Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

I know this is really bad but I love Duncan Hines Cake Mix !! So I still get my duncan hines  and use my food storage and make it somewhat healthy here is the recipe for these really yummy cupcakes.

1 box devils food duncan hines cake mix
6 Tbsp egg powder + 9 Tbsp water (or you can use 3 eggs)
1 1/3 cup water
1/3 cup mashed black beans

mix all ingredients, pour into cupcake liners in muffin tin. Bake 350 for 20 min.

Hot Chocolate Butter Cream
My kiddos love lots of frosting (who doesn't)
so we doubled this recipe for the frosting.
1 cup shortening (we use butter flavored)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 pound powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 single serving hot chocolate mix or 2 Tbsp. of your own hot cocoa mix
whip until mixed well.

Pumpkin Spice Bread

2 cups canned pumpkin
3 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 cup oil
4 eggs (I used powdered eggs)
3 1/3 cups flour (I used whole wheat flour)
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup ground cloves
I added 2 cups chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees, mix ingredients well, pour into two greased loaf pans. Bake for 60-70 min. 

Emergency Preparedness Checklist

         Over the next few months I am going to focus on emergency preparedness and getting things other than food ready. There are so many things we need to do to be prepared other than having a 72 hour kit and a long term and short term food storage.
         How many of us think about our shelter, how to repair our car if there are not any stores open and available or repair something in our home?
         The following topics will be my focus and if anyone else has tips or ideas to share please do so!

*Food Gathering
*Heat Sources
*Emergency Power Source
*Automotive Maintenance/Minor Repairs
*Large and Small Tools
*Water (potable and non potable)
*Alternate Methods for Washing clothes
*Personal Hygiene/Bathing
*Important Documents/Records
*Scriptures, Books, Journals
*First Aid
*Money/Exchange (Items to barter)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Amish White/Wheat Bread

2 cups warm water
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup oil
6 cups bread flour (I used half white all purpose and white wheat flour)

In kitchen aid mix water, sugar and yeast, proof. After proofed, add remaining ingredients. Using dough hook, mix until dough comes clean off the bowl. Take out and oil the bowl lightly. Place wet tea towel over bowl and let double in size. Usually after 1 hour punch down, lightly knead onto floured surface and separate into two greased loaf pans, let double again with towel over pans. Bake 350 for 30 min.

Food Storage Chicken Pot Pie

Adapted from a standard one dish pot pie recipe I used quite some time ago and converted it using food storage ingredients

2 cans chicken, drained (I used leftover chicken, shredded in this one)
2 cups freeze dried mixed vegetables, rehydrated
1/4 cup dehydrated onions
1 can cr. chicken soup (can make your own)
2 cups homemade bisquick like mix
1/2 cup milk (1 1/2 Tbsp. powdered milk + 1/2 c. water)
1 egg (2 Tbsp powdered egg + 3 Tbsp water)
Heat oven to 375, mix chicken, veggies, onion, cream chick soup together and place in 8x8 in pan. In a separate bowl combine bisquick, milk and egg. Will be like pancake mix consistency, pour over chicken mixture, bake for about 25 -30 min uncovered. We served ours with canned peaches. YUM

Monday, February 20, 2012

Food Storage Chicken Alfredo

4 cups cooked noodles
1 cup hot tap water
1/4 cup creamy soup base                                                  
1 cup freeze dried chicken
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup freeze dried asparagus (optional)
4 slices chopped bacon (optional)

Cook and drain noodles. Set aside. Reconstitute chicken and asparagus. Mix creamy soup base in hot tap water in saucepan. Add parmesan, bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add asparagus and bacon to creamy soup mix. Serve over hot cooked noodles

Gluten Free Chicken Chili with White Beans, Sweet Potatoes and Lime

*Taken from glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com
4 bone-in free-range organic chicken breasts
Drizzle of olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, peeled, diced
2-4 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
1 large or 2 smaller sweet potatoes, peeled, diced
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon GF chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Hot red pepper flakes, season to taste
3/4 cup chopped roasted green chiles or tomatillo salsa verde
2 15-oz cans organic cannellini or Great Northern white beans, rinsed, drained
2 cups light organic chicken broth
Squeeze of fresh lime juice

For serving:

Fresh chopped parsley
Fresh chopped cilantro
Fresh lime slices


Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Rinse the chicken breasts and pat dry. Remove the skin, if you like (we do). Place meaty side up in a baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper. Sprinkle with dried herbs, if you like (we used thyme and oregano).

