How to Cook in the Great Outdoors: A Primer on Dutch and Reflector Ovens

by Darren Bush on June 9, 2011 · 38 comments

in Food & Drink, Outdoors, Travel & Leisure

Photo credit: Jim Pippitt

 


This post is part of a series brought to you by RAM. For more information about RAM Series trucks visit us at: http://www.ramtrucks.com/en/guts_and_glory/. What’s this?

Outdoor cooking is part of the curriculum for Manliness 101. Anyone can cook on a range top or oven in the comfort of a kitchen. But whipping together a chocolate cake for a birthday and baking it in a Dutch oven…that’s impressive, and unforgettable for the birthday celebrant.

Ultra-light camping has its place; hiking 50 miles in 5 days carrying a 35 pound backpack necessarily means dehydrated food and going without some of the daily staples. Backpacking is awesome when you want to really get away from civilization and do something more rustic.

But with gas prices as they are, more people are choosing to camp close to home–out of a car, truck, or small trailer. Car camping is great for when you only have time for a short trip and are looking to do something less Spartan and more relaxing. What’s great about car camping is that it allows you a lot more variety in what you can make for your grub, which, as any camper knows, is one of the best parts of camping. Food just tastes better when it’s made and enjoyed while you’re out in nature.

There are essentially two ways to bake in the great outdoors: reflecting heat from a campfire into a reflector, creating an oven, and trapping heat in a cast-iron Dutch oven by applying heat in the form of coals directly to the surface of the oven. Both have advantages and disadvantages and today we’ll give you a primer on each method.

The Reflector Oven

Stand too close to a campfire and you’ll feel your shins toast a little. That’s radiant heat–the basis of reflective oven cooking. The basic idea here is simple: focus the heat where you want as evenly as possible.

A well-designed reflector focuses the heat evenly on the top and bottom of the pan holding your food. Otherwise, your oven will bake unevenly (horribly, actually), as if your oven at home lost one of the elements; you’ll get a burned top and a raw bottom.

Folded down flat, a reflector oven takes up little space.

A benefit of the reflector oven is its weight and compact size. A reflector oven doesn’t weigh very much, and when folded down flat, it takes up little space. So for those sensitive to weight and size, a reflector’s a good choice. Canoe campers can carry more than backpackers, so we who camp out of canoes love these.

For the best baking, I like to take well-burning logs and put them up on their ends, leaning against a support of some sort, often the inside of a fire ring if it’s large enough. To judge the temperature, hold your hand right in front of the oven and count rapidly…onetwothreefourfiveOUCH. The ouch at five means you’re at 350-375 degrees. An ouch at four is about 400-425 degrees. Three means charcoal for dinner. Despite the best intentions, there are hot spots, so use some tongs to rotate the pan periodically, or when you see a hot spot start to form.

You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned any specific foods. That’s because you can cook anything in the reflector oven. The longer you need to cook an item, the more you have to plan ahead for maintaining the fire to keep the heat relatively consistent. I’ve baked lasagna, broiled vegetables, and baked cinnamon rolls with a reflector oven.

The key to this is practice. Don’t expect to make a Baked Alaska your first time out. Start with simple baked goods. If we’re camping with the kids, we often use the frozen rolls in a tube so the kids can participate. The bake time is quick and the odor will often draw in other kids who want some too.

Dutch Ovens

Beginner Dutch oven cookers should start with charcoal briquettes.

Perhaps more familiar to the average person, the Dutch oven is ages old in one form or another. The cast iron flat-bottomed pot with small feet to elevate it off the hearth and the recessed lid for holding coals is iconic. Cast ironware was so valuable in the original 13 colonies that it was often listed specifically in a person’s will. The reason the Dutch oven has endured is because it works…and lasts. And lasts. And lasts.

Like a reflector oven, there’s nothing you can do in a regular oven that you can’t do in a Dutch oven. It will take practice and a few semi-burned dishes, but persist and you’ll make it. The trick to getting started is heat regulation. While expert chefs can cook with any fire source, beginners should start with charcoal briquettes.

Briquettes provide a very stable heat source. You can get a consistent heat of 350 degrees by using twice the briquettes as the diameter of the oven. In other words, if you have a 12-inch oven, you’ll want to use 24 briquettes. Instead of dividing the briquettes evenly on the top and bottom of the oven, place 2-3 more briquettes on the top, because that’s where you want a little more heat. So to get a good stable heat, a 12-inch oven will have 14-15 briquettes on top and 9-10 on the bottom.

