Mark Goes Public
I’ve not had many opportunities to cook for the public. This really was only my second time. The first was last year’s Eagle Mountain Pony Express Days cookoff. This wasn’t a cookoff (at lest not where I was) so we weren’t competing, it wasn’t a Dutch Oven Gathering (called a DOG by those that do them), it was really more of a demo, but on a bigger scale, with lots of cooks and booths.
When I arrived, I really had no idea what to expect. Fortunately, I was sharing a booth with Ranes, who was the organizer of the TOD part of the event. So, he knew what was going on. I was scheduled to cook a breakfast dish and a lunch dish, so I got there pretty early, and got set up and cooking right away.
Mark Becomes Official
Pretty soon, someone came by and let me know that in order to comply with health codes, I needed to wear either a hat or a hair net. I had seen some hats for sale at the IDOS main booth, so I jumped and ran over there. I’ve been intending to join IDOS for a long time, but their website doesn’t take credit cards or paypal, and I never had the cash in hand at any of the moments that I had the opportunity to sign up.
So, I signed up and bought a hat. I also got this years membership pin, which I proudly displayed on the hat. It wasn’t until I got home that I realized that in my hurry to pin it on and get back to cooking, I had pinned it in upside down. Oh well.
The doors opened to the public at about , and people started coming through. I had been cooking my dutch oven biscuits and gravy, and just about the time that real visitor traffic hit, at about or so, it was all ready. The biscuits didn’t turn out as well as last week’s. I’d pulled a different recipe, and it just didn’t turn out as well. I could tell it wasn’t going to be the same, because the dough was heavier to begin with. But the gravy turned out great. I chopped the biscuits into sixths and put them into little tiny sample cups and poured some gravy on each one.
A lot of people liked them. I hope so, because I never got to taste it! All of a sudden I realized that it was all gone! I did hear lots of compliments, so that was a good sign.
Mark Sells Out
The folks at Rhodes Bread were part sponsors of the event, and in addition to doing a class over in the lesson/demo building, they also donated a ton of cinnamon rolls and other doughs for us to cook up and serve. So, since that was a part of the booth where Ranes and I were, I chipped in on that, especially after the biscuits and gravy were done.
Now, I’m a “make it from scratch” kinda guy, generally speaking. Last Halloween, for example, I decided I was going to make pumpkin pie, so I made it from pumpkins. Still, I gotta say, these frozen rolls turned out really nice. They take a while to thaw, and then to rise, but they cook up well. In this setting, especially, where you gotta make a lot for the people coming through, it worked out great.
Once we’d started cooking, one of the vendors came over and asked us to demonstrate his product. It’s an aluminum foil dutch oven liner. It looks basically like those disposable roasting pans that you can get in your grocery, but it’s shaped to fit into a standard 12” dutch oven.
At first I was skeptical. And, in some ways, still am. But Ranes and I agreed to help him out. So, we started cooking in them. In some ways, they were very convenient. The biggest benefit I noticed came the next time some of the Rhodes Rolls were done. Normally, when you’re done cooking bread, you have to grab a couple of gloves or hot pads, heft up this huge, heavy, and hot dutch oven, and flip it over onto a table to shake out the rolls. With the liner, you just lift it up, and turn it over. It was much easier.
Cleanup, of course, is much easier. I don’t have much problem with that, though. My ovens have a pretty good patina on them, so I really don’t have a tough time cleaning them up. A few scrapes, a few rinses, coat them again, and I’m good to go.
When you’re doing breads, and you’re basically heating the air around the bread, the liners work really well. In the afternoon, I did Masaman Curry, and I tried the liner for that as well. It took a little longer to sautee the onions, and to heat up the curry pasted to activate the flavors. I think that’s because there was no direct contact between the pot and the food, but there was a layer of air and another layer of aluminum.
Also, I’d gotten an email a couple of weeks ago from a company making bacon flavored salts, and they offered to send me some if I’d review them here in the Black Pot. They arrived the night before, so I took them with. I can’t say that I gave them a fair trial, though, because I only used them in the Biscuits and Gravy for the morning. The gravy had lots of sausage in it, so that would have affected the flavor, too. Plus, like I said, I never got to try anything I cooked, so I couldn’t tell you how it tasted! But I will try them in something I cook up and let you know. I did use it when I made some eggs for dinner at home, but that wasn’t in a dutch oven. Still, it tasted good!
So, for lunch, I did the Dutch Oven Masaman Curry. That had a lot of people wondering. Many who walked by had never heard of it, nor had ever tried anything like it. Still, they seemed intrigued and said they’d stop by again when it was ready.
Well, when the time came, and I was ready to declare it done, I looked up and saw a line of visitors waiting for their sample. I swear the line was three booths long. I was floored! And the other booths at the time were in between dishes, and all the people in the line were looking ahead at me.
Wow! I suddenly panicked! I started filling up the little cups as fast as I could. First the rice, then the curry. First the rice, then the curry… Finally, just about the time that the crowd started to fizzle, it was all gone. I mean gone. A completely full 12” shallow dutch oven was empty.
At that point, I was exhausted. I started cleaning up my station, because I knew that Ranes had promised that space to someone who was going to come in and cook an afternoon dish. I did help Ranes with a couple more batches of
I know this post is a long way to scroll down, but thanks for following!
Here are some pictures of the event:
I didn't get the names of these two guys, but they were participating in the youth cookoff. Initially, Brendon was going to attend with me, and maybe even participate, but then we found out that you have to be at least 12 to do the cookoff. And then, he wanted to go to a friend's house for a sleepover the night before.
Anyway, I think these guys did a barbecue sparerib dish in their dutch ovens. It looked really good, but I don't know how the judging turned out. If anyone that went to the event visits the Black Pot here, and knows who won, please post a comment!
This lady was serving up some barbecue sausages, and her friend had made stuffed mushrooms. I've been thinking about doing that as the appetizer for my mother's day dinner, so I watch her with interest. This picture also gives a bit of an idea of the crowds that were attending.
There aren't too many pictures of me here at the Black Pot. There's a couple of reasons for that. One, as a dumpy 45 year old who's losing his hair and his mind, I don't really consider my dashing good looks as a major selling point for the blog, here. On a more practical level, since I'm the one with the camera, and I'm the one cooking, it's not always easy to get a picture of the chef.
The guy in black, behind me, by the way, is Ranes. A really nice guy, even if he is stressed!