- Get off the bricks
If you look at my pictures, over the months, you can see that I’m cooking on bricks on my back porch. I need to get up off the ground and onto some kind of metal tray or table. Too much of my heat is being absorbed by the brick
- Apple Cider Vinegar works wonders
Colleen, from Log Cabin Grub, sprayed almost everything with a ¼ dilution of apple cider vinegar. She said that it tenderizes the food, it’s an antibacterial, and it cleans the ovens. She kept it in a spritzer bottle near where she cooked. Sounds cool, and I think I’ll give that a try.
- Simple is delicious, too
In the demos, since there really wasn’t a lot of time to cook, the recipes were very simple, and very delicious! Bill and Toni Thayn made this incredible brownie that was like s’mores. It started with a graham cracker crust on the bottom, and then a layer of brownie batter. After that had baked, they added a layer of marshmallows. Heat on the lid browned those to a faux meringue. Man, it was good.
- Presentation makes a big, big difference
Good food, dressed up, looks even better. I'm constantly amazed at how much making the food look nice makes a difference in how it tastes and is perceived. Granted, bad food made to look good still isn't going to be good. But with a bit of effort, it's amazing to me how the whole experience "kicks up a notch!"
- Lift the oven for bottom heat
Remember when I made the empanadas? I mean: Remember when I tried to make the empanadas? Remember how I couldn’t get it hot enough or keep it hot? Turns out that all those coals I was packing underneath were competing for the oxygen, and so the ones in the middle kept going out. If I want that many coals underneath, I need to lift the oven up higher, to allow more ventilation. Either that, or fewer coals with more space in between.
- When baking, heat up the sides
I always put the bottom coals just underneath the base of the oven. If you were to draw an imaginary circle using the bottom of the dutch oven as a template, the coals would be just inside that circle.
One guy suggested that when baking, pull them out to be half in and half out of that circle, so the heat creeps up the side of the dutch oven more. Pretty cool idea.
- Oil the oven when you cook, store it dry
When I’m done cooking, I always dry out my ovens, then coat it with a thin layer of oil. The problem is that that can cause the oven to get rancid if you store it too long. Lots of people said to clean it with hot water, dry it (Colleen even suggested drying it on the stove, heated), then oil it when you pick it up to use it again.
- Low and Slow cooks better
High heat can burn, leaving the inside of food uncooked. Low heat with longer times cooks better and more thoroughly. Meats are more juicy, breads are better done.
- Some people actually read the Black Pot!