it on the cooking table, put charcoal in the top, then light the newspaper through the holes on the bottom of the chimney. (I may take pictures of the process the next time I cook.)

The first time I cooked with my Dutch oven, my chimney worked like a champ and my charcoal was ready in no time. Yesterday, however, I was not so lucky. I “lit” my chimney, then went indoors to prep the apple crisp while the charcoal heated up. When I got done and was ready to put my creation on the heat, I found that maybe one or two briquets had caught and were hot.

I learned that you can’t stuff too much newspaper in the bottom of the chimney, or it doesn’t breath well, hence it doesn’t burn well and the charcoal just sits there waiting patiently. After a little bit of playing and experimentation, I reset the chimney using only one full sheet of newspaper, and the charcoal was ready in short order.

So if any of you use charcoal chimneys, remember the old standby saying….”Less is more!”

A New “Hobby”

I’ve been thinking about survival techniques recently, and one of the things that came to mind (with the help of a mission buddy of mine) is backyard cooking. Dutch ovens, specifically. Our church teaches that would should keep food storage on hand in case of need. But if there were a need that included having no power with which to cook your food, a hot meal might seem to be a luxury. With Dutch oven cooking, no electricity (or gas) is needed. Just a Dutch oven and something combustible – I use Kingsford charcoal.

I’ve made two dishes since I started. I had a setback for a while, when there was a state-wide burning ban, which included charcoal. But that’s now lifted, and I’m cooking again. My first item was a peanut butter chocolate swirl bar. I didn’t do well with the swirl part, so it basically turned out as a peanut butter chocolate chip bar. You can see the picture of how it turned out.

Yesterday, I made an apple crisp – basically it’s apples (10!), lemon juice, sugar, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, butter, oats, and raisins. The picture is what’s left after having it for dessert with our Sunday dinner yesterday.

Next, I will be venturing out into an entree – some kind of meat. Oh, by the way, when I cooked the pbcc bar, everything that was cooked was cooked outside. It was fathers day, and I cooked burgers and dogs on the grill, boiled some corn on the side burner of the grill, and dessert in the Dutch oven. It’s a good way to have a hot meal without heating up the kitchen! (But then, Dad gets to slave away over a hot grill and Dutch oven table.) 🙂 It’s a nice way to give mom a break, though.