Monday, March 29, 2010

Dutch Oven - Cinnamon Glazed Roast

Mark over at Mark's Black Pot challenged me to a second Dutch Oven Duel. My best friend Eric and his wife Heather were long over due for a visit, and Eric had just had a birthday, so he needed to pick up his present- a new soldering iron, so he can nerd it up. We had them over and cooked a full three course meal. It was delicious!

The challenge ingredients were:

Scallions, Green Onions or Leeks

I was really wary about cooking this. After all, beef and cinnamon? Come on, how could I possibly put those together? Mark did a great combo with ground beef and cinnamon served over potatoes and artisan bread. How could I get good results? I actually had a self-actualizing moment complete with adrenaline rush and heightened senses. It was really cooking zen at its best. You could call it "Cooking on Ten". It's a feeling I can't describe easily. I can't wait to do it again!

12" Standard Dutch oven
350 Degrees
60-90 minutes

1 Beef Roast
Mesquite Barbecue Spice Rub
Barbecue Sauce
Green onions.

I started by picking some green onions growing in my garden, and diced them small. I cut slits in the roast and stuffed onions inside. I rubbed the roast with all spices above and seared all sides. Chop the leeks and add them to the dutch oven. Bake for 60-90 minutes until desired cooking temperature is reached. Mine was mostly well done, with just a little bit of rareness. It was so tender.

Part II will share the potatoes and Part III will talk about dessert. Stay tuned!

5 Stars

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Stove - Ziplock Omelettes

There has been a lot of discussion if this technique is safe since you are cooking in a freezer bag. Personally, I don't believe in any such nonsense about getting cancer from ziplock bags, and I love to eat paint chips. Mmmm! This is the easiest breakfast except cold cereal.

For each person:
1 freezer zip top bag (don't go cheap on this!)
2-3 eggs
bell pepper
any other egg topping, but stay away from tomatoes, they lose all their water and your eggs turn into soup.

Crack eggs in bag and mix with any other ingredients. Remove air from bag and seal. Drop in boiling water until eggs are cooked all the way through. Eat out of the bag and throw away your dishes.

5 Stars

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Snack - Spicy Trail Mix

I have been searching for the best trail mix ever, and this one comes close. Its a little spicy, but very tasty. So tasty, the scouts ate almost all of it- I didn't bring any home.


1 bag hot cheetos
1 bag hot corn nuts
1 can wasabi almonds
1 bag sour patch kids

Mix all ingredients in a plastic container such as a tupperware or zip top bag. Enjoy with friends.

5 Stars

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Dutch Oven - Green Chile Burritos

This is super easy. We did this for our Troop 1349 camp out to the sand dunes this weekend. The boys wanted real burritos, but I didn't want to clean up the huge mess, so we compromised.

12" standard dutch oven
350 degrees

20 Premade bean burritos
1 large can green chile sauce
1 can chopped jalapenos
1 can chopped green chiles
sour cream
cheese shred

Lay the premade bean burritos in the dutch oven (these are the storebought microwavable kind). Alternate directions of burritos in each layer. Cover burritos in green chile sauce, jalapenos and green chiles. Bake for 30 minutes until warmed through. Serve with sour cream, cheese, and cilantro.

The boys loved them and so did the leaders, and clean up was a snap.

5 Stars

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Primer - Hot Sauce

So this weekend I decided (or rather didn't plan) not to do any outdoor cooking. It was my anniversary Saturday, and we had plans to go out, instead of cook a quaint meal together, and Sunday, we didn't really get to cook because we had plans all night. So I don't leave you without any Back Porch wisdom (we don't want our readers YouTubing "the WOW freakout kid" --BTW, if you think your kids are bad, check out this kid...) I've decided to talk about my favorite food.


