Dutch Oven Cooking

dutch_oven_campfirePart 1 – Any foods cooked in an oven, stove top or crock pot can be cooked in a dutch oven. Whether it’s a meal of chili with beans, roast with vegetables or fried chicken, the dutch oven does a great job. Consider these facts when making that purchase:
• Cast iron vs. aluminum – Cast iron pots are thicker and heavier than its counterpart, aluminum, which results in holding heat better. Aluminum weighs less and requires no ‘curing’ or ‘seasoning’ like cast iron resulting in less maintenance; however, heat is not distributed as evenly as the cast iron. Both metals can be utilized on an open fire, buried in the ground, or used with fire coals and briquettes. Aluminum will sometimes give a chalky flavor to foods, whereas iron gives a smoked flavor. Most veteran dutch oven chefs prefer cast iron as their metal of choice.
• Indoor vs. outdoor – The most popular method of dutch oven cooking is using fire coals or briquettes. Cast iron footed ovens with good fitting lids are best used for outdoors. Flat bottomed ovens are great for outdoor camping stoves or indoor RV stove tops.
• New vs. used – Buying new can be more costly than used however; hunting down the perfect oven may be time consuming. When purchasing used, look for flush fitting lids, footed bottoms that are not cracked, bent or broken. Also, check for thickness of the metal which should be consistent throughout. Areas that are thin can cause uneven cooking and can indicate the life of the oven is short.

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biscuits4 Part 2 – Successful Dutch oven cooking is acquired through much practice. You know the saying – ‘Practice makes perfect’? I won’t promise perfect, however, these helpful guidelines will certainly get you started in the right direction.
• A standard Dutch oven is usually 4 or 5 inches in depth and serves 3-4 people. It’s best to purchase bigger ovens when needing a large quantity of stew or cooking a giant roast. However, deeper ovens will make baking biscuits, cakes or breads much more difficult because of the space from lid to bottom.
• A standard 10 inch diameter oven serves 3-4 people. 12 on up to 16 inch ovens will cook up plenty of food for a larger family.
• Great tip – Use poultry watering metal pans for building a fire which is usually found in your local farm supply stores with dimensions 16 inches wide and 5 inches deep. Purchases 3 per oven – Start coals in pan #1. 2) Place oven in pan #2 while cooking – the sides of the pan will keep the heat contained and away from blowing winds. Place #3 pan upside down beneath the pan with charcoals, this allows cooking without causing lasting damage to the ground surface.
• Know the temperatures inside your oven – For 325 degrees, just double the ovens number-of-inches of diameter. Example: the 10 inch will require 20 charcoal briquettes – 16 inch diameter will require 32 briquettes. This works best with good quality brand name briquettes that provide even heating. This temperature gaging cannot be achieved successfully using campfire coals.

Methane MadnessPart 3 – With a combination of learning the technique of campfire building along with some great cooking tips, this list of facts will help in getting you on the right track of Dutch oven cooking.
• Leave a “moisture barrier” of at least 1 to 2 inches on top of the oven by not overfilling the pot.
• Cover the Dutch oven with aluminum foil to hold the heat in when you are short of coals or are in a hurry.
• A Dutch oven holds a lot of heat in the sides and lid so move it off of the coals before it is finished cooking and let it finish with just the heat of the pot.
• Add approximately 2 briquettes for every 25 degrees.
• Try not to remove the lid. It helps the Dutch oven operate like a pressure cooker.
• Flip the lid of the Dutch oven over and set it on coals to use it as a frying pan. Cook bacon, sausage, eggs, and pancakes on the lid like you would a frying pan. Or, place upside down on the oven for holding hot coals for added heat.
• If using wood as a heat source – use hardwoods which burn hotter. For example: mesquite, hickory, cedar and oak work best.
• Testing your new skills will be the easiest of all part of all because any recipe that you enjoy using now that’s done by slow cooker, oven or stove top can be easily done in your Dutch oven.

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Part 4 – Caring of your oven is an important part of Dutch oven cooking. As far as clean up goes, once you have a well-seasoned oven, cleanup should be easy.
• Line the inside of the Dutch oven with foil to avoid most all of the cleanup.
• Remove food shortly after finished cooking. Not doing so can result in a metal taste.
• Just wipe out with paper towels using just a small amount of water or oil with salt. This will clean without damaging the seasoning.
• Never use soap. It will damage the patina of the Dutch oven and make it stick to food and run the risk of rusting.
• Never pour hot water into a cold oven or cold water into a hot oven as this may crack the oven.
• Never allow oven to sit in water for this will cause rust. Dry quickly or place on heat to dry.
• When not in use, store lid loosely, never tight. Having the lid on tight will cause the oil seasoning to become rancid. Place a few folded paper towels on the inside of the oven or a bit of aluminum foil to keep the lid ajar to allow for a fresh air exchange.
Once you are comfortable with this fun way of cooking, try using multiple Dutch ovens referred to as Stack Cooking. There are many wonderful resources available to learn more about Dutch oven cooking. Whether from your local library or other informational online websites, doing your due diligent on research is important for your success.

