Friday, February 11, 2011

The Fish That Started It All...

In what seems to be our theme on fish here at the Back Porch Gourmet (no we haven't been bought out by the national fishmonger's association), I want to reflect back on the dish that started it all. For our new fans, let me tell you how the Back Porch Gourmet came into existence.

It all started with a birthday party. I was turning 23, I think. A dozen people were crammed into our tiny apartment, and we blew a few candles, and then my parents handed me a nicely wrapped box. Opening it revealed a 10" Lodge dutch oven and a lid stand that doubles as a lifter. My friend Mark casually mentioned that he'd been doing Dutch oven for a while, and he was having a blast. We cut the cake, and the party was history.

Flash forward to 2010. Home ownership and no college homework was a perfect storm of "dulldrums" forcing our hero into a daily routine reminiscent of "1984". I needed a challenge. Something to look forward to on the weekends. I had been reading Mark's blog for quite some time, and I already had a black pot, well worn with many dishes cooked everywhere from apartment balconies to the mountains. I was afraid to try "gourmet" dishes. Dishes that require lots of steps, or anything outside of the glass box I had created in my head. I needed something to break the routine. Again, I needed a challenge. So I did just that; I threw down a challenge. I challenged the only Dutch oven chef I knew to a duel. It was for all the marbles, and there were rules too. I emailed Mark with this cool idea. Like any duel, the one receiving the challenge got to choose the weapons. Mark gave me these ingredients: Fish, Dill, and Potatoes. One key rule in the challenge was to write up the cooking experience and post it on the internet. (Mark had moved away when I was in high school.) I could have sent a transcript to Mark, had him post it on Mark's Black Pot, and never shared another experience with you at all. Instead, I started a blog, bought a domain name, and the rest as you know, is history.

Cooking in Dutch ovens nearly every weekend for a year has taught me a lot. Besides the world of Dutch oven knowledge I've picked up, I've learned web design, podcasting, graphic art, photography, book publishing, and a world of other valuable skills. I've learned some life lessons too. Patience is key. Help in the kitchen no matter how small is always welcome. Kids love doing things with their parents-- Dutch oven is one cool thing to do with your kids. Dogs will eat dough if you leave it on the floor. It will still bake and guests don't know the difference. If you mess it up, you can always go out to eat. Sharing good food with good friends is better than apple pie. Sand crusted soup and cold wet dogs still make for a good trip. In the least, it gives you a good story.

Here's to 2011- I hope that I can continue to push the envelope and get out of the routine I've seemed to work myself into again. If anyone is interested in another Dutch oven challenge, I'm game. Here are the rules.

Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

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