First, a little chemistry. Please note that I am not a chemist. I have some BS after my name, but it should stand for "Backyard Scientist". I love experiments, DIY technology and the like. Now, you may wonder what makes hot sauce hot? (And who put the bop in the bop-shu-bop-shu-bop, but I don't know that one!) It's called Capsaicin. Kap-Say-Kin. Say it with me. Kap-Say-Kin. Good. It is a natural oil that has the effect of hurting your tongue when you eat it. According to Wikipedia, "Capsaicin is a chemical compound which stimulates chemoreceptor nerve endings in the skin, especially the mucous membranes." It's natures way of saying to animals, 'Bite me and I'll bite you back!' Same with the red and orange bright colors that don peppers. It's a defensive adaptation. Now, you would think that humans, being the 3rd most intelligent species on the planet (right after mice and dolphins! --Don't Panic!) wouldn't want the strong taste of the pepper. Some don't, but as soon as you get past the bite of the pepper, the flavor is worth the pain.

Heat Scale

The 'hotness' of a pepper is measured on the Scofield Scale, measured in Scofield Heat Units, or SCU's. The basis of the scale is thus: "In Scoville's method, an alcohol extract of the capsaicin oil from a measured amount of dried pepper is added incrementally to a sugar/water solution until the "heat" is just detectable to a panel of (usually five) tasters; the degree of dilution gives its measure on the Scoville scale. Thus a sweet pepper or a bell pepper, containing no capsaicin at all, has a Scoville rating of zero, meaning no heat detectable, even undiluted. Conversely, the hottest chilis, such as habaneros, have a rating of 200,000 or more, indicating that their extract must be diluted over 200,000 times before the capsaicin presence is undetectable. The greatest weakness of the Scoville Organoleptic Test is its imprecision, because it relies on human subjectivity. Tasters taste only one sample per session."

The hottest pepper known to mankind is the Bhut Jolokia pepper from Bangladesh.

A sample of some peppers on the Scoville scale, available from

Scoville rating Type of pepper
15,000,000–16,000,000 Pure capsaicin [4]
8,600,000–9,100,000 Various capsaicinoids (e.g. homocapsaicin, homodihydrocapsaicin, nordihydrocapsaicin)
5,000,000–5,300,000 Law Enforcement Grade pepper spray,[5] FN 303 irritant ammunition
855,000–1,050,000 Bhut Jolokia (Naga Jolokia)[6][7]
350,000–580,000 Red Savina Habanero[8][9]
100,000–350,000 Guntur Chilli, Habanero chili,[10] Scotch Bonnet Pepper,[10] Datil pepper, Rocoto, African Birdseye, Madame Jeanette, Jamaican Hot Pepper[11]
50,000–100,000 Bird's eye chili/Thai Pepper/Indian Pepper,[12] Malagueta Pepper,[12] Chiltepin Pepper, Pequin Pepper[12]
30,000–50,000 Cayenne Pepper, Ají pepper,[10] Tabasco pepper, Cumari pepper (Capsicum Chinese)
10,000–23,000 Serrano Pepper
2,500–8,000 Jalapeño Pepper, Guajillo pepper, New Mexican varieties of Anaheim pepper,[13] Paprika (Hungarian wax pepper)
500–2,500 Anaheim pepper, Poblano Pepper, Rocotillo Pepper, Peppadew
100–500 Pimento, Peperoncini
0 No heat, Bell pepper

How Hot Sauce is Made

There are a few schools of thought on this. One, is the Louisiana method. This is to dry and grind the peppers to powder and mix with lots of vinegar. The exception to this is Tobasco brand sauce. This unique sauce is made by aging the tabasco peppers in oak kegs for 3 years. This is the only hot sauce that gives me heartburn, and it is because of the aging. It has a very flavorful, unique taste, and goes great on eggs, pizza, doughnuts, just about anything.

Mexican hot sauce uses hotter peppers, and usually less vinegar. My absolute favorite sauce in the world, is Cholula. It goes great on anything, and you can tell it by the wooden cap and woman on the label. They have come out with a chile lime sauce, which I have not yet tasted.

Asian hot sauce is a whole different animal. You won't find much vinegar in it, and if you do, it will be there primarily as a free flow agent, not flavoring. I previously posted about Sriracha chili sauce, which is a flavorful sauce that packs a big punch. The same company, Huy Fong Foods, also makes a garlic chili paste, that is even better than Rooster (Sriracha) sauce. This paste is great in chilies, soups, on anything. It has the same ingredients as Sriracha, but more garlic, and not as finely blended.