Turn the chicken over, bone side up, drizzle again, and season.

Roast the chicken bone side up for roughly 30 to 35 minutes until done and no longer pink inside (check with a meat thermometer for an internal temp of 165º to 170º).

Tip: Roasting bone-in, with the rib side up, will give you moist, tender, juicy chicken.

In the meantime, start your pot of chili.

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add the red onion and stir for a minute. Add the garlic and sweet potatoes. Add ginger, cumin, oregano and hot pepper flakes. Stir to coat. Add in the roasted green chiles, white beans and chicken broth. Cover and bring to a light simmer.

When the chicken is done, let it cool off slightly, until it is cool enough to handle. Cut the meat off the rib bones, or tear off pieces by hand. Add the chicken pieces to the pot and stir gently to warm through.

Squeeze in some fresh lime juice to brighten flavors. Stir gently. Taste test for seasoning adjustments. Does it need more heat? More salt? If it has thickened too much, add a touch of broth to thin.

Serve with lime wedges and a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley and cilantro.

Serves 6.

Healthy Cheeseburger and Fries Casserole

My kids love this casserole but I hate how fattening it is. I found a wonderful "Healthy"version from
1 pound 96/4 ground beef
1/4 tsp salt and pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 can condense cheddar cheese soup
8 Tbsp fat free sour cream
8 oz. frozen french fries
2 oz. 75%  Cabot reduced fat cheddar cheese
Preheat oven, bake french fries on baking sheet for 10 min., while browning ground beef in half of worcestershire sauce. Cook, stirring occasionally. Drain any excess grease and add seasoning, and other half of worcestershire sauce. Return to heat adding condensed cheese soup, and sour cream, heat through. Add to an 8x8 baking dish. Cover with baked french fries. Bake for ten minutes. Remove casserole from oven and sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Bake for 5 more min or until cheese is melted.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Spring Is In The Air!

Here in Kansas the weather has been phenomenal!

 The last several days have been in the 50's. It has given me Spring Fever beyond belief! So, I have been thinking about my garden and canning and came across alot of great information.
When getting ready to can again I decided next year I really need to have a plan.

First I needed to ask myself, what do I want to preserve this year? So, I started a list of questions.
What was popular last year?
What is still sitting on the shelf now?
What was best received as gifts last year?
What was a major pain the butt to put up?
Ta-Da a list of what we are going to can this year. Then there are the items that you know you will not repeat. Many jars of uneaten applesauce that were done because when the kids were smaller they absolutely loved applesauce.
Have your list of Must Have's, mine may include
Salsa ( about 1000 quarts!)
green chilies
apple pie filling
Most important - Have a Plan 
We will garden with a purpose, of course for us to eat but we are not going to grow a years supply of turnips if we don't eat turnips!
Alot of people can and preserve all summer for their families needs for the next winter. Not many people actually can out of necessity. When it comes time to can or process food that we have grown make sure you reserve time for it. Mark it on the calendar, and don't let anything else get in the way. Invite friends or neighbors over and do it together. Maybe host a canning party!

Also before your canning project make sure you are well prepared, have all your items readily available and well stocked beforehand.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Raspberry Glazed Chicken

Sharing this recipe from:

1 1/2 pounds chicken
3/4 cup raspberry jam
3/4 cup ketchup
1/8 cup white vinegar
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp chili powder
pinch salt
In a small bowl, combine jam, ketchup, vinegar, worcestershire sauce, chili powder and salt. Pour over chicken into a ziploc freezer bag. Refrigerate for 1 hour turning every 15 min. Freeze.
To Serve- thaw in fridge overnight. Remove from bag and grill or put in 350 oven for 35-45 min. Serve over rice.

Dr Pepper Spaghetti

2 pounds ground beef, browned, drained
1 (16-oz) package spaghetti-cooked, drained
1 cup chopped onion
 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 can Dr Pepper
1 (15-oz) can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
2 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
Stir onions and seasoning into meat, browning. Add Dr. Pepper, tomato sauce, and worcestershire sauce into meat mixture and cook 5 min stirring often. Add meat mixture to already cooked (al dente) spaghetti noodles, add in mozzarella and mix.