You'll want a pair of big pliers as well as a lid lifter.

The lid lifter in action.

You will have to replace briquettes as they burn down, of course, and a pair of tongs are critical to avoid burns and to keep control of your heat.  You will also want a pair of big pliers as well as a lid lifter.  I also use a pair of welding gloves and a small trowel if I’m cooking with coals from a fire rather than briquettes.

Tools needed for safe Dutch oven cooking, especially when you're using coals from a fire.

A properly seasoned cast iron Dutch oven has amazing non-stick properties. Most cast iron cookware comes pre-seasoned from the factory, but you still want to do your own pre-seasoning and maintenance.

If your cast iron is new and unseasoned, you’ll know it. It will have a rough, dry feel and it will look like anything will stick to it. Wash your oven with hot water and soap (the one and only time you should!) and coat it with vegetable oil (canola works great). Olive oil doesn’t work; I learned the hard way. Put your Dutch oven on a cookie sheet in a conventional oven set to 250 degrees and let it bake for an hour or so, then turn the oven off and let it cool. Wipe off any excess oil and you’re ready to cook.

With the exception of a brand new oven, do not use soap on your oven, ever. It removes your hard-earned seasoning. If your oven is properly seasoned, you won’t need it. Just wipe it out with paper towels or scour it with sand if available. The more you cook fatty foods (bacon, frying of any sort, etc.) your oven will self-season. Acidic foods like tomatoes or beans can remove seasoning, so you’ll have to season it again.

One of the things that can lure me to a rural barn sale is the prospect of picking up some cast iron for a song. I’ve found Dutch ovens and frying pans that are so old the person at the yard sale can’t remember if it was Grampa’s or Great-Grampa’s. It just doesn’t wear out. Even if rusty, you can bring a Dutch oven back to life with a good scouring with a steel wool pad, lots of soap and water, and then a seasoning regimen that’ll make it good as new.

On your next camping adventure, why not experiment a little with baking? Rolls, cobblers, bannock breads, or biscuits are good starters. I’ve included a few recipes and instructions for the easy things to get you started. There’s nothing quite like cooking a pan of sweet rolls in an reflector oven after dark, or turning a pineapple upside down cake out of an oven onto a plate. Be sure to wear a “Kiss The Cook” apron.

Dutch Oven Recipes

Baking Powder Biscuits

2 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2/3 to 3/4 cup of milk (reconstituted powdered milk is fine)
3 teaspoons of baking powder
1/4 cup of vegetable oil

Mix dry stuff together. Add wet stuff. Mix it all and pat it into the bottom of a well-oiled Dutch oven. Bake until done, usually between 12-15 minutes.

Alternatives:
Mix in a teaspoon of thyme, rosemary, or any other favorite herb for herb-flavored biscuits.
Sauté onions, parsley, or any other small vegetables and fold them into the crust for a more savory biscuit.
Lay a few pieces of bacon on the bottom of the pan and cook for a few minutes, then put the biscuit dough on top and bake normally. The bacon gets crispy and the biscuits are infused with that wonderful smoked pork smell. Not for vegans.

Roast Chicken

Dinner is served!

This is not a recipe, it’s a guideline. Put a little oil in the bottom of the oven, add a chopped onion and whatever you want to add. Add a cup of water or broth, a can of tomatoes, and a chicken. Cook it until the chicken falls apart. That’s the idea behind most Dutch oven cooking.

Canoelover’s Potatoes

3 fist-sized potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
1 small onion, diced
3-6 strips of bacon, sliced into squares. Bacon lovers can go up to 10.
1 tsp rosemary or thyme, depending on your tastes
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Dice the potatoes into cubes about 1/4-3/8 inches square and set aside.  Put the bacon in the oven and saute until it’s soft but not brown.  Add the onion and saute until it’s a little golden and translucent.  Add the potatoes and the spices, and stir until it’s amalgamated. If you were skimpy on the bacon you might have to add a little oil.  Cover and bake for 10-15 minutes, open and stir it.  If it seems a little dry, add a few tablespoons of liquid–some recommend beer.

Cook another 10-15, but watch it.  It’s done when you want to eat it. If you want it crispier, cook it longer.  Again, coals on top are more important than the bottom.

