How did this all start?
I have enjoyed a lifetime love for camping. My earliest childhood memories involve the family car or truck being hitched up to a boat, camp trailer, or 5th wheel and the FUN adventures that followed. Hitching up the old car or truck equaled FUN!! I bet that’s true for you too!! Don’t you just smile when you hitch up your boat or trailer?? Thanks mom and dad!!
Why do you camp? I bet you do for a number of reasons. Some of my reasons include my love of being with my family and friends (away from work), to enjoy the healing and relaxing qualities of nature, and my thrill for adventure! Maybe you haven’t really camped before or you had a bad first experience and have been scared to try again. Don’t worry! Don’t give up! You can do it. I hope you find empowering articles in the Lost Dutchman’s Magazine to help you along your camping journey.
Like I explained before, I’ve been camping my whole life. I’ve had a lot of good experiences and a handful of challenges along the way. Boy, I could tell you any number of funny experiences looking back regarding food in the outdoors. Every campout involves food right? Good food, lack of food, and bad food impacts your entire trip.
Lack of food – At age 12, my Scout Master taught me so much through hunger on a 50 mile backpack trip. Breakfast was one oatmeal packet and one hot chocolate pack. If we were lucky, you might get a box of raisins to enhance the meal. Lunch was one cheese and crackers package and a small peanut M&Ms. Dinner, well it was what I would compare to first-generation freeze-dried space food. Yuck, bad food! We spent the whole week talking (complaining) and dreaming about food. We caught and ate every fish we could get our hands on. As grown men, we scouts still talk and joke about that week. Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that our Scout Master was wiser than we thought. His secret plan must have been to make us all want to cook for ourselves. It worked!
I now say, if you’re going to camp, eat GOOD FOOD! I didn’t say eat difficult to make food. I’ve got a secret to share with you. You can cook just about anything you can cook at home in camp. Want to know how? It’s in a camp gadget called a “Dutch Oven”. They have been around for several hundred years.
Abraham Darby is credited with patenting his own method for making smooth cast iron pots and kettles in 1704 after visiting Holland to inspect their process for casting brass vessels. Some say Dutch traders or salesmen coined the name. Others credit Dutch settlers in Pennsylvania who used cast iron pots. No matter who made them, they are great!
A Dutch Oven was most assuredly one of the most valuable items to own right up there with a horse, gun, sturdy bedroll, and a gold pan! Due to their versatility, early Colonists and settlers, hunters, trappers, and campers of all types found them to be a most useful utensil. Today, the States of Idaho and Utah lead the Nation in Dutch Oven use. Give it a try!!
Just like I have an incurable case of gold fever, I’ve developed a co-occurring disorder with cast iron fever. May I never recover. My personal collection includes 14 different ovens! It all started from my very first 12 Inch oven back in college. Thanks Uncle Mike for getting me started.
I suggest you stick with one of the best brands like Lodge Cast Iron. You get what you pay for. $50-$150 depending on size. If taken care of, these ovens will outlive you! Put them in your “Will”. I inherited my 3RD Great Grandmother’s oven who was born in 1857. Talk about cool, it’s fun making a meal in it for my family knowing she did the same in it over 100 years ago!! Side note, her husband, my 3RD Great Grandfather was a Pre-Klondike Gold Prospector. That’s a story for another day.
Well what about you? The new Dutch Oven cook in camp. For the average family I recommend a Lodge Cast Iron Camp Dutch Oven 12 Inch (6 Quart) like I started with. They retail for about $103.00 each. “Camp” means the oven has three legs. This is a must for using charcoal and outdoor cooking. You can cook over coals, on a rack in your house oven, or over a stove burner. Most any family sized main/side dish or desert will fit in it. Practice at home before camping. It’s not cheating, it’s practicing. I do it all the time. Especially with a new recipe. I’m a scientist, I test and measure meals on my family at home before we try them in camp. I want GOOD FOOD!
Next, make sure you have a good set of hot pads or gloves – You’ll only pick up an iron lid barehanded once! Ouch! Of course, I’m not speaking from experience. Ha ha.
Consider where and how to set up your cook station. This can be as simple as spreading out aluminum foil on bare ground to cook on, to a large round oil changing pan (new J) with your charcoal and oven placed in it, or to the coveted Lodge Outdoor Cooking Table. Start simple and build your collection over time. Other items you might want include; a sturdy metal spoon, spatula, lid lifter, and a charcoal starter.
Okay, your brand-new Dutch Oven(s) has just arrived from UPS/USPS. You ran inside after grabbing it from the driver and tore open the box like Christmas morning and you’re excited to cook something. Well here is an old Hitched4fun.com favorite. It’s nearly impossible to screw up. I’ve tested this over many years with well over 100 young scouts. It’s a hit! If they can successfully make it, you can too.
Easy first recipe – Apple Spice Cobbler
- 2 cans of fruit pie filling
- 1 box of dry cake mix
- 1 stick of butter
(Favorites include 2 cans of apple filling with spice cake or 2 cans of peach filling with yellow cake)
- Preheat household oven to 350 degrees or light approx. 25 charcoal briquettes.
- Line Dutch oven bottom and sides with aluminum foil (for easy cleanup. Purists cringe hearing about foil in an oven, but you’re new, who cares)
- Spread fruit evenly over foil
- Spread dry cake mix evenly over fruit (do not mix cake)
- Cut slices of butter and evenly distribute over the dry cake mixture.
- Place in preheated household oven for about 20-30 minutes
- Use white hot briquettes – 13 evenly distributed on bottom and 12 evenly distributed on top cook for about 20-30 minutes. Rotate the oven a quarter turn and spin the lid a quarter turn every 10 minutes or so to eliminate hotspots.
- You’ll know when it’s done when all of the dry cake mix has become wet (due to bubbling/boiling fruit and melting butter) and is slightly browned.
- Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yum!!!!
I hope I’ve inspired you to give Dutch Oven cooking a try. In March of 2018, I embarked on a new adventure. I this online store. I have always dreamed of combining my passion for the outdoors, helping others and having fun! It finally happened. I don’t sell anything that I’m not passionate about. Feel free to reach out to me with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. I want you to have fun cooking outdoors! We offer high quality and reasonably priced products that add fun and uniqueness to your campsite day or night. Aaron M. Scullin, Owner Hitched4fun.com