Pour into 9x13 pan, freeze (of course cover with foil).
To serve- thaw in fridge 24 hours, in 350 degree oven bake 50 min

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Make Your Own Gluten Free Hamburger Helper

Recipe adapted from my-extraordinary-life.blogspot.com

1 pound ground beef, cooked and drained
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
3 cups water
1/2 cup milk

Spice Packet-
1 tsp brown rice flour
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp bouillon powder
1 Tbsp dried onion
1 Tbsp parsley
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp thyme
1 1/2 cups elbow noodles 

Place all spice packet ingredients in a snack size ziploc bag, place that inside a small ziploc bag and seal
Label, stack and store.

To cook: Cook ground beef or use a can of beef chunks, add water, milk, noodles  and spice packet into pan. Heat on Medium Low for 12-15 min, stirring every few min until pasta is tender. Add cheese, enjoy! Recipe adapted from

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Make Your Own Stove/Emergency Heater

Here is a great link to making your own alcohol stove in a paint can. In an old ward for RS we made these in our super saturday! They were great. These can also be used to heat a small room. I think at the time I had made 12 (one for every room in the house plus a couple).

Wheat Prices

Yes, this is a small chart but it is for the years 2007 - 2011, wheat is on the rise in price again, but lower than it has been in a little while. Now would probably be a good time to start stocking up, with all the crazy weather we have had I think it would be a good idea to get a little bit more in the pantry!


When trying to incorporate or spice things up in the food storage world something alot of people ask are - Do you use powdered shortening, powdered peanut butter, cheese? Yes, I do! I love most of them too. Two favorites of our family is the instant powdered refried beans from the LDS Cannery and powdered cheese mix.

They are both easy and fun to experiment with in food storage. We all know about "cheese powder" the stuff we find in the boxed macaroni and cheese or in the cheesy potato mixes. Yes, that stuff! Well you can buy that stuff in a #10 size can (smaller or bigger if you like too). Many places carry it - Emergency Essentials, Auguson Farms, Honeyville Grain, American Spice, etc. It is readily available. We use it regularly because if I am not going to be able to have refrigeration my kids are still going to want some "orange stuff" Yes there are different qualities as well so do some research. I bought some from a bulk food company and then later bought some from another company and could really tell a difference between the two.
Here are some recipes to try with the Cheese Powder

Cheesy Popcorn- Pop popcorn and while still hot and coming out into the bowl lightly spray with a butter spray and lightly sprinkle with the cheese powder.
Don't worry more recipes to come using this - I am short on time this afternoon. :)

Making Your Own Mixes

I have learned so much through all my research and trial and error in making my own baking mixes, spice mixes, meal mixes, etc. Most of these mixes are made from the long term food storage ingredients we are asked to store. What a great way to use and rotate our food storage and have nice homemade mixes for our families without all the additives, preservatives and other mystery ingredients whose names we cannot pronounce.
This mix below is equivalent to 9 cans of cream soups - WOW! What a space saver for one, and it's fat free! Not to mention that it costs a quarter of what it would to buy the cans already made.
There are so many places to find out how to make your own mixes. Tons of blogs, recipes,etc. My favorite and how I got passionate about making my own mixes came from this wonderful book (old I know) my mom had laying around the house when I was a preteen.
Well, when I was learning more and had lost or misplace LOL this great cookbook I had to try to find it. It was out of print but I discovered that they reprinted it and it is updated with newer pictures. I fell in love again! This is what the new  one looks like

Pretty isn't it! Well, this book has so many great ideas incorporating those long term food storage ingredients - without even knowing it. Check it out! From homemade white sauce mix, to brownie mix to freezer mixes.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Chicken Stuffing Casserole

2 packages (6oz) chicken stuffing mix
2 cans (10 oz) cr. mushroom soup
1 cup milk
4 cups cooked, chopped chicken
2 cups frozen corn
2 cans (8 oz) each drained mushrooms
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Prepare stuffing mixes according to package directions. Meanwhile, in large bowl, mix soups, milk, set aside. Spread the stuffing into two 8 in. square baking dishes. Layer with the chicken, corn, mushrooms, soup mixture and cheese. Cover and freeze for up to 3 months.
To Serve-Remove from the freezer 30 min before baking (do not thaw). Bake at 350 for 1 1/2 hours. Uncover; bake 10-15 min longer or until heated longer.  www.tasteofhome.com