Small Tip: You can prepare the bacon ahead of time by rolling strips into small rolls that you can freeze individually.  Makes it easy to grab what you want.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake  (good for a 10 or 12 inch oven)

1 (18 ounce) box yellow cake mix
Eggs and oil as dictated by the cake mix
For the liquid called for by the mix, do not use water, use the pineapple juice from the can.
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 a stick of butter.
1 can of pineapple, sliced or crushed.  I like crushed, but drain it well.

Melt butter in the bottom of the oven.  If it smokes a lot or browns quickly, pull it off the heat a bit and add the pineapple. Prepare the mix as directed, but add a few tablespoons less juice than the recipe asks for as there is a lot of liquid in the pineapple.  Bake until done: it should be about the same time as a regular oven, but watch it.  Add coals to the top of the oven, but don’t worry about the bottom too much unless all the coals die out.

What are your tips and recipes for cooking with Dutch and reflector ovens? Share them with us in the comments!

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brandon June 9, 2011 at 10:24 am

Yum! I remember my friend’s dad was a master of this when we went camping. All the other campers always wandered over to “talk” while they were secretly hoping to get some Dutch-Oven-cooked-goodness!

2 Andy June 9, 2011 at 10:29 am

If you’re feeling extra-brave and have a lava-hot bed of hardwood coals, you can also try your hand at “Tarzan steak” – you basically throw the steak directly onto the coals. If they’re sufficiently hot, the steak will be seared and sealed almost instantly, so very little sticks to it. Not to be attempted with conifer wood (Unless you like the taste of pine tar.)

3 Chris June 9, 2011 at 10:39 am

Man, back when I wa sin Boy Scouts and camoing at least once a month I got pretty good with the old Dutch Oven. Spare Ribs and Cabbage was one of my favs, and we made the very same Pineapple Upside Down cake recipie mentioned above. I even did Beef Stew one time. Dutch Ovens are the absolute best camping cooking tool (soups, stews, casseroles, baked goods, you name it, even deep frying)

4 Ben June 9, 2011 at 10:51 am

You can become the hero of a camping trip with a dutch oven. A pound of ground beef, half bag of shredded cheese, half bag of thawed potatoe tots, any spices you prefer and some bbq sauce. Bingo, you’ve got cheesy beef n potatoes that will please anyone within smelling distance or downwind.

5 Les June 9, 2011 at 10:52 am

Back when I was in Boy Scouts we would sometimes cook cobbler and biscuits for 200+ people. We made a huge fire and took the coals to put on top of the dutch ovens stacked one on top of another. Its important to remember the heat comes from top down instead of bottom up.

6 Martin Redford June 9, 2011 at 11:06 am

This is just great that you teach cooking in a blog for men. Resourcefulness is actually one of the top 10 things women find attractive in men. Read my post here: http://www.theperfectmaleblog.com/2011/01/top-10-things-women-find-attractive-in.html Maybe you’ll get other ideas to write about ;)

7 Philip June 9, 2011 at 11:30 am

I’ll be making my first Dutch-oven meal attempt this weekend. Any reason to avoid making some Cowboy coffee in the same pot next morning?

8 Rob June 9, 2011 at 11:46 am

Man I miss those peach cobblers on Santa Catalina island off of L.A., this brings me back.

9 Jack June 9, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Great article, just one piece of advice I differ with. Flax seed oil should be used to season your cast iron. It creates a better bond with your cast iron and will last a lot longer.

10 Enlightened Neanderthal June 9, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Philip, at the thought of cowboy coffee I immediately thought “remember to dump in a cup of cold water at the end” – it’ll drop the grounds to the bottom so that you’re not left chewing your coffee,
I actually just used my dutch oven for the first time 3 weeks ago camping, along side my cast iron frying pan over the fire cooking up some bacon, hashbrowns and eggs over the fire, nothing better than frying potatoes in a little bacon grease and then using the same pan to fry the eggs.
I only used the dutch oven to hold items while the next one cooked, kept it right in the pit with the lid on – absolute heaven.
Mountain Equipement Co-op is a great place to pick up gear – it’s where I picked up our new dutch oven – it’s cast aluminum rather than iron – equally as effective but much lighter with less need for seasoning.

11 Andrew#2 June 9, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Alright no one mentioned Roast Chicken Larry’s fabulous goatee!

I’ve never tried the reflector oven but we did a fair bit of cooking over the fire in camp. One thing that we noticed is what they call “Irish-cooked” potatoes — potatoes slow cooking in simmering water. They cook all the way through but maintain the harder, waxier texture, even if they’re baking potatoes. Makes for good hash browns. Just set them on the coals and go do something else.

