Wednesday, June 29, 2011

An Exciting Announcement!

A few weeks ago, I went to work as usual, and in the afternoon, I picked up an email.  It was from the Cedar Fort Publishing Company.  Intrigued, I read it.  They had seen the Black Pot, and were impressed enough to offer to talk about doing a dutch oven cookbook!  I was stunned, and thrilled.  It was kind of a Julie & Julia moment for me.

As I’ve hung around in the LDS music and arts world, I’ve met a lot of writers, and they’ve all spoken highly of Cedar Fort.  I’d heard of them before, and in fact, I already owned two of their Dutch oven cookbooks!

Through the next couple of days, I tried in vain to get a hold of them, and we played phone tag.  Finally, the following Monday, I got through, and talked with one of their acquisition editors.  She asked me to put together a proposal that she could present to her team at their next Tuesday meeting.

Yes.  Yes, of course!

The only problem was that I had no idea how to do a proposal.  I mean, I’ve written proposals before, but not to publishers.  So, she sent me some good guidance to show me what they needed, an I spent the rest of that week putting together three proposals.

One book was to be a general, overall collection of great dutch oven recipes.  These would be drawn from the entries of the Black Pot, here.

Another proposal was for a compilation of more fancy, “gourmet”, and international recipes.  Also pulled from the blog, but supplemented by a lot of other new recipes.

Finally, the last proposal was a more instructional book about dutch oven breads.  It’s one I’ve been planning off and on for years.

So, I sent them in, and waited.  They met on that Tuesday, and on Wednesday, she emailed me to offer me a four-book deal!  Again, I was stunned.

Yes, Yes of course!

They sent me the contract, which seemed to be pretty standard.  After looking it over, talking it over with jodi, and praying about it, I signed it and sent it in.  I’d told some family and friends, but she had suggested that I not make any formal announcements, like Facebook, or here at the blog, until the contract is signed.  So today, I got the copy of the contract back from them with the company rep’s signature, so it’s now official!

The first one will be published sometime around March of next year, and there will one about every six months after that.  We’re starting out with the first proposal.  I’m already working on it, and very excited.

So, everyone vote!  Chime in to the comments!  What are your favorite recipes here in the black pot?  Which ones have you tried?  What were your alterations and adjustments?

Here’s to four great, new Dutch Oven Cookbooks!


Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dutch Oven Split Pea Soup in a Bread Bowl, Part II

I love making split pea soup. It’s got to be the ultimate comfort food. For me, as a dutch oven cook, it’s especially cool because I usually do it the day or the week after I made a big, huge, delicious bone-in ham. The bone usually still has a lot of meat attached to it, and that meat and the bone is steeped in the spices and flavorings that I used on the ham. So, each time I make the soup, it’s completely unique.

As I mentioned before, this time, Brendon had the brilliant idea of putting the soup in the bread boules I was making that morning. You could use just about any bread flavor, but this time, the Italian bread was perfect. It’s got a little sweet from the sugar, but not very much. Most of the flavor is from the flour itself, added to the savory tang of the ham and the split pea soup. Amazing!

I used the same soup recipe I always use, which you can find here.

The end result is a delicious, rich, and even elegant meal.


Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dutch Oven Split Pea Soup in a Bread Bowl, part I

The Italian Bread

Originally, when I thought about cooking this weekend, I thought first about doing split pea soup.  This was primarily because we had a ham bone left over from a dinner a few months ago, and I always love making soup out of it.  I was also itching to make some bread, and a type that I wasn’t used to, either.

So, I busted out my “Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart, and started looking it over.  I chose to do the Italian bread.  Italian bread is an “Indirect” bread, according to Reinhart, meaning that it has a preferment before the main mixing phase.  In this case, I chose to do it overnight.

Dutch Oven Italian Bread

The Biga (I don’t know why they call it that)

  • 2 ½ Cups unbleached bread flour
  • ½ tsp yeast
  • ¾ cup to 1 cup water at room temperature.

I mixed the ingredients above in a bowl, then turned them out onto a floured tabletop and kneaded for a few minutes until it all came together.  At this stage, I didn’t worry too much about it forming a windowpane.  I just wanted it to feel smooth, like a bread dough in and of itself.  Then I oiled it, and put it under plastic wrap in a bowl.  I put it in the fridge overnight.

If it hadn’t been so late at night when I made the Biga, I actually would have set it out to rise for a couple of hours, and then put it in the fridge.

The next morning, I took it out of the fridge and set it out to come back up to room temperature.  At that point, I chopped it up into about 10 pieces.  I gathered the ingredients for the main dough mix.

The Main Dough

  • 3 ½ cups of Biga (pretty much all of what I mixed the night before)
  • 2 ½ cups unbleached bread flour
  • 1 ⅔ tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¾ cup water at about 100 degress F

I mixed all of the ingredients in a bowl, then dumped it out on the floured counter and began kneading for real.  I kneaded for almost 20 minutes, and at that point I got a good windowpane.  I set that aside to rise on the countertop.

This time, it rose quite well.  After only about two hours, it was ready to shape.  Before I degassed it and began working it, however, I got some coals lit.  Then I came in and shaped the dough into four equal quarters and made them into boule shapes (balls).  I put these in a square configuration on a piece of parchment on a plate.

Soon the coals were hot, and I put an oiled dutch oven on and under a lot of coals, probably a total of about 30, with an oven thermometer inside.  After about a half hour, it read 350 degrees.  I probably should have let it heat for another ten to fifteen minutes, to about 400 at least, but I didn’t.  The dough had proofed up nicely, and I was nervous about them cooking fully before church.  I lifted the dough balls up by the parchment paper and lowered them into the dutch oven.  I closed the lid and marked the time.

After about fifteen minutes, I rotated the oven and the lid, so that it was positioned differently in relation to the coals (to prevent hot spots on the oven).  I also peeked in, and inserted a thermometer into the now cooking bread.  It didn’t spring up like I would have liked, and that’s why I think I should have heated up the oven hotter.

After about another 20 minutes, the thermometer read 200, and I knew it was done.  I pulled it off the coals, and dropped the bread onto my cooling racks.

It was at this point, that I told my son that I was going to cook the pea soup, and he suggested using the bread as bowls.  They were the perfect size, and shape.  It was brilliant!

So, next entry, I’ll write up the soup, and show you the bread bowl results.


Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.
Mark's Other Blog Posts: name post, name post,


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