Sunday, June 27, 2010

July's Theme - Forcing Myself To Use Recipes...

Announcing the Back Porch Gourmet's first monthly theme!

"Forcing Myself To Use Recipes"

I've just ran the theme past my wife, and first she said, "I don't think your food will taste good" and then "I don't think you can do it" and finally "It isn't in your genes". Very funny honey. Well, they told copernicus, gallileo and columbus the world was flat, but only one had the ghutzpa (and the money) to do it, so I'm going to do it! THANK. YOU. VERY. MUCH.

So all during July I will be scouring our cookbooks, the web and the encyclopedia galactica for recipes. Want something featured? Send me an email at backporchgourmet at gmail dot com. Send me your submissions quick, I'd like to get my shopping done soon. We'll give credit where credit is due, and if I had any cool prizes I would send you one, but alas, this is a low budget blog. I really need to sell out.

Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Fringe Cooking - Easy Vanilla Ice Cream

So, I've just coined a new cooking term. Proud of me? You shouldn't be. I'm not that smart. Anyhow, fringe cooking is cooking on the edge, using odd tools to get the job done. "You want that manifold steak medium rare honey, because we're approaching a freeway exit." Fringe cooking was probably coined by Dian Thomas, though she calls it "Roughing it Easy". Growing up we used the Dian Thomas method of cooking. My parents scoured that book for ideas camping, and I was elated to find the new edition that came out a few years ago. Bought my own copy, I did!

This is easy cooking. Mix some stuff up, put it in a small can, put the small can in a big can, add some ice and salt and kick it around the floor for a while. Fun for the whole family! Tastes good too!

Still needs some stirrin'.

Nested Paint Cans
0 Degrees Celsius
30 minutes

1 quart unused paint can
1 gallon unused paint can

1/2 pint cream
1/2 quart half and half
1 1/2 cups sugar

Mix all ingredients in small can, sealing well. Nest in large can with ice and salt, sealing well. Roll on ground or shake vigorously for 10 minutes. Stir. Repeat. Stir. Repeat. Enjoy.

The can - in - can method. Fun for the whole family!

5 Stars
Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Dutch Oven - Chili Dogs

This turned out to be one of those "It would have been good if..." meals. I am getting more confident at cooking beans. Well, I mean taking those rock hard, dirt cheap little thingies, soaking them, sorting them, and cooking them into really good soups and chilies. Or so I thought... We made this camping, and I soaked the beans in our fairshare mug, and I think I crammed too many in there, because they didn't soften very well. We were just too darn hungry, and we thought a storm was gathering, so we ate it anyway. (No storm all weekend!)

12" Dutch oven
350 degrees

2 cups beans
1 packet seasoning
ground beef
tomato sauce
and because you only brought one can of tomato sauce, ketchup
hot dogs

Soak beans overnight. Braise ground beef and saute onion in seasoning. Add beans and tomato substances. When ready to eat, add hot dogs and cook for 10 minutes.

2 Stars
Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Dutch Oven - Thai Curried Noodles with Chicken

Holy cow. This was AWESOME! I haven't had food this good since this. Though, I didn't have heightened senses or see any of my dead relatives, it was cooking zen at its best. My family and I spent the last 4 days camping in the beautiful Wasatch mountains near my home. So, I have been cooking in the Dutch ovens for about 3 days solid. It has been really fun, but it reminds me how much work cooking like this is, especially when I don't have a kitchen attached to my cooking area.

12" dutch oven
350-400 degrees
30 minutes

Red bell pepper
Green bell pepper
Green onion
Rice noodles
Coconut milk
Thai Spices:
Bean sprouts

Saute chicken until fully cooked. Mix in thai spices. Soak rice noodles according to package directions. Add coconut milk and stir briskly. Add noodles and vegetables and simmer until noodles are tender. Serve with bean sprouts if desired.

5 Stars
Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dutch Oven - Chicken Stir Fry

I made this for Father's day, and unfortunately, I had to run off to do a quick errand, and it burned. It would have been very tasty though. The pea pods came from our garden, and it was sad to see them burn.

