30 Mar

The good and the ugly


I’ve heard so much about the Tartine Bread book and its wonderful “Country Bread” that I had to try it.  I made my levain Saturday night, mixed up the dough Sunday morning, and spent the day letting it bulk ferment, with stretch and folds done every half hour over the course of four hours.  Obviously I couldn’t go anywhere!

I shaped the loaves later and proofed them overnight in the fridge, then baked them bright and early this morning.

I’m very pleased with the way they turned out!  The author didn’t specify what protein percentage his flour was, so I left out fifty grams as I used King Arthur all-purpose, and would rather err on the wet side.  It was pretty wet, but held its shape so I think I guessed about right!

Very tasty!  The recipe has 100 grams of wheat flour and the levain has 50 grams, but I substituted rye flour in the levain.  One loaf is for us, the other gets traded for fresh eggs this afternoon.

I decided to try a clafouti in the dutch oven since I was stuck at home for the four hours the bread was fermenting.  I think it might have been great if I’d used a twelve-inch dutch oven, but instead it was an epic fail as my ten inch oven wasn’t big enough.

It was perfectly set and golden brown on the bottom (it still baffles me that nothing burns… at least not yet, and I’m using way more coals than the popular recommendations) but rose to towering heights, halted only by the lid, to which it clung to with a passion.  It tore off of course when I lifted the lid, and collapsed shortly thereafter.  Clafouti collapses anyway, creating a lovely custardy “cake”, but this was so sad looking I opted to skip the picture.  We ate it anyway, all of it.  It was delicious if you kept your eyes closed.

Jim and I have been looking at fire pits and wood fired grills.  We narrowed our choices down to a couple, and finally settled on this one.

36swingIt’s called a Cowboy Campfire Grill, measures thirty-six inches in diameter, and we decided it was the perfect choice because it doubles as a fire pit we could use right on our patio, break it down and take up to the land, or even back home for a family cook out.  Jim absolutely loves cooking over a wood fire, and I have to say, it’s pretty nice to kick back and have a glass of wine while he cooks for a change!

We do still want to build a fire pit in the back yard, but we just can’t yet picture in our heads how we want to do our back yard, so it’s still a blank canvas.

The grill will be about two months getting here, so it probably won’t get a lot of use until fall is here again.  Jim and I always seem to buy things at the wrong time of year… the kayaks, the camper…

29 Mar

Mountain man breakfast over coals


Yesterday bright and early, Jim and I headed to Woolley Hollow state park, about an hour away, for a dutch oven educational event and lunch.  We had a blast and it confirmed that this is something we are both going to absolutely love doing!

Despite the fact that it was raining and cold, we all managed to enjoy it.  Sixteen people showed up, and we made Hungarian goulash, biscuits, and apple pie.

When Jim and I got home, the weather was quite a bit nicer at the house, and we decided we’d make dinner outside in our dutch oven.  I’ve seen a number of variations of a dish called “mountain man breakfast” and we whipped up our own.

We browned some bacon in our ten inch shallow dutch oven, and some hot pork sausage in a skillet.  Next we added a couple of leeks and a poblano pepper, then some chunked red potatoes, skins on.  After the potatoes were cooked through, we pressed them down well all over so the egg layer wouldn’t run through them.

Half a dozen eggs followed, topped by the sausage, and then the cheese.

This turned out wonderfully well, sliced up nicely like a pie and really hit the spot after a cold, wet day.

We hit several flea markets on our way home, looking for that elusive sixteen inch Lodge dutch oven, but no luck.

27 Mar

Pigs in the cornfield


Today I did my very first campfire dutch oven meal.  I watched some videos on Youtube, and came across several that looked fun to try!

Pigs in the cornfield tickled me to death, both the name and the hodgepodge of ingredients.  I scaled it back a bit, to make in a ten inch deep dutch oven, but it’s still a lot of food!

Jim and I buy our pork from a local butcher, and they make excellent spicy pork sausage, and andouille, both of which I used in this dish.

I began by greasing my dutch oven with… bacon grease of course.  A girl cannot have enough bacon in her life.  Then I smeared half of the can of cream of onion soup on the bottom, followed by a row of corn ears on end, with the Andouille sausages, cut in half, between them.

Next I filled the well with chunked red potatoes, skins on, a poblano pepper, a whole leek,  the spicy bulk pork sausage, some of the blackening seasoning and the other half of the cream of onion soup.

The pork steak was seasoned on both sides with the blackening seasoning, placed on top of everything, and topped with the creamy poblano and quesa soup.  And more blackening seasoning!

Then I  started a “cobbler”.  You all know how I feel about boxed and packaged stuff… but in the spirit of camping and learning, I’m going to give this a whirl.

This time I used our shallow ten inch dutch oven, and lined it with parchment paper.  The can of pie filling went in first, followed by frozen blackberries from our freezer, a little cinnamon sugar, the cake mix, more cinnamon sugar, and a stick of butter cut into slices.  No mixing, no drama, just cover and set it on the coals.

The pigs in a cornfield were excellent.  Both of my sausages were spicy, and those flavors seeped into the potatoes and the corn, but it was subtle.  I quite liked it!  The corn was great, as were the veggies and sausages.  The pork steak was very tender, but next time I need to season it more as being on top of everything, it was a little bland.

The “cobbler”?  Not so much.  I honestly didn’t expect it to thrill me, and it didn’t.  I won’t be making any more “dump” cobblers or cakes.  The next dessert I try will be from real food. :)  It’s not awful by any means, and I’m guessing most people would actually quite like it.  But I’m not most people :)

And there they are!  Not bad for my first cook.  It was actually a lot of fun.  I went through a lot more charcoal then what I read I should, and it also took a lot more charcoal to reach the temperatures (350 degrees) that I needed, even though there was no wind and it was about fifty degrees out.