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ENJOYING DUTCH OVEN COOKING OF THE WEST
By Mary Emma Allen - American Roads Travel Magazine

One of the joys of traveling throughout the country is discovering the various types of cooking and recipes prepared and served. Some are typical of only that region while others bring back memories of childhood.

During a visit to Cache Valley, Utah, I learned more about Dutch oven cooking. The Town of Wellsville was celebrating its 150th year since the first settlers came from Salt Lake City over Sardine Pass to settle at the south end of the valley.

One activity consisted of a Dutch oven meal to feed around 2,000 visitors and residents. In the Wellsville town square, cooks from eight church wards gathered to cook ribs, potatoes, and dessert (apple crisp) entirely in these cast iron kettles. Their Dutch ovens varied in size depending on what and how much they were preparing.

Common in the West

Dutch oven cooking, a common method of food preparation in the West, has been handed down from the pioneers. They cooked over the open fire in iron kettles. At celebrations like the Wellsville festival, Mountain Men rendezvous, and family gatherings in the back yard, Dutch oven cooking remains a popular activity. .

(When we speak of Dutch ovens in the East, we generally are referring to the large round two-handled kettles, or stock pots, in which we cook larger quantities of food. In the West, they are cast iron kettles made for open fire or charcoal cooking. )

Preparation of 2000 Meals

Cousin DeAnn introduced me to a several people who were involved in the Wellsville celebration. They explained that, for the most part at these festivities, the men did the cooking and women served as hostesses.

Sometimes the ovens are placed individually over gas camp stoves or charcoal briquettes. Other times they’re stacked, one on the other, with coals under and in between them. Thus, the heat from the bottom oven permeates those above.

More Dutch Oven Info

The Dutch ovens generally are cast iron and made in a variety of sizes. They also come in regular depth and deep. Our cousins have 10-inch, 12-inch, and 14-inch ovens. In the 12-inch size, they own a regular and a deep oven. These ovens cost around $35 and up.

These are used for many types of food preparation, including meats, vegetables, desserts, and biscuits. In fact, you can cook almost anything in a Dutch oven.

Used for Rendezvous

Our cousins, Mark and DeAnn and their family, also participate in Mountain Men Rendezvous reenactments where virtually all the cooking is done in Dutch ovens. There often are Dutch oven cooking contests, too.

In addition to stopping by the Wellsville celebration, we helped our cousins and others set up their Mountain Men teepees and wall tents for Pioneer Day festivities that weekend. While we worked, a Dutch oven meal was cooking.

When the tents were up, we enjoyed pork roast with potatoes and carrots cooked in one oven and apple crisp in another. Delicious!

An interesting web site for detailed information about Dutch oven cooking in the West is http://papadutch.home.comcast.net ) Here you’ll find background information, cooking tips, and a multitude of recipes.

Dutch Oven Cobbler

DeAnn contributed a Dutch Oven Cobbler recipe for our family cookbook. They prepared this during this for us in a pit in their backyard during one of our visits.

Use a 10-inch Dutch oven. Pour 2 cans favorite pie filling (or any fruit you have canned) into the oven. Some favorites are cherry, blueberry, apple and peach.

Use a yellow cake mix. One-half package will make one 10-inch Dutch oven cobbler. Add 1 egg and enough milk or water to make the batter the consistency of pancake batter.

Pour cake mixture on top of filling. Place lid on Dutch oven. Bake with hot coals on top and bottom for approximately 15 minutes. Remove oven from fire and continue cooking with only coals on top for an additional 10-20 minutes or until cobbler is done and golden brown.

Serve with ice cream or whipped topping if you have these handy.

©2006 Mary Emma Allen

(Mary Emma Allen writes from her multi-generational home in Plymouth, NH and during her travels around the country. Visit her web sites: www.quiltingandpatchwork.com and www.alzheimersnotes.com . E-mail: me.allen@juno.com )

Provided by American Roads Travel Magazine - Visit American Roads Travel Magazine website.

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