12" Dutch Oven
350 Degrees
30 Minutes

Rice noodles
Chicken, sliced thin
Pea pods
Carrots, sliced thin
Bell pepper
Rice vinegar
Fish sauce
Soy Sauce
Ginger powder

Saute chicken with spices and liquids in garlic Add vegetables. Soak rice noodles according to package directions. Add to pot, stirring and adding more liquids and seasoning to taste. Simmer 15-20 minutes until tender.

2 Stars
Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dutch Oven - Meatloaf

I had heard about the Dinwiddie Ring method from reading Toni's blog. (She is awesome, go check her site out!) I thought I would try it, maybe it could bring some method to my madness. However, it tanked bad. I had underestimated the amount of coals that I needed, and so it took a LONG time to cook. Below is the original recipe straight from our family cookbook. Follow this and you won't go wrong, we've done it many times, in conventional and Dutch ovens. It's really tasty and easy to make. Throw some potato chunks around the edge and you've got a complete meal.

12" Dutch oven
350 degrees
1 hour 30 minutes

2/3 cup breadcrumbs
1 cup milk
1 1/2 lbs beef
2 eggs
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp sage

3 tbs brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Mix ingredients for meatloaf together and press in greased Dutch oven. Mix sauce and put on top. Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes until cooked completely through.

5 Stars
Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sauce - List of Hot Sauces via Wikipedia

Browsing the web, I came across this helpful list at Wikipedia:

It shows common hot sauces, their ingredients and their country of origin.

Looks like a great resource for finding that perfect hot sauce, or if you have a food allergy.

Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Grill - Garden Lemon Chicken

This chicken has a subtle lemon flavor, with a spicy kick from the steak rub. I've really enjoyed the steak rub. I put it on EVERYTHING now. It is so easy, I just can't wait to grow some more this year.

Lemon Juice
Lemon Pepper Seasoning

Spicy Garden Steak Rub

Marinate chicken for 8 hours in marinade and grill, sprinkling with spices. Grill 10 minutes on each side for thick chicken.

4 Stars
Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Grill - Spiced Corn on the Cob

I've had a really lazy day today. Woke up around nine-ish, dragged my self in the kitchen, ate breakfast, and spent most of the day youtubing. Last night, however, my son and I were going to our church's father and son's camp out. I hadn't packed, so coming home at 6, packing, leaving at 7 and getting a tent set up at 8 didn't sound very fun. Especially since we'd be setting that tent up in the rain. Instead, I stayed home and Dylan helped me build a yagi antenna for my hiking adventures with the amateur radio operators that I hang out with. After that, we set up the tent outside (in the dark) and spent the night in the back yard.

I wanted an easy dinner, so we barbecued. I tried to light the coals, and then shut the lid to keep the rain off them, but that just made them go out. I had used the last of my lighter fluid too... so, I improvised. Kids, please don' t try this at home, but a little bit of Iso-Heet worked pretty good. It's isopropyl alcohol, like what you rub on your cuts and scrapes, but more pure. It has an instant flash point, so be sure to light a match and throw it in your bbq. The coals glowed hot and it didn't take longer than regular lighter fluid would have.

This corn is super good, and pretty easy too. This by far is the best way I've had corn cooked. Make sure you get out all the silk, but other than the shucking, it isn't remotely like work.



Corn on the Cob
Olive oil
Spicy Garden Steak Rub

Shuck corn leaving the leaves on the stem. Remove silk. Brush with olive oil and shake spices on the corn liberally. Fold leaves back up and grill 10 minutes rotating corn frequently.

5 Stars
Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Snack - Easy Granola Bars

Last night I presented this recipe at Roundtable Training for the Boy Scouts. It got rave reviews and it is SO easy to make! Make a pan of these before a camping or hiking trip and you'll never run out of energy.