Making your own hot sauce and pepper dishes can be fun and delicious. Make sure you wear rubber gloves, and don't touch your eyes. You can seriously hurt yourself or even go blind if you get capsaicin in your eye. Wash any exposed area immediately with lots of water. To make hot sauce, add peppers, garlic and any other ingredients (such as cilantro or other spices) to a blender with a little vinegar and blend into a fine liquid. Keeping the seeds and cores will make the food hotter, as much of the capsaicin is in the seeds.

My other guilty pleasure is Wasabi. Wasabi is a way different animal, but somewhat related. Since Wasabi horseradish doesn't have capsaicin in it, it uses something called "Isothiocyanates" to make it hot. Since it is not an oil, it doesn't burn as long as peppers will. My favorite snack are wasabi peas- you get them in the health foods section of the grocery store. They are little freeze dried peas with wasabi clumped all over them. Tasty!

To counteract the heat from peppers, chew bread, rice or peanut butter, and drink milk. Don't drink water or it will just spread around your mouth. (oil and water don't mix, so it won't dissolve the capsaicin.)

What is the hottest hot-sauce I've ever had? Dave's Insanity Sauce. Just one drop is enough to incite a riot of angry villagers inside your mouth. I love that stuff! :)

What is the hottest sauce you've had? Sound off in the comments.

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dutch Oven - Cookie Cake

It's a cookie! It's a cake! It's underdog! Actually, it's a cookie and a cake- a cookie cake. This is super easy, just make the cookie dough, and press it into a greased dutch oven, and bake for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Use your favorite cookie dough recipe, and serve with ice cream.

5 Stars

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Dutch Oven - Fried Cannelloni and Sausage Balls

This one was a half bust, half 5 star meal. The cannelloni burned into one mass of pasta, and the sausage balls were the best meatballs I've ever had. So you will know the rating at the end throws out the cannelloni, but the post is double tagged on the rating.

We had my in-laws over Sunday as well to finish the rube goldberg machine. We also cooked baked spaghetti since the cannelloni only was 14 pieces of pasta. The idea was, that I would stuff the precooked pasta and drizzle a basil parsley pesto over it. Well, pesto is 90 percent oil, so it turned the whole thing to a deep fryer, burning the bottom of the pasta together in one mass. Surprisingly, it did not burn to the bottom of the pan. The pasta was so crunchy it was like chewing glass bottles. However, the meatballs were so tasty, I wished I had done a whole pot of them. If you cook the cannelloni, make sure you don't let it burn, and I would in the future cook it in a cream sauce like Alfredo.

375 degrees
12" Dutch oven

1 box cannelloni
1 pound sausage, original
1/2 pound sausage, spicy
1/2 cup swiss cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1/4 cup oil

Sausage, remaining from above
Pesto spices
bread crumbs

Mix sausage with both kinds of meat, all the spices, and cheese. Divide into two parts. Precook cannelloni in water with salt. Cool pasta and stuff with meat mixture. Layer in the greased 12" dutch oven. Form meatballs with remaining meat and coat in bread crumbs. Add meatballs to dutch oven and drizzle with pesto. Bake for 15-20 minutes until meat is fully cooked. Serve with garden salad.

5 Stars

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Dutch Oven - Curry Split Pea Soup

This is just about as easy as it gets. This is super tasty, and made completely from non perishable shelf safe ingredients. For this reason, it is perfect for emergency preparedness and food storage. Just keep a stock of the ingredients and you can add anything else you like. We made this Saturday night for my wife's brother and his family. My nephew had a rube goldberg project for school, and since I am a nerd, he asked me to help him. It was a lot of fun, and we both learned a lot from the experience.


350 degrees
12" dutch oven

1 cup green split peas
1 cup yellow split peas
1 cup lentils
1 cup alphabet pasta
1 cup rice
1/2 cup dried bell pepper
1/2 cup dried onion
1 tablespoon curry
10-12 bullion cubes, chicken
12 cups water

Add all ingredients in dutch oven, stir. Set on heat until rice and pasta are tender. Add water if necessary during cooking to maintain soup consistency.

5 stars

Bon Appetit!
The outdoors start at your back porch

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Pit Cooking - Pie in an Apple

I learned this one from Vanguard scout training. This is really tasty, and super super easy. This is a great treat camping, because the apples don't need to stay really chilled. And it's only 3 ingredients.

