Back to the Woods, with a Cast Iron Pot

They are called Dutch ovens. I had planned to make a post out of explaining how they work, how we used them, and what you could do with them, but I found that website, and I know I couldn’t do any better. I would note that in the list of people he credits at the bottom of his site is his sister, who learned to cook in Dutch ovens through the Boy Scouts.

So go and take a look. A Dutch oven isn’t a backpacking item. It’s for cooking when you’re set up somewhere and you only have to unload it from the trailer. You can make anything you would make on the stove or in your home oven. We use them whenever we camp near the vehicles. It became competitive. Pizza, chili, stews, chicken and pastry, rolls, bread, baked chicken and potatoes, and then desserts. Cake, pie, cobbler, baked apples. In an iron pot with hot coals above and below.

We had one Asst. Scoutmaster that would stack them. The coals on the top of one served to heat the bottom of the next one. Stacks of three or four, two main dishes, breads, and a dessert. He prided himself on his skills and rightly so.

The Scouts picked up on what we were doing, and some years more than others, would use the ovens on campouts. If a Patrol of Scouts can do it, so can you. Lodge makes the heavy ovens, every outdoor supply center and website stocks them. Don’t settle
for hot dogs and canned beans. Buy or borrow a Dutch oven and make everyone you’re feeding think you really know what you’re doing.

Cooking is at once child’s play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love.

–Craig Claiborne


2 thoughts on “Back to the Woods, with a Cast Iron Pot

  1. Oh Boy, where do I start!! I LOVE my Dutch Ovens and learned that by carrying them around on my back while a Boy Scout. Well at least one of them, we would spread out the set we carried amongst us in my Patrol. We out shone everyone else in Meal Quality and were famous for our meals. Our Scoutmaster would eat with us and invite a VIP or two as well (we never had problems getting rid of left over’s). Several times we camped close enough for the Scoutmaster to drive in with an RV and bring his wife to camp and I can remember the Scoutmaster getting into trouble eating with us because he was getting a better meal than the one his wife prepared using a propane stove. It was rich!!

    Many years later and after almost 5-years of sea duty I was transferred by the Navy to a shore command and given permission to live off base. I had no cooking items (you don’t accumulate much ‘stuff’ living on an aircraft carrier) so I went to this mall near the base that had a cooking store in it. I wandered around looking at all the junk and stumbled onto a series of cast iron pots and pans. It was like running into an old friend in a faraway place. I bought two skillets, three different size pots and a few other items. Cast iron was not in ‘fashion’ in the late 70’s so I got the set cheap and was seasoning them later that same day. I still have that set 30 years later and it cooks things better than any of the new stuff my wife brought with her or that she has purchased since (she broke down and purchased a set of Calphalon Pots that were very expensive). Once seasoned properly and if you keep that seasoning on the cast iron nothing sticks to the surface.

    Thanks for spark,

    BT: Jimmy T sends.

  2. The last few years I have really enjoyed engaging in the art of backyard cooking. But it was only last year that it occurred to me to draw on my years of Scouting and deploy two dutch ovens. Though skeptical at first my wife has become a big fan. A lost art rediscovered. BTW, love the blog.

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