This concludes the 4 part series on Dutch Oven Cooking.

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RV Centennial Cookbook Available On Amazon

The RV Centennial Cookbook – Celebrating 100 Years of RVing will be the perfect gift for that special someone (who LOVES to RV) this Christmas or anytime of the year.  I have GREAT NEWS!!! My RV cookbook is now available on Amazon.  Containing 100 featured recipes – this beautiful publication has 5 methods of cooking ranging from the campfire to the RV oven. Fun and simple recipes that insure lots of enjoyments while out on the road and in nature.  Featuring historical RV photos,  maintenance tips from the RV Professor, stories from many people who have made RVing part of their history.  This is a true celebration of 100 years of RVing.  Please see inside the book by clicking on the book photo.

This truly is a gift that he or she will reach for over and over again – and they will think of you and your thoughtfulness as they enjoy each recipe.  RVing is absolutely about….. ‘Family, Friends & Food’!

Thank you……Happy RVing!

Lady E Cooper

 

 

RV Kitchen Storage: Items That Work Best!

How can we maximize our limited RV kitchen space? By choosing to use the right storage containers and utensils in our kitchen.

Here are some great storage suggestionstorage containers 2s:
• Choose storage containers that have straight-lines that can maximize every square inch of your cupboards.
• Move pantry items out of the various boxes and odd shaped jars and into storage containers that are clear plastic or acrylic that are stackable and have inter-locking lids. This will allow for better use of space when you travel. Don’t forget to place the cooking instructions and labels inside the storage container for later use.
• Mixing bowls that nest nicely, staying with the straight lines, if possible. Angles on our bowls can chew up valuable storage space.
• Choose pots, pans & skillets that also nest. Look for a nesting set that has a variety of sizes but can be stacked and stored in the smaller footprint.
• Install a plastic magazine rack to the inside of a cupboard or pantry door that can house all your loose aluminum and plastic wraps as well as the different sizes of boxed baggies.
• For larger serving utensils, chip-clips and other odd shaped kitchen items, place them in one or two storage containers to keep them under control and in one location.

Want to submit your favorite storage idea?  I invite you to fill out the form below.

Happy RVing!

Lady E Cooper

‘RV Kitchen Storage: Items That Work Best!’

This blog along with many others I have written can be found at online at: AmeriGo RV Club

RV Centennial Cookbook Winners!

These folks have won a free autographed copy of the RV Centennial Cookbook.  During the Hershey PA RV Show September 10-14th, 2015 – RV Show attendees who came to visit with me at the Redwood RV display had a chance to sign up for 1 of 10 copies that were being given away.  All of the following individuals have been contacted.

  • Ezell Belton
  • Laurie Reed
  • Kathy Bellum
  • Susan Friedman
  • Edward High
  • Gerry Haggerty
  • Deb Miller
  • Dawn Stevens
  • Kathy Moyer
  • R. Day

Congratulations to the winners of this cookbook ‘Give-A-Way’ – Sponsored by: REDWOOD RV – Residential 5th Wheel Vehicles

Photos from the 2014 Hershey RV Show

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Cheeseburger Soup

Ingredients

1 pound ground beef, 1 cup chopped onion

1 cup shredded carrots, 1 cup diced celery

1-1/2 teaspoon dried basil, 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

4 tablespoons butter, divided, 3 cups chicken broth

4 cups peeled and diced potatoes, ¼ cup all-purpose flour

2 cups of Velveeta processed cheese cubed

1½ cups milk, ¾ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper, ¼ cup sour cream

Instructions

Brown the ground beef in 3 quart saucepan. Drain and set aside.

In the same saucepan add 1 tbsp. butter and add onion, shredded carrots, parsley flakes, basil and celery.  Sauté until tender.

Add the broth, potatoes and beef and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 10-12 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

In small skillet melt remaining butter (3 tbsp.) and add the flour. Cook and stir for 3-5 minutes or until bubbly. Add to the soup and bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low.

Stir in the cheese, milk, salt and pepper. Cook and stir until cheese melts. Remove from heat and blend in sour cream.

Until next time….. Happy RVing!

Cheeseburger Soup

Cheeseburger Soup

Caring for the RV Galley Tank / Grey Tank

The grey water tank which holds water from the RV kitchen is often referred to as the ‘Galley Tank’. In some of today’s floor plans, a large amount of water is in demand for the clothes washer, dishwasher, shower, bathroom and kitchen sinks. Because of this demand, the  RV manufacturer will place a second grey water tank on board which will divide out the water usage, leaving the kitchen grey water to be called ‘Grey Tank 2’ or ‘Galley Tank’.  All manufacturers are not the same so please refer to your monitor panel for specific names used.

Follow these rules for keeping your galley tank healthy:

  • Keep plenty of paper towels on hand. Wiping out soiled pots and pans before washing will keep food particles from accidentally going down the drain.  Be aware that many foods contain oils that will eventually clog your kitchen drain.
  • Never pour hot or cold grease/oil down your drains.  My favorite way to dispose of hot oil is to first cool slightly, and then pour into an empty can or left over empty container/bottle then cap tightly closed. Once cooled completely, place in the trash can.
  • Use natural cleaners like white vinegar or baking soda to keep your family and RV kitchen plumbing safe.
  • Keep your galley tank clear of grease build-up and organic sludge by dropping in a dissolving deodorizer tablet(s). These can be purchased at most all RV supply stores.  Continue to use these tablets to keep the galley and grey water lines open, flowing and odor-free.

