(Written Sunday, the 19th)
It's finally spring, here in Utah. It's been a wet and cold month so far, with winter hanging on and blasting us from time to time. But today, I'm sitting on my back porch, watching the coals burn down under a pot of split pea soup with a meaty ham bone. Every once in a while, the breeze will hit me just right and waft the smell of ham, herbs, and veggies past me. It's gonna be good, here, in about an hour.
Yesterday, I had an amazing opportunity. I got to cook for the Taste of Dutch again at the Spring Convention of the IDOS. It was a lot of fun this year, just like it was last year, but this time there were some very special moments involved for me.
One was getting closer to a new friend. I've known this guy, Steve, for about a year or so. We'd bump into each other at church and talk dutch ovening a little bit. He's been really excited about it, but hasn't had a lot of experience so far. He and Brendon and I did a dutch oven demonstration for our ward's scout troop. He did the dump cake/cobbler, and Brendon and I did pizza.
So, about a week ago, we decided to go to the Taste of Dutch as a team. We spent a couple of days figuring out our menu. We would start by hybriding a traditional mountain man breakfast recipe with quiche-like ingredients, to make our own new recipe. Then, for the lunch crowd, he would make a Dutch Oven chicken soup, Brendon would make dutch oven pizza, and I would do some bread.
(Written on Wed, the 22nd)
So, we started Saturday morning very early. I'd been up late the night before getting all of our ingredients and equipment gathered. Steve arrived and we loaded up and piled in. After a short stop for a fillup (Donuts and Diet Coke*), we were on our way.
The Davis County Fairgrounds were easy enough to find, thanks to Google Maps, and setup was pretty quick. I could tell right away that it wasn't as big of an event as last year. There were fewer cooks. I heard later from Omar (the Chairman this year) that four teams had cancelled at the last minute. Many other traditional participants in the Taste of Dutch were involved in other ways, and unable to participate. Still, there were some good folks cooking and we joined in.
Setup went pretty quick, and we got started right away making our "Mountain Man Quiche" (recipe to come). All three of us joined in on that game. It went pretty well, and we had fun cooking and prepping together. I was honestly surprised how focused and involved Brendon was. When he cooks at home, it's easy for him to get distracted by friends, TV, the Wii...
The Taste of Dutch works like this: A lot of dutch oven cooks each occupy a booth around the perimeter of this big expo building on the fairgrounds. Then, people who are visiting wander around and watch the cooks prepare the food. Then, when it's ready, they get little sample cups of what each person is cooking. It was open to the public at about 9:00, but it didn't really get busy until about 10:00 or so.
Once we were serving up the quiche, Brendon decided to get started on his pizza (recipe here). I offered to help a couple of times, but he wouldn't have it. He wanted to do it completely on his own.
In the meantime, Steve started on his Chicken and Rice Soup, and I started on my Dutch Oven Sourdough Bread. I had started the sponge for the bread the night before, and it had risen well, but I was more than a little nervous that the bread and the pizza dough wouldn't rise right, since it was about 60-65 degrees out or so. Then I came up with the idea of putting the dough in the car, where it was quite warmer.
Brendon kept arguing with me. "The dough is ready!", he'd insist. "A little longer," I'd reply. "Who's the pizza chef, here?" Finally, he prevailed, and he brought in the dough.
We got it stretched in the dutch ovens, and put on the toppings. All morning, Brendon and I had been telling people to come back for the pizza, so they were pretty excited to try it. When it was finally done, and we started slicing it up, I tapped Brendon on the shoulder and pointed to our left. He looked up and saw a line, no lie, three full booths long waiting for his pizza. He felt ten feet tall. But at the moment, there was no time to gloat, because we had to get busy serving it up.
Before long, Steve's soup was ready, and it was delicious. He didn't have quite the line that Brendon had, but he still had no problems giving it away. Right after that, the sourdough came out, and it tasted great. It was a bit too crusty on the bottom, and I had forgotten my bread knife, so it was tricky to cut it up with a chef's knife, especially one that's not that great to begin with.
Steve had also gotten a bit of notoriety there for his homemade chimney. A lot of people came by to look just at it and talk to him about how he made it.
Then we packed it up and came home. Actually, we met up with my wife and went to an afternoon easter party, and Steve went home. It was a pretty full, fun day. Brendon has decided that he wants to participate in the youth cookoff next year, too.
And at the end of it all, I got to take no pictures, and I only got to taste Steve's soup. Here's a link, however, to the IDOS page with some great pictures of the whole event.
See you next year!
*The Breakfast of Champions. It contains elements from all of the four fundamental food groups necessary for sustaining modern life: Chocolate, sugar, caffiene, and preservatives.