Serves 6
6 apples
brown sugar

Core the center of the apple, leaving the bottom intact. Shake cinnamon in the hole. Pack with brown sugar. Wrap in foil and place in hot coals for 15 minutes. Enjoy plain or with ice cream.

5 Stars

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Pit Cooking - Foil Dinners

I broke in my new fire pit, which is actually still under construction. It is basically a hole in my yard surrounded by castle stone. I will write up a full how to as soon as I install it. I started a fire with some small sticks, but unfortunately they didn't put out enough heat to cook the meal all the way through. So I heated up some coals and put them on top.

This is really easy to do, and great for camping. If you have a fire pit in your back yard, this makes a great dinner, with easy cleanup - you can eat right out of the foil and then throw it away!

Serves 4
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, quartered
2 potatoes, chopped
baby carrots
season salt
garlic powder

Divide ground beef into fourths. Lay out a sheet of aluminum foil. Form meat into patty, placing on the foil. Add onion, potatoes, carrots and seasonings. Wrap foil tightly and wrap with second piece of foil. Place foil packets in coals for 10-15 minutes per side. Serve with ketchup or steak sauce.

4 Stars

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Sauce - Wasabi Mayonnaise

This is super easy, and tastes really good, if you like Wasabi. It takes 5 minutes to prepare, but best if aged overnight. This is good on burgers, great with sushi, french fries, and if you dilute it with a little milk, great on Asian salads.


1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons wasabi powder
1-2 tablespoons water
Green food coloring

Mix wasabi and water to make a paste the consistency of tooth paste. Mix with mayonnaise, adding food coloring if desired. Chill and serve.

5 Stars

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Grill - Fire Burgers

These burgers are a little spicy, but very flavorful. These go great with the Jalapeno Ranch Sauce or some Wasabi Mayonnaise. (In fact I did one with each sauce... tasty!) I did the burgers a little small, in fact I was probably dealing with a half pound of meat, and I did 4 burgers, so they came out more like sliders. A tip: If you want sliders (mini burgers on rolls) don't buy the Super Slider Station from a certain pitchman that is no longer with us, just press meat into a greased muffin tin and pop them on the grill.


1 pound ground beef
Crushed red pepper
Chili powder
Dried garlic
Worcestershire sauce
Cheese slices

Red onion

Mix ground beef, red pepper, cumin, chili powder, garlic and Worcestershire sauce together with clean hands. Form into patties and grill 5-10 minutes per side. Add cheddar cheese and warm until melted. Build burger according to manufacturer's specifications. (Get creative)

3 Stars

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dutch Oven - Beef & Sausage Lasagna

Sunday night we cooked lasagna. I had purchased the ingredients at the store Saturday night, and it took me 2 tries to get it right- I kept finding other things, and forgot to buy the pasta! We served it with a garden salad and drank Guarana, a brazilian fruit juice soda. Very tasty, if you try it, the bottle labeled 'Antarctica' is the best.

I browned the meat, and didn't remove the heat. I went to an appointment, and my wife finished dinner. I forgot to tell her that we needed to remove some bottom heat, and it consequently burned. It was all my fault... but it tasted good anyway.

The secret to a good lasagna is to precook the pasta just a little bit. This softens them up so they are tender in the dish. Just boil water and add the pasta. Easy.

375 degrees
12" dutch oven

1 box lasagna pasta
1 bottle spaghetti sauce
1 package ricotta cheese
1 tub cottage cheese
1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground sausage
mozzarella cheese, shredded
dried garlic flakes

Brown meat in 12" dutch oven, breaking up into small chunks season meat with spices when browning. Remove and set aside, leaving grease in dutch oven. Boil pasta while meat is browning. Set aside. Layer pasta, meat, cheese, sauce, and repeat until all ingredients are used. Remove some bottom heat and apply to the top, baking for 30 minutes until cheese is melted and dish is warmed through. Add mozzarella to top and apply top heat broiling the cheese to a golden brown crust. Serve with salad and fresh Parmesan cheese.

4 Stars

Bon Appetit!
The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!