My wife and I have recently joined a hiking group that also are Amateur Radio operators like myself. Wednesday night we hike the Wasatch mountains near my home. This week, we hiked Butler Fork to access Circle All Peak. The sun was shining, a gentle breeze blowing and all was peaceful. We climbed 300 feet through a highland forest, and it opened up to an aspen meadow. We start up the ridge on the 13 switchbacks, and the clouds gathered, and it started to rain. We weren't afraid of the rain until we heard the thunder and saw the lightning. I got on the radio and announced that my wife and I would be heading down and would wait for the rest of the group. My buddy Josh radioed over and said he would be coming down as well. Soon, all the group was headed down, and we looked like a bunch of drowned rats. The butler fork trail forks into 2 routes, and soon we saw many hikers high tailing it down the mountain, not wanting to be caught in a storm cell. Thanks to my new soft shell and my nylon "parachute" hiking zipoffs, I was dry before we left the canyon. It was a lot of fun, even though we didn't break the 2 mile mark, and we turned back early.


Home Oven

350 Degrees

15-20 Minutes

Easy Granola Bars

3 Cups Granola, Oats, Puffed rice etc.

3 Cups Nuts, Dried fruit, Chocolate, etc.

1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk

Mix all ingredients in a greased mixing bowl, mixing with a greased wooden spoon. Press into greased 9 x 13 baking pan. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

5 Stars
Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Dutch Oven - Kettle Corn

This is an epic failure. Perhaps your mileage may vary. I'll post the recipe, but beware; this tanked bad. Very bad. The problem was that the popcorn got burned before it all popped. The kettle corn makers, have a giant copper kettle and an oar to stir it with. If I could have stirred it, it may have turned out better.

12" Dutch oven
350 degrees

brown sugar

Melt butter in 12" Dutch oven, adding salt and sugar. Add popcorn. Cook until burnt. Throw away. Scrub your Dutch oven, and resolve to try it again another way.

1 Stars
Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Dutch Oven - Jalapeno Corn Bread

Tonight we had my folks over for dinner, and we made this cornbread to go with the soup. It turned out really good, but knowing not everybody likes it spicy, I added the jalapenos only on one side of the cornbread. It kinda changed the chemistry of the bread and made it a little more moist. Tasted really good, though.

12" Dutch oven
400 degrees

1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal (grind up popcorn in a wheat grinder)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup oil or melted butter

2 jalapenos, diced

Combine eggs, buttermilk and oil. Mix dry ingredients and liquids together, stirring only 20 times. Add jalapenos and stir. Bake 15-20 minutes

5 Stars

Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Dutch Oven - Chicken Bean Soup

I sit in my warm house as the storm brews around me. Thunder crashes, frightening my children bursting loudly every few seconds. An hour ago, I was enjoying dinner with my family. Two hours ago I sat in the sunshine, a waft of soup hitting my senses every few minutes, but now I am huddled safe in my home, safe from the rain coming down in droves. Where is my time machine, my past? It is now gone, left to be replaced by the chaos outside. Yet, I am safe, dry and warm. I am protected.

Last night I soaked some beans, hoping that I wouldn't have an epic failure like last time. Everything turned out great, and the soup was very tasty. Now to do something about this weather...

350 degrees
12" Dutch oven
1 hour

pinto beans
great northern beans
chicken, cubed
spicy garden steak rub
garlic, chopped
mushrooms, chopped
chicken bullion
celery, chopped
radishes, sliced
cilantro, chopped

Soak beans overnight. Drain and rinse. Saute chicken and garlic in spices. Add mushroom, celery and radish. Saute for 5 minutes. Add water, beans, bullion, cilantro and spices to taste. Simmer for 1 hour. Serve with cornbread.

4 Stars
Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Dutch Oven - Pepperoni Calzone

The Back Porch Gourmet has had a secret admirer for some time. Our back neighbors have long been readers and finally contacted me about the blog. We put them on our guest list and we had them over for dinner tonight. Calzones have always been a favorite of mine, and I wanted to try some in a Dutch oven. This is a pretty easy dish that would be good camping too. Despite a small charcoal scare (they wouldn't all light at first-- don't overfill a chimney, the ones on top will only light) we had no other problems cooking.

450 Degrees
12" Dutch oven
45 minutes

2 cans 'pop' refrigerated pizza dough
tomato sauce
garlic, chopped
bread crumbs
mozzarella cheese
ham, diced
olives, sliced
mushrooms, chopped
butter, melted

Grease 12" Dutch oven with oil. Roll pizza dough flat. Dust with bread crumbs and press into dough on both sides. Spread tomato sauce and garlic on dough with 1 inch border on all sides. Add pepperoni, cheese, ham, olives, and mushrooms to one side of calzone. Fold over and press edges. Repeat above steps until you have 2 calzones for each 12" Dutch oven. Top with light layer of cheese. Place calzones in Dutch ovens and bake for 45 minutes until crust is golden brown.