Enchilada Casserole

1 1/2 pound ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup water
2-3 Tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 cups salsa,divided
1 cup sour cream(8oz)
10 flour tortillas (8in)cut into 3/4 in strips, divided
2 cans corn, drained (15 oz)
4 cups mozzarella cheese shredded

Cook beef and onion over medium heat. Stir in the water, chili powder, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer for about 10 min. Place 1/4 cup salsa each in two greased 8 in. square baking dishes. Layer each dish with a fourth of the tortillas and 1/4 cup salsa. Divide the meat mixture, sour cream and corn between the two casseroles. Top with remaining tortillas, salsa and cheese. Cover and freeze one casserole for up to 1 month, cover and bake second at 350 for 35 min. Uncover , bake 5-10 min longer.
To Serve - Thaw in refrigerator 24 hours before baking. Remove from refrigerator for 30 min. before baking. Bake as above.   www.tasteofhome.com

Cheesy Chili Tots

1 pound ground beef
2 cans (15 oz) each chili with beans
1 can (8oz) tomato sauce
1 can (2-3 oz) sliced olives, drained
1 can chopped green chilies (4oz)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 package frozen tater tots
Cook ground beef, stir in chili, tomato sauce, olives and chilies. Transfer to two 8 in square baking dishes. Sprinkle with 1 cup cheese, top with tater tots. Cover and freeze.
To Serve- Remove from the freezer 30 min before baking (do not thaw). Cover and bake at 350 for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours or until heated through. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese. Bake 5 min more or until cheese is melted. Can also put in crockpot  www.tasteofhome.com

Teriyaki Chicken

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 small minced garlic clove
3/4 tsp. ground ginger

Stir ingredients together and pour into a gallon sized ziploc bag with 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts (we prefer tenders), On serving day, thaw and pour into a baking dish. Bake preheated oven of 350 for 35 min. Serve over rice. To stretch this out, I add a bag of frozen, stir fry vegetables in before baking.

Peanut Butter Chicken

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces
12 oz. apricot jam
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 c. orange juice
1/3 c. apple juice
2 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground cumin

To Freeze-Combine all ingredients except chicken in a bowl and mix until smooth. Add chicken and mix. Pour in 1 gallon freezer bag and lay flat to freeze.

To Serve -Preheat oven to 350 degrees, pour thawed chicken mixture into a 2 quart casserole dish, and bake uncovered for 20-30 min. Serve over hot rice or rice noodles.

Hawaiian Chicken

Sorry, didn't have a picture of this but when I make it again I will post one!
2 cups chicken
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup green pepper (chopped big or little)
2 cans cream chicken soup
1 can pineapple tidbits (15oz)
2 tsp. soy sauce
fresh cut tomatoes (optional)
Saute onion and green pepper until mostly soft. Cook chicken and dice. Mix together with the soup, pineapple and soy sauce. Freeze. Let thaw, warm in saucepan over medium heat. Serve over rice with tomatoes (we like coconut!)

Cream Cheese Chicken

3 pounds boneless skinless breasts
2 Tbsp butter
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. dry Italian salad dressing (1pkg.)
1 can cream chicken soup
8 oz. cream cheese (cut into 1" cubes)
1 Tbsp. onion - minced
Brush chicken with butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in a crockpot and sprinkle dry mix over all. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours. About 45 min. before done, mix soup, cream cheese, and onion in a small saucepan. Cook until smooth. Pour over the chicken. Cover and cook another 45 min.
To freeze- Cool and place in 1 gallon ziploc bag. Lay flat to freeze.
To serve - Reheat and serve over rice or noodles.

Chicken Chili Verde

Serves - 5

8 oz. dry pinto beans (can use canned but as a $ saver we just use dry)
1 pound chicken (about 2 cups) chopped, cooked
1 (4oz)can chopped green chilies
1 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp dried oregano leaves
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
3 cups water
3 chicken bouillon cubes
 1 tsp minced garlic
2/3 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup grated low fat monterey jack cheese
1 dozen corn tortillas
1 jar salsa

Rinse pinto beans, soak them in cold water overnight, then drain them. Cut chicken into bite size pieces . Combine chicken with chilies and seasonings, refrigerate until needed. At the same time, combine beans, water, bouillon cubes, garlic, salt and onion in large pot; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until beans are soft, about 1 hour. Add more water if necessary.
Combine chicken and spices with beans;simmer 10 more minutes. Cool and freeze. (I usually put into freezer bags and lay flat on a cookie sheet until frozen then they are easier to stand on end to save room in freezer). Grate cheese, put in a 1 quart bag, and attach it to the freezer bag with the chili.
To serve: Thaw chili and cheese. Simmer chili 30 min, stirring occasionally. Top chili with salsa and grated cheese; serve on warmed corn tortillas.
Make this x4 and you will have 4 meals for the next month in your freezer when you are short on time!!