12 2buttonswag June 9, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Reflector ovens are fun to use. When I was younger, every year for about 7 years I would spend my summers at a camp on Lake Winnepesaukee. We spend quite a bit of time at base camps prior to hiking in the White Mountains. These were always great. However, it was usually just Ramen with whatever vegetables and meat we had. On the peaks, it was always PB&J in a flour tortilla. I still eat the hell out of those things to this day! College ruined the Ramen for me. Great article!

13 jweaks June 9, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Dutch ovens rock, so fun and delicious and not hard at all once you give it a couple of tries. The heat from coals can vary greatly depending on multiple factors but the basic formula laid out here is fine. Do be careful with the number of coals on the bottom. It is easy to burn the bottom. ~5 on the bottom and ~18 on the top will work for many recipes.

Many dessert recipes you see call for a ton of added sugar and/or butter; you can do with less or without and still have a sweet dessert. Basic cobbler:

1 box of cake mix
2 large cans of pie fruit
1/2 cup of water
Pour the fruit in the oven, then a little water, spread the cake mix over the top (do not not stir in the cake mix, leave it sitting on the top) , and bake it. You can lift the lid every few minutes and see how it is progressing… when it’s nice and bubbly and getting brown on top, serve it up!

While you might be able to get away with it, I would NEVER put soap on cast iron.

jw

14 Eric June 9, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Just a little bit of a different idea on the pineapple upside down cake: I use your identical recipe, verbatim, but I cook mine in a 12 inch skillet with a dutch oven lid. It takes about 15 minutes to cook and is the best cake I’ve ever had.

15 Michael Titman June 9, 2011 at 11:34 pm

I’ve learned a fantastic, long-lasting seasoning tip for a good friend of mine a few years ago. Do this with cast iron that has already taken a beating. Take a cast iron and some paper towel, and lather flaxseed oil over it, and stick the pot/pan/lid into your oven set on “broil” and let bake for about an hour. Make sure your house is well ventilated. Repeat this process six times at minimum. The difference with the Flaxseed oil are the omega-3′s and omega-6′s. I don’t remember the science behind it but I can attest to the results. It’s a seasoning you can throw acidic foods like tomatoes at without having to reseason. Also consider performing this to your grill grid. Nothing sticks, not even flaking grilled fish.

16 Michael Titman June 9, 2011 at 11:44 pm

Well here: http://tinyurl.com/33ckwqm The science behind Flaxseed oil as a seasoning.

17 Darren June 10, 2011 at 12:36 am

Michael, that’s fascinating. I’ve never heard of using flaxseed oil. The next time I find a piece of iron cookware in a scrap heap I’ll get some flaxseed oil and give it a shot. Always nice to learn something new!

18 boocat June 10, 2011 at 5:50 am

I found a very rusty set of cast iron cookware on the dirt underneath the floor of an old house slated to be demolished. People told me that they were ruined, so pitted with rust were the pieces. I didn’t agree, so I took them out to the guys who sandblast old car bumpers and rechrome the parts. They hung them on a line and blasted the bejabbers out of that cookware. The set was like new when I picked them up a week later. All I had to do was re-season them by repeatedly wiping them down with cooking oil and baking them on a lower setting in the oven.
They were ancient when I got them, and I’ve used them for forty years. And they are going in my will!

19 P.M.Lawrence June 10, 2011 at 7:04 am

Er… people who go looking for information on “flax seed oil” are going to get an unbalanced view. Just as pig or cow meat have different names (pork and beef), the processed products of the flax plant, and its seeds, traditionally have different names – here, involving the prefix “lin-”, as in linoleum, linen, and linseed. So, to get full information, look up linseed oil.

20 Stephen June 10, 2011 at 9:49 am

When I was in Boy Scouts we used to cook just about everything in a dutch oven or cast iron skillet. In fact I thought that’s what all skillets should look like. Anyways.

One personal fav and always a great meal, quick and easy, is beef stew with biscuits. Bare with me it’s been awhile since I’ve done it, but take about 1 or 2 cans of beef stew (faster and easier to carry) put on bottom of Dutch oven. Then take a roll or two of canned biscuits and place on top of the stew flat and not overlapping. Place the lid on top and let ‘er cook. You have a nice biscuit for bread along with the stew.

Something else I remember doing was digging a hole deep and wide enough to put a bed of coals on bottom along the sides and on top. The earth traps the heat and contains it to cook faster.