3 Stars
Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Sharing the Back Porch

For the past few days, the Back Porch Gourmet has had an uninvited but welcome guest. His name is Petey, the unfortunate robin baby. Somehow, Petey can't fly like the other robins. Mama has been bringing Petey food and trying to get him to fly, but his left wing has some issues. We've been trying our hardest to keep Rowdy from eating him, so I hope Petey learns soon. Until then, we share our back yard with Petey. Good luck little bird!

Having Petey around and the other birds that arrive with the seasons makes me think about the outdoors. Most people wouldn't consider their backyards outdoors, or even nature. However, I believe the outdoors start at your back porch (hence the tag line in every post). True, stepping on your back lawn is not a serene paradise wilderness with deer drinking from crystal streams and squeaking squirrels that busily gather their winter stores. Still, any wildlife in your yard, whether you are a rooftop gardener in the big city or a farmer in the country is still wildlife and nature. I love being a backyard biologist, studying the flora and fauna of the suburbs. Open up your eyes and see what is in your own backyard.

What spring friends are you sharing your outdoor kitchens with? Sound off in the comments.

Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Dutch Oven - German Pancakes

I woke up this morning and lit some coals for breakfast. These German Pancakes are really easy, tasty, and quick. There's only 15 minutes of baking time. This recipe was adapted from a recipe I got in 7th grade in my home economics class. It is originally for a 8" by 8" baking pan. I would either cook it in a 10" Dutch oven, or double the recipe for a 12" Dutch oven. I actually would double it anyway, it didn't yield much as shown above. It also usually rises and cooks to a crisp crust, but I think I opened the lid too soon, because it deflated when opened. Still tasted good, but next time I'm doubling it, and timing it better.

450 degrees
10"/12" Dutch oven
15 minutes

2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
pinch sugar
2 tbs butter or margarine
maple syrup

Preheat Dutch oven and melt butter. Whip eggs with whisk in mixing bowl until lemon yellow in color. Add milk, flour, salt and sugar. Mix well with mixing spoon. Pour mixture in Dutch oven with the butter. The butter will float to the top; do not mix together. Bake for 15 minutes. Do not open Dutch oven until time is up.

3 Stars
Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Product Review - Zaaschila Hot Sauce

We found these sauces at Walmart while looking for a different product (Cholula Chile Lime Sauce & Spice). Couldn't find the Cholula, so I thought I'd try these instead. I love hot sauce, and I usually peter out before habanero, so I thought, why not?

The chipotle cremosa sauce is very flavorful. It has a gentle kick, but a full flavor. Usually a hot sauce will have a great flavor, and no kick, or a great kick and no flavor. Not so with Zaaschila. The chipotle can be used as a sauce for steak, pizza, fajitas & tacos, or as a salad dressing. The only con with the chipotle sauce is that you will eventually run out of it and have to go buy more.

The habanero sauce packs a whollop. If you still have intact taste buds after the first bite, there is a great sweet & spicy flavor that lingers. I literally needed to eat a spoon of peanut butter to tame the flame. It was good on its own, but would also go great in soups, stews, chile & chili. It is very hot, so be careful. You don't want this stuff on your skin and definitely not in your eyes. Wash with cold water if exposed.

All in all, both sauces tasted great. The chipotle was gentler and would go well as an all purpose sauce. The habanero, on the other hand, packs a whollop and I would mainly use it in soups, chile, chili and stews.

Chipotle: 5 Stars
Habanero: 4 Stars

Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Grill - Spicy Garden Steak

For our Memorial Day barbecue, we cooked up these steaks on our charcoal grill. This is the first time I haven't had to finish meat on another cooking source on the grill. Adding the bricks really helped out. The secret to barbecue is to not turn the food too much. If you turn it to frequently, it will release all of the yummy juices and you will be left with a dry hunk of meat.