Freezer Recipes

I have had lots of requests lately for my freezer recipes and tips. Not sure what all everyone wanted but here are a few.

Potato, Broccoli and Cheese Bake
Be sure and double or triple this recipe for additional meals from the freezer
4 potatoes --sliced
1 head broccoli
1 can broccoli and cheese soup
2 cans milk -- aprox. to cover

Here's an easy recipe, and it freezes just fine when using cooked potatoes and reheating in the oven. No exact amount because I just slop it together. In a casserole, put a few (4-5) sliced potatoes, the florets from a head of broccoli (blanched), a can of cream of broccoli and cheese oup, and enough milk to make the soup cover the veggies. I throw in a handful or two of shredded cheddar cheese too. Cover, label and freeze.
For Crockpot: use raw potatoes and cook for 2-3 hours or till done. Freeze after cooking.

Baked Potato Soup

Serves 20
1 medium onion - chopped fine
4 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
10 baked potatoes - chopped coarsley
1 quart chicken stock
1/2 gallon milk - any

Saute' onion in butter, put onion and potatoes in food processor or blender. Add chicken stock. Pulse, add milk and process until desired smoothness. I like it slightly lumpy. You might find it easier to blend ingredients while cool and reheat. Freeze at this point. Some people do not like potato soup once it has been frozen, my family likes it just fine!
Suggested garnishes: chopped green or red onion, bacon bits, grated cheeses, sour cream - whatever your heart desires!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Taco Stuffed Shells

Taco Stuffed Shells
Here something interesting for you taco lovers. Instead of regular Italian stuffed shells last night I made Taco stuffed shells! This recipe for taco stuffed shells consists of ground beef and cream cheese for the filling and is topped with tortilla chips and cheese. Make sure to let the filling mixture have enough time to cool before stuffing the shells or you might have a sloppy mess on your hands
J. The traditional pasta sauce is replaced with a combination of salsa and taco sauce… the best part about this is you can make it as hot as you want! Everyone that tried these thought they were great and I thought the flavor was absolutely delicious. The green onions went nicely as a garnish and only adding to the flavor. If you want you can add other things such as black olives, sour cream or whatever you like on tacos on top as well.
Taco Stuffed ShellsTaco Stuffed Shells
1lb ground beef
1 package taco seasoning
1 4 once package cream cheese
12 large pasta shells
1 cup salsa
1 cup taco sauce
1 cup cheddar cheese (shredded)
1 cup Monterey jack cheese (shredded)
1 ½ cups tortilla chips (crushed)
3 green onions (chopped)
1 cup sour cream
Cooking Instructions:
Taco Stuffed ShellsTaco Stuffed Shells
Step 1:
In a fry pan cook ground beef and add taco seasoning and prepare according to package directions. Add cream cheese cover and simmer until cheese is melted. Blend well. Set aside and allow to fully cool. While burger is cooking cook the pasta shells, drain and toss well with butter.
Step 2:  Pour salsa in the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
Step 3: Stuff each shell with the meat mixture. Place the stuffed shells in the baking dish and cover the tops of the shells with taco sauce.
Step 4: Cover and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Step 5: After 30 minutes, uncover, and sprinkle crushed chips and shredded cheddar and Monterey jack cheeses on top.  Cook for about 15 more minutes. Serve with sour cream, additional salsa, black olives or whatever you think goes good with tacos!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Dutch Ovens

Dutch oven cooking
Dutch ovens are incredibly versatile cooking utensils that can be used to prepare everything from soups and stews to baked goods and meats. Photo by Keith Sutto

Dutch ovens as we know them today were developed in the early eighteenth century. They sometimes were called "bake kettles" or "bake ovens," but "Dutch oven" (a name of uncertain origins) became the title of choice long ago. By the mid-1700s, almost all American families were cooking in Dutch ovens on home hearths and campfires.