My wife and I requested a Dutch oven and skillet. We are hoping to get a chance to go out camping before we get too busy with work.

21 Mark June 10, 2011 at 11:03 am

Back when we used to do alot of coon hunting down here in Mississippi, we would take the first kill of the night and skin it out and throw it in an ole dutch oven with potatoes and other vegetables and throw some coals from the camp fire on top. when it was time to follow the dogs as they chased another coon, two of us would carry the dutch oven with a sturdy stick stuck through the handles of a wash tub that had the oven and coals in it. We would carry this as we followed the hounds and have a good midnight meal around a new campfire when it was done. Of course we gave the hounds a nibble as a reward. Sometimes we would have a special treat, Mississippi Rye Moonshine to sip on, it really set the mood and gave birth to some colorful conversation.

22 Ward P. Deaton, Jr. June 10, 2011 at 11:03 am

Nice article, however, I must disagree concerning Dutch Oven cooking information.

This info comes from years and 100′s of Dutch Oven dishes, all cooked in the great outdoors and the vast majority of them successful.

You can solve the heat loss problem buy putting thick tin foil on the ground and placing the brickets on it.

When cooking things that will burn, such as cobblers, bread pudding, fresh bread, one only needs 6 to 8 brickets on bottom and 12 to 20 on top depending on time of year and windage.

When cooking bisquets or pies it is advisable to put them in a pie pan and elevate them off the bottom of the Oven using 4 or 5 stones of chunks of wood of similar size.

23 David Alan June 10, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Hey Darren:

Great article, great blog !

I’m wondering how one would change the method IF using hardwoods (or softwoods like Pine) in place of the charcoal briquettes. Any insights ?

Reason I ask, is thinking in the mindset of ‘prepping’ in case of the ‘zombie apocalypse’, folks might have need to use only locally available wood – any supplies of charcoal in such a scenario might be limited / non existent.

We happen to have a ‘purchased for Y2k’ but never used, Lodge Dutch Oven with tripod stand. Your article inspires us to dust it off & get to cooking.

Many thanks for the article & any thoughts you have on using wood for the heat source,

David Alan

FYI: We live in the South where hardwoods are quite readily available – oak, hickory primarily. With sweetgum & pine, also.

24 Dood June 10, 2011 at 3:15 pm

I’m sorry but only Americans can take a cast iron oven with them and call it ‘camping’.

As an army camp perhaps but frankly if you want that kind of food stay at home. Order a pizza or something. Watch TV. Surf the internet.

“Camping” and “oven” do not belong in the same sentence, let alone the same article. What next you big wussies, solar-powered showers? Oh wait…

If you can’t cook it in your coffee cup or deep-walled pan it’s at the wrong kind of dinner party. I mean seriously, camping by truck? Don’t tell me, you bring a 12v TV too don’t you? Go on, admit it, you’re sitting around your “camping oven” watching Youtube videos of real camping on your phones.

Pft.

“Camping” eh?

Camp more like.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_(style)

25 Steve M June 10, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Another AOM treat. I also find David Alan’s question interesting. I would love to see an article on how to create charcoal itself. I believe charcoal making was a specific Middle Ages job set/task (source Michael Flynn’s Eifelheim). How about how to use coal itself (safely) in cooking.

26 Bill June 10, 2011 at 8:22 pm

When cooking deserts in your dutch oven, clean up is a breeze if you line it with aluminum foil first. and it won’t stick (which it shouldn’t anyway if your oven is properly seasoned, this just adds a bit of insurance).

27 Rich June 10, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Anything that could be cooked in a home oven can be cooked in a dutch oven. My favorite adaptions include lasagna, cornish game hens on a bed of stuffing, or a full turkey cooked using two large dutch oven bases, one turn upside down on the other.

If one does not want to carry a 30 pound dutch oven when backpacking, an improvised dutch oven can be made with two deep metal pie pans using binder clips to hold them together when cooking.

Cooking with a dutch oven is much easier if you can cook with it on the table top. Use an metal oil drain pan, fill it with sand to within 1 inch (1.54 cm) of the top, you are now ready to cook as soon as you place a single layer of coals on the sand.

A few other tricks include flipping the lid over and using it as a griddle for cooking pancakes in the morning, and using the base as a wok,

Though no recipe adaptions for dutch ovens have yet to be posted on http://www.asimplehomecook.com keep checking both here, in these comments and on asimplehomecook.com as we will be posting some tasty recipe adaptions.

