Posts Tagged ‘Dutch oven’

Copyright 2010 Ozarkhomesteader.  Short excerpts with full links are welcome.

Seasoning cast iron can be an unpleasant task.  Lodge Manufacturing, the best American cast iron company, recommends re-seasoning using vegetable shortening and a hot oven for an hour.  The Lodge method works, but it leaves the house smelling of overcooked vegetable shortening, plus it uses a lot of energy.  When my cast iron surface needs a little work, I prefer to either fry in it (something we don’t do very often) or just pop popcorn!Earlier today. my 2-quart cast iron Dutch oven looked disreputable.  I know; I should be ashamed for mistreating my cast iron this way, but I swear it just happened because I cooked high-acid tomato sauce in it.Here’s a close up.  I know, I know.  I may get kicked out of the Cast Iron American Society.The solution?  Make popcorn!  Start by pouring enough oil in the bottom of your warm Dutch oven to coat the bottom, at a depth of about 1/8 inch.  The warmth will help the oil spread.  Otherwise, you may end up with too much oil and greasy popcorn. Now pour in just two corn kernels.  Heat the pot on high (medium-high for some electric burners!–or use a pyrex wire diffuser (example) to get less direct heat on high) until the two kernels pop.  Scoop out the two kernels with a slotted spoon.  Now pour in the rest of your kernels, about 1/4 to 1/3 of a cup for a 2-quart Dutch oven, 1/2 to 2/3 cup for a 4-quart Dutch oven, and so forth.  Put the lid on the pot immediately, because the kernels will start to pop right away.  Position the lid so that it vents steam.

Do you like real butter?  Do not use “lite” margarine!  If you have real butter and want it in your popcorn, make sure you have it standing by.  Cut off a pat and slip it in under the lid, taking care not to let kernels escape.  More butter????  Sure, just slip it in on the other side of the pot.

Very quickly, the corn will go from exploding rapid fire like a hundred machine guns to sounding more like an occasional pop. Turn off the heat.  If you have an electric stove top, remove the pot from the hot burner, or else you’ll burn the popcorn on the bottom.  A few kernels may still pop after you turn off the heat, so don’t open it yet.  Instead, get the salt.  Okay, now open the lid carefully.  Shake on some salt.  Taste.  Add a little more if you want.  Scoop off the luscious popcorn.

Mmmmmmmm.  Let’s eat!

Oh, you say I was talking about cast iron?  Oh.  I remember!  Yes, we’re making popcorn to re-season my neglected cast iron.  Yes, I ate the popcorn.  Then I rinsed the salt out of the Dutch oven and dried it off.  Do you want an “after” picture?  Here it is, showing the thin layer of hot oil that the popcorn neatly distributed across the surface of the Dutch oven, re-seasoning it all over.I wonder if my 4-quart Dutch oven needs re-seasoning too?  Yes, I’m grinning from ear to ear.  Oh, I’m so sorry for getting corny! Oops, there goes another pun!

Thanks to Linda Watson at CookforGood, who referred to this post in an article on making turmeric-seasoned popcorn.  I do have one little correction to the CookforGood article.  Watson said you need to shake the cast iron pan while you’re popping.  No, you don’t have to do that!  The heavy bottom of the cast iron, the high heat with which you start (after you test pop those two kernels) and the short popping time will allow you to pop without shaking the pan.  Just be sure to turn off the heat (and remove the pan from the burner if you use an electric burner) when the popping slows.  You’ll have great, burn-free popcorn.

Do you have questions about caring for cast iron or making old-fashioned popcorn on the stove top?  Feel free to post here!


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Another post in the series “Living with and Loving Cast Iron”

Are you new to Dutch ovens but excited to try one for your next camp out?  The following recipe is so easy that I hesitate to even call it that.  It is also not my own creation but rather a recipe that’s been circulating for years.  This recipe is for the small 2-quart Dutch oven, but you can multiply it to use a bigger Dutch oven.

Begin by assembling ingredients:

1 small cornbread mix (I like Hodgson Mill’s whole grain mix when I use a mix instead of making from scratch)

butter or oil, eggs and buttermilk or milk to make the cornbread, according to the recipe

one or two cans of good chili (We use vegetarian chili, but you can use whatever you want.)

1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

If you are using a camping Dutch oven outside, start your coals.

Begin by coating the Dutch oven lightly with oil.  If you are camping and want easy clean-up, you can coat with oil and then line the Dutch oven with aluminum foil and then grease the aluminum foil too. Now open the can(s) of chili and pour it into the bottom of the Dutch oven.  Sprinkle on the cheese.  Now mix up the corn bread according to package directions and spread it on top of the chili and cheese.  Take a knife and poke through the corn bread batter to the chili in several places.  You want them to get to know each other, but don’t marry them.

Now place your Dutch oven on top of about 5 coals. Spread about 8 coals on top.  Use more coals if you are using a larger Dutch oven. Every ten minutes or so, rotate your Dutch oven on the coals on the bottom and turn the lid (very carefully to avoid getting ash in the food!) on top.  Check periodically to see if the cornbread is browning.  After about 30 minutes, you’ll have an all-in-one meal for 2-4 people.

By the way, if you use powdered egg white and milk, you can keep the ingredients for this cornbread-chili-cheese bake on hand for months with no refrigeration.

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My family goes on a long river trip every year or so.  When we do, we used to be stuck with tortilla wraps for our sandwiches after the couple of days and no bread with dinners.  You see, bread molds easily, and it crushes even more easily.  The solution came when Mark Bittman posted a no-knead bread recipe on the New York Times “Minimalist” column a couple of years ago.  Here’s a link to the story:


It didn’t take much for a Dutch Oven lover to look at the recipe and say, “I could do that on a river trip!”  I decided to adapt the recipe for whole wheat (which Bittman later did too), and I cut the recipe in half to use a small Dutch Oven.  Here’s the recipe I developed for river trips.

Before the trip, combine in a large (at least one gallon) ziplock bag.  

  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat gluten
  • 1/4 teaspoon yeast (more if you are not sure how youthful your yeast is)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • herbs and spices, optional

Riverside, add a generous 3/4 cup water to the mixture, in the bag. (By generous, I mean about 8/10 of a cup instead of 7.5/10).  Squish it together until well mixed.  Place the original bag inside a second bag for protection.  Place the bag in a warm but not hot location (such as on top of your gear in your canoe) for at least 12 but no more than about 18 hours.  (Tip: if it’s a warm day, you can start this in the morning and have it for dinner.  Just check to make sure your yeast are not getting overheated.  If the bag gets too warm, cover it lightly.  If it’s cold, start it the previous afternoon.)

In camp, start coals for an 8-inch Dutch Oven.  Heat the oven a bit both top and bottom, and grease it.  Dump in the risen bread dough.  Put the lid back on the Dutch Oven and place coals top and bottom.  Bake for about 45 minutes.  Mmmmmmm:  you’ll have hot, fresh bread on the river!

Of course, you can bake this bread at home too, but it’s so easy for camping!

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