Happy RVing – Lady E Cooper

Caring for the RV Galley Tank / Grey Tank

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RV Kitchen – Questions & Answers

Question from a reader:

We purchased a new rig and have never owned a convection/microwave oven before. So on our first trip, my husband and I decided to cook 3 different recipes and the results were all consistent – BAD! I don’t think it is getting hot enough. What am I doing wrong?    Signed – Carol P.

Carol – The day our manufacturers decided to include convection/microwave ovens in today’s RVs – was truly a wonderful day! Having cooked with convection ovens for many years and loving the results from that appliance, this is an area that I enjoy helping people with because it really will make your RV cooking experience even better.

Here are a few pointers …based upon the information you provided.

  • #1 – Read the manuals that came with your unit – manufacturers have different products which can operate differently (even though they are basically the same). I also suggest getting online (if you have access to the internet) to search for videos by folks that have a convection/microwave like the model you have or similar. You can learn a lot of great information this way just listening to other’s experiences.
  • #2 – You stated that you think your unit is not getting hot enough. – Buy an oven thermometer to test the temperature.  Sometimes, we will find that the temps are off as much as 25 degrees.  Of course, we would like it to be perfectly set, but if you know that your unit is off, you can compensate by setting the temperature higher so you can achieve the desired results.   Should you find that your temperatures are 50, 75 to 100 degrees cooler….then I would say that your unit should be checked out by a service technician – it could be a faulty thermostat which would require that part to be replaced.
  • #3 – Traditionally – convection ovens in our bricks & sticks homes operate having access to strong/clean electricity.  RVs are not the case.  We are limited in how much electricity is fed to our rigs and sometimes that electricity is not strong nor clean. The wattage that this oven requires is not very high so the heating and cooking process is slower.  Sometimes, a recipe that requires 25 minutes at 325 degrees will actually need 30 minutes at a higher degree – like 350.  This will be something that you will need to tweak with your own unit to find the ‘sweet spot’ in regards to length of cooking time and right temperature.

UPDATE:  From Carol – I took you’re suggestion about purchasing an oven thermometer and found our convection oven was 100 degrees off.  So, I called the RV dealer and they arranged for a service technician to check it out. He found that the thermostat needed to be replaced. All problems resolved and we love using this appliance. Thank you for your helpful suggestions.

I LOVE a happy ending!   Happy RVing – Lady E Cooper

RV Kitchen – Questions & Answers

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Do you have a question?  Please fill out the form below.

RV Maintenance 5 Day Live Course

Ken is a recent graduate of the 5 Day RV Tech Course taught in Shipshewana, IN this past August of 2014. He is very open about the value this course brought to his life.  RV Maintenance for the consumer is being taught by Terry Cooper – RVDA/RVIA Master Certified RV Service Technician and Professional Instructor.  Learn how to take care of your rig by going to www.rvtechcourse.com

My RV Kitchen with Lady E on Pinterest

Pinterest

Welcome to “My Pinterest Page” where I share ideas, learn to be more creative and show off my own flare! What is Pinterest? Pinterest is a visual discovery tool that you can use to find ideas for all your projects and interests.  From RV cooking to where to camp – you can find it all on Pinterest. Come along and share your ideas…..

Terry Cooper – The Texas RV Professor

Redwood 5th Wheel Slide in Slide Schwintek System

 

Guest Blog by The Texas RV Professor (my husband)

RVDA/RVIA Master Certified Technician and Professional Instructor

 

Schwintek Slide-Out System Operation Tips

The Schwintek Slide Out system has become one most popular mechanisms we are seeing on today’s RV slide outs. This system consists of exterior mounted aluminum rails driven by dual 12 volt dc motors and managed by a power controller that talks to these motors.

Here are 3 things you can do to help your Schwintek slide out system operate more trouble free.

  • Have maximum battery power to operate the two 12 volt DC drive motors. You can boost your on board house battery by having your RV’s power cord plugged into the pedestal (shore power) or  have your 7 pin connector power cord hooked up to your tow vehicle if you have a travel trailer or 5th wheel.

 

  • Operate the Schwintek system only when the RV is level. You will need to level your RV before running your slides out. Then when you are ready to leave bring the slides in before raising your leveling legs.

 

  • Let the Schwintek controller decide when to stop the slide movement. We have been trained on all the other types of slide out systems to release the in/out switch when we see the room complete its movement. If you will continue to press the in/out button and allow the controller to be in full control, it will determine when to stop the room. This will allow the controller to count the motor rotations of the two electric motors and self-align the slide position.

Little things can make a big difference in enjoyment of your RV.

See more blogs like this at AmeriGo RV Club - written by my husband –  Terry Cooper the Texas RV Professor and co-owner of Mobile RV Academy.

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