Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dutch Oven: Round 2

Yes, It's true... I don't give up easily, or maybe I'm a sucker for punishment, but I decided to tackle the whole Dutch oven thing again...but this time armed with all the failures of last time.

So first order of business was to get a Dutch oven that wasn't big enough to feed the entire state of Texas, I had to hit a couple of stores to find one, and ended up with a nice little 10" oven. (I could actually lift this one with one hand.) Next was to get some new briquettes, something that would actually catch fire and stay lit.

I decided to go with a desert this time, and I have always been a big fan of Pinapple Upside down cake... (I know what your thinking, but hey it's just a cake it can't be that hard)

I pulled up several recipes on the internet, and using them as a guide came up with one that I thought would work really well.

I'ts been raining alot here, so I put some tin foil down in the garage and soaked some briquettes in lighter fluid...amaziningly with in about 15 minutes I had some nice coals going...I put everything together, sat the oven on some coals and put some more on top...and 45 minutes later....this Is what I got.

YEAH!!! Now were talking....

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ready, Set, Go...

We are fast approaching that "Great and Dreadful" day when Stephen will be leaving to go on his mission. Great, because he will be leaving on one of the greatest adventures of his life. Dreadful becasue for us as his parents it will be like there was a death in our family... I can't even imagine what it will be like to not have him around anymore...
He met with the Bishop on Sunday and recieved the go ahead to "Start his paperwork". My understanding is that the earliest you can turn in your papers is 3 months before your 19th birthday...and that is where we are at right now.
In preperation for getting everything ready we had his wisdom teeth pulled last week, so he would be up to date on all of his dental work, All that we need to do now is have the dentist sign off...He goes in for his physical next week, and then I think it's just a matter of filling everything else out. (it is all done online now, once it's finalized the bishop sends it electronically to Salt Lake)
Once it is sent, we were told that Stephen should get his letter telling him where he will be going within 2 weeks.

Friday, August 1, 2008

$100 Dollar Earwig

I got up to work this morning...didn't notice anything wrong, and Randie went to run some errands, when she got home she walks in and says "Did you turn the Air Conditioner Off?" I said "No, I don't think so", and walked over to check the Thermastat...81 Deg. hmm....(come to think of it, it is kind of warm in here) I play with the controls...Fan comes on but no Air Conditioning, I went outside to look at the AC Unit...It is defenitly not working, but the lines aren't frozen, and the breaker is still on. I went downstairs to check the Filter, it's a little dirty but not enouph to stop airflow.

Time to call in a profesional. I call 2 or 3 and they all give me "The earliest we can be out there is sometime next week" I keep calling and finally find someone who say's "We can have someone there in 2 hours, It's $99.00 for a service call, and if we find any problems the $99.00 dollars goes towards the repair... I bend over and give them my address.

Profesional comes out...Checks the thermostat, it's still 81 deg. (Seems a lot hotter though now) Plays with the controls, Fan comes on but no Air Conditioning, so we go outside to look at the AC Unit... Still not working, he checks the lines to see if they are frozen, and then checks the Breaker...(Hey those are all the things I did)..Now he pulls off a little panel, gets out his miniature Mag flashlight (those are the ones the "Profesionals" use...I had one once by the way, just so I could pretend I was a profesional). after shining his light around for about 30 seconds...he says "Theres the problem" I'm thinking maybe there's a wire that came loose, he gets into his bag and pulls out some needle nosed pliers, reaches in and pulls out a dead earwig..."WHAT?" I think to myself, He says "That should fix it".

"WHAT?" a dead earwig, you've got to be kidding me... apparently when the thermostat decides it needs more air to keep the house cool it sends a signal to the AC Unit, and a little switch flips from open to closed, which completes the circuit and the AC Unit turns on until the thermostat says "thats enouph" then the switch flips back to open. sometime yesterday an earwig got lodged in the switch, stopping it from closing. So in the end...I paid $100.00 for an earwig... (for that much money I should have kept the earwig and framed it. I have paintings (ok they are prints) that are way cheaper than that hanging on my wall.

Urban Camping

Randie has a Relief Society event coming up where they are doing some Dutch Oven cooking, and then letting everyone sample all the food that is cooked... what a great idea, the Men should do something like that.

So I start to think..."We have a Dutch Oven, and I even know where it is... hmm, I'm a pretty good cook, I should get it down, and we can have a nice Dutch Oven meal tonight." So I mention it to Randie who also thinks it's a great idea because she can use this as a means to determine what kind of cost they are going to be looking at, and see how many people it would feed. It's about 4:30 and I figure it will take a couple of hours, so we should be able to eat around 7:00...a little later than we normally eat dinner, but it will be worth, we have a plan.