4-5 medium steaks, trimmed
Spicy Garden Steak Rub

Preheat grill either gas, or charcoal using the coal elevation technique. Trim steaks and rub with spices. Grill until desired wellness is reached, turning minimally. Serve with potatoes, salad, and baked beans.

5 Stars
Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Dutch Oven - Mushrooms Bellagio

This is a flashback recipe that I used to compete last year in the City Weekly Dutch Oven Cookoff. I didn't win, but I had a lot of fun. These are very tasty, and great for parties. We made a stencil with the sponsors' logos and sprinkled parsley through the holes. Nice gimmick, but I don't know that it helped. I didn't take home a single leftover mushroom! The public gave rave reviews, and I didn't hear any feedback from the judges.

325 degrees
12" Dutch oven
45 minutes

6 pounds White Mushroom (stems removed)
6 cups Bread Crumbs
1 pound Asiago Cheese
1 pound Mozzarella Cheese
1 bunch Green Onions (chopped)
1 jar Alfredo Sauce
1/2 pound Bacon Crumbles
Olive Oil
Dash Parsley
Dash Sage
Dash Dried Garlic
Dash Basil

Remove stems of mushrooms. Mix 1/2 of the following: bread crumbs, asiago, mozzarella, green onions, bacon and all spices. Stuff mushrooms with mixture and place crown down in 12" Dutch oven. Layer mushrooms on top of each other until gone. Bake at 300-325 degrees for 45 minutes until mushrooms are tender. Add alfredo sauce and cook until simmering. Add remaining ingredients on top in the following order: bread crumbs, bacon, chesses. Add more heat to the top of the oven and cook the cheese to a golden brown. Serve immediately. Serves 6-8.

4 Stars
Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Dutch Oven - Easy Pizza Pockets

We cooked these pockets for our Memorial Day Barbecue. These are super easy, and taste really good.

12" Dutch oven
350 Degrees
20 Minutes

2 Pkg refrigerator "pop" pizza dough
Tomato Sauce
Mozzarella, shredded
Onion Salt
Bread crumbs
Butter, melted

Pop open the dough, cutting into 1/2 inch slices. Flatten slices into oval shapes about the size of your palm. Add tomato sauce, spices, pepperoni and cheese. Fold over and pinch edges. Coat in butter and bread crumbs. Place in dutch oven and bake for 20-30 minutes. Serve with marinara or ranch dressing.

3 Stars
Bon Appetit!The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Grill Tip - Elevate Your Charcoal

Okay, I know this is simple, but very effective. My charcoal grill kept going too cold to cook too fast, and when you're grilling a fat steak, you don't want to finish it on the George Foreman, trust me!

Step 1:
Place 2 bricks in the bottom of your grill:

Step 2: Replace the charcoal basket:

Step 3: Replace the grill top:

We cooked steaks, chicken and more chicken on Monday with our friends and even the late comers had hot charcoal to cook on. This really beefs up my cheapo walmart grill.

Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Podcast - Interview with Mark Hansen of Mark's Black Pot

Tonight I had the opportunity to interview Mark Hansen at Mark's Black Pot. Mark is a great outdoor chef and a great friend. His blog showcases some of the most awesome, avant-garde, and in-your-face cooking, while not being difficult to cook, or using complex ingredients. Mark loves to push the envelope, is not afraid to try new things and never gives up in the face of cooking adversity.

In the interview Mark talks about his favorite tools, including his research into finding the perfect chef's knife, how he became an expert bread chef, the burden of cooking competitively, and many more great Dutch oven topics. Find out what 5 items Mark would want on a desert island related to outdoor cooking!

Check out the full interview here.

Mark is also a great recording artist as well! Check out his music site at

Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

New Rating System!

Looking back into back posts, I can say that I am biased when I post ratings for each dish I cook. (5 stars!) Therefore, I've decided to post a widget for our readers to voice their opinions. So, if you cook the dish, rate it! If you think it just looks good, rate it! If you think it looks super gross, rate it anyway! I don' t mind, my ego won't be crushed at all.

In the mean time, I'm going to give a survey to our guests to fill out after eating my cooking, so I can better assess how many stars a meal deserves!

Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!