Friday, June 8, 2007

Why I Dutch Oven

I’ve been enjoying this for just a hair under a year, now, and I’ve noticed some things about myself. There have been times, as I’ve been sitting on my back porch, watching the coals burn down on top of an oven, that I’ve wondered why I do it, and why I enjoy it so much.

  1. I do it to unplug

My life is tech-driven. I make my living on the phone and on the ‘net. I come home and I spend more time on the ‘net. I carry my cell with me at all times. My cell is also my tunes and my day planner. When I play card games with my kids, I use my cell to keep score. I relax in front of a good Law and Order on my satellite TV. I’m a blogger. What more do I need to say?

But when I dutch, I’m unplugged. There are no wires, no connections. It’s just me, the food, the pots, the coals. I don’t even have to be “in the wild”. I can be sitting on my back porch, and I’m still suddenly off the grid.

  1. I do it to unwind

Most of the time, when I’m cooking, there’s no pressure. I don’t have to get anything cooked by a specific time, and there’s no worries if it’s the greatest dish of all time. Sure, when I’ve invited company over, or it’s a holiday dinner, that’s different. Or at the cookoff…

But most of the time, I get the chance to think, to wait.

I don’t choose my recipes because they’re quick. There’s no dutch microwaves. Sometimes I choose my recipes deliberately because I know they’re going to take an hour to prepare and two more to cook.

  1. I do it to experiment

And while I’m talking about recipes, I don’t choose them because they’re simple, either. One thing I love about dutchin’ is that you can do almost anything in it. So, I want to push that and see what I can do. Finding a new recipe is part of the challenge. I love it when I do something and people are surprised that you can do that in a dutch oven.

  1. I do it to connect to the past

There’s a small part of me that remembers from time to time about my Mormon pioneer ancestors, driven from their homes in beautiful Nauvoo, and following their faith across the open and yet hostile plains. I think about them stopping on the way and pulling out their dutch ovens and cooking the evening’s meal.

I know I don’t suffer like they did. But sometimes I think about it.

  1. I do it to connect with friends

Cooking for other people is cool. I love it when I can pull off one of my favorite dishes, and have them dive in, then sit back full and happy.

Cooking with other people, as I’ve just learned, is cool, too. Even at the competition, there was friendship, camaraderie, and a desire to help each other out. And after the judging was done, and we were waiting for the announcements, the most fun was when we all shared our feasts with each other.

It’s also fun to plug back in and hang with new my friends on the ‘net, most of whom I’ve never met face to face. But I’ve tried some of their recipes, and read their advice, and I feel like some of them are my dutchin’ mentors.

  1. I do it to prepare

With all this emotion and philosophy, there’s also a practical side. I know that if there were a power outage, or some other kind of issue, my family would not only be able to eat, but they would eat well.

…And, at the end of the day, we get to eat. And most of the time, it tastes GREAT! And that feels good.

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