(Stephen and I lighting a few more coals)

We quickly pulled up some recipes online, and found a nice recipe called "Chicken and Potato Delight" sounded good...and the Recipe says it serves around 8-10 people...I'm thinking.."Not bad, there are 5 of us, and Stephen and Justin eat for 2 people each...we should come out just about right" I jot down what we'll need from the store...and I run down to Walmart. the recipe calls for 10 chicken breasts, which makes sense I guess, 1 for each serving, about 12-14 potatoes, a couple onions, some bacon, 3 cups of cheese, Mushroom Soup, Chicken Soup, some Sour Cream, Mushrooms and some spices. by the time I'm done it cost me $35.00...OK, I guess that's not to bad, if you break it down by servings that only $3.50 per I'm feeling pretty good about that, and when I get home Randie is thinking that if everyone got 1/2 serving we could probably serve around 20 people for her Relief Society event, which is even better.

It's about 5:00 pm by now, so we need to hurry and get this going, I have Stephen go out to get the Dutch Oven, and I start chopping chicken and vegetables like a mad and by 5:30 every things chopped and we are ready to cook.

( Justin came out to play the guitar for us... )

We grab the Dutch Oven and drag it out to the back yard. (I seriously think it weighs about 50lbs) the recipe calls for about 18 briquettes on the bottom, to "FRY" the bacon. So we get out the lighter fluid, and soak 18 briquettes, and light a match... cool we have a nice little fire in our back's like camping almost, without having to load the entire house into the van first..."I like this"

Jumping ahead 1/2 hour...I thought the briquettes were finally lit, (Lesson 1: all briquettes are not created equal). We put the Dutch Oven over the briquettes... and wait for the "frying" part to start...hmm 15 mins later, "No Frying" (Lesson 2: All Dutch ovens are no the same size) The combination of having a HUGE Dutch oven, (I learned afterwards that there are only 2 other ovens that are larger than ours) and tempermental coals just doesn't work well...obviously we are not getting enough heat...darn coals just aren't working, (Lesson 3: Throw away 5 year old coals and get new ones)... We need something to really charge those coals...I'm thinking "BLOW TORCH" that should do the trick. I run to the garage and grab the blow torch, and I have to say it did light them up pretty good. Plus I put about 15 more briquettes down (these were from a different bag "Kingsford") Now we had some heat and finally the bacon started to sizzle..."Yes" we were on our way...of course by now it's a little after 6:30 pm. I go in and tell Randie that were not going to be eating at 7:00, might be 8:00 or 8:30 as all we have cooked right now is the bacon, "But it smells good".

It's almost 7:00 the bacon is done and I add the Chicken, onions, and mushrooms...I put the lid on and move 1/2 the coals from the bottom to the lid...chicken cooks pretty fast we should be good now. It is now almost 8:00 and the chicken is finally done, and it still "Smells Good". We are ready to add the potatoes, soup, and sour cream...I run in and tell Randie we might be looking more at 9:00 or 9:30 pm for dinner, and it's starting to get dark. (Lesson 4: briquettes are usually only good for about an hour) The recipe says to stir every 10-15 mins, I pop the lid after 15 mins..and it's not doing much of anything...We are loosing heat again... 30 mins later, We have new briquettes, now we can start cooking the potatoes. I run in to tell Randie she might want to feed Sarah a snack and we will definitely be ready by 10:00...She give's me that "Yeah..Right" look.

Lesson 5: you can't cook a HUGE meal with a LITTLE heat...It's now 10:00 and I'm firing up some more briquettes...and this point it's becoming personal..It's me or the Dutch Oven, and I've determined that whoever wrote the recipe didn't have a clue as to how many briquettes it would take...(after reading the recipe later I learned they used a 12" dutch oven and mine is 15" ) it's 10:30 now and we FINALLY have some good heat going, I can tell because I can hear it boiling inside...I go in and tell Randie that we should definitely be ready by 11:30...she looks at me like I'm a mad man, and she'll believe me when Hell Freezes over.

I'm checking the potatoes every 15 mins now...and they are just not cooking very 11:30 I finally admit defeat, the potatoes are still a little bit crunchy, but I'm so tired at this point I don't even care, We all ate a big helping, and cleaned up as quickly as possible, and I collapsed into far as servings go I think we could have fed a small army, the good thing is I know what were having for dinner tomorrow night, and the next night...

(sure smelled good..)

Lesson 6: If you've never really cooked with a Dutch Oven...give yourself plenty of time to learn.