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Getting back to the basics of cooking

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Sandy and I recently decided to celebrate Thanksgiving a few days early with her brother and his girlfriend upon learning that they would be working on the holiday.

Having recently purchased a propane smoker, one thing was for sure. I would crawl out of the sack early and get started on a maple-glazed ham.

But I also had another idea. Why not celebrate the holiday by resorting to primitive methods of cooking, more comparable to the methods that were likely used during the initial Thanksgiving feast?

That in mind, I pulled my camp dutch ovens from the storage building and began planning our portion of the meal. The meat of choice was already in the books. So, all I had to do was come up with a couple of vegetables and some type of dessert.

Thanksgiving would not be Thanksgiving, in my book, if potatoes were not on the menu. So, I first began by browsing the World Wide Web for a dish that would prove relatively simple, tasty and something that could be prepared in the dutch oven, which is just about anything that can be cooked in a conventional oven.

Well, I finally happened upon a dish called cheesy potatoes that fit the bill. All I had to do was cube and boil the potatoes prior to tossing them in a concoction containing sour cream, cream of mushroom soup and grated cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste and she would be ready to go into a dutch oven. Nine briquettes under the pot, 15 on top and I'd be cooking at 350 degrees. Thirty minutes later and it would be ready to serve.

In the meantime, my other side dish must prove a little more healthy. That in mind, I went with a medley of mixed vegetables consisting of broccoli, cauliflower, baby carrots, zucchini and yellow squash. Throw a few mushrooms in there and that should suffice. About one-quarter inches of water in the bottom of the pot, the same configuration of briquettes as previously mentioned, and they should be steamed in about 30-minutes as well.

But I would first make a dessert, as it did not have to be hot upon serving, In fact, I most prefer that sweet sensations of Thanksgiving be cold or at room temperature, at the least. With a little thought, I came to the conclusion that a pumpkin dish has to be on the table during this particular holiday. And what would be more fitting than to use one of my mom's recipes.

Although mother has passed, getting the ingredients and instructions was no issue. I simply contacted my sister, asking for the recipe for that delicious pumpkin bread that I always anticipated during the holidays.

I heated the third dutch oven as Sandy assembled the ingredients. And, within no time, the bread was cooking and a sweet aroma soon followed.

Preparation for this particular dish, however, differed from the others. This was not a concoction that one could stir on occasion, to ensure the ingredients resting on the bottom of the vessel didn't burn, and the wall of the dutch oven was noticeably taller.

But experience had taught me a couple of tried and true methods to overcome these hurdles. The wall height was a no-brainer. I would simply add a few extra briquettes to the potatoes lid to ensure an even temperature inside the vessel. And the burning issue? That was also easily fixed.

I opted to pour the batter in a loaf pan, in lieu of dumping it directly into the dutch oven. I then secured four small rocks from the back yard and placed them in the pot. Laying the loaf pan on the rocks, I no longer had to concern myself with any dangers of the bottom of the bread burning, as it was no longer resting directly on the pot and actually benefited from air flow around the entire dish.

Well, the pumpkin bread was ready within an hour and my side dishes were ready for consumption just about the time the ham had rested and was ready to be sliced.

I'll have to admit that this primitive method of cooking that I had chosen was somewhat labor intensive, but looking back, I have no regrets. Not only were the finished products tasty, but to resort back to the most basic of cooking methods was enjoyable indeed.

Sports on 12/06/2018

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