28 Micghael Ponzani June 10, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Lard orks well for seasoning cast iron, too. The nice thing about lard is you can rub it on and control the amojunt of coating the iron gets.

29 Darren June 11, 2011 at 8:07 am

@David: My advise is to start with charcoal briquettes, but after a few trials switch to coals dug from your hardwood fire and scattered in top (and under) the oven. For that I use a short shovel (and my welding glove) because where there are hardwood coals, there’s a lot of heat. Determining how much heat the coals are throwing off is really an art. Hickory throws a lot more heat than softwoods, and if it’s breezy it’ll be even hotter. So just mess around with it.

As far as making charcoal: http://www.cardcow.com/54240/making-charcoal-at-jack-daniels-lynchburg-tennessee/ They’ve been at it for a long time.

@Rich: Interesting about the oil pans…when I do cooking demos I use those (with kitty litter) on picnic tables. I hadn’t thought about using them while camping, probably because I had no room in my pack. Those solar showers and my 12v TV I always carry leave little room for real gear. I guess I could use my satellite dish in place of the oil pan and kill two birds with one stone.

30 TriSec June 11, 2011 at 9:21 am

Any Boy Scout worth his salt can do all of this without trying. :-)

31 Noel June 13, 2011 at 4:04 pm

I would not use sand to clean a Dutch oven, too abrasive. My suggestion would be kosher salt.

32 Aaron Sun June 18, 2011 at 1:18 am

For even greater dutch oven portability, it is possible to build one out of three pie tins, short bolts, and wingnuts, which is perfect for backpacking trips.

take two of the tins and drill three holes in a triangle formation (spaced a couple inches apart), then invert one of the drilled tins. Place bolts and wingnuts into these holes and screw them tight.

Take three file clips and attach the third pie tin to the bottom. (This is the one that holds the contents of what you cook).

The top part holds coals and you also heat from the bottom, just like a cast iron dutch oven.

33 jeff June 26, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Don’t bother with the Dutch oven on a campout until you’ve used it in the kitchen for a while. Take any and all recipes you like and see how they work with a steady heat from the range and oven. If you can’t make something decent in the kitchen, you’re going to waste it while camping. Personally, I use a bean pot when camping; it is a high sided cast iron, or ceramic, sauce pan that holds about 2 1/2 quarts, which is just right for beans, stews, rice, and soups. Unless you have enough people to finish off the whole meal, you will have trouble saving it when using a Dutch oven and it is a hazard in bear country or if there are a lot of scavenging animals around. If you’re just starting out, I would suggest you go to a Dutch oven cookout, they have contests all over the country and you will learn more in an afternoon than you will from all the cook books and videos around. Besides you get to eat a lot for just a few dollars. Whatever you use, Dutch oven, bean pot, sauce pan, just be sure to use the same one in the kitchen that you use on the campout, and you will learn how to adjust to the different heat source, which is the key to cooking anyway.

34 Ted Larson January 25, 2013 at 1:15 pm

I have been fortunate enough to have learned the art of cooking with a dutch oven when I was about 10 years old. I have made stews, chili and cobblers in my old dutch oven not to mention biscuts as well. Great article.

35 Sarah January 29, 2013 at 4:21 am

Num… num… num…
I love the idea of a reflector oven. Great for making things crispy. Thanks also for sharing your recipes. Can’t wait to try them out on my next camping trip.

36 Lauren March 8, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Hello Darren and/or anyone else who might now where to buy the reflector ovens pictured in this column.

Does anyone know where I could buy these? I have used them extensively and like them a lot. Cinnamon rolls have never tasted so good as they do coming fresh out of the reflector oven when your 15 days into a trip.

Also wondering if anyone knows how to effectively direct heat onto the top of what you are cooking. I always find that the bottom is burnt when the top is nicely done. Jury rigged a few things to help remedy the problem but it would be nice not to have to.

Thanks,
Lauren

37 thatguy November 16, 2013 at 8:33 am

Dutch ovens are the best. Yes, you can take them “real” camping, on extended paddling, hunting trips, etc. The best part of “real” camping is real food. Dutch ovens are well worth their weight except for on extended hiking trips. We have cooked our Thanksgiving turkey for the past three years in one along with vegetables. As others have suggested, hardwood coals are the way to got. It takes a little more time and care but provides wood smoke and more time for drinks and conviviality.

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