The Dutch ovens used by today's camp cooks differ little from early models. Each is a large deep pot with a tightly fitting lid. Three short legs support the whole affair over coals on the ground (or on the hearth). The lid has a raised rim to retain coals that are placed on the lid and to keep ashes from falling into the oven when the lid is lifted. With this arrangement -- coals on top and coals beneath -- the oven can be evenly heated for better cooking.

A fixed handle on top of the lid provides for lifting the lid. A bail of steel wire is permanently attached to the pot portion for lifting and moving the whole oven. (Early Dutch ovens often had a long handle instead of a bail.) Old-time ovens were heavy cast iron, as are many modern versions, but now you can get aluminum ones, too, that are lighter. I prefer, however, cast-iron ovens. Cast iron heats slowly and evenly, and retains the heat long after the pot leaves the fire. In aluminum ovens, which do not have these characteristics, food often burns and sticks.

Dutch Oven with Charcoal
A raised rim on the lid retains coals and keeps ash from falling into the oven when the lid is lifted. Photo by Clint Craft
Also available are a variety of Dutch oven accessories, including lid lifters, lid stands, gloves, tripods, tote bags and even Dutch oven cooking tables with windscreens. A variety of books describing Dutch oven cooking methods and recipes can be purchased as well.

Seasoning a cast-iron Dutch oven is very important. This is done by first cleaning the oven in hot water to remove any factory coating on the metal. (Most oven manufacturers recommend against using soap when washing.) Then rub salt-free shortening or cooking oil on all surfaces of the oven, and heat it for an hour or two with low heat. (Beef suet, bacon grease or salt-free butter or margarine can be used in a pinch.) This can be done in your home oven or with campfire coals. The ideal temperature is 250-300 degrees for two to three hours. After heating, remove the oven, allow it to cool and cover the whole metal surface with a light coating of shortening to protect the metal from rusting. Your oven will form a black patina, or finish, with continued use.

Aluminum ovens won't rust and don't need any preparation or treatment before or after use. Simply wash and dry; no need to oil.

Preheat the oven before food is put in to bake. Do this by placing a few coals on top and a few underneath for several minutes. This helps keep food from sticking in the oven.

Food can be placed directly in the oven, or placed in a pan or aluminum foil wrapper in the oven. I like to cook large cuts of meat, soups and stews, and boiled or steamed vegetables, directly in the oven. Foil cups are good containers for muffins and breads. When making a cake or pie that needs to be removed for cutting and serving, I use a pan in the oven, elevated above the bottom to allow heated air to circulate all around and protect the dish from overheating by the coals beneath. A couple of metal tent pegs or nails, or a few pebbles, placed in the bottom of the oven support the pan.

Coals are placed under the oven, and on top, when cooking. Generally, when making dishes with large liquid content, such as stews and soups, you place two-thirds of the coals beneath and one-third on top. This transmits higher heat to the liquid in the oven and then on to your food. When baking, reverse these proportions: one-third beneath and two-thirds on top. Too many on the bottom may overcook the baking food. More coals on top give high heat to the baking air space in the oven and directly down to your food.

Multiple Dutch Ovens
A multi-course meal for a crowd can be prepared using several Dutch ovens. Photo courtesy of boulder.utah.gov
When using charcoal briquettes, I usually place six or seven under a 12-inch oven and 12-15 on top, replenishing these with new briquettes when preparing dishes with long cooking times. If the ground is damp, place a piece of aluminum foil on it to protect your coals or briquettes and get maximum heating.

It's sometimes tricky maintaining the proper heat while cooking. Regulate it by adding or taking away coals on top or beneath, experimenting a bit if necessary. It's a good idea to build a small fire beside the oven and keep shoveling the fresh-made coals from there to the oven. Check the progress of your cooking by lifting the lid with tongs or a hook, and testing.

Remember, Dutch ovens are not just for baking. They work well for pan frying, broiling and deep-frying as well. The lid can be inverted and used as a griddle, with some rocks, or three metal tent pegs driven in the ground, as supports.

Dutch ovens are naturals for one-pot meals, but if you want to get spoiled, try the luxury of a whole battery of ovens: one for meat, one for vegetables, others for bread, pie, cake, cobbler